PLANNING YOUR CUSTOM ADVENTURE
Our custom hiking, gravel biking and trekking journeys in Bhutan range in activity level from leisurely cultural touring and immersion to more rigorous hikes and treks to remote regions of Bhutan. We tailor your activity level to the interests and abilities of your group. In general our Bhutan custom journeys range in activity-level from a rating of 2-4+, on a scale of 1-5. You need to have a good base level of fitness and no major health concerns or limitations to participate on our Bhutan custom journeys.
As specialists in homestay tourism in Bhutan, our accommodations can be quite basic and amenities limited. Each homestay and farmstay vary in standard. In many cases we share meals with our hosts either sitting on the floor or low seats in 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 also 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 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 from the overall experience.
A DAY ON THE TRAIL
Each day will vary depending on the planned activities and interests of the 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 such as: a weaving demonstration, engaging in farming activities, meditation, visiting cultural sites and more. Each trip is tailor-designed, so we are flexible based on the groups’ interests and energy levels. For our High Himalaya trekking journeys, each route is set for the day as we hike from one camp to another.
The climate in Bhutan varies as you go from the Indian plains in the south to the Himalaya in the north. Generally the best times of year to visit western and central Bhutan are during our spring or fall months, however the summer months can be wonderful in central Bhutan and the winter months ideal for parts of eastern Bhutan (with the exception of 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 and lows in the 40s°F. The monsoon rains from the plains of India come during the summer months of June through mid-September and it is actually a rather pleasant time of year for day hikes and cultural touring, as there are fewer visitors and the agricultural season is in full swing. Although it rains daily, it typically comes in brief showers and then clears with dramatic rainclouds and a bit of sunshine. During the autumn months, the weather is generally very 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 although you don’t want to trek much beyond November, as snowfall can set in at higher elevations at this time of year. 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 and growing season typically extends through the winter months.
Chili is used 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. Usually food is much tastier and more authentic in homestays than in tourist restaurants and hotels. However, the restaurant scene in Thimphu has improved greatly over the years. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, please inform us in advance. 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, tell your guide or bring your favorite brand with you from home.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
The most convenient port of entry is the 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 or Bhutan Airlines are the two airlines operating into Paro and our ground partner in Bhutan will book these flights for us. 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 upon arrival at the airport and transfer you in a 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 common belief, visas are not restricted and there is no quota (at this time) for the number of tourist visas issued annually. If you are entering from, and exiting to India, ensure you have a multi-entry visa to India. Countries like Thailand and Nepal issue visas upon arrival to citizens of most countries (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.
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 for low season travel (for groups of 3 or more) . A portion of this tariff goes towards a government 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.