Tiger's Nest in Bhutan

Festivals of Bhutan

12 days
from
£3,699
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Suitable for:
Age 18+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
AIB
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
18

Experience the unique festivals and culture of Bhutan

Hidden away in a corner of the Himalaya, the secretive kingdom of Bhutan is an unforgettable destination with ancient traditions, spectacular mountain scenery and vibrant festivals. At these hundreds of people gather to see the monks, dressed in brightly coloured robes, perform ritual dances. For several days there are masked dances and prayer meetings, and a general carnival atmosphere prevails. The spring departures visit Paro Festival, whilst the autumn departures take in Thimpu, Dechenphu or Genekha Festivals. The December departure visits the lesser-known Trongsa festival, which is smaller and offers a more intimate experience.

Please note: This itinerary is valid for departures starting in Kathmandu on 1 October 2019 (Thimphu Festival), 31 October 2019 (Dechenphu or Genekha Festival), 28 March 2020 (Paro Festival), 19 September 2020 (Thimphu Festival) and 19 October 2020 (Dechenphu or Genekha Festival). 

Please refer to alternative trip notes found HERE for departures starting in Kathmandu on 7th October 2019 (Dechenphu or Genekha Festival), 5 April 2020 (Paro Festival), and 25th September 2020 (Thimpu Festival). For Trongsa Festival departures starting in Kathmandu on 31st December 2019 and 9th December 2020 please refer to these alternative trip notes found HERE.

Highlights

  • Experience Bhutan's colourful, vibrant masked dance festivals
  • Visit the Paro Dzong and the incredible 'Tiger's Nest' monastery at Taktsang
  • Drive across the Dochu La and visit Punakha Dzong
  • Walk in the quiet Gangtey Valley
  • Visit the impressive Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu
  • Travel in a country where few foreigners visit and tourism is still in its infancy

Key information

10 nights in hotels, all en suite

  • Countries visited: Bhutan, Nepal

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Bhutanese visa
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) 
  • Kathmandu visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kathmandu
to
Kathmandu
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kathmandu

    Start in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.

    Royal Singi Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Fly to Paro

    Today we fly to Paro. The flight is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world and takes us over the eastern Himalayas. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. The Paro Valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, with blue pine-covered hills and attractive solidly built houses among the paddy fields. If there is the time in the afternoon there will be a visit to visit the museum, dzong or the Kyichu Lakang; one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built by the 7th century Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Drive to Thimphu

    Today we have an hour’s drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The capital of Bhutan was Punakha until 1961 when the 3rd King changed it to Thimpu. The rest of the day is spent exploring Thimpu, where there is plenty to see and do. The main sights include the Memorial chorten, built in 1974 in honour of the 3rd King, Kuensel Phodrang, known locally as Buddha Point, where there is a huge statue of Buddha overlooking the whole of the valley. Tashi Chho Dzong is the main dzong and seat of government and usually only open after 5 pm. Other places of interest are Semthoka Dzong, the Takin Reserve, the Folk Heritage Museum, an Arts and Crafts School, the textile museum, the Post Office where you can get your own stamps made, plus the market is interesting to explore. If we do not see everything today, we have more time in Thimpu on our return.

    Hotel Pedling or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Drive to Punakha; visit Chimmi Lhakhang and Punakha Dzong

    We leave Thimphu in the morning and drive east to Punakha. The route climbs its way steadily on a good road to the Dochula Pass, where there are 108 chortens. At 3050m (10,000ft) the views over the eastern Himalaya are magnificent although this is most definitely weather dependent! We then descend to the valley floor and continue to sub-tropical Punakha. En-route we visit the Chimmi Lhakhang, built in 1499 to honour one of the more folkloric saints of Bhutan, Drukpa Kuenley. Nicknamed the Divine Madman or Mad Saint, he was a maverick lama, who subdued a demon who controlled the Dochu La. He built a chorten where the monastery stands, and he was reputed to have unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by suggesting outrageous behaviour and he was a great womaniser! He advocated the use of the phallus as a symbol to be painted on walls and houses, which were intended to drive away the evil eye. Most of the houses in this area are decorated with highly ornate phallic paintings. We walk through the village to the monastery with a chance to see the traditional Bhutanese style of farmhouses.

