Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 12
Accommodation: 3-4 star hotels
Transport: A/C minibus/people-carrier
Highlights: Tiger's Nest monastery, Punakha & Paro Dzongs, Phobkikha Valley, Thimphu market, Buddhist culture
This 8-day tour of Bhutan provides a fantastic chance to explore one of the world's most remote and fascinating countries. The itinerary is designed to provide a balance between some historic and cultural sightseeing with some short walks through the Bhutanese countryside and some beautiful scenery. You'll also enjoy plenty of Bhutanese food and learn a lot about Bhutanese culture and Buddhist way of life.
The tour starts in Paro where we greet you at the airport, which is surely one of most attractive in the world. We visit Paro Dzong and learn about how these beautiful buildings with their joint monastic and civic function have administred life in Bhutan over the centuries. We cross over the higher Dochu La Pass, hopefully enjoying some great Himalayan mountain views, and explore the Punakha Valley with its huge riverside Dzong, and also the Phobjikha Valley which is famous for being the home to many endangered Black Necked Cranes which migrate here from Tibet. We also arrange the itineraries so that you can visit the huge weekend market in the capital Thimphu which displays produce and crafts from all over the country.
We have timed several of the departure dates to fit in with some of Bhutan's special 'tsechus', which are important religious festivals held in and around the Dzongs with masked dances, processions and other activities. The itineraries on these dates may be adjusted slightly to make the most of the festivals and take account of the limited accommodation availability at the time.
Flights into Bhutan are available with the national airline, Druk Air, from Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi & Calcutta and Kathmandu. We offer a range of options to add a little time in India, Nepal, Singapore or Thailand to enable you to connect on with your main international flights.
If our scheduled departure dates don't work for you, or you would prefer not to travel with a group, then we can also run this tour privately for you. Please contact us for more information and prices.
Paro airport provides a first taste of Bhutanese architecture and is surely one of the world's most beautiful. In the afternoon we visit Ta Dzong, originally a Watch Tower and now the National Museum. Then walk down to Paro Dzong and learn how these spectacular buildings have combined the monastic and civic administration of Bhutan for centuries.
Single room supplement (BHSGBE)
Druk Air flights from Kathmandu
Druk Air flights from Delhi
Druk Air flights from Bangkok
Druk Air flights from Singapore
Extra day in Paro - pre-tour
Cross the 3,050m Dochu La Pass 3,050m today on steep winding roads through beautiful dense forests. In the Punakha Valley, a short walk visits the Chimi Lhakhang Temple, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley or 'The Divine Madman' and renowned for blessing barren women with fertility. Keen birdwatchers can drive to the Che Le La Pass at sunrise in search of Blood Grouse and the Himalayan Monal.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
A morning walk to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten takes in river banks, mixed forest and terraced fields of chillies and vegetables. Next we visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong, which lies between two rivers known as Phochu and Mochu which symbolise masculine and feminine co-existence. After lunch, drive on to Gangtey.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We enjoy a nature walk today in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley, famous for the rare black-necked cranes that make it home between October and March after an arduous migration over the Himalayan mountains from the Tibetan plateau (the annual Crane festival in November is well worth a visit). We also visit the Gangtey Monastery.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Re-cross the Dochu La Pass to the capital Thimphu. En-route visit the ancient Dzong at Wangdue Phodrang, which is relatively un-restored and gives a real feel for how these buildings have run life in Bhutan over the centuries.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today's sightseeing in Thimphu includes the Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum, School of Arts & Crafts and the Takin research centre. All our tours also aim to fit in with the huge weekend food and crafts market, which is a great place to pick up a souvenir of your time in Bhutan. A stop at the national stadium to view an archery tournament is also well worthwhile.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Start early for a 2-3 hours steep uphill walk to the iconic Taktshang monastery, perched on a sheer 800m rock face. Taktshang is probably Bhutan's most famous site and attracts pilgrims from all over Bhutan. In the afternoon, visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong and the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. In the evening you could enjoy a relaxing traditional hot stone bath to ease any tired limbs.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Your time is free until we transfer you to the airport for departure. We can book your international Druk Air flights into Bhutan and extension options in Kathmandu, Delhi and Bangkok are available to enable connections to your onward flights.
