Shangri La may be a mythical place of utopia, but Bhutan is a mountain kingdom that comes close to being its real-life equivalent. Perched in the mighty Himalaya, this amazing country measures its achievements in Gross National Happiness, a reflection of its spirituality and devotion to Buddhist values.
With over 60% of the country designated protected forest, nature lovers will be swept away by Bhutan’s verdant, lush wilderness as well as its mighty snow-capped peaks.
Monasteries and fortresses dot mountain passes and remote valleys. These ‘dzongs’ serve as the heart and soul of a country where religion and politics act as one. Reflecting century-old traditions with their distinctive architecture, they also house a treasure-trove of incredible art. Dance festivals, handicrafts and friendly people all add to a vibrancy hidden beneath the tranquillity.
The Tigers Nest monastery (Taktshang Goemba) is situated in the upper Paro valley. It is an important Himalayan Buddhist site and was first built in 1692. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for three months.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is blessed and sanctified as one of Bhutan’s most sacred religious sites.
This commanding dzong, high above the roaring Mangde Chhu, is perhaps the most spectacularly sited dzong in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist.
Trongsa Dzong has a rich history dating back to the 16th century.
There are many major festivals in Bhutan each year. These three or four day festivals will have many ‘dances’ as part of each day’s of celebration e.g. Dance of the Four stags, Dance of the Heroes, the Black Hat Dance, Dance of the terrifying Deities, often ending with the Dance of the Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava. The last day of the festival also sees the unfurling of the Thongdrel, a large painting of great significance.
As you’d expect in a country that measures it’self by its ‘gross national happiness’ these festivals are not only important but very interesting and very powerful to witness.
Gangteng monastery is a Nyingma monastery established in Bhutan in 1613. Gangteng is the biggest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan, and the seat of the Gangteng incarnation line.
The ancient Kingdom of Bhutan to this day remains one of the worlds most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world. Nestled high in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan still maintains its incredible natural beauty and traditional ways of life. Gangtey Goenpa Lodge will offer visitors a unique and exciting insight into the beautiful Gangte Valley.
The lodge, with its spectacular setting and sweeping views over the whole valley, will act as a luxurious base and jumping off point for a series of half and full day adventures and excursions. One of the highlights during the spring and autumn months will be the world’s highest commercial balloon flight for a spectacular early morning Himalayan experience.
Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.
Taj Tashi Hotel
A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.
Naksel Boutique Hotel
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.
Dhensa Punakha Resort
Happiness is a Place is a video provided by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
All Australians require a visa to visit Bhutan. Visas are only issued from Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital. Visas are only issued to those tourists who have booked their arrangements with a licensed local tour operator or through a licensed foreign travel agent. The Asia Travel Centre will assist in the processing of your visa applications and the issuing of a “Visa Authorisation Letter” which is required prior to boarding the Druk Air flight to Bhutan. The actual visa is issued (stamped) in the passport at Paro airport on arrival. Visas require a minimum of 10 days to process.
Malaria is present in some rural areas of Bhutan however it is generally considered to be a reasonably low risk region. You should take care to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. A valid Yellow Fever certificate is required if coming from a country designated as being in a Yellow Fever zone. Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. Japanese Encephalitis may also be a risk for some travellers. There are no compulsory vaccinations unless you are arriving from a Yellow Fever zone.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess these risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
High Season – March to May and September to November
Autumn and spring are the ideal seasons to visit Bhutan. The air is clear and fresh. The best mountain views are in October whilst during March and April the rhododendrons bloom and flood the valleys with colour. Holiday arrangements during the High Season should be made well in advance. The best time for trekking is March to April and late September to mid-November.
Shoulder Season – December to February
The weather during these months is still suitable for travel although it can be cold in December and January and particularly at night. There are fewer tourists around at this time which for some travellers is an advantage.
Low Season – June to August
The Monsoon rains make these months the least popular time to visit Bhutan and trekking during these months is not recommended because of the heavy rains and leeches.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Asia are Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines. With hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively both airlines are well positioned to provide a quality service from Australia to all major destinations in Asia.
There are limited number of flight options into the Kingdom of Bhutan. These flights are operated by Druk Air, the national carrier of Bhutan. If you are flying from Australia you will normally join your Druk Air flight in either Singapore or Bangkok. Your Druk Air flight is booked by Asia Travel Centre in conjunction with your land arrangements in Bhutan.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll want to know the details of all of your fights. Flight times regularly change and, if or when they do, we want to make sure your transfers and other arrangements are amended accordingly.