    We continue on to Punakha, which, at an altitude of 1200m is warmer than Paro or Thimpu. Punakha was once the capital of Bhutan and it is still the winter residence of the monastic body. We visit the dzong, one of the most beautiful in Bhutan and the second one to be built in 1637. This remarkable fortress is situated between the Mo and Po Chhu Rivers and it has survived many fires, an earthquake and several floods. Over the years it has been repaired and added to and has several interesting features to protect it against invasion. Overnight in Punakha or Wangdi Phodrang. Today's drive is 72km and takes about 3 hours.

    Meri Puensum Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Drive to Gangtey (Phobjikha); afternoon hike

    Today we leave the main road and drive up to the Lawala Pass and into the beautiful Gangtey Valley. If it is possible, we can visit the ruins of Wangdue Dzong, en-route. After lunch, there is plenty of time to explore one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Often called the Phobjikha Valley, this U-shaped glacial valley is wide with hardly any trees and gives the impression of a vast space. There is some of the best marshland in Bhutan and the valley is rich in flora and fauna. Look out for barking deer, sambar deer and wild boar. Himalayan Black bears have been spotted in the valley an there is a wealth of birdlife. It is also where the graceful Black-necked cranes come from Tibet during the winter season to roost. The cranes usually arrive towards the end of October and upon arrival, they fly around the monastery three times! They spend the winter in the valley and in spring they again fly three times around the monastery and fly back to Tibet for the summer. We can also visit the black crane information centre and the Gangteng Monastery. Today's drive is approximately 84km and will take 2.5 to 3 hours, although variable road conditions may mean we spend longer on the road.

    Hotel Dewachen or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Morning hike in Gangtey; drive to Wangdue Phodrang (or Punakha)

    This morning we will set off on foot from our hotel and go on a walk through the Gangtey Valley (approx. 5km/2-3 hours) - the climb up to the monastery involves around 500m ascent. This glacial valley is made up of farmlands, pastures and blue-pine forests. We will encounter herders caring for their herds, which graze on the dwarf bamboo of the area. After lunch, we drive for about 2.5/3 hours back to Wangdue Phodrang.

    On the departure starting in Kathmandu on 1st October 2019 we can stop and see the festival at Wangdue this afternoon.

    Puna Cottages or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Drive to Thimpu; sightseeing

    In the morning we drive for about 2.5-3 hours back to Thimpu. We have time in the afternoon to see any of the sights we did not see on day 3.

    Pedling Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Full day at Paro, Thimpu, Decehenpu or Genekha Festival (depending on departure date)

    The 1st October 2019 and 19th September 2020 departures will spend all day at Thimpu Festival and will drive to Paro in the early evening.

    The 31st October 2019 and 19th October 2020 departures will spend all day at Dechenphu or Genekha Festival in Thimpu and will drive to Paro in the early evening.

    The 28th March 2020 departure will drive to Paro (1hrs drive) early in the morning and spend all day at the Paro Festival.

    We spend the whole day experiencing one of the many vibrant festivals in Bhutan. During the festivals the Bhutanese gather to see the monks and lay dancers dressed in colourful brocade and silk costumes, wearing painted masks re-enacting the stories of the religious and lay history of Bhutan through music and dance. For several days there are masked dances and prayer meetings, and a general carnival atmosphere prevails as many villagers arrive to meet old friends. The Bhutanese all dress in their finest national dress for the festival and one of the highlights is the riot of colours of the magnificent silks on display. Paro and Thimpu are the most popular festivals in Bhutan whereas the one at Decehenphu is much smaller.

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Day walk to Taktsang, Tiger's Nest Monastery

    Today we hike (approx. 9km in total for the round trip) to Takstang Monastery, also known as the 'Tiger’s Nest'. This spectacular building is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. From the car park to the cafeteria viewpoint is about 2 hours uphill walk through the forest. From here we have incredible views of the monastic buildings which cling impossibly to the cliff wall. For the energetic there is the chance to walk even higher to the actual monastery. This will take another 2 hours and involves walking up and down stone steps. We highly recommend a trekking pole or you can buy a wooden stick at the car park. There are horses available up to the cafeteria for those who do not want to do the hike but please note that this is an unregulated activity and helmets are not available. We spend about an hour at the monastery looking around the temples (photography is not allowed inside) before descending to the cafeteria for lunch. After lunch we return to the car park and drive back to our hotel. There should be some time to have a look round Paro before dinner

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Fly to Kathmandu

    We transfer to the airport to check in for our flight back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing or shopping. You may want to visit the famous Durbar Square in the heart of the old city, the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, the largest Buddhist stupa on earth at Boudhanath or the Hindu temple at Pashupathinath. Another option is to take a taxi to Bhaktapur, the mediaeval city 17km east of the capital. Bhaktapur has its own Durbar Square with many temples and statues and a maze of narrow streets, which are generally quieter than the capital. Please be aware that due to the 2015 earthquake some of these places have still not been fully rebuilt. The Exodus representative in Kathmandu will be able to give you more information on what there is to see.

