PLANNING YOUR CUSTOM ADVENTURE
Our custom hiking, gravel biking, and trekking journeys in Bhutan range in activity level from leisurely touring and cultural immersions, to more rigorous hiking, and treks to remote regions of Bhutan. We tailor your activity-level to your group’s interests and abilities. In general, our Bhutan custom journeys range in activity-level from a rating of 2 to 4+, on a scale of 1-5. You should plan to have a good base fitness level and no major health concerns or limitations in order to participate on our Bhutan custom journeys.
As specialists in homestay tourism in Bhutan, our accommodations can be quite basic and amenities are limited. Each homestay and farmstay varies in standard; in many cases, we share meals with our hosts, either sitting on the floor or in low seats in the traditional Bhutanese style. Some homes have running water and indoor flush toilets, while others have only outdoor, traditional squat toilets and offer hot water bucket showers (upgrades to hotels and lodges are available upon request). We often visit remote parts of the country where roads may be rough and not well maintained. If your group is trekking, there will be limited to no road access at all.
In order to prepare for the physical activity on our custom journeys, we encourage you to exercise 4-5 days per week for approximately 1 or more hours at a time for several months leading up to the trip. Activities such as biking, hiking, walking, skiing, and running are great for conditioning. Please consult your physician about your participation if you have any concerns regarding your health. The better physically prepared you are for this adventure, the more you'll be able to enjoy your surroundings and feel rewarded by the overall experience.
A DAY ON THE TRAIL
Each day will vary depending on the planned activities and interests of your group. For our custom day-hiking and gravel biking trips, there will be a hike or bike planned for each day, combined with a variety of cultural activities. Some of these include weaving demonstrations, participating in farming activities, meditation, visiting cultural sites, and more. Each trip is tailor-designed so we can be flexible based on your group’s interests and energy level. For our High Himalaya trekking journeys, each route is set for the day as we are typically hiking from one camp to another.
The climate in Bhutan varies significantly as you move from the Indian plains in the South, and up to the Himalaya in the North. Generally, the best times of year to visit Western and Central Bhutan are during the spring or fall months. However, the summer months can also be wonderful in Central Bhutan, while the winter months are ideal for travel in parts of Eastern Bhutan (except for Merak and Saketang). During the months of March-May, the wildflowers and rhododendrons are in bloom, and the weather is generally pleasant, with occasional rainfall and temperature highs in the 70s°F with lows in the 40s°F. The monsoon rains from the plains of India arrive during the summer months of June through mid-September. Despite the precipitation, this is a pleasant time of year for day-hiking and cultural touring, as there are fewer visitors and the agricultural season is in full swing. Daily rains are typically mild showers which clear quickly, leaving behind dramatic rainclouds interspersed with sunshine. During the autumn months, the weather is generally stable, with sunny, bright days and cool nights (60s°F during the day and 40s°F at night). This is the ideal time of year for trekking in Bhutan, although by November, snowfall often sets in at higher elevations. The winter months of December through February are generally dry and cool/cold (in Central Bhutan), and quite pleasant in Eastern Bhutan, where the elevation is lower; the growing season typically extends through the winter months.
‘Chili’ features abundantly in Bhutanese cuisine. A basic meal consists of rice, buckwheat or karang (rice mixed with ground maize), and a selection of curries (vegetarian and meat), as well as soup. Typically, the cuisine is much tastier and more authentic at our homestays when compared to tourist restaurants and hotels, although the restaurant scene in Thimphu has improved greatly over the years. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, please inform us in advance. At mealtime, Bhutanese most commonly drink hot water, black tea with milk and sugar (ngaja), or butter tea (suja). If you prefer herbal tea, please inform us in advance or plan to bring your favorite brand with you from home.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
The most convenient port of entry is Paro International Airport (PBH) in Western Bhutan. There are regular flights from Bangkok to Paro during the high season, as well as from other major airports such as Delhi, Kathmandu, and Singapore. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operate flights in and out of Paro, and our ground partner in Bhutan will book these flights for us in advance. If you are traveling to Eastern Bhutan, you will arrive by road through the town of Somdrup Jongkhar from Guawhati, India. There are daily flights from Delhi to Guawhati, and we will meet you at the airport and transfer you by private car to Somdrup Jongkhar.
A tourist visa is required upon entry into Bhutan and our ground partner will apply for these in advance of your trip. Contrary to popular belief, visas are not currently restricted in Bhutan, and there is no quota at this time for the number of tourist visas issued annually. If you are entering and exiting from India (via Eastern Bhutan or elsewhere), you will need to ensure that you have a multi-entry visa to India. Countries like Thailand and Nepal issue visas upon arrival to citizens of most countries (though policies may have changed due to COVID restrictions). If you are using Singapore or Bangladesh as transit countries, please check visa rules and regulations for those countries before traveling.
There is a minimum daily tariff requirement for visitors to Bhutan in the amount of $250 per person, per night, during the high season and $200 per person, per night, during the low season for groups of 3 or more. A portion of this tariff goes toward the government’s sustainable development fund, and the remainder covers your basic daily package (accommodations, guides, transportation, and meals). Please keep in mind that this is the minimum cost, and your actual tour cost will likely be higher than this as there are surcharges for custom activities, special events, unique excursions, remote travel, trekking fees, and high-quality gear.