Sorry you missed the 2011 Bhutan Women-only Sacred Sites Tour!
Why not plan for another small-group tour to Bhutan?
Please see this and all tours at the new WanderTours site – featuring both women-only and co-ed tours!
12-day tour to Bhutan for women-only
Itinerary dates: April 19 – 30, 2011
Tour leader: Susan Weis-Bohlen
This Sacred Sites tour to Bhutan has been specially created for women to enjoy the incredible spiritual nature of this Buddhist Kingdom as well as the pristine Himalayas. Tour includes gentle yoga (appropriate for yoginis of all levels) and Ayurvedic workshops. Learn about the Kingdom’s policy of Gross National Happiness, meditate with a monk, hike to Tiger’s Nest, and enjoy the Ura Valley tsechu (festival)!
All yoga classes are optional 🙂
The group meets in Bangkok prior to departure to Bhutan. Flights depart Bangkok very early in the morning. Plan to arrive at least one day in advance of departure to Bhutan in case of flight delays.
Read these Bhutan Holiday and Vacation Tips
Read Bhutan FAQs and learn what to expect in Bhutan
See the Bhutan Packing List
See Beth’s Recommended Books about Bhutan
View Beth’s Bhutan Photo Gallery
April 19, 2011
Day 1 – arrive from Bangkok – Paro
The flight into Paro on Bhutan’s national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of the country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro Valley as you land. Your first experience will be that of breathing in the cool, clean, fresh air. After clearing customs and visa control you will be met by your in-country guide and driven to your hotel.
After lunch, you will visit Rinpung Dzong and then spend time walking along Paro’s main street and shopping district. In the late afternoon, if there is time, you will visit Ta Dzong which was converted into the National Museum in 1967. See antique thangkas, textiles, weapons, armor, household objects and other historic artifacts. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
April 20, 2011
Day 2 – Paro – Thimphu
After your first early morning yoga session and breakfast, the group will depart for Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital (population 86,000; 7,520 feet) about an hour away.
After lunch, the group will visit sites around Thimphu that may include a nunnery, the National Memorial Chorten, the National Zoo (more like a preserve, the only animal present is the national animal, the unique Takin), the handicraft emporium, handmade paper factory and Trashi Chhoe Dzong (monastery). Dinner and overnight at hotel.
HIGHLIGHT! Thimphu is the largest and only real “city” in Bhutan. Though it is bustling, it remains the world’s only capital city without a traffic light! It’s also an excellent place to learn about the country’s arts and crafts.
April 21, 2011
Day 3 – Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, the group will depart for the drive to Dochu La Pass (10,000 feet), climbing steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen. You’ll then have a chance for an easy downhill hike through the forest, meeting up with the road where you’ll board the van and drive into the Punakha Valley. Lunch will be served at the hotel.
In the afternoon, you’ll drive a short distance to the Punakha Dzong.
HIGHLIGHT! Punakha Dzong is considered the most beautiful of all dzongs in Bhutan. You’ll have time to explore this complex of buildings that houses hundreds of monks during the winter. You will visit the spectacular main temple which includes large Buddhas at the altar and thousands more around the walls.
Overnight at hotel which is perched high on a ridge overlooking the Punakha Valley and river.
April 22, 2011
Day 4 – Punakha – Trongsa
You’ll begin the day early with another yoga class which will help prepare you for the long drive (about 5 hours) to Trongsa. During this drive you’ll make your way through the Black Mountains along the “Central Road” which was completed only 30 years ago. This opened central Bhutan to the outside world.
The first stop is Wangdue, a small but important town and the district headquarters of Western Bhutan. If time permits, you’ll visit Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, dramatically located on a ridge above the confluence of two raging rivers. Continuing on, the road climbs through semi-tropical vegetation to Pele La Pass (10,900 feet) with an alpine environment of towering rhododendron and dwarf bamboo. Yak can often be found grazing here and, if clear, Mt. Jhomulhari (24,140 feet) is visible to the west. Descending, you’ll pass through a spectacular gorge and on to Trongsa, where you’ll visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong.
Overnight at the hotel and enjoy the spectacular views of the area.
April 23, 2011
Day 5 – Trongsa – Bumthang Valley
After breakfast, the group will continue driving east to Bumthang Valley, where you’ll have ample time to sightsee with possible visits to: the Tamshing Gompa (monastery), Kurjey Lhakhang and Jambay (or Jampa, Buddha of the Future) Lhakhang, the Jakar Dzong and the Swiss Farm (for cheese, honey, beer and local fruit spirits).
April 24, 2011
Day 6 – Bumthang – Hike to Tang Valley
After another yoga session, the group will depart for the Tang Valley along the 15 miles of dirt road which gives access to this region. You’ll stop for an hour-long hike up to Ogyen Choling Museum which provides a fascinating look into traditional life in Bhutan. After the hike back down to the road, you’ll stop for a picnic lunch.
Afterward, you will visit the Pema Choling Nunnery and learn about the lives of the women who live there. This is a special opportunity to see how the nuns live in and operate the nunnery, which is so very different from the monasteries where the monks live.
HIGHLIGHT! Though the road to the Tang Valley is rough, the views and hike through this area are spectacular and a tour through the museum is a unique chance to see how people continue to live their traditional life in Bhutan.
April 25, 2011
Day 7 – Bumthang – Ura – Bumthang
Following another morning yoga session and breakfast, you will take an excursion to the Ura Valley about 25 miles away. You’ll attend the Ura Yakchoe Tsechu and will have the chance to witness Bhutanese traditional singing and dancing. This festival is an important way for the locals to hold on to their culture and lifestyle.
Dinner and overnight at same hotel in Bumthang.
April 26, 2011
Day 8 – Bumthang – Gangtey
After breakfast, you’ll begin