    Royal Singi Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Kathmandu

    End Kathmandu after breakfast. For those on group flights, these depart in the morning and will arrive in the UK the same day.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa is included in the price of the trip (USD40). You will need to send us a clear copy of your passport on booking. We need this in order to organise your Bhutan visa in advance of your arrival. Please make sure that we have a copy no later than 8 weeks before departure. The passport copy can either be sent by post or scanned, in which case it has to be very clear and in colour. If you need to get a new passport for the journey, please apply for this immediately, and send us the copy/scan as soon as you receive your new passport. It is VERY important that the information you give us is 100% correct, and that the copy of the passport you send us is the one on which you will be travelling to Bhutan. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Nepal

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry. All Nepal tourist visas are multiple entry. We recommend that you apply in advance as queues on arrival can be very long – applications can be made directly through the Nepal Embassy (by post or in person) or through our recommended visa agency, Travcour. The current cost for a visa in advance is GB£20 for a 15-day visa and GB£35 for a 30-day visa for UK passport holders (plus processing and postage fees if applying through Travcour).

The current cost for a visa on arrival is US$30 for 15 days, US$50 for 30 days, or US$125 for 90 days for UK passport holders. The fee can be paid for in any major currency at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. On arrival in the immigration hall there are 3 queues (if you have obtained a visa in advance go straight to (3) - immigration):

(Step 1) Fill in a 'Tourist Visa' form: either online before travel (recommended) via the Department of Immigration website - print the submission receipt with barcode (valid for 15 days) and bring it with you, or use the electronic kiosk machines on arrival at the airport. If using the kiosks, after inserting your passport the machine will automatically fill out an application form, take an electronic photograph of you and print a paper slip. If the machine won’t read your passport you can complete the details manually using the touch screen. We recommend taking 1 passport photo with you just in case. (Step 2) Proceed to the visa fees collection counter and pay the visa fee (we advise to take some cash) – make sure to keep the receipt. (Step 3) Lastly, go to the relevant immigration desk and present your tourist visa form, payment receipt and passport to obtain your 15, 30 or 90-day visa stamp. Please check you have been given the correct visa duration.

Non-UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

Vaccinations

Bhutan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. As of August 2019, there has been a recent outbreak of Dengue fever in southeast Nepal and we therefore recommend you take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites (such as wearing full length trousers, long sleeves and applying insect repellent during the day as well as at dawn and dusk).

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

Eating and Drinking

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 8 lunches and 8 dinners whilst in Bhutan.

The meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. We will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese). If you are finding the food either too bland and want to try more local food, or too spicy please talk to your leader and they will do what they can to accommodate your requests.

Breakfasts are an assortment of cereals, eggs, toast, fruit and often some Bhutanese dishes. Lunches will be taken in a restaurant and dinners are either taken in the hotel or at a local restaurant.

Please allow approximately £20-30 ($30-40) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Weather

We will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. On spring and autumn departures, during the day temperatures will be approx 10ºC-20ºC. At night temperatures will drop in autumn to about 3ºC-4ºC. Although these departures do not fall inside the normal monsoon season there is always a chance of rain in Bhutan and you should be prepared for this.

For the December departure the night-time temperatures can be significantly colder (sometimes below zero) and it is important to be prepared for this; please bring suitable clothing.

Is this trip for you?

The trip is rated as Grade 2: Leisurely/Moderate.

Please ensure that you are viewing the correct itinerary for your departure date as itineraries vary due to the festival schedules. 

This is a packed itinerary but Bhutan is a generally relaxed place so the tour does not feel hectic. Road conditions are generally quite good but some sections can be bumpy, and as with all mountain roads the occasional delay can occur due to landslides or adverse weather conditions. The roads are also quite twisty on the mountain sections; if you suffer from travel sickness you should bring your normal remedy.  Please be aware that due to road-widening works across many of the main roads in the country there could potentially be the occasional delay. If we are notified of any delays the leader will ensure an early start and arrange a short walk whilst the vehicle is stuck in traffic. 

