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(per person)
Tour Type
Small Group


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 maksed dances, processions and other. 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.

Private tour option

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.

    Paro hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Punakha hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Gangtey hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Gangtey hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Thimphu hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Thimphu hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

    Paro hotel
  • MEALS:
    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.

  • MEALS:
    Extra day in Paro - post-tour
  • All accommodation as per itinerary in 3-star level hotels
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • 24/7 airport transfer service
  • All transport in private vehicles
  • Bhutan visa fee, tourism development fee and government royalty
  • Local tour guide/tour leader
  • All national park entry and activity fees
  • All entrance fees to sites visited

  • International flights (available on request)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. Laundry)
  • Tips for tour leader and driver
  • Any other items not mentioned above
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use 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.
Local rating
Our rating
Janka Resort
Paro, Bhutan

The resort has 17 spacious superior rooms, 4 deluxe rooms, 1 junior suite with mini bar and a small attached kitchen with breathtaking view of rice fields, old houses and monasteries with mountains in the background from the rooms.

The resort has 17 spacious superior rooms, 4 deluxe rooms, 1 junior suite with mini bar and a small attached kitchen with breathtaking view of rice fields, old houses and monasteries with mountains in the background from the rooms. The large Windows allow sufficient light and fresh air in the room. All rooms have attached bath and toilet with running hot and cold water and are furnished with many amenities for the guest comfort.

Local rating
Our rating
Hotel Pema Karpo
Punakha, Bhutan

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.

Local rating
Our rating
Dewachen Hotel
Gangtey, Bhutan

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.

Local rating
Our rating
Hotel Migmar
Thimphu, Bhutan

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.

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're 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.

Single room supplement (BHSGBE)
Price from
per person

Single room supplement (BHSGBE)
Min numbers: 1 person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares may be available but the supplement is payable if a room share cannot be arranged.

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. If you are a single traveller and would be happy to share a room, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up with another single traveller of the same sex. If a room share is not available when you book then we will add the single room supplement to your booking and it will be payable with your balance payment unless we have arranged a room share for you by then. If a room share is arranged after you have paid the supplement then we will refund it to you. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Paro - pre-tour
Price from
per person

Extra day in Paro - pre-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour in Bhutan. Accommodation, meals, sightseeing tours, your guide and transport are all included.

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour in Bhutan. Due to the way the Bhutanese government arranges pricing and charging for visits to Bhutan, the price covers your accommodation and also a full day of sightseeing tours with a guide and driver, and all your meals. It is not possible to just add accommodation and not pay for the tours and guiding as well. Please contact us for more information about the extra touring and activities we could arrange for this day.

Extra day in Paro - post-tour
Price from
per person

Extra day in Paro - post-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour in Bhutan. Accommodation, meals, sightseeing tours, your guide and transport are all included.

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour in Bhutan. Due to the way the Bhutanese government arranges pricing and charging for visits to Bhutan, the price covers your accommodation and also a full day of sightseeing tours with a guide and driver, and all your meals. It is not possible to just add accommodation and not pay for the tours and guiding as well. Please contact us for more information about the extra touring and activities we could arrange for this day.

Druk Air flights from Kathmandu
Price from
per person

Druk Air flights from Kathmandu
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Kathmandu in Nepal and Paro in Bhutan.

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Kathmandu in Nepal and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Kathmandu or further afield in Nepal as well.

Druk Air flights from Delhi
Price from
per person

Druk Air flights from Delhi
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Delhi in India and Paro in Bhutan.

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Delhi in India and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Delhi or further afield in India as well.

Druk Air flights from Bangkok
Price from
per person

Druk Air flights from Bangkok
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Bangkok in Thailand and Paro in Bhutan.

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Bangkok in Thailand and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Bangkok or further afield in Thailand as well.

Druk Air flights from Singapore
Price from
per person

Druk Air flights from Singapore
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Singapore and Paro in Bhutan.

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Singapore and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates.

Bhutan Encounters tour notes

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 – Janka Resort
Thimphu – Jumolhari
Punakha Valley – Dragons Nest Resort
Gangtey/Phobjikha – Dewachen Hotel

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 book your flights for you, and our ATOL (UK flight sales license) covers all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.

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 being a small group operator, 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. There's no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won't ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, 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.

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.

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.

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$5-10 pp per day for your guide & US$4-7 pp per day for your driver.

3-8 persons travelling:
US$5-8 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.

9-12 persons travelling:
US$4-6 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.

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.

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 (higher fees apply if your total time in Nepal will be over two weeks (from first arrival to last departure).

If you are connecting the tour with 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 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.

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.

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.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers not otherwise covered by ATOL.
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.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

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')

The time in India 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.

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.

Whilst rafting:

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.

Whilst trekking:

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.

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.

A range of different sockets can be found in Bhutan, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G). The supply is 230 volts. Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers may be 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.

