Journey to a Himalayan mountain kingdom
As you’ll discover on a Bhutan holiday, snow-capped Himalayan backdrops only add to the magic of this mysterious mountain kingdom.
Bhutan’s epithet, Land of the Thunder Dragon, may be a reference to its branch of Buddhism, but it paints a compelling picture of a mysterious and exotic land. Defined by snowy Himalayan peaks, it’s easy to imagine why this mountainous kingdom is a place where the legend of the yeti lives on.
The only country in the world to measure its own prosperity by how happy its population is, Bhutan isn’t afraid to do things differently. Journey to Bhutan and witness ancient traditions preserved as they’ve been for centuries. Discover sweeping Himalayan backdrops, meet friendly locals and see enigmatic monasteries clinging improbably to steep valley sides.
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*Conditions apply. £500 off per couple or £250 off per person. Valid on new Asia Small Group Tour bookings of 10 days or more in duration for departures between 29 January to 30 June 2016. Offer valid for sale: 29 January - 28 February 2016. Offer subject to availability. Offer may be withdrawn without notice and are not combinable with any other offers unless stated. Please check all prices, availability and other information booking. Prices correct as at 29 January 2016 but may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Insider Journeys online booking conditions apply. ABTA Y583X. ATOL 6732. Issued 29 January 2016.
This historic town is small enough for you to get to know it with a leisurely stroll round its quiet streets. Discover the ins and outs of Paro's military history at the Paro Dzong, a fortress that's seen its fair share of skirmishes. Venture up the slopes of the picturesque Paro Valley and see Paro's most iconic sight: the Taktsang Goemba, or Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched precariously on the cliffside. If you travel here in March, you could join in with the festivities of the colourful Paro Festival, one of the biggest in Bhutan's religious calendar.
17th century Punakha was Bhutan's capital for 300 years until the 1950s; the country's first king was crowned here in 1907. You might notice that it has a milder climate, which makes for a pleasant experience of exploring its captivating monastery. Occupying a commanding position on an island at the confluence of the rivers Pho Chu and Mo Chu, this impressive building looks at its best in spring, when it's surrounded by beautiful lilac blooms.
Thimphu is Bhutan's diminutive capital and largest city, located 2,300m up in the Thimphu Valley and distinguished from other capital cities by the curious fact of its being the only one to have no traffic lights. Home to the King, the city has numerous historical sites for you to explore, notably the magnificent Trashi Chhoe Dzong. There's also a colourful weekend market, held on the banks of the Wang Chhu, where, among bizarre provisions such as yak leg, you can buy incense so that you can take the evocative smells of Bhutan back home with you.
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Attend a traditional festival
Bhutan’s religious festivals are alive with colour and atmosphere as locals gather to dance, pray, celebrate and socialise.
Climb to Tiger’s Nest near Paro
Ascend the path to Taktsang Goemba, known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ monastery. This cliff-side monastery perched high above the Paro Valley is Bhutan’s most famous and the trek is richly rewarded with spectacular views and a historic temple complex.
Discover the dzongs
First built in the 12th century, dzongs have played an important part in the history of Bhutan, originally used as monasteries, they later became defensive positions as well as being used for religious and cultural activities. Dzongs have also stored national treasures, books and records, as well as weapons. These days they house local government offices and host important ceremonies.
Sweeping views of Himalayas
As you travel through mountain passes like the Dochu La, incredible mountain vistas unfold revealing the mountain valleys and forested peaks.
Explore one of Asia's most unusual capitals, Thimpu, still dominated by traditional architecture and ringed by pine-covered hills.
See an archery competition
Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and the skills on display at an archery competition are as amazing as the fine costumes.
Be entranced by the ever-changing mountain valleys and forested peaks as you travel one of Asia's most natural environments.
Colourful weekend market in Thimpu
Wander the stalls of the colourful weekend farmers’ market in Thimpu, with local produce and incense on one side, and handicrafts across the small footbridge.
Be immersed in one of Asia's most devout and isolated ancient cultures.
Walk through welcoming villages
Setting off on foot down cobbled lanes, pass white-washed houses where locals go about their daily activities much as they have for decades.
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