This trip visits Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro which is set at an altitude of 3120m. The trek to reach the Monastery is relatively steep but we will take it very easy, and have lots of stops to relax and enjoy the stunning surroundings. If you would prefer not to trek the whole way there is a cafe you can wait in which has spectacular views of the Monastery.

There is plenty of time to enjoy the different features of each centre whilst travelling through the magnificent countryside. There is time to study the monasteries, browse in the bazaars or just relax with a cup of local tea in incredible surroundings. This trip is varied, although not demanding, and should appeal to those who like to see something a little different.

Please note that smoking is technically banned in Bhutan. Tourists are permitted to smoke in certain designated areas but must bring their own cigarettes (up to 200 cigarettes). They must, however, pay duty on any tobacco product they import (up to 200% tax). Smoking in a public place can result in a fine as long you have proof of having paid the duty. If no proof of having paid the duty can be produced then there is the risk of a minimum 3 years imprisonment.

Each itinerary visits the same places but the due to the festivals each itinerary is a little different. Please note that sometimes the sightseeing is not exactly as written in the trip notes due to opening times, days of the week, national holidays.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

During your trip to Bhutan you will spend 10 nights in tourist class hotels with en-suite facilities. The hotels are simple, local style hotels. All rooms have attached bathrooms and the rooms have heaters. All food is included at the hotels and local restaurants and is usually buffet style – it is simple and a mixture of Bhutanese, continental and Chinese.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2019
    Sarah osborn

    Great trip

    Great trip, and worth a visit to experience Bhutan and the festivals

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Tigers nest

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be put off by the price as in Bhutan everything is included except drinks etc. and money needed for souvenirs. I only spent £80 in Bhutan on drinks etc. its generally £2-3 for a beer. If you have time, and willing to pay a bit more for a few nights accommodation its worth coming out early and spending a few days in Kathmandu, which is always a great place to visit. The hotel I stayed in was very central and walking district to Thamel and Durbar square.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Laura and Gavin Jones

    Beautiful Bhutan

    This trip provides a fascinating insight into a little known destination. We loved it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlight of the trip was the trek to the Tiger's Nest Monastery. It looks unreachable (and strangely familiar from the famous photos) and then suddenly you are standing outside! The Thimpu Festival was also spectacular.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kemey was organised, articulate and incredibly eager to do anything he could to make us comfortable. We were given a very warm welcome.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The day that we visited the Thimpu Festival it rained. This is apparently not unusual. We were therefore sitting out in the rain for about 3.5 hours. It helped to have a good waterproof, something to wrap around your legs to keep them dry (poncho) and a sit mat so that we were not sitting directly on wet concrete. The temperature varies throughout the trip - it helps to have layers. We travelled in October and it was warmer than we expected.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Angela Coates

    Breathtaking Bhutan

    This is a trip of a lifetime to the most beautiful place on the earth. Such beauty from the people, the environment, the culture and from the expert care of the team who show you their fantastic country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky enough to go on the Thimphu Festival departure - and were even luckier to get to the Gangtey Monastery to see the festival up in the glacial valley - it was spectacular! To have been able to see the festival in Thimphu, to learn and understand more about the culture - to then be lucky enough to experience another festival high in the mountains was just a magical and beautiful occasion - we then walked through the valley back to the hotel. This was the best experience during the trip, but a trip of epic experiences, included of course was the walk to the Tigress Nest Monastery, all of the Dzong's which I adored and just learning and seeing this great country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kemey was wonderful. Patient, knowledgable, flexible and very very kind. He made the trip for all of us, he packed the days with so many activities and made sure we had everything we needed. Thank you Kemey for showing us the heart of Bhutan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The September trip was certainly not cold in any way - so don't pack too many warm clothes, instead take lots of layers as you move from high passes to tropical valleys in the same day. Change more money than you think you need at the start, there is very little opportunity to do this during the trip (or if you do the rate is very bad). Sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery - the team will take care of you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are thinking about this trip and are not sure I would urge you to book it and just go. This is a magical land, with the most friendly beautiful people - I want to go back again for more festivals and for the flowers in spring.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Glynis Howe

