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Bhutan

The Best of Bhutan: Hidden Treasures of a Himalayan Kingdom

Program No. 19634RJ
Explore Bhutan, one of the world’s most isolated countries, with experts and locals who share their enduring culture, history and natural wonders.
Length
17 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
6,999
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
1,300

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 18 - May 4, 2023
Starting at
7,099
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Jun 13 - Jun 29, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Aug 15 - Aug 31, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Sep 20 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 10 - Oct 26, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 16 - Nov 1, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 14 - Nov 30, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Dec 8 - Dec 24, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Feb 13 - Feb 29, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Feb 20 - Mar 7, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Mar 19 - Apr 4, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Apr 16 - May 2, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Jun 11 - Jun 27, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Aug 13 - Aug 29, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Sep 17 - Oct 3, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 8 - Oct 24, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 15 - Oct 31, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 5 - Nov 21, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 30 - Dec 16, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 18 - May 4, 2023
Starting at
7,099
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Jun 13 - Jun 29, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Aug 15 - Aug 31, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Sep 20 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 10 - Oct 26, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 16 - Nov 1, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 14 - Nov 30, 2023
Starting at
7,499
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Dec 8 - Dec 24, 2023
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Feb 13 - Feb 29, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Feb 20 - Mar 7, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Mar 19 - Apr 4, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Apr 16 - May 2, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Jun 11 - Jun 27, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Aug 13 - Aug 29, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Sep 17 - Oct 3, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 8 - Oct 24, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Oct 15 - Oct 31, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 5 - Nov 21, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

Nov 30 - Dec 16, 2024
Starting at
6,999
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited.

At a Glance

Shrouded in mystique, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan sits wedged amongst the mighty Himalayas in a mountainous landscape cut by deep river valleys and terraced rice fields. Known to its people as Druk Yul, or “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” it is the last bastion of authentic Himalayan Buddhism.

Extend Your Adventure

This program offers an optional program extension.

Extension: Nepal: The Best of the Kathmandu Valley

Delve deeper into the ancient spaces and sacred places of Kathmandu! Explore sites of Hindu and Buddhist importance and hike to the town of Changu in search of views of the Himalaya.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to two miles daily over varied terrain; some stairs without railings. Elevations of 7,000-10,000 feet. Some bus rides up to 6 hours with rest stops and sightseeing along the way
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Encounter the warmth and hospitality of Bhutanese people.
  • Learn about Bhutan's Gross National Happiness philosophy.
  • Hike to a remote village, a tiny monastery tucked in the midst of rice paddies and the awesome Tiger’s Nest.

