The perfect introduction to Bhutan
This is the ideal first timer’s trip to Bhutan, exploring the must-see highlights of this fascinating country’s culture and pristine environment, while immersed in its unique spiritual rituals, time-honoured traditions and ancient architecture.
Land in Paro to experience ancient Bhutanese customs, before heading to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city. Hike or bike incredible hillside trails on guided treks to stunning monasteries and spiritual sites.
After three days exploring the largest city in the kingdom, raft the rivers in Punakha and learn about the conservation efforts of the endangered, black-necked cranes in Phobjikha Valley. Round out the trip back in Paro, to hike Bhutan’s most famous landmark, the Tiger’s Nest.
Take part in age-old rituals with the monks in ancient monasteries
Learn about the art of traditional Bhutanese Incense
Raft along the confluence of Mo Chhu River
Hike Bhutan’s most famous landmark, Tigers Nest Monastery
Nine nights of luxury accommodation
Tours, experiences and cultural activities
Private guide throughout and transfers
Price per person based on four people travelling
An unforgettable trip with a positive impact
Community & Culture
Properties and experiences that uplift and empower local communities.
Supports wildlife projects, protected areas and ecosystem regeneration.
Lodges and camps chosen for their sustainability credentials and initiatives.
Days 1 — 3
Embrace the spiritual
Land in Paro, a wealth of scenery, history, culture, and ancient spiritual sites just near the airport. As the central hub for all Bhutan tourism, the city holds Bhutan’s only international airport. Wonder the National Museum of Bhutan to get your first taste of Bhutanese culture and its ancient traditions. Be immersed in the spiritual customs with a welcome blessing and spiritual cleansing at a monastery, followed by a sacred song and dance ceremony.
Transfer to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu to spend the night in an idyllic luxury mountain retreat and discover ancient monasteries. On your second day hike to Changangkha Lhakhang, an 800-year-old fortress with panoramic vistas of Thimphu valley. Indulge in a serene mountainside picnic before heading to Nado Traditional Incense Factory to learn all about their processes. End the day with a prayer and meditation at the serene Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery.
Days 3 — 4
Mystical trails and magical rituals
Venture round Thimphu, exploring age-old paths, historical buildings and spiritual sites, home to the Tashichho Dzong – the majestic seat of Bhutan’s government – and the local monastic body. Take the mystical Motithang Ancient Takin Trail to Takin Preserve, keep an eye out for the rare and exotic goat-antelope, the takin. Hike to Phajoding Monastery, once one of the richest and most decorated monasteries in the country, however, due to neglect it was listed as an endangered cultural monument.
After an active morning exploring the stunning landscape and learning about historical stories of the Bhutanese culture, partake in the spiritual Butter Lamp Offering. The offering of butter lamp has a crucial place in Bhutan’s daily rituals, and involves traditionally lighting a yak butter lamp, symbolising the offering of wisdom and light of knowledge to eradicate darkness or ignorance. Followed by lunch and a friendly football match with the local Monks, before joining or observing the Monks evening prayer and staying the night at the monastery.
Days 4 — 5
Trek back to Thimphu city and indulge in a delicious lunch at the local’s favourite restaurant, before heading off to the beautiful town of Punakha at the confluence of two of Bhutan’s important rivers, Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu. The rivers are home to one of the last surviving populations of the critically endangered, white-bellied herons. Along the way stop off at Dochula Pass, a mountain pass in the snow-covered Himalayas where 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens" have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother.
Punakha Valley is famous for its mesmerising 17th-century fortress, unique rice growing techniques and stunning architecture. Walk through Punakha’s terraced rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang Monastery, known as the Fertility Temple, a revered place of magic and miracles. Stay the night at an intimate, luxury eco lodge, situated on a picturesque base overlooking a snake-like bend in the Mo Chhu River – ideally located for exploring this remote part of the Himalayan Kingdom.
Days 5 — 6
Stunning Valleys and Traditional Explorations
Start the day by visiting one of Bhutan's oldest and most architecturally beautiful fortresses in the country, once known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong meaning ‘The Palace of Bliss or Great Happiness’. Cross a suspension bridge and hike up a hill to explore Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a stupa built to provide spiritual protection, peace and harmony. Float down the Mo Chhu River, admire the stunning scenery and enjoy the thrill of rafting down adventurous rapids. Indulge in a riverside picnic, before heading to Phobjikha and visiting one of Bhutan's most important monasteries, Gangtey Monastery. Finish the day with an exclusive, bespoke dining experience of traditional cuisine.
Days 6 — 7
Rustic comfort in the Black Mountains
Hike the incredible Black Mountains in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, accompanied by a Park Ranger while scouts find the perfect location to set up camp for a night in the wilderness. Savour a mountainside picnic before heading back to the campsite to learn traditional Bhutanese archery. Enjoy the night by a spectacular bonfire accompanied by a whiskey tasting, sampling some of Bhutan's best.
Days 7 — 8
Land of the Endangered, Black-Necked Crane
Hike to Phobjikha Valley, situated on the west flank of the Black Mountains, a wide, flat glacial carving of such extraordinary beauty, it is considered a favourite of some of the Bhutanese. Endangered, black-necked cranes take winter refuge here between late October and early March, in an annual migration of hundreds of miles from China's Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Locals have long revered these cranes as heavenly birds and bestowers of good luck, and the marshy valley floor is abundant in a unique dwarf bamboo that the cranes favour. After a homemade lunch made up of local Bhutanese cuisine at a traditional Farm Home, head to the Black-Necked Crane Centre.
Learn all about these sacred birds, their environment and the conservation awareness operations to protect these birds from various threats. Meet two of the crane centre’s stars, Karma and Pema, both found with wing injuries, having developed a very special friendship while sharing an aviary. End the day with a soothing and relaxing traditional hot stone bath, an ancient Bhutanese therapeutic practice. The baths are made of local pinewood and large boulders collected from a river nearby are used to heat the water. It is believed that the heat from the water, the minerals released from the rock, and herbs foraged from the forest produce an array of medicinal benefits.
Days 8 — 10
The Tiger's Nest
Head on back to Paro, one of the country’s widest and most historic valleys. Stay at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary to rebalance and reconnect with a combination of traditional Bhutanese spa treatments, dietary advice, and activities centred in nature. Upon arrival, have a consultation with traditional Bhutanese medicine doctors and be prescribed a personal well-being program focused on balancing the body, mind and spirt. Enjoy the benefits of traditional massages, herbal treatments, yoga, meditation, hot stone baths and forest bathing.
Make the most of your last full day in Bhutan and discover some of the country’s most iconic sites. Hike to Bhutan’s most famous monastery, Tiger’s Nest, a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site located in the cliffside. It is one of thirteen Tiger's Nest caves in historical Tibet in which Padmasambhava practiced and taught Vajrayana. Venture into sacred caves, meditate with local monks, indulge in a picnic on the mountainside and relax in a traditional hot stone bath. Enjoy one last night at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary before concluding the trip of a lifetime.
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What makes us different
Niarra Travel is a forward-thinking travel company headquartered in London born out of a passion to do things differently.
In Swahili, a Bantu language spoken by millions in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, the name Niara means "with utmost purpose" and our team are united by a passion for exploration and a belief that the right kind of travel can make the world a better place.
Our Travel Researchers are here to create incredible trips with a positive impact for you.
Creating your trip is entirely collaborative and our Travel Researchers are here for every step.
Curated sustainable experiences and accommodation that maximize the benefits to local people and place.
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An open, competitive pricing structure that ensures more money goes to where it's needed in the destination.