Bhutan Trekking & Adventure Tours

Bhutan Trekking Adventure Tours

Experiencing a Bhutan trekking adventure is unlike anything else. Embrace the customs and natural beauty of this astonishing kingdom.

Bhutan, or the Kingdom of Bhutan to give it its full title, is located on the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road and is explored deeply on our Bhutan trekking adventures. The government of Bhutan embodies a philosophy known as 'Gross National Happiness', and we feel as though we need not say any more about what you should expect from the people of this stunning country. From the impressive vistas of the Himalayas to the sacred cliffside Tiger's Nest, you'll be amazed at the equally profound landscapes and culture of Bhutan. Embark on an adventure of a lifetime and learn a bit about yourself and the generous traditions of Buddhism along the way.
Bhutan Trekking Adventure Tours

Explore Bhutan's incredible scenery and culture in comfort, on a unique Bhutan adventure

Starting from Kathmandu, you'll explore the most beautiful hikes in Bhutan, some well-known - think the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and some less so, like the Gangte Nature Trail in the Phobjikha Valley. You’ll be looked after by two guides, one local and one native English speaker - this is a gentle introduction to the wilderness of Bhutan, taking advantage of the finest accommodations along the way. Ready?

Bhutan Trips

Himalayas

Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure

4.4

  • Duration 12 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

Over the course of this eye-opening twelve day adventure we’ll get to know the beautiful and generous Tamang people of rural Nepal, then cross over into Bhutan to explore numerous other sacred sites of significance to the Buddhist religion, such as Tiger's Nest.

Trip Start: Kathmandu Trip End: Kathmandu

Himalayas

Bhutan Adventure

4.4

  • Duration 9 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

If you’re a little shorter on time, and Bhutan is a must on your adventure bucket-list, then you’re in the right place. This is a gentle introduction to the wilderness of Bhutan, taking advantage of the finest accommodations along the way. Ready?

Trip Start: Kathmandu Trip End: Kathmandu

What Our Guests Say

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- June 2020

Snow Leopard roars!

"This was the inaugural Snow Leopard trip, so as with any new venture there were… read more

"This was the inaugural Snow Leopard trip, so as with any new venture there were a few hiccups and rough spots along the way--but not to worry! Trip guide Dan and his country guides Arjun and Gangchu took everything in stride and made adjustments on the fly, creating a seamless and engrossing experience. The scenery was breathtaking, of course, but just as memorable was the variety of cultural experiences to which we were introduced, from remote villages reached only by rutted dirt roads to the dusty confusion of Kathmandu, hot stone baths, ethnic dancing, more temples and stupas than could be counted and a never-to-be forgotten introduction to the Divine Madman and his iconography. Our lodging ran the gamut from guilt-inducing luxury in Kathmandu to more modest but still quite comfortable guest houses in Bhutan, the food was predominantly vegetarian and mostly unexceptional but satisfying, and the company--guides, fellow travelers and hosts--warm and welcoming. read less

4 Stars (5 reviews)

Andrew, United States

- March 2020

From the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu to the serenity of Bhutan we loved it all.

"We had some extra time in Kathmandu to explore and experience a food tour which… read more

"We had some extra time in Kathmandu to explore and experience a food tour which was great. The itinerary, guides, food, and accommodations were great. The food at the farm house in Bhutan was amazing. The misty morning hike to the Tiger's Nest, clearing as we arrived, was spiritual. The views of the Himalaya on a clear day during our return flight to Nepal were spectacular. The extra luxury of the Marriott in Kathmandu was a treat and so was the evening of dancing at another farm house. Gangchu our guide in Bhutan made our tours and hikes enjoyable and informative as did our guides in Nepal and Dan our leader. The drivers and vehicles were excellent. read less

5 Stars (5 reviews)

Scott, United States

Active Adventure Assurance

Our Active Adventures Assurance

If your plans change or you decide to travel to another destination, you can change your trip to any of our departures in any destination or request a refund (less deposit) up to 90 days out from your original trip start date.