General Notes

The elevation of areas traveled on this program range from 7,000-10,000 feet for the entire duration of the stay in Bhutan. This program has a maximum of 18 participants. Looking to extend your stay? This program has a post-extension on corresponding dates, program "Nepal: The Best of the Kathmandu Valley" (#22616). Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Raven Crown
by Michael Aris
Aris chronicles the rise of the Wangchuk dynasty in this beautifully illustrated history of the kingdom and its 20th-century monarchy, featuring 106 rare photographs.
Essential Tibetan Buddhism
by Robert Thurman
The foremost Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Thurman has chosen well from that tradition's sacred literature and helpfully includes suggested further reading, explanatory notes and a directory of sacred sites.
The Circle of Karma, A Novel
by Kunzang Choden
The first novel by a Bhutanese woman, this lyrical coming-of-age story explores the rituals of daily life in Bhutan. When Tsomo's mother suddenly dies, the young girl must travel alone across Bhutan and into India.
Beyond the Sky and the Earth
by Jamie Zeppa
Zeppa's memoir of her time as teacher in a remote village shows her growing love and commitment to the people and culture.
Bhutan, The Land of Serenity
by Matthieu Ricard
A Buddhist monk, photographer, and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, Ricard, draws on his time in Bhutan over the last 25 years for this intimate portrait. With illuminating chapters on the remarkable Khyentse Rinpoche, sacred art, architecture, dancing monks and ceremonies.
Married to Bhutan
by Linda Leaming
Enraptured by the customs, land and people of Bhutan, where she has lived and worked for ten years, Leaming writes with humor and candor about her often-bumpy cultural immersion, her romance with a Buddhist artist and her unexpected path to happiness.
So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
by Barbara Crossette
Asia correspondent for the New York Times, Crossette portrays Bhutan and neighboring Ladakh and Sikkim as strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world.
Radio Shangri-La
by Lisa Napoli
Napoli's memoir of her time working on a fledgling Bhutanese radion station. She writes with frankness and clarity about the contradictions, poverty and reality of much mythologized Bhutan.
The Blessings of Bhutan
by Russ and Blyth Carpenter
Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history.
Photographic Guide to Birds of the Himalayas
by Bikram Grewal
A pocket guide to 250 birds found from the foothills up to high elevations ranging from the Hindu Kush and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in the Eastern Himalayas. With brief descriptive information, maps and 260 full-color illustrations.
Bhutan Map
by ITMB
A double-sided traveler's map at an excellent scale of 1:345,000 with a larger scale map of Northern India on the reverse.
Bhutan, A Trekker's Guide
by Bart Jordans
A compact, practical guide to 27 treks and walks throughout the mountain kingdom with color photographs and detailed sketch maps throughout.
Turning the Mind Into an Ally
by Sakyong Mipham
A guide to meditation and practical introduction to teachings of the Shambhala Buddhist community, which has strong ties to Bhutan.
Travellers and Magicians
by Khyentse Norbu (Director)
The first feature shot on location in Bhutan, this film, directed by a respected lama, follows a young official on his odyssey across the country. Along the way he is joined by a mischievous monk, an elderly peddler and an old man with his daughter.
18 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 12/29/2022

This was my fifth RS trip and while they have all been excellent, this is my favorite thus far. The incredible Kingdom of Bhutan as seen and shown through the eyes of our amazing Bhutanese guides is beyond compare. Our access to the local festivals, cultural and spiritual traditions, agriculture, and environmental landscapes including all the unique fauna and wildlife was beyond my imagination. The pandemic changed our travel world forever and the ease and flexibility of Tim, Kealey, and Sonam to give us the best possible access and experience was simply unparalleled. Tim has a natural aptitude to lead. His love and intimate knowledge for all things Bhutan, is evident in all the activities, places, and people we were exposed to. He explained everything so well, patiently answered all questions, was attentive to people’s needs and demonstrated genuine concern for the group experience to be a positive one. His sense of humor, obvious synergy with his fellow guides made for a seamless and fun adventure! I knew Bhutan was remote, and that modern infrastructure was a fairly new commodity throughout the country. I was so impressed with the way our guides planned our activities, traversing the country with the expert driving and navigation of the extraordinary Sonam, giving us opportunities to get out and walk, stretch our legs, savor majestic views, witness nature at it’s best (Bhutan’s many beautiful birds, brown monkeys and Grey Langur monkeys, yaks, horses, many, many dogs!) The ’surprises’ to our program were incredible, from the delectable dinner at a family-owned restaurant, the ‘el fresco’ lunch overlooking the river, attending the Druk Wangyel Tshechu annual festival at the Dochula Pass and meeting the Queen Mother, her daughter the Royal Princess and the Prime Minister; the National day celebration, immersing us in the rich cultural traditions and history of the kingdom, and so many more. I cannot recommend this trip enough!

(5) Review left 12/26/2022

Going to Bhutan was a dream come true! I am so glad that I went with Road Scholar. I had no worries when traveling with Road Scholar—everything was taken care of or made right immediately. The culture of Bhutan is rich and full of color and stories that our guides expertly told us in an exciting manner. The lecturers were excellent. The hotels were nice and cozy and the food was very good with many fresh organic vegetables.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 12/23/2022