Extra day in Paro - post-tour
We have timed several of the departure dates to fit in with some of Bhutan's festivals and 'tsechus', which are important religious festivals held in and around the Dzongs with masked dances, processions and other activities. The itineraries on these dates may be adjusted slightly to make the most of the festivals and take account of the limited accommodation availability at the time.
This tour can also be booked privately and customised for travel anytime through the year. We recommend booking early for festival departure dates as flights into Bhutan tend to fill up quickly around these dates.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Hotel Pema Karpo
Hotel Pema Karpo is located in the heart of enviable distance from some of the most historic landmarks in our Bhutanese history - such as the Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and Chime Lhakhang.
Hotel Pema Karpo-or can be translated as the white lotus, is located on the bank of punatsangchu river. It is a 1.5 km drive from the new Bajo town.
Each room overlooks the breath taking view of the silver sands of Punatsangchu river or the beautiful dusky terraced paddy fields . Hotel Pema Karpo is located in the heart of enviable distance from some of the most historic landmarks in our Bhutanese history - such as the Punakha dzong, Wangdue phodrang dzong and Chime lhakhang.
Rooms are furnished with our Bhutanese hospitality essence and keeping the comfort of our valued guests as our priority.
This impressive stone-and-wood building in Tabiting village is the first choice for most travellers. The rooms are large and stylish, and the good restaurant has floor-to-ceiling bay windows that offer great valley views.
Encircled by pine forests in the hidden valley of Phobjikha - Gantey Gompa, home to the very rare Black Necked cranes, the Dewachen Hotel features sixteen double rooms, modern bathroom fittings, heavenly bedding comforts, and a restaurant with a magnificent view and the finest cuisine prepared by a professional chef.
At Dewachen, you'll find each detail well thought of and your needs anticipated each time you return. For your enjoyment and recreation, we have a cocktail lounge, horse riding facilities, and cultural programs on request and for a fee. A traditional hot stone bath to unwind and end your day. With a capacity to accommodate 30 persons, our medium sized, convention hall equipped with support facilities can easily handle your most ambitious conventions.
With rooms heated by iron stove and hot water bags in your bed, the coldest days and nights are not a challenge. So come away to unwind and enjoy being pampered and catered to. After spending a little time with us, you’ll come away looking at life with a difference.
Hotel Migmar is ideally situated amidst scenic landscape of Thimphu, on the expressway and about one km from city centre. It is built on contemporary theme and yet has a unique blend of Bhutanese architecture and modern amenities.
Hotel Migmar is ideally situated amidst scenic landscape of Thimphu, on the expressway and about one km from city centre. It is built on contemporary theme and yet has a unique blend of Bhutanese architecture and modern amenities.
The hotel offers 17 standard rooms, each having an approximate area of 156 sq. feet and equipped with 2 single sized bed with 8" to 10" mattress, LCD Screen with DVD attached, Mini Bar, Tea Coffee Maker, Table lap between two beds and a broad back light at the back of the bed, all walls with wallpaper cloth (silk) in different patterns, well furnished bath room with auto heating system and Chandelier at the center of the room. The hotel also has 8 Deluxe rooms each having an approximate area of 400 sq ft with similar amenities. Hotel's Executive Suites of 625 sq ft is elegantly designed and offer required modern facilities.
Lavish buffets are laid daily in the multi-cuisine restaurant serving Bhutanese, European Oriental and Indian delicacies. The all day MIGMAR Restaurant is the perfect option for a quick snack, beverages or main courses with an experience of the great outdoors.
The bar by the restaurant offers vast choice of international and local beverages.
The Hotel also has a steam bath and a dip pool of international standard, housed just outside the main building.
Dusit D2 Yarkay Hotel
The Dusit D2 hotel in Thimphu is an excellent well run hotel in the heart of Thimphu. Built and decorated in traditional Bhutanese style it also features a Thai spa and Thai restaurant.
