Bhutan & Thailand: From the World’s Best Mountains to Tropical Beach
13 Days from $ 6,590 / person
From towering mountains to lush jungles and unspoiled beaches, experience the best of Asian landscapes on this tour of Bhutan and Thailand. Explore ‘shangri-la’ like towns and villages set amid the Himalayas, and visit iconic monasteries and cultural hotspots while you savor Asian hospitality at its finest. Wind down on the white sand beaches of Phuket with luxury wellness and spa treatments tailored to you.
Hidden realm of wonders! The only world capital without traffic lights, Thimphu is a regal yet bustling town amid glorious hills and home to the revered Bhutanese Royal family.
Highlights of Thimphu Discover the vibrant heart of Thimphu! Begin your tour of Thimphu at the King’s Memorial Chorten, where many devotees congregate to pray and spin the Buddhist prayer wheels for luck. Nearby at Buddha Point, you’ll be awed by the largest statue of the sage overlooking the city and Thimphu Valley beyond. Thimphu is a treasure trove of craftwork, and you can see budding masters learn the craft at Zorig Chusum, the local art and craft school. Watch wood carving to mask making, weaving, embroidering, clay modelling, sculpture and thangka painting at the school. Later, visit the textile museum to learn how traditional Bhutanese dresses are made. Next on your itinerary are the impressive Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the king and government, and the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts and modern academic books on Himalayan culture and religion. For a spot of lighthearted fun, saunter into the mini zoo to see the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal. If time permits, you also have the option of taking a wonderful drive to the hillside view point below the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Tower, set at a height of 2685 meters! Afterwards, browse the city’s various government-run handicrafts emporium and local craft shops showcasing Bhutan’s fine traditional artwork, jewelry, textiles and carvings. The weekends offer a particular treat to visitors – Thimphu’s bustling weekend market where locals folks gather. (Full Day; Duration: 8 hrs; Time of Day: 0800 to 1800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness level: Easy; please note that Zorig Chusum is closed on weekends, national holidays, examination days, summer and winter breaks in July and Dec – Feb. Tashichho Dzong can only be visited after 1730 hrs.)
The drive from Thimphu to Punakha is a spectacular one. Stop at any of the street side food stalls to try a local apple or some spicy cucumber, or even to click a photo of the colorful food on display. You will cross Dochula Pass - set at an altitude of 3100 meters, it's one of the highest in Bhutan! On a clear day, soak in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. If you are lucky, you may just spot the tallest peak of Bhutan, Mt. Gangkar Puensum. Use this opportunity to stretch your legs by taking a walk around the 108 stupas and climb up to the nearby Buddhist temple. Or just relax with a steaming cup of Bhutanese tea at a local restaurant.
An erstwhile capital, it now makes for a magical stay with splendid views of the distant, heavenly Himalayas at Dorchula Pass with a soothing climate and relaxing ambiance.
Chimi Lhakhang Nature Trail and Fertility Temple Discover the rich traditions of Bhutan at the Chimi Lhakhang Fertility Temple, just outside Punakha. Hike through verdant rice paddies and manicured mustard fields by picturesque villages. After a short incline, enter a charming complex to be welcomed by a huge black and gold prayer wheel. Courtesy of your guide, understand unusual rituals steeped in legends of the eccentric ‘Divine Madman’ Lama Drukpa Kunley, whose teachings of Buddhism had humorous songs and innuendos. Admire the elaborately hand-painted drawings that adorn the walls, the art showcasing dramatic interpretations of phalluses. It’s a pilgrimage site especially for childless couples, who are blessed with a 10-inch bone, ivory and wood phallus, while young babies are named using inscriptions on bamboo slips. Expect to see intricate charms in various sizes, colorfully shaded with comic illustrations and abstract art with inspirational quotes. (Private Activity & Transfer; Hike duration: 25 minutes each way; Fitness level: Easy; Please note that the temple closes at 1700 hrs. Please wear trekking shoes.)
Highlights of Punakha Visit Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful fortresses of Bhutan, strategically nestled at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored by the present king. Take a short walk on the suspension bridge nearby – it’s the largest of its kind in Bhutan! Afterwards, visit the Zomlay Thang Stupa, a rare, newly-built Nepalese style stupa on the banks of the Mo Chhu River. Walk along the riverbank while you observe local people gathered here, either for a day’s picnic or even for archery practice done far away from the crowds. Later, drive on to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery set amid picturesque pines on a hilltop. This learning and meditation centre for nuns is also a photographer’s delight for offering exquisite views over the Punakha Valley. If you are visiting on a Saturday, don’t miss the weekend market where local produce is bought and sold. (Full Day; Private Activity & Transfers; Please note that Punakha Dzong is open between 1100 to 1300 hrs and 1500 to 1700 hrs in winter. Please wear formal clothes for your visit to the Dzong. Visit to the market is possible only on Saturdays.)
Phobjikha Valley is a stunningly vast U-shaped glacial landscape also known as Gangtey or Gangteng Valley after the impressive Gangteng Monastery. The picturesque valley, set against the backdrop of the towering Black Mountain Range, offers rich biodiversity and is popular for its scenic splendor and cultural uniqueness.
