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If you’d prefer to pay in CHF, please give us a call: 056 631 86 64 and we’ll get you on your way to a new Exodus adventure.

Tiger's Nest in Bhutan

Festivals of Bhutan

12 days
from
£3,449
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Traveller ratings
4.7 / 5 from 10 reviews >
Trip code: 
AIB
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Festival Holidays
Min age:
18
Group size:
4–16

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 departure visits the Paro festival, whilst the autumn departure takes in the Thimpu festival. The December departure visits the lesser-known Trongsa festival, which is smaller and offers a more intimate experience.

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

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:
+41 (0)56 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari).

    If there is time in the afternoon there will be a visit to visit Kyichu Lakang; one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Full day at Paro festival

    We spend the whole day experiencing the vibrant Paro Festival. Hundreds gather to see the monks dressed in colourful brocade, silk costumes and wearing painted masks re-enacting the story of the gompa's divinity though 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.

    Please note for the 2018 Thimphu/Trongsa festival departures a different itinerary will apply; please refer to 'Is this trip for you?' section for more details.

    Rema Resort / Dewachen Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Drive to Thimphu

    Today we have an hour’s drive to the capital, Thimphu, stopping at the Zilukha Nunnery and Kyichu Lakang en route. The Kyichu Lakhang was one of a series of temples built by the 7th century Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. After being lost for a few centuries the temple was rediscovered in the 17th century and additions followed in the late 19th century and in the 1960s, following the same style as the original temple. 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.

    Hotel Bhutan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Morning drive to Punakha

    We leave Thimphu in the morning and drive east to Punakha. The route climbs steeply in places to the Dochula Pass. At 3050m (10,000ft) the views over the eastern Himalaya are magnificent although this is most definitely weather dependent! We descend to the valley floor and continue to sub-tropical Punakha. At an altitude of 1350m the difference in temperature and flora is apparent. Punakha was the old capital of Bhutan and the dzong was the second one to be built in Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is situated between two rivers and it has survived many fires, an earthquake and a glacial flood. 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 130kms and takes about 3 hours 30 minutes.

    Hotel Zangdo Pelri or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Morning hike; to Gangtay

    This morning we hike up to the Chime Lakhang (monastery), a 15th century monastery built to honour one of the more folkloric saints of Bhutanese tradition, Lama Drukpa Kuenley. The lama was known for his foul-mouth, alcohol-smelling breath and insatiable lust towards women, yet he is revered as a great saint by most Bhutanese. Women who cannot conceive believe that if they get blessed by the wooden phallus they will get pregnant.

    From here we continue across the Lawala Pass towards the Gangtey Valley, visiting the ruins of Wangdue Dzong, en route. Arriving at the Gangtey Valley, we will visit Gangtey monastery, the largest private monastery in Bhutan. 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 8

    Morning hike in Gangtay; drive to Wangdue

    This morning we will go on a hike through the Gangtey Valley. 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. Gangtey is famous for sightings of the rare Black necked cranes, which fly from Tibet in late October and spend the winter here before returning to Tibet in spring. It may be possible to see this beautiful bird on the December departure (Trongsa Festival).

    In the afternoon we drive for about 2 hours back to Wangdue Phodrang.

    Hotel Vara or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    To Thimphu

    In the morning we drive for a couple of hours back to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, where we will have a chance to visit the Tashichho Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most stately and impressive buildings. It has been the seat of the government of Bhutan since 1952 and houses the throne room and offices of the king. We will also visit the impressive golden-spired Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 by the Royal Grandmother in memory of the Third King, H M Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. In the evening there will be time to explore the market.

    Hotel Bhutan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Drive to Paro; Tiger's Nest Monastery hike

    This morning we drive back to Paro (1 hours drive). We will then have a hike (approx. 9km) to Taktsang Monastery, also known as 'Tiger’s Nest' Monastery. 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. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then we hike to a viewpoint for the 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.

    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. Here is the old royal palace, with its intricate woodcarving and four fine towers. Or you may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath or take an optional trip to Bhaktapur, the mediaeval city a few miles 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 recent earthquake some of these places may be closed; your guide 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 (USD20). 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 6 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. If you wish to apply before departure the current visa cost is £20 for a 15 day visa and £35 for a 30 day visa for UK passport holders. The current cost of a visa on arrival is US$25 for 15 days, US$40 for 30 days or if extending your stay $100 for 90 days. All are multiple entry. The visa on arrival fee can be paid for in cash in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros. You will also need a passport photo. Application forms are available in the immigration hall (or for electronic passports there are visa registration machines which, after inserting your passport, automatically fill out a form for you). You must firstly join the queue to pay the visa fee, and then go to the relevant immigration desk to obtain your 15, 30 or 90 day visa stamp. There can be long queues for visas on arrival.