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 'Know Before you Go' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Know Before you Go' campaign

Bhutan Encounters dates & prices

This tour can also be booked privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for prices. Book early for festival departure dates.
Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
25 Sep, 2017 02 Oct, 2017 US$2399 - Thimphu & Wangdue Tsechus - book early Book now
16 Oct, 2017 23 Oct, 2017 US$2399 - - Book now
08 Nov, 2017 15 Nov, 2017 US$2399 - Black Crane Festival Book now
20 Nov, 2017 27 Nov, 2017 US$2399 - - Book now
29 Dec, 2017 05 Jan, 2018 US$1979 - - Book now
16 Jan, 2018 23 Jan, 2018 US$2099 - - Book now
06 Feb, 2018 13 Feb, 2018 US$2099 - Punakha Tsechu Book now
24 Feb, 2018 03 Mar, 2018 US$2099 - Punakha Tsechu Book now
06 Mar, 2018 13 Mar, 2018 US$2509 - - Book now
27 Mar, 2018 03 Apr, 2018 US$2509 - Paro Tsechu Book now
17 Apr, 2018 24 Apr, 2018 US$2509 - - Book now
08 May, 2018 15 May, 2018 US$2509 - - Book now
16 Oct, 2018 23 Oct, 2018 US$2509 - - Book now
18 Oct, 2018 25 Oct, 2018 US$2509 - Thimphu & Wangdue Tsechus Book now
08 Nov, 2018 15 Nov, 2018 US$2509 - Black Crane Festival Book now
27 Nov, 2018 04 Dec, 2018 US$2509 - - Book now
30 Dec, 2018 06 Jan, 2019 US$2099 - - Book now
tripadvisor winner 2014 and 2015
Encounters Travel Reviews

Posted Feb 08, 2016
Service rating : I would have liked to receive an itinerary with exact hotel addresses sooner. Some of the extra excursions were not offered by the tour operator that we were passed off to.

Product : Most of the included meals were hotel meals and were quite bland. Breakfasts were good, dinners were not. Especially considering this was Morocco which is know for its flavorful cuisine. I would have liked more of the meals included to be at local establishments. I ended up eating out and paying for most of the "included" meals instead of eating the inclusive fare, just to have a good meal. For me the food is an important element of travel.


Posted Aug 14, 2015
Service rating : I really liked the organization of the tour.

Product : I loved Jordan. It is such a beautiful country!

Posted Jan 06, 2016
Good and quick service


Posted Jan 09, 2016
wonderful and knowledgable tour guide. We saw all we wanted to see and the hotels were great.

Posted Jul 06, 2016
Very responsive and quick. My questions were answered clearly. I spoke to Mariska and she was very pleasant. My trip is next year and my contacts thus far have been great. Thank you.

Posted Jan 06, 2016
Service rating : Terrific!

Product : Walid was an excellent guide. And so were the other employees!

Posted Aug 14, 2015
Service rating : Tour was subcontracted to Fez Travel but all interaction with Encounter was good

Product : Fez Travel - Magic Carpet tour was excellent. We initially started with one guide but were transferred to another bus and guide on the second day which turned out to be a blessing as we had a much smaller group. Our guide was fantastic


Posted Jan 18, 2016
As Above


Posted Feb 14, 2014
Service rating : Great value for the money ...our guide Idris was exceptional.

Product : Intimate tour of the country. Great tour. Really felt immersed.


Posted Feb 14, 2014
Service rating : staff informed and capable

Product : historical interests were well met

Posted Feb 07, 2016
Service rating : Encounters was not really organizing the whole tour. It was called Atlas. This was a local your group which Encounters does not specifiy in the description.

Product : Lots of fun!


Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : The tour guides were excellent - both as people and as our leaders. I had Idris as a tour guide and Issham as the bus driver. They were both a pleasure to spend my days in Morocco with. If another variety of tour were to come about - visits to different areas not on our current itinerary --- I'd definitely return and I'd love to see everyone all over again; Idris, Issham, Zhouzou, Hamou, etc.

The hotels and places of stay were excellent. The only awful one was the desert - but that's a given to be cold - we were simply misinformed of how cold! I think instead of sleeping in individual tents, one giant one with everyone under the same "roof" would have been better. More body heat for such a cold night! More time in the desert to roam would have been nice as well. Perhaps a longer tour would need to be in effect. More along the lines of 15 days instead of 10 days.

Product : There is no way I could have seen all that I saw on tour on my own in that amount of time! It was certainly well worth it, however - the stops (both the rest stops and the tour stops) were too rushed and two out of the three buses were cramped. I'm very fortunate I made it onto the big bus, given my back and knee conditions. I wish there were more walking tours available. More time in Marrakech would have been lovely as well - I kind of wish I had extended my stay a bit longer. I met some new found friends in the marketplace. And I made friends with all the people on the tour. It was a real treat to be with such an amazing group of people.