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Safe travel v3

Keeping you Safe: COVID-19 Safety Measures

We believe our small group, off-the-beaten-track adventures are the safest way to travel. To keep you, your fellow travellers, our guides and the communities we travel in safe, all adults over the age of 12 (i.e. 13 years and above) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

To keep you healthy during your trip, we follow all ATTA, WTTC, Qualmark and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health and safety guidelines, as acknowledged by their stamps.

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Bhutan FAQs

Is Bhutan a safe place to visit?

Yes! People in Bhutan have a strong belief that guests are equal to God, so all visitors can expect the warmest of welcomes. This also means that Bhutan is very safe place to travel and the crime rate is very low. The only real concern to a traveller is petty theft, so we recommend taking the same common sense precautions you would in any other city. Don't bring valuable things with you unless necessary for your trip. Keep your money and other valuables in a money belt or pouch under your clothes. Lock your bags and luggage and leave valuable items you don’t need for the day (e.g. passports and credit cards) in the hotel safe.

Do I need a visa to visit Bhutan?

Everyone visiting Bhutan, except those on an Indian, Bangladesh or Maldives passport, will need to apply for a visa on entry. Visas are processed through an online system by Active Adventures so you need to supply us with the photo page of your passport as soon as possible, you can upload this in your Travel Wallet. The visa, US$40 is included in your trip cost. At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, which your guide will supply to you and the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

Do I need any immunisations to travel to Bhutan?

Bhutan does not officially require any immunisations for entry into the country, but the further off the beaten track you go, the more necessary it is to take precautions. Travellers who have come from an area infected with yellow fever are required to be vaccinated before entering the country. For our trips to Bhutan (less than a month long) we recommend getting vaccinated against Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio (infectious hepatitis) and Tetanus. These are our guidelines only and you’ll need to check with your local travel clinic for the latest advice. We also recommend recording all vaccinations on an International Health Certificate, available from a doctor or government health department.

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

As an Active Adventures traveller, It’s essential you take out travel insurance to cover the likes of personal injury, medical expenses, trip cancellation for your travel with us. Please head to our Travel Insurance page for more in-depth information and insurance provider options. It’s also important to check your insurance covers all the activities you’ll be partaking in, in case you’re travelling to altitude or looking at extreme sports.

Can you help me find international flights to Bhutan?

You'll need to fly into Nepal for the start of our Bhutan trips.

We recommend booking your flights through our preferred travel partner – Fuzion Travel. They’re our experienced hand-picked experts in travel, passionate about what they do, and will tailor-make your flight itinerary to match your Active Adventures tour. Get in touch with them directly by email – [email protected] fuziontravel.co.nz or on +1-833-244-5886. Let them know your preferred travel plans, including any stopovers or extra nights’ accommodation, and they’ll put everything in place for you. They offer a total travel solution and five star service that you’ll want to tell your friends about!

What's included on your Bhutan trips?

Accommodation

All accommodation on your trip is provided in Kathmandu and Bhutan, so you don't need to worry about a thing. You'll stay in a local Guesthouse in Kathmandu run by our operating partners, and at a comfortable B&B’s and lodges in Bhutan, all with private, ensuite bathrooms.

Meals

All your meals are provided apart from on your free days when we find most people enjoy checking out the variety of things on offer in the bigger towns. 

Transport

You're mostly using the trusty transport of your own two feet in Bhutan, and we'll fly you between Kathmandu and Paro for the Snow Leopard and Thunder Dragon trips. There aren't too many roads in the Himalayas! You'll be using local trade routes and come across many local people selling their wares along the way, delivering goods by foot to businesses further up the mountains and travelling to visit their families. 

Guides

You will be accompanied on your trek by an Active Adventures guide and a local guide. They will work closely together to ensure your trip is special, fun, hassle free, safe and successful. From organising your lodgings each night to making sure you're well fed, this is a team you couldn't do without. They are used to working together, have a great team bond and are always looking for ways to make your trip special. They will keep you entertained, motivated and happy, even on the most challenging days. 

Do you charge a forced single supplement if I'm a solo traveller?