The Dusit D2 Yarkay Thimphu hotel is an excellent well run hotel in the heart of Thimphu. Each of the four guest room floors is dedicated to a different animal from the Bhutanese national folktale the Four Harmonious Friends which features an elephant, rabbit, monkey and partridge working together). There are 83 well appointed en-suite guest rooms and suites in total.
The hotel is built and decorated in traditional Bhutanese style with local artworks and extensive facilities. These include a Thai spa, a fully equipped gym, bar, and all-day restaurant, plus the first authentic Thai restaurant in Bhutan.
The RKPO Green Resort is located in the heart of the Punakha Valley, between Wanduephodrang and Punakha Dzongs, and with forests to the sides and terraced rice fields leading down to the valley floor. The hotel has 34 deluxe rooms and 4 suites.
The RKPO Green Resort is located in the heart of the Punakha Valley, between Wanduephodrang dzongkhag (district) and Punakha dzongkhag. This gives it an excellent location for exploring the valley, with forests to the sides and terraced rice fields taking you down to the valley floor. It is also just a 5 minute walk down the hillside to the famous Chimmi Lhakhang, the temple of the divine mad man.
The resort's design reflects traditional Bhutanese architecture, with spacious comfortable rooms having modern accessories. The hotel also features free WiFi, a library, bar and restaurant, and limited spa facilities.
There are 34 deluxe rooms and 4 suites spread across several cottages with gardens between.
Tashi Namgay Resort
Tashi Namgay Resort is located in the heart of the Paro Valley and is spread over 5 acres of gardens, traditionally designed cottages and rooms. Rooms are large and comfortable and well equipped.
Tashi Namgay Resort is located in the heart of the Paro Valley on the banks of the hills, overlooking Paro International Airport (the airport only has a few flights each day so is not a big disturbance). The resort itself is spread over 5 acres of gardens, and offers several additional activities on-site including traditional Bhutanese sports & games, a Damsebu garden walk, bike rides and Bhutanese cooking classes. There are several good short hikes from the premises, including to Guru Nay and a great viewpoint over the airport which is probably one of the world's most picturesque. Buildings have been constructed in traditional Bhutanese design with concern for the environment with solar lights, wooden shingle roofing and mud-brick walls adding to the character and sustainability.
The standard deluxe rooms are spacious and comfortable at 38 sq m, and have views over Paro Dzong. They also feature underfloor heating in the bathrooms, minibar, TV and WiFi internet. There are also several larger suites and cottages.
The hotel also features a gym, spa, bar & restaurant and comfortable lounge area.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
The accommodation on this tour is at the Bhutanese 3-star level. Like all aspects of tourism in Bhutan, hotels used for tourists are strictly regulated and inspected and all must reach a good standard to obtain their license to cater for tourists. So, you should expect good clean rooms, en-suite bathrooms, and some traditional Bhutanese styling in the building’s architecture and design. We use the following hotels on many of our tour departures but others may also be used from time to time subject to availability and our satisfaction with service being provided at the time.
Paro – Mandala Hotel
Thimphu – Ariya Hotel
Punakha Valley – RKOP Green Resort
Gangtey/Phobjikha – Gakiling Guest House
Please check the Single Room Supplement option for details on room sharing options and charges for solo travellers on this tour.
We use modern people-carriers or minibuses for this tour, based on the final number of people in the group or in your party.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don't include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to make suggestions for flights to go with your tour.
There are two considerations when it comes to flights to connect with this tour.
Flights into Bhutan
Druk Air is the Bhutanese national airline and the main airline for flying in and out of Bhutan. The airline flies daily to Bangkok, with flights slightly less frequently to other destinations including Kathmandu, Delhi, Kolkata and Singapore. Fares are cheapest to Kathmandu, followed by Delhi, Kolkata, Bangkok and Singapore being most expensive. Bhutan's first private airline, Bhutan Airlines, provides extra capacity with flights from Bangkok, Kolkata, Delhi and Kathmandu.