Our three guides -- Kun, Keanley, and Tandin -- were superb. Like all Road Scholar guides, they were knowledgeable and attentive, but they were also funny and shared a camaraderie that was easy without being saccharine. The hikes, it turns out, were more than I was able to cope with although my wife did better. I did attempt a couple of them. Going up was easy; coming down was a problem for me with my unsure footing. Even though the hikes were beyond my capability, everything else made up for my overestimation of my hiking prowess. While the tour is no doubt enhanced by the walks (which increase in difficulty as the tour goes on), even if you do not walk any of the paths, a visit to Bhutan is worth the price -- at least it would be for me. Among the highlights were a talk on Gross National Happiness: don't be put off by the name, it is a program worth hearing about. The visit to the elementary school after hearing a talk by its principal was another worthwhile stop. The children were happy to show us their work and practice their English, which they begin learning early. After lunch at a farmhouse with the family's daughter-in-law looking on, we met four girls between the ages of seven and ten, who engaged in conversation with two of us older men. The girls seemed easier to talk to than the boys, but not one was unfriendly or reluctant. The hotels were uniformly first-rate, the food excellent, the architecture interesting, and the temples, stupas, and fortresses were explained with aplomb by our guides. I am skipping over the Buddhist prayer festival at a site outside Thimpu and other equally important religious sites -- wonderful as they were. Bhutan with Road Scholar is well worth the time, money, and effort even if, like me, some of the hikes are beyond your aging body.

(5) Review left 12/23/2022

The Bhutan tour was one of the best I've taken (after 24 international tours) so I can highly recommend it if you want to better understand their country and culture. I came away changed in my views about this special country and felt the experiences in each city/village helped broaden my understanding. Bhutan is a beautiful and peaceful place, the people are friendly, and the art/weaving/painting/wood carving/paper-making experiences helped to understand their unique culture. The two tour guides (Tim and Keanlay) and the bus driver (Sonam) became our friends and they did everything to accommodate our wishes or needs. We learned so much from their guidance and they explained their history, culture, religious places, and celebrations. The Himalayas and mountain driving is breath-taking...each turn of the road reflects beautiful passages and villages. One of the highlights was attending two unique festivals (not on the planned itinerary) and by chance we visited with one of the four Queen Mothers and Prime Minister at one national festival. Bhutan has a unique cultural heritage with Buddhist traditions. Their food, art, architecture, music, dance, and national dress (gho and kira) makes the experience of being there so special. We also had two days in Kathmandu, Nepal before the Bhutan tour started so we learned about the city and surrounding villages. The travel company based in Kathmandu (Venture Travels and Temple Tiger Group) who provided the local tours and transportation to and from the airport were wonderful as well. Although it takes a long time to get to Bhutan from the US, it is definitely worth the time and expense to travel there and to have this amazing experience.

(5) Review left 11/30/2022

What a wonderful trip! Bhutan is a beautiful country, and the people are warm and welcoming. As always on a Road Scholar trip, our guides Tim and Kinga and our driver Shonan were the best. Tim is a terrific story teller, and managed to balance being extremely professional and at the same time personal. He showed an incredible generosity of spirit in the stories he shared with us. They were the perfect vehicle for us to learn that in Bhutan people put others first. They want what is best for everyone before they want what is best for them. At least that’s what it seemed like to me. And It seemed evident that attitude grew out of the beliefs of Buddhism, which they live every day. Tim never said those things explicitly, but I couldn’t help but notice. The things we saw and the places we visited were often awe-inspiring. The views of the Himalayas from mountain passes. The Buddhist monasteries, the temples, the 500 year old dzongas (fortresses). The families of monkeys in the trees we stopped to see as we were driving down the road. And of course - Tiger’s Nest Monastery. On the section between the tea house and the second viewing spot (you’ll see what I mean when you get there) Kinga stayed with me the whole time. He went at my pace, which was pretty slow, and by the end he was carrying my backpack for me. If it was difficult for him to have such patience, I couldn’t tell. He will always be an important part of my memory of that unique and meaningful experience. Both the food and the accommodations were excellent. Plenty of rice and things to go with it, but some more continental options too. I loved the hotels. Most managed to have the architecture and design of a distinctly Bhutanese place, and still met our Western expectations of a large room with a private bathroom, and sometimes a balcony. Of course, our group of 15 was comprised of amazing people, which was part of what made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

(5) Review left 11/25/2022

This is a sensational trip. If you are thinking about doing it, just do it. It'll change your life.