Nature Trail in Phobjikha Valley Following a scenic drive to the 17th century Gangtey Monastery perched on a ridge, enjoy a pleasant hike down towards the bowl-shaped, glacial Phobjikha Valley in central Bhutan. Admire picturesque settlements with terraced farmlands along the way, cross small rivers and see stupas surrounded by fluttering prayer flags, and pass by the Black Mountains range, on the fringes of Jigme Wangchuck National Park. Your guide will introduce you to the fantastic flora and fauna of the region. Further, enter the vast grasslands dotted with grazing cattle, and walk on scenic trails flanked by pine forests and dwarf bamboo clusters. Conclude your tour with panoramic vistas of the mountainous expanse. From late October to mid February, enjoy the sightings of the majestic and endangered black-necked cranes, flocks of which migrate to milder climates of the Phobjikha Valley during the winter. (Half Day; Private Activity & Transfer; Duration: 3-4 hrs; Distance: 5.5 kms; Fitness level: Easy, downhill walk; Notes: Hike begins at 2900 meters altitude. Please wear trekking shoes and bring a raincoat.)
Highlights of Phobjikha Valley/Gangtey Start your visit of the Phobjikha Valley from the famous Gangtey Goempa, perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The monastery is home to the main seat of the guru Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, the founder of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Walk through the little town of Gangtey with its small market area lined with charming, traditional Bhutanese houses. Don’t miss the ancient stupa (sacred monument) which marks your entrance to the town. This is also the perfect opportunity to learn about the region’s famous black-necked cranes while visiting the black crane info center in Phobjikha Valley. These graceful cranes (Grus nigricollis) travel all the way from the Tibetan Plateau to this valley to roost during the winter season. (Half Day; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness level: Easy; Please bring comfortable walking shoes.)
The drive from Phobjikha Valley/Gangtey to Paro is a spectacular one. Stop at any of the street side food stalls to try a local apple or some spicy cucumber, or even to click a photo of the colorful food on display. You will cross Dochula Pass - set at an altitude of 3100 meters, it's one of the highest in Bhutan! On a clear day, soak in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. If you are lucky, you may just spot the tallest peak of Bhutan, Mt. Gangkar Puensum. Use this opportunity to stretch your legs by taking a walk around the 108 stupas and climb up to the nearby Buddhist temple. Or just relax with a steaming cup of Bhutanese tea at a local restaurant.
Gateway to the Kingdom’s treasures! Known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon,’ the charming town of Paro is home to Mt. Chumolhari and some of the oldest monasteries and temples in the region.
Highlights of Paro Delve deep into the cultural gems of Paro! Start your day at Rinpung Dzong, a 17th century Buddhist monastery and fortress built by Tibetan Buddhist Lama Ngawang Namgyal. Next on your itinerary is the National Museum, where various interesting artifacts of the Bhutanese civilization find pride of place. Here, witness the original masks used in Bhutan’s famous cultural festivals as well the art of preparing statues! Soak in the stunning view from the museum before you depart for Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang – also known as the 3 realm temple, it symbolizes the different stages of rebirth according to Buddhist philosophy. The temple’s three floors represent hell, earth and heaven respectively, enclosed within a chorten-shaped building topped by an unusual white flower. Climb between the different levels via steep ladders to see beautiful displays of Buddhist artwork. Don’t forget to throw a stone in the air at the space for making wishes – you may just have your heart’s desire! (Half Day; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Moderate as there are many steep ladders to reach the various levels inside Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang. Please wear formal clothes for your visit to the museum.)
Hike to Tiger’s Nest Discover Bhutan’s iconic Paro Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ monastery, a cluster of magnificent shrines perched on a cliff face just outside Paro. Begin your hike through sun-speckled pine forests of a riverine valley. Alternately, ride atop ponies covering the first leg of the journey until the cafeteria. Here, enjoy an assortment of snacks and beverages with a view. As you traverse these trails crisscrossed by rows of colorful prayer flags, your local guide will entertain you with legends, anecdotes, and botanical knowledge. Marvel at the pristine natural beauty around through stunning vantages. Along the way, climbing and descending a few hills, spin prayer wheels and admire numerous mini stupas. Also, notice makeshift souvenir stalls set up by locals. Ahead, pause at the viewpoint that presents Tiger’s Nest in all its glory. The trail passes beside a scenic waterfall before you cross a bridge to ascend and reach Tiger’s Nest! Explore the holy cave and return via the same route. (Half Day; Duration: 4/5 hrs; Fitness Level: Difficult. Please note that the starting point of the trek is at an elevation of 2200 metres, to reach the monastery which is located on a cliff at 3120 meters altitude. The monastery is closed from 1300 to 1400 hrs, and after 1700 hrs. Please wear trekking shoes and equipment.)
Phuket, in Thailand, has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in the world! Azure blue oceans, verdant rainforests and golden beaches are characteristic of the largest island in Thailand.
The Amatara: A Rejuvenating Wellness Retreat Seek complete relaxation at Amatara, the only luxury wellness resort in Phuket. Choose from a range of personalized activities and treatments that are guaranteed to destress and rejuvenate you to help restore your sense of balance. All the programs include the memorable Thai Hammam Experience, specially designed to blend traditional Turkish and Moroccan bathing practices with the gentleness of Thai spa therapies to give you a deeply relaxing experience. Whether you want to destress on this trip or have an active holiday getting fit, Amatara Wellness has something for everyone. The all-inclusive three-day program combines stay and organic, nutritional food at their health restaurant, The Retreat, with activities that promote good health and well-being. For more information on all the wellness programs at Amatara, please visit: https://www.amataraphuket.com/wellness-programs/wellness-packages/
Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.
Accommodation and meals, as specified in the itinerary
Activities and excursions, as specified in the itinerary
Transportation services, as specified in the itinerary
Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact supporting you during your trip
Entrance fees and meals, unless mentioned in the itinerary description
Tips and personal expenses
Visa and tourism fees
Travel, health, and cancellation insurance
What our guests say about this trip
This was perhaps the most luxurious tour I’ve been on. It was such a treat to come into an airport and be met and transported to a beautiful hotel without any fuss. Having our own guide at the sites we visited meant that we could move at our own pace and ask as many questions as we wanted.