BHUTAN: DECEMBER HOLIDAYS IN BHUTAN

December 2016

Not your ordinary December holiday destination. Buddhist Bhutan celebrates neither Christmas nor New Years, though many Bhutanese see this as a good reason to have a party. We see it as a great time to visit this little visited Himalayan kingdom. It is low season, though the weather is pleasant, with days in the 60’s and nights in the 30’s. As there is almost no chance of rain, the skies are clear and provide impressive vistas of distant snow covered peaks. During our stay in subtropical Punakha you will find the roads lined with poinsettias grown to the size of small trees and in full blossom. Our return to Thimphu is in time for the biggest New Year’s Ever party in Bhutan, at the lovely Taj Tashi Hotel. The trip culminates in Paro, with a hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of the holiest and most iconic sights in Bhutan, followed by a farewell dinner at the majestic Zhiwa Ling Hotel. In addition to visiting the many interesting sights of Bhutan we’ll also meet many Bhutanese friends of Champaca Journeys who will join us for meals and excursions. This visit to Bhutan will be as memorable as all our others, though more luxurious, as our accommodation will be in Bhutan’s exquisite 5-star hotels. Join us for an incomparable visit to this little visited fascinating Kingdom.

Note: accommodations on this journey are all upgrade hotels.

nice detail, Wangdue dzong taksang hike prayer flags 2 monks Zhiwa Ling Punakha dzong

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Fly to Paro, Bhutan. Check into the impressive and beautiful Zhiwa Ling Hotel. In the afternoon we'll visit the revered and centuries old Kyichu Monastery. Welcome dinner at our hotel.

After breakfast we visit Paro town, and explore Paro Dzong, the 17th century fortress/monastery still in use today as local government headquarters and active monastery. Following lunch in Paro a 90-minute drive will bring us to Thimphu, capital of Bhutan and largest urban area in the country.

Thimphu bustles with activity and we have scheduled visits to local artisans who paint, make exquisite paper from local trees, others who fashion incense from locally foraged vegetation, and traditional weavers who make the textiles for which Bhutan is renown.

We will also have time to wander the town before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner and party at our hotel, the Taj Tashi Hotel, another one of Bhutan’s finest hotels.

Today we will take a 2-3 hour hike to one of the monasteries above Thimphu. We will also visit the takin reserve, where you can view Bhutan’s odd national mammal. In the afternoon we visit the National Textile Museum. Dinner will be at one of Thimphu’s local restaurants. Overnight at Taj Tashi Hotel.

Morning visit to the traditional paper making factory, and the incense factory. Incense is important to Bhutanese, used in religious ceremonies each morning in homes across the country. Afternoon departure for Punakha, the 3.5-hour drive takes us over Dochu-La, a 10,300-foot pass with stunning views of the snow covered Himalayas. Overnight at the newly opened Drubchhu Resort.

Punakha is set in subtropical valley, and we will start the day with a visit to the Punakha Dzong, this 4-century-old fortress and monastery is considered the most beautiful of all Bhutan’s dzongs. In the afternoon we’ll hike across dry rice fields to the Temple of the Divine Madman, a beloved 17th century saint. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

Breakfast at hotel, and then we depart for another day with nature. A short drive takes us above the dzong where we board rafts for a ride down the Mo Chu River, with excellent views of the countryside as we float downstream with the current. Picnic lunch follows the ride. Afternoon free to relax, or a short hike can be arranged with guide and trip leader. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

Two beautiful monasteries are perched high in the hills above Punakha, we drive to the little visited Talo and Nalanda Monasteries, and then walk down a path through fields and forest as we descend towards town. The hike is always a high point of our visits to Punakha. We'll have a late lunch and then the rest of the afternoon to relax. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

Morning visit to the ancient village of Richengang, this village unlike most in Bhutan with its tightly clustered homes. Then drive to Thimphu and check into hotel. Afternoon free to wander on your own or with guides. Overnight at Taj Tashi Hotel.

This morning we drive (or hike, your choice) to the Buddha Point Statue, the impressive and massive Buddha that sits above town. Following our early afternoon arrival you will have the rest of the afternoon free to explore or relax and then prepare for the biggest New Year’s Eve party in Bhutan, held at our hotel, the Taj Tashi. Be ready for an evening of food, music, dancing and drink high in the Himalayas, as we ring in the New Year. Overnight at Taj Tashi Hotel.


Today morning and early afternoon is free time. We then depart for Paro, and check into hotel. Explore the ancient monasteries near hotel, or wander Paro town. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Hotel.

Following breakfast a 10-minute drive brings us to the base of the mountain for our hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, the improbably sited mountainside monastery founded by the Guru Rimpoche when he landed on this spot astride a flying tigress in 743 CE. A climb to Tiger’s Nest is a holy pilgrimage for Bhutanese and you too can gain merit and enjoy the beauty of the hike and monastery. After the hike we return to the hotel for lunch, relaxing, and in evening we enjoy farewell dinner. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Hotel.

Breakfast at hotel, then to airport for flight home.

prices & registration information

TOTAL COST PER PERSON FOR ELEVEN (11) NIGHTS IN BHUTAN

(Inclusive of food, accommodations, ground transportation, entrance fees, services of licensed Bhutanese guide and driver, services of USA based trip leader, Bhutanese visa and airport taxes.)

$5900. (Based on double occupancy)
$7000. (Based on single occupancy)

NOTE: Gratuities, alcoholic beverages other than local beer with meals, laundry, souvenirs, items of a personal nature and travel insurance are NOT included.

General Information

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE

Bhutan is accessed most easily from Bangkok, Thailand from where there are daily flights. Flights always depart in the early morning and participants should give themselves at least 24-hour layover in Bangkok in the event flight to Bangkok is delayed. Fares are subject to change without notice.

BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $750. ROUND TRIP, economy class
BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $950. ROUND TRIP, business class

Flights are with DRUKAIR, ROYAL BHUTAN AIRLINES, operating Airbus 319 jets.