We don’t believe in charging you extra for travelling alone and we have lots of single travellers on our trips. There’s no forced single supplement if you don’t mind sharing a room (you might even get a room to yourself sometimes). If you prefer not to share a room at all, you can upgrade to a single room.

Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?

You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not good enough. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, therefore your boots should have full ankle support and a stiff sole with a high profile tread. It's also important that whichever footwear you decide to bring that it's well broken-in and waterproofed before you come down. If you have good ankles that will be able to cope pretty well with varied terrain, then good hiking shoes should be fine, but if not then hiking boots will give you better support.

What is the food like in Bhutan?

The food in Bhutan is healthy and nutritious, with rice being the staple in the Bhutanese diet. It’s usually accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are consumed most often. Chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people wouldn’t enjoy a meal that’s not spicy.

What if I need a special diet?

We can deal with all sorts of different diets during main meals, like…

  • vegan (no meat or animal products)
  • vegetarian (no meat products)
  • pescatarian (vegetarian, but eat fish) • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
  • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
  • gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
  • lactose intolerant (no dairy products)

Some people prefer to stick to vegetarian fare whilst in Bhutan to avoid any stomach upsets from the handling of meat. However as these trips are more comfort focused, you’ll be dining at high quality establishments and the meat in Bhutan is delicious! Your guides will let you know if there’s anywhere in particular to avoid meat.

Also if you have a sensitivity to dairy or gluten, and you have a favourite snack or brand of snack which suits you at home, we suggest you bring some along. There are meal options for you and a plenitude of food however gluten/dairy free biscuits, chocolate and muesli bars are hard to come by.

 There are a few local customs to be aware of with regard to food and meals in Bhutan:

  • Always use your right hand for eating and handling food. The left hand is considered dirty, so don’t use it to eat or pass food to other people.
  • It’s important not to touch another person’s food.

Can I drink the water in Bhutan?

Being in a tropical environment and not treated by the government, the water in Bhutan contains different bacteria to what we’re used to at home. We highly recommend you to not drink it or use it for brushing teeth, even in main cities. Use treated water at all times. This also applies if you’re travelling through a developing country on your way to Bhutan.
Plastic bottles are causing a huge environmental impact in Bhutan, with plastic bottles littering some of the highest and most stunning places in the Himalayas. We’re sure you’ll agree with us that this is heart-breaking to see, so please use treated water rather than buying plastic bottles, or reuse the same bottle. Our purification tabs work perfectly, we’ll provide these for you at your trip briefing, and treated drinking water is provided in the hotels where we stay.

What is the currency in Bhutan?

Bhutan’s currency is the Bhutanese Ngultrum - US$1 is worth about 67 Bhutanese Ngultrum.

How much spending money should I bring and where do I get local currencies?

We recommend you bring a variety of payment options with you to Bhutan. US dollars are most easily exchanged, and a Visa Debit ATM card and a credit card should be carried in case of emergency. 

Cash is the easiest option and most widely accepted form of payment in Bhutan. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in some places, with additional transactions fees. Be sure to let your credit card company know you are travelling to these countries. If bringing US dollars to Bhutan, bring brand new & good quality notes, the bigger the denomination the better.

We recommend bringing about US$300 in total for our Comfort-focused trips. It should be plenty for extra food or drinks, bottled drinking water, as well as any souvenirs you would like to buy. 

Is tipping expected in Bhutan?

Tipping is accepted in Bhutan (and appreciated!). Your loose change (or 5%) is fine in cheaper places; around 10% in more expensive restaurants. Round up the fare for taxi drivers. Most people do choose to tip their Active Adventures guides at the end of an awesome trip. Up to US$100 each for your Active Adventures trip leader seems to be the norm, however less, more or not at all is also fine too. Tips are gratefully accepted in either their local currency or US dollars.

Is altitude a concern in Bhutan?

Our Bhutan trips will take you to high altitudes, so it’s important to be aware of the causes and risks of altitude sickness, and how we manage them. You’ll be accompanied on your trip by a very experienced guide. Altitude sickness is something that can occur above 2,400m or 8,000ft and affects everybody differently regardless of fitness (after all no-body is the same). Unless you live somewhere with high elevation, it's difficult to predict how your body will react to the higher altitudes, though there are some things you can do along the way to help you acclimatise.