    Bhutan March 2018

    Bhutan is a beautiful country, the air is very fresh and the in the main is very clean - an antidote to Kathmandu! This is a trip that takes in the cultural highlights of Bhutan as well as letting you see and walk in the beautiful countryside. The people are friendly and welcoming - browsing the shops and markets is easy -if you have been to India you will know what I mean ! There is no hard sell! There is a fair ammount of travel but this is quite relaxing and there are plenty of stops. Food is always buffet style and becomes very monotonous - you could try asking for an a la carte menu and pay extra, otherwise it is noodles, rice, veg and, if you are not vegetarian some rather poor quality meat dishes - and you get this twice a day! My food highlight was a large bowl of scrambled eggs at the Tigers Nest! Take snacks!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to name one, I loved the festival, the climb to Tigers Nest Monastery and being blessed by the head Lama there, discussions with our guide Kunzang who was so knowledgable and informative about his country, the walks in the countryside, all of the Dzongs, nunnery......too much!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kunzang was the most amazing guide I have had on an Exodus trip, he was a very gentle man, caring, considerate and very knowledgable. If we made a request he would try his best to ensure it was achieved, for example he managed to get the hotels to make dhal for the vegetarians amongst the group! Also he just looked after everyone so well. I must also say that our driver, Yeshay was excellent, and also joined in with the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As I said, take snacks, also, the weather was in the main bright and sunny and I know some people had taken lots of warm clothing - however it did get cold in Gantey and so you will need something...maybe layer up. Also do not forget something with long sleeves for the monasterys. In Kathmandu our guide took us to a cultural show with food on the 1st night and this was very poor value and to be avoided - he also took us to a place called the Ship on our last night and this was not brilliant! The food in the hotel is much better if you do not want to go out and there are lots of places in Thamel - research it and make a suggestion to the group!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bhutan is amazing and I would recommend a vist - the flight into the airport is not for the feint hearted!!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Sarah Turner

    Beautiful Bhutan

    Bhutan is a beautiful, peaceful country that is very much worth experiencing. The people, including and, in fact, especially our guide were lovely, helpful, genuine and gentle. The Tiger’s Nest is well worth the arduous trek up to and the Dzongs, nunneries and monestaries were all a privilege to see. In some ways the experience felt like going back in time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being given a blessing by the head monk in the Tiger’s Nest monestary. Seeing how caring our guide, Kunzhang, was towards my mother. Witnessing a religious ceremony, including chanting, drumming and horn playing, in a monestary.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Can not fault him. Went out of his way to support my mother.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that the festival you attend may be crowded. Surprisingly for us, it was by no means the highlight of the trip. Note that the weather forecasts for Bhutan are not accurate: we packed far too many warm clothes. It can get a bit chilly in the evening, but during the daytime it’s often sunny and warm, even in March, when we visited. (Sadly, it was explained to us that the climate has changed in Bhutan due to global warming). Take some of your own food, especially if you have dietary requirements, as it is bland and similar wherever you go: hotels seem to think that tourists want only veg, rice, noodles and poor quality meat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The restaurant in the hotel in Kathmandu is excellent: the local guide may suggest you go to a different one, but this is likely to be much inferior.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Vanessa Kanesanathan

    A fantastic insight into a beautiful country!

    Bhutan is probably the most beautiful country I have visited. It has such a rick landscape and culture, which is mostly unspoiled by tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching Tiger's Nest Monastery

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sangay was brilliant and a true advocate for his country - his passion for Bhutan (and Bhutanese food!) was very clear!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your hiking boots for the treks.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go to Bhutan - very much recommended!
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Mark Hilton

    Wonderful Bhutan

    Wonderful buildings, incredible Bhuddist traditions, lovely scenery, friendly people - a really peaceful, largely unspoilt and unique country - and a photographer's paradise. The only down side is the dangerous road from Wangdue to Gantey.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Tigers Nest was just wonderful as were many of the monasteries and forts - mesmerising with the monks chanting and the haunting sound of the horns and drums. The mountain village of Gantey was also wonderful so natural and unspoilt - just lovely - and its local festival and market much nicer than the very large main Thimpu festival.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A really nice, knowledgeable and helpful guy - although safety and timekeeping weren't strengths

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take waterproofs and walking boots. And be aware that the roads are inherently dangerous with large drops in some places.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Alison Dixon

    Festivals of Bhutan

    Beautiful country Calm happy people

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to Tiger's nest monastery Gangtey festival