Unfortunately at the moment, neither Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines code-share with any other airline or connect with the international flight system. This means that you can't buy a flight ticket from your home country all the way to Bhutan. You need to buy two tickets, one with Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines, and one with an international airline to connect with the flight into Bhutan. You'll need to collect your luggage and re-check in between the two flights. You therefore need to allow plenty of time between the two flights in case of any delays - if you miss the Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines flight on the way out, or your international flight on the way home, then the airlines will not be obliged to arrange a new flight for you and you may need to pay for a new ticket (if available).
Nearly everyone travelling to Bhutan therefore adds a short stay of at least one night in Nepal, India, Thailand or Singapore at either end of their tour. We are happy to make all these arrangements for you.
Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from. Your airport arrival & departure transfers in Bhutan are included whether you book your flights independently or through us.
We are committed to running small groups on our trips in Bhutan, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. It also allows us to be more creative with the itinerary and do things which would not be possible with larger groups. So, we set our Bhutan group departures to have a maximum of 12 travellers.
Tailor-made tours are available for any number of travellers from one upwards. Discounts apply if there are 3 or more people in your group.
Fully trained English-speaking Bhutanese guides are provided to escort you throughout this tour and many of our travellers consider them a highlight of their tour. Some tours (such as bird watching or trekking tours) will have specialist guides chosen based on the itinerary and activities included on the tour.
At Encounters Travel we only use local Bhutanese guides and drivers. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
All your entry fees and permits to any sites, dzongs or monasteries visited on the tour are included in the tour price. Some sites not mentioned in the itinerary that you may like to visit during free time or if you are customising this tour may require special permits - please ask in advance or check with your guide for details.
The local currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Ng), which is pegged to the Indian Rupee. Indian rupees are accepted widely (except 500 or 1000 rupee notes which are not accepted) so if you are entering Bhutan from India you don't need to dispose of your Indian currency before leaving the country.
All your meals, plus mineral water & tea/coffee during mealtimes are included in the price of your travel through Bhutan. You will only need to carry spending money to cover souvenirs, small offerings at temples & monasteries, alcoholic or soft drinks in your hotel or other bottled drinks during the day. There are only a few ATMs in the country (including Paro & Thimphu) where you can withdraw local currency (Visa, Mastercard) so we recommend bringing some cash in US Dollars, Euros, GB Pounds, or Indian Rupees with you that you can exchange into local currency on arrival. You can tip your guide & driver with any currency.
While an accepted part of the tourist industry in Bhutan (i.e. guides, drivers and hotel staff), tipping elsewhere is generally discouraged and unnecessary. Any amounts you do tip should always reflect the level of service provided.It is normal and accepted for people to tip differently, and you should not feel under any pressure to tip any particular amount.We are often asked for advice on common amounts however, and can give the following guidelines...
1-2 persons travelling:
US$8-15 pp per day for your guide & US$4-7 pp per day for your driver.
3-8 persons travelling:
US$5-10 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.
9-12 persons travelling:
US$4-8 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Nepal: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Bhutan: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the lowland regions Bhutan are considered malarial zones, while higher altitudes including central Bhutan including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang are not. Nepal is considered mainly low risk with prophylactics not normally required.
Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary. Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
We will arrange your Bhutan for you in advance of your arrival. You will need to provide us a scanned copy of your passport identity page (with your photo and personal details) as soon as possible after booking. The visa will normally be issued by the Bhutanese authorities around 10 days before your arrival and we will then email it to you. You will need to print the visa out and show it to the Druk Air staff when you check in. No payment is required at this stage or when you arrive in Bhutan - all costs are included in your tour price. .
If you are connecting the tour with Nepal, then Nepal visas are available for most nationalities on arrival in Kathmandu airport for a fee of US$25 for single entry, with an extra $20 charged for a multiple entry visa which will be required for most of our Nepal and Bhutan combination tours. This covers up to 15 days in Nepal (from first arrival to last departure). Single entry visas are also available for $40 (16-30 days) or $100 (31-90 days), again with an extra $20 fee to convert these to multiple entry.