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. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

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).

Breakfasts are an assortment of hot food and fruit, and lunches will either be a hot picnic or taken at a nearby restaurant.

Please allow approximately £20-25 ($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.

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 3048m. 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 differing 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 permited 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.

Alternative itineraries:

The three departures in September 2018 (Ex London 12/09/2018, 16/09/2018 and 10/12/2018), will follow a very similar itinerary to that given above. However they are ordered differently as the September departures visit the Thimphu festival, and the December departure visits the Trongsa festival.

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 12/9/18 is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro; sightseeing in Paro
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) To Thimpu; visit Memorial Chorten, painting schools and handicrafts; overnight in Thimphu
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Drive to Punakha; visit Punakha Dzong
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Visit Chimi Lakang Monastery; drive to Gangtey via Wangdue Dzong
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London) Hike in Gangtey and to Wangdue
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) To Thimphu; festival; overnight Thimpu
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) Morning Thimpu festival; afternoon drive to Paro; overnight Paro
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Hike to Taktsang Tiger's Nest Monastery; overnight in Paro
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) End Kathmandu

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 16/9/18 is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro; sightseeing in Paro
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) To Thimphu; archery, Memorial Chorten and Buddha Point.
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Thimpu festival; overnight in Thimphu
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Drive to Punakha; visit Punakha Dzong
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London)Visit Chimi Lakang Monastery; drive to Gangtey via Wangdue Dzong
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) Walk in and around Gangtey Valley; drive to Wangdue
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) To Thimphu; visit Simtokha Dzong
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Drive to Paro and hike to Tiger Nest; overnight Paro
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) End Kathmandu

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 10/12/18 is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro; drive to Thimphu
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) Thimphu sightseeing; drive to Punakha
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lakang and drive to Trongsa
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Full day Trongsa festival
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London) Gangtey Valley and Black Necked Cranes sanctuary visit; overnight Punakha
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) To Paro; Simtokha Dzong and Tachogang Monastery en route 
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) Paro sightseeing
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Hike to Tiger's Nest
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) End Kathmandu

Call for general departures:
+41 (0)56 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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:
+41 (0)56 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
+41 (0)56 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • 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!
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Joan Hilda Shand

    Joan

    A great trip to a country opening up to Tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Tigers Nest and also the Thimpu Festival.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great leader, very informative. Also wonderful driver on terrible roads.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of driving on rough roads.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A wonderful experience and I would highly recommend this trip.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Raymond Thornton

    Open, friendly and devoutly Budhist

    Ancient fortresses, monasteries, mountainous scenery and colourful festivals. Friendly, open people, happy to help.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Travel during festival time. It will be the highlight of you trip, along with the walk to the Tigress nest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kunthay was well organised, knowledgeable and made a excellent ambassador for his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring ear plugs as there are hundreds of stray dogs that bark during the night. Driving times are relatively short by Exodus standards but roads are winding and bumpy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be prepared for delayed flights and dusty Kathmandu. Food is tasty but predictable. Good for vegetarians. Hotel rooms are very good.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Neil Robson

    The unforgettable festivals of Bhutan

    This was a true trip of a lifetime - 10 days in-depth vitit to the last Shangri-La. Mountains, monasteries, dzongs and monks - and dancing monks

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Paro tsechu festival was an honour to be allowed to attend - many hundreds of local Bhutanese enjoyed the music, dancing and the spectacle of this amazing week long festival - and only a couple of dozen westerners. It is an honour to be with such humble and serene people at such a joyous time in their calendar!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kunzang Namgye was without doubt the best tour leader ever! Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful and proactive, he MADE this trip so special for us by bringing his personal touches and being genuinely enthusiastic about sharing his culture with the group. He is an asset of the Bhutan Travel Service and Exodus

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware that at Easter it can be very cold after dark at altitude - lots of layers are helpful. Also, when attending the festival, if you wear traditional Bhutanese garments (the gho for the men or the kira for the women) you will get a really enthusiastic response from all the local people and it us a great ice-breaker. The robes can be bought in Thimphu for GBP £20 and upwards. It's a great investment.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was tasty and hearty, but it becMe a bit same-same after a few days. If you are in a hotel for a few days (as we were in Park) interact with the proprietors a bit and see if you can make some suggestions. We had seen that fresh asparagus was just in season and sonasked if we could have it one evening - and the chef even asked how we wanted it cooked - which was fun (and delicious). Also, always carry a good torch/ flashlight in case the power is out - or for highlighting interesting but dark corners of dzongs/ monasteries!
  • Reviewed December 2010
    Anonymous