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Friendly,knowledgeable ,funny and kind. He gave me a hot water bottle at the hotel at Gangtey to keep me warm as there was a power cut.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a small waterproof cushion to sit on at the festival. We had a wet day and I spent 4hrs sitting in a puddle of water!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The road to and from Gangtey was very unstable due to excessive rainfall. The drivers and guides were excellent and we were navigated safely but I think the road should have been closed as we were passing landslides which forced us to the very edge of a mud track that was falling away into the valleys below. I asked to get out and walk over the most unstable parts but the guide encouraged me to stay in the bus to avoid falling rock. Travelling on this road was beyond the risk I am prepared to take for sight seeing but once we were on our way it wasn't easy to turn back. I would not take this risk again.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Ross Pezzack

    Wonderful Exploration of a unique country

    A unique adventure exploring a Buddhist country who embrace their monarchy and the importance of happiness. Great monasteries, beautiful scenery, festivals, and some hikes all make this a great trip. Hotels higher quality than I expected, adequate food with pretty good beer, and a great guide who spoke excellent English. Well organized tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I woke up early in Gangtey, decided to go out to get some pictures in the mist. I walked past the monastery only to find an early morning festival and blessings. I walked in to be surrounded by local people being surrounded by dancers and people seeking a blessing by the monks. I stepped aside to not invade their personal event but the devotion and love of the locals to Buddhism was very moving, a very special moment. Tigers Nest was very special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Did very well, represented his country very well. Always adaptable and trying to please us. Able to pass on knowledge of the monarchy, Buddhism and his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get more than the $50 suggested by our guide at airport, depending on u $100-200 better, u can always convert back when leaving or use it as your tip. ATMs never worked for us in small towns so bring $US, even banks sometimes do not have a money delivery so u cannot exchange. Costs are just drinks but u may want to buy local crafts (often no cards taken) so have local currency. If worried about tiger nest monastery hike (especially if u got a virus in Nepal) consider doing horseback riding half way up. I would suggest u embrace the local festivals as a religious celebration we are lucky enough to observe but not invade. If u are combining trips, the hotel in Kathmandu has relatively inexpensive fast laundry service, my quick dry clothes were slow to dry in Kathmandu.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    U may want to add another extra day in Kathmandu to explore the region. Several of us developed GI problems in Nepal so come prepared. Nepal visa on line works very well but u can do at airport.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Leonard Raphael

    Festivals of Bhutan

    A long awaited trip became a reality and the reality is now a memory. But not just a normal travel memory, moreso something out of the ordinary, as I had probably anticipated. Unusual architecture. People with a different outlook on life. Different pursuits. Simpler pleasures. Happy people. Clean air. Wholesome food - spicy if desired. A lifestyle in flux as the county and the people join the 21st. Century. A tinge of regret that what makes Bhutan unique will not last. I'm glad to have experienced this unusual place before it disappears into the "Global Village".

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    * Climbing to the Tigers Nest monastery ,,, physically challenging ... mentally and spiritually stimulating. * Witnessing the festivals at Thimpu (capital city) and Phobjikha (small village) and interacting with the people in festive mode at each event. Calm and reserved people give way to excited participants. * Being in a country where the "National Highway" is an abominable "track" and everybody (locals and tourists) enjoys it ... part of the Bhutan's famous Happiness Index.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was a quiet man with a calm personality, ideal for his situation in this unique country. He was helpful, knowledgeable, friendly and humorous, willing and able to expound an all aspects of Bhutan, the people, the way of life, the history and the cultural changes that tourism in introducing . His input at every level enhanced our experience and added to the enjoyment of our trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    * Don't have expectations or preconceptions of Bhutan. The reality will in all likelihood be different. Accept the calm of the place and the people. Enjoy the uniqueness for what it is. Be part of it while it is as it is. *Try for a window seat on the left when flying in to Bhutan and the same on the right when flying out. Hope for a clear sky and you'll enjoy a magic view of the Himalayas.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I enjoyed in equal parts the atrocious road condition, the beautiful clean air (by law 65% of the country must remain at forested National Park) and the people and their attitude to life, not the mention the visual enjoyment of the unusual architecture and mountain scenery. I felt fortunate to see this unusual place before its character changes and possibly disappears, although the current generation are determined not to let this happen . I sincerely hope they're true to their word!

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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