If you are connecting the tour with time in India, then you will need to obtain an Indian visa in advance - these are not available on arrival in Indian airports. We recommend you allow a minimum of 4 weeks to apply for this visa.
If you are connecting the tour with time in Thailand, then many nationalities can arrange a free tourist visa on arrival in Bangkok airport.
Please contact us if you have any questions about visa requirements for your travel plans and nationality.
The time in India and Sri Lanka is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.
The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.
The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.
The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.
Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.
In Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). In Bhutan a range of different sockets can be found, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G).
Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard UK-European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
Luggage: Whatever you're doing in Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan, you'll find that large rigid wheeled suitcases are cumbersome - you may be able to wheel them inside the airport and your hotel, but due to the condition of roads and pavements that's often about it. As many of our tours involve a degree of adventurous activity, we strongly advise you to bring a more practical bag for these i.e. a rucksack or holdall. These are easier for both your porters, and yourself to carry around. Suitcases are OK for our cultural tours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan though, but please aim to bring small or medium sized ones rather than very large. If you are trekking or rafting, or doing a lot of travel throughout the country, then as little as possible is the basic message. A rucksack or holdall (50-70 liter approx.) for your main luggage, and a daypack for you to use during the day should be plenty. While rafting we only take essential kit on board the rafts, and your main luggage will travel by bus to the take-out point. While trekking your porters (Nepal) or ponies (Bhutan) will carry your main luggage, leaving you with just a daypack with things you'll need during the day. You can also leave some luggage locked safely in the pre-trek hotel if you wish. We recommend that couples plan to leave one main bag behind, and pool their remaining luggage in their other bag for the porter to carry.
Luggage limits: Most international airlines allow 20-23kg per person of hold luggage. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
If you are trekking with us, we ask that you keep the weight of your main bag that the porter will carry to a maximum of 12.5kg. This then allows the porter to carry up to 2 bags, and a maximum of 25kg (the International Porter Protection group's advised limit for Nepal is 30kg, which then leaves a little more weight for their own kit). This weight allowance includes your sleeping bag if you are hiring it from us and not carrying it with you to Nepal
If you are doing an Everest trek and flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, then flight luggage limits are 10kg for your main bag and 5kg for hand luggage - total 15kg. You can re-arrange that after you arrive in Lukla. Please keep to these limits as while you can pay for extra weight, it may be held back until the next flight which may then be delayed or cancelled.
Treks in Bhutan follow the same weight limits for your ponies.
You may leave other luggage securely locked in your hotel during the trek. If you are travelling as a couple then we suggest you leave one main bag in Kathmandu and share the other main bag that the porter will then carry.
Clothing & Climate: Nepal and Bhutan have a climate that ranges widely depending on when you visit, and where you are visiting.
- Autumn - late Sep-Nov: The weather is good and very warm, with lots of sunshine, getting quite hot during the day in lowland regions. It will still be cold at night at higher altitudes if you are trekking. Shorts & T-shirts are fine while you are walking, but you should still bring warmer clothes for the evenings. There is a good chance of rain in September and early October, so bring a waterproof.
- Winter - Dec-Feb: It will be pleasant in lowland regions with very little rain, but will be cooler at night. Long trousers and shirts are advised during the day, and you will need warm clothes in the evenings. If you are trekking, then it will be cold during the day, and extremely cold at night, particularly at higher altitudes. Several warm layers are recommended so you can regulate your comfort as you walk, including a waterproof, even if only to protect from cold winds. We include thick down jackets in our optional trekking packs for comfort in the evenings at higher altitudes.
- Spring - Mar-May: The weather is very pleasant during the spring, and again shorts & t-shirts are fine while you are walking. There is a higher chance of rain as the season progresses, so a thin waterproof is recommended in case. It gets very hot and humid in the lowlands from May onwards.