    FESTIVALS OF BHUTAN

    A fascinating place to visit - a really interesting "hidden" corner of the world that is well worth exploring.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think just landing at Paro airport was amazing.  Quite apart from the actual descent, zig-zagging through the valleys (rather close to some very large mountains), it's like a fairytale scene when you arrive: beautiful scenery, amazing buildings, and everyone in national costume.  Not all airports are like this!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our local guide (Kinley) in Bhutan was fantastic - he knew everything about his country and made sure we saw whatever we wanted.  The Exodus team in Kathmandu were all very friendly and well organised too. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The food in Nepal and Bhutan was all excellent, although you might be advised to stick to a mainly non-meat diet.  Bhutanese cuisine is renowned for its spiciness and the use of chillis as a main dish, not just as a flavouring.  There is no need to worry, though, if you don't like hot food as they don't serve this sort of thing to the tourists.  In fact, being a real spice fan myself, I had to plead with my guide to get local food!  Momos (dumplings) in Nepal are delicious, addictive and very cheap.  Also, the veggie curry I had for breakfast every day in the hotel in Kathmandu is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted, even at 6am on my last day.  Note to non curry lovers - they have eggs, bacon, toast and muffins as well, if that's more your thing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only low point was the extension to Chitwan in Nepal.  We had hoped for a real wildlife adventure to round off our trip but instead found dingy, dirty accommodation and a handful of staff who couldn't really be bothered.   Maybe this was due to visiting out of season when the place was practically shut down: I wouldn't advise you to visit during the monsoon season unless you are a big fan of leeches.   It also took 8 hours each way to get there, so our actual time in Chitwan was rather more limited than we realised.  Even the frisson of a tiger loose in the village wasn't as exciting as it could have been.  Despite the whole village turning out to watch the government officers on elephants with their tranquiliser guns closing in on the tiger hidden in a rice field, we were shepherded back to our lodge.  I could go on but I gave much more specific feedback to Exodus on my feedback form, so I won't go on about it any more!
  • Reviewed April 2008
    Anonymous

    FESTIVALS OF BHUTAN

    Fabulous! A once in a life time and a definite 'do before you die'.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to adiquitely explain! The people were the highlight. This country is still largely un spoiled by tourism, i hope it stays that way. The children have no fear of strangers and love to see thier photos on the back of your digital camera. We were welcomed so warmly and seen as a novelty which was lovely. The most powerful moment for me was being invited into a section of one of the monestaries which tourist arnt usually allowed into. It was beautifully decorated and we recieved a blessing from one of the monks before we left.The most peaceful moment was standing ontop of a mountain over looking the capital, Thimpu, surrounded by fluttering prayer flags.The most heart warming was being invited to our guides home to meet his daughter and see how Bhutanese people really live.Last but not least - arriving in Nepal to co-incide with Holi, one of the main Hindu festivals where people throw coloured paint at eachother.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was fantastic. He allowed our itineray to be flexible and managed to meet our varied expectation and aspirations. He really made the trip worthwhile. In nepal we didnt really have a guide but we had a local rep who explained to us about the local area and how to get to the places we might want to see. He also arranged for us to do an extra guided tour of Baktapur which we paid for out of our spending money.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take clothes for varied weather conditions - it was very warm while we were there (march depature) and i ended up having to wash most of my tops to wear them again. The temples and the festival require women to wear loose fitting clothes with arms covered to below the elbow. Skirts shouldnt be above the knee. Also do not wear hats at the festival or in temples as it causes offense. We were advised not to change travellers cheques at the airport which was a disaster. Most hotels dont hold enough funds to change travellers cheques of any size. This left several people in our group without spending money for most of the trip. My advise would be take US dollars which are widely accepted. Nepalese rupees are also accepted and change travellers cheques at PARO AIRPORT as you cant change them anywhere else easily. There was no problem with using travellers cheques in Nepal. In case of emergencies it is worth taking a first aid kit which has some steralised needles in it. That way if you need to go to hospital, for what ever reason, you dont need to worry about hygiene.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some people may be put off by the cost of travelling on this trip - once you visit the country you can see the value of trying to keep the numbers of tourists down and although the trip is expensive it wouldnt be anywhere near as enjoyable if thier small population was overwhelmed. Its well worth the money!

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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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