One of the most important of these is to walk slowly and drink plenty of water – it’s really important that your body stay well hydrated at all times and you never over-exert yourself. Also, eat light meals to make it easy for your body to digest food, avoid coffee and alcohol which dehydrate you and slow your breathing down, take plenty of rests and keep yourself warm at all times. If you are concerned or have any problems, then tell your guide straight away. If you are concerned, chat to your doctor about a prescription for Diamox which is proven to help with altitude. If you need any other information please get in touch – we know the place well and we can give you plenty more specific advice.

Learn more here about dealing with altitude

What time zone is Bhutan in?

Bhutan Standard Time (BST) is the time zone for Bhutan. It is +6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

What types of plugs and voltage do you use in Bhutan?

Bhutan operates on a 220 volt / 50Hz syetem with round two- and three-pin plugs (C, D and M).

Will I have access to the internet and WiFi in Bhutan?

WiFi is available at all hotels if bringing a smart phone or iPad, though the connection can sometimes be a bit sporadic.

Any good books or videos about the Himalayas?

There are so many great stories to come out of the Himalayas, probably because the landscape and the people inspire such creativity and adventure. Here is a list, gathered from across the Active Adventures family, of recommended reads:

  • Seven Years in Tibet and the sequel Return to Tibet. Two autobiographical travel books written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. Seven Years in Tibet is based on Harrer's real life experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during the second world war and the time before the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded. The book quickly became a best seller and has now sold millions of copies and been made into a movie twice - most recently in 1997, starring Brad Pitt!
  • The Snow Leopard is an account by Peter Mathiessen, of his and George Schaller's 1973 journey to Crystal Mountain, in the Dolpo region on the Tibetan Plateau. They went in search of the extremely rare Snow Leopard that exists only in the high parts of Asia. Published in 1978, The Snow Leopard is regarded as a classic of modern nature writing. 
  • A more recent book, Michael Palin's Himalaya accompanies the successful 2004 BBC series. If you're looking for a great coffee table book to help get you inspired, this is it! There are some awesome images by Basil Pao interspersed regularly with Palin's fantastic sense of humour and easy-reading stories. 
  • You can't go past Into Thin Air, by best selling author Jon Krakauer. This is a hair-raising tale of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster when eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded during a rogue storm. Whilst a little more 'extreme' than our Everest Base Camp trek, this book definitely portrays another element to mountaineering in the Himalayas! Since it was published it has raised many questions surrounding the morality and competitive nature of summiting Mt Everest.
  • For those interested in Tibetan Buddhism, The Path to Enlightenment by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is a must read. In 1959 the Communist Chinese Government forced the non-violent Tibetan Buddhist Government into exile. Having spent the majority of his life in India, the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has spent this time advocating for Tibetan's inside and outside of Tibet. Along with defining the Lam Ram, which are the stages on the spiritual path, the Dalai Lama describes the difficulty of attaining Nirvana (full Buddhahood), but urges determination.
  • Sherpas: Reflections on Change in Himalayan Nepal by James F Fisher is a fascinating snapshot of how tourism and modernisation have affected the traditional way of life of the Sherpa people - both positively and negatively. Fisher first visited the Sherpas of Nepal when he accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary in 1964, to help build school houses. One of the by-products of this new school building was a small airstrip, which dramatically increased tourism to the area.
  • Touching My Father's Soul by Jamling Tensing Norgay offers a great insight into the Sherpa world. Jamling Norgay was a mountaineer in his own right, who was a climbing leader on the ill-fated 1996 Everest IMAX expedition. As well as a first-hand account of the 96' tragedy, this book also tells little known stories of Tenzing's historic climb. 

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.

Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: service@activeadventures.com

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Bhutan Blogs & Stories

Why Travel With Us

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Experience adventure the way you want

You’ll be inspired and exhilarated, enjoying mind-blowing scenery on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike - all at your own pace. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

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With our small groups of typically no more than 14 (up to 18 max), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like. It’s all about going at your own pace.

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