- Monsoon - Jun-mid Sep: It will be hot and sticky during these months, with lots of rain, so come prepared accordingly if you are visiting during these months - gaiters are highly recommended if you are trekking to keep out leeches.
A huge variety of cheap trekking gear is available in Kathmandu (fleeces, waterproofs etc.) and buying some here can save you carrying it with you, and support the local economy. However, you should definitely bring your own walking boots.
Modesty rates highly in Nepal and Bhutan especially for women, so please ensure all clothes are loose fitting and not too revealing. You'll find the Bhutanese dress fairly smartly or in national dress, so you will stand out even more if you look scruffy.
On the raft: Shorts, Tevas (sandals) or trainers, baseball style cap to keep the sun off your face, sunglasses with a strap to keep them on your head, swimwear, sarong for women, sun-cream, lip balm, water bottle, several t-shirts.
Note: All footwear on a raft should be rubber soled, and of the type that will not come off easily.
Off the raft: Long trousers, warm sleeping bag (provided, but you may want to bring a sheet sleeping bag as well), petzel type head torch, warm jacket/fleece, dry shoes, boots, warm socks, towel, warm long sleeved shirt, toiletries.
Cameras: You can take cameras on the raft, and we endeavour to keep that sort of kit dry in waterproof bags. But there is always an element of risk of getting the camera wet.
What you shouldn't take on the raft: All the rest of your kit and you're your valuables. We will make arrangements for their transport to your take-out point.
Suggested Clothing and equipment: Strong hiking boots or walking shoes that you have broken in; Good sized rucksack or holdall; 3 to 4-season sleeping bag (only if you want to use your own rather than the one provided in our optional trekking pack); silk or cotton sleeping bag liner; lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket; (waterproof gaiters, waterproof over trousers - these are only necessary on some treks in some seasons - contact us for further info if required); 3 or 4 t-shirts; small day pack; several pairs of light socks; 2 pairs of heavier woollen socks; underwear including thermals; warm hat and gloves; swimwear; pair of lightweight trousers; pair of shorts; 1 fleece or warm jumper and 1 sweatshirt. Also, sunglasses, torch and batteries, toiletries (include a lighter to burn toilet paper), bring biodegradable shampoo & soap, towel, blister kit, money belt and any personal medication you might require. Remember, Lots of layers are the key to staying warm and comfortable. Also, keeping your feet comfortable and healthy makes a huge difference to how you enjoy your trek. So, bring waterproof boots/walking shoes and plenty of pairs of socks so you can change them regularly.
Day Packs and Main luggage: You will want a sturdy and comfortable daypack to carry your day-to-day items with you while you are walking (clothes you may change in and out of regularly, drinks, snacks, camera). You will also need a sturdy holdall or backpack for your main luggage. Your porters or ponies will carry this for you, so suitcases are not appropriate. They may leave earlier than you, and may not walk with you throughout the entire day, so bear in mind that you won't have access to this luggage all the time - you need to ensure you are carrying everything you require during the days walk in your daypack. You can leave luggage behind in storage at your hotel so you don't need to take everything with you on the trek.
Whilst in the game parks:
You should bring long trousers and long-sleeved shirts for jungle walks and travel within the park. Please ensure these are of drab colours to avoid drawing attention. Sunglasses and sun-hats are advisable for hot and bright days. Mosquito repellent is highly recommended. Binoculars are extremely useful at any of Nepal's National Parks, and are not generally available for hire locally. Don't forget fast film for those jungle shots and moving animals/birds. A good cleaning kit is essential as these items are unavailable once at the park. It is also better to take quality film, either from home or Kathmandu into the parks, and to ensure you have a spare fully charged battery and memory card.
All tours: We recommend that you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
Our small-group tours in Bhutan have a range of departures through the year, concentrating on the best seasons to travel weather-wise (late September through to April/May. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.
Tailor-made tours can be booked to start on any date or day of the week throughout the year. We like to try to time all our tours in Bhutan so that you can be in Thimphu at some stage over the weekend so that you can visit the huge weekend market there. This runs from Friday afternoon until around lunchtime on Sunday.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.