(5) Review left 11/06/2022

The program was well thought out and organized. Having had outstanding guides added to the pleasure of the visit. I would highly recommend this tour to any one who enjoys learning and exploring other cultures.

(5) Review left 11/02/2022

A spectacular trip. Road Scholar knows how to put together a trip that is both highly engaging and informative. Through this trip we learned a lot about the culture and religion of this democratic kingdom and how it is able to thrive in this complex world.

(5) Review left 10/23/2022

The Best of Bhutan Hidden Treasures was the best travel experience ever! Our guides were caring, knowledgeable, funny, and prepared a fantastic itinerary. Bhutan is a beautiful country with beautiful people everywhere. The guides where up-to-date on current festivals, weather, time tables and food. The hotels were clean and comfortable and the food, including full breakfast, lunches and dinners were tasty. During our time in Bhutan there is an awesome feeling that is impossible to adequately convey both because of the majestic scenery and the welcoming and kindness of the Bhutanese people as they practice their Buddhist culture and religion. As a couple in their late 70s who have travelled the world, we found this Road Scholar Bhutan trip a cultural adventure not to be missed.

(5) Review left 10/19/2022

The Road Scholar trip to Bhutan was enlightening. I was impressed by the teamwork and caring of our leaders. They also dealt with difficult situations (one participant got Covid, another lost his passport) in such a competent and professional manner.

(5) Review left 3/07/2020

This was the most wonderful trip in a fascinating and beautiful country!. The itinerary was masterfully planned with a balance of active hikes and visits to interesting religious and historic sites, with opportunities to visit a variety of communities. The long drives were comfortable, thanks to our skilled driver, and interesting, thanks to our guide, Tim’s, inexhaustible knowledge of flora and fauna and story telling skills. Tim and his team always seemed to go above and beyond, making sure everything went smoothly and each person was looked after. I believe that Tim’s exceptional leadership and kindness helped create a sense of camaraderie and group cohesiveness. We quickly felt we had a really great travel group. The hikes were planned to increase gradually in difficulty,making them manageable to the most out of shape among us (me), so we were all better prepared to take on what we wanted of the hike to the Tiger’s Nest at the end of the trip. One tip: Bring cash. No ATM worked for us in Bhutan. Larger denominations give better exchange rates.

(5) Review left 11/28/2019

The best of Bhutan trip was my first road scholar experience and was fantastic in every way. Extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and engaging guide. An interesting program of lectures and educational experiences. Comfortable hotels in beautiful locations. My fellow protesters on the trip were wonderful as well, and I’m quite intrigued about signing up for more trips as a result. Bhutan is a beautiful country with many interesting Sights and a culture that we can learn a lot from. Highly recommended, and a bargain for what you get.

(5) Review left 11/24/2019

My Road Scholar trip to Bhutan exceeded all of my expectations and was the trip of a lifetime. This is one that cannot be missed.

(5) Review left 11/18/2019

I find the website very graphically user friendly and clear as to where to go the information I want.

(5) Review left 3/12/2019

The trip to Bhutan was outstanding! It is culturally, historically, and environmentally such an interesting country. And, it is stunningly beautiful! I had such a wonderful time. I like to get out and hike/walk and there was plenty of that. Every night af the end of a wonderful day, I thought that it could not get any better, but for 14 days, it just got better and better! We also had a wonderful and very knowledgeable guide (Fin) and a driver (Tandin) who made mountain passes seem easy and safe! Go! You won’t regret it!

(5) Review left 3/12/2019

The beauty of the Himalayan Mountains, the richness of the Bhutanese culture, the friendliness of the Bhutanese people and our outstanding guide made this an experience of a lifetime!

(5) Review left 3/05/2019

Bhutan is truly an inspirational country.

(5) Review left 1/02/2019

This trip was one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on. I can't say enough about Tim (group leader), Thinley (second guide) and the drivers. They were wonderful and took care of the entire group with humor and confidence. The accommodations and food were fine. Both Tim and Thinley were very knowledgable and did a great job keeping us informed and providing information about Bhutan. I highly recommend them for future trips. Bhutan is a very special place.






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.