Bhutan tailor-made holidays
Eccentric, exclusive and somewhat expensive, Bhutan is like no other. Bhutan travel is all-inclusive and all tourists on Bhutan holidays or tours to Bhutan must travel on a pre-planned itinerary as this is the only way to explore, but the delights of this fascinating, mystical kingdom, whose name translates as ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon', more than make up for it.
Bhutan has a culture that seems to have remained unchanged since the beginning of time – yet you'll find modern delights in luxury hotels that lie in the shadow of awe-inspiring landscapes, historic monasteries and exquisite temples. Start in the pretty capital Thimpu, all ancient buildings in a spectacular deep valley – but it's most well-known for its Buddhist sites. The massive Tashichho Dzong is a fortified monastery and government palace with gold-leafed roofs that dominates the bright buildings below, while the Memorial Chorten, a whitewashed structure with a gold spire, is a revered Buddhist shrine dedicated to Bhutan’s third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The Golden Buddha Dordenma is unmissable, too – an enormous mountain statue that celebrates the 60th anniversary of fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck and is home to 100,000 other smaller bronze, gold-gilded Buddha statues.
Dramatic scenery abounds, but some of the most striking can be seen on the flight into Paro from neighbouring Nepal, when you'll pass eight of the world's ten highest peaks before touching down. Just an hour’s drive from the Bhutan capital Thimpu, Paro is home to the sacred Tiger’s Nest cliffside monastery that clings to the mountains above the eponymous valley's dense forests. Sacred sites and historic architecture abound, contrasted with terraced rice fields and tiny farmhouses that dot the valley – but go higher and you're afforded stunning views of the winding Paro Chhu River. In this mountainous country there's plenty of options for trekking; tackle the Jhomolhari or Snowman Trek for particularly spectacular views.
Punakha and its amazing Punakha Dzong is one of the most stunning structures in Bhutan with its rolling green hills and picturesque river – reaching here from Thimphu to Punakha affords those who make the journey stunning views over the Dochula Pass and even the big-name peaks of the spectacular Himalayas.
Gangtey is carved by glaciers in a region named Phobjikha, filled with myriad hiking trails and religious sites such as the Gangtey Goempa Monastery perched atop the valley, while the country's spiritual centre is Bumthang. Home to many precious Buddhist sites, dzongs, temples and palaces, this region is made up of four main valleys, Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor, all carved by the ancient glaciers.
At a glance
Top itineraries in Bhutan
A land of gilded temples, mysterious monasteries, mist-shrouded valleys and soaring peaks, Bhutan has been beguiling holidaymakers since it opened its doors to the world in 1974. And, on this tailor-made adventure, you'll take in its highlights with private touring and transfers throughout.
There can be few other places on earth with such rich history and awe-inspiring landscapes as Nepal and Bhutan. Explore it all on this twin-country tour that takes in ancient cities, hidden temples and soaring Himalayan peaks.
On this adventurous tour of Bhutan, you'll visit the capital, Thimphu, before traversing mountain passes to reach the charms of its valley towns – Punakha and Paro – after enjoying a slice of village life in Gangtey. Expert-led tours and excursions bring it all to life.
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Top places to stay in Bhutan
Showcasing architect-designed interiors and stunning valley views, this remote lodge pairs traditional farm-house charm with modern boutique luxuries in freestanding bathtubs and log burning fires. It's the ideal base for exploring Gangtey Valley on everything from included walks to temple visits.
An intimate luxury lodge in the lush Punakha Valley on the Mo Chu River, that focuses on wellbeing and health
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When to go to Bhutan
Bhutan has two high seasons: March to May, and September to November. The autumn, post-monsoon, offers the best Himalayan views, while the spring brings mild weather and spectacular rhododendron blooms. Fewer tourists and lower prices also make winter a viable option, although it can get quite cold during December and January, especially in the mountains. The humid summer months (June-August), when heavy monsoon rains make trekking all but impossible, are best avoided.
The first time a British royal visited the subcontinent, the towering basalt of the Gateway of India was erected in his honour. Now, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge have just visited India and Bhutan. Follow in their footsteps with our ideas of a perfect luxury holiday in these countrie…
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Festivals provide a great opportunity to soak up local culture in your chosen destination. Here's our pick of some of the best coming up over the next few months.
Meet our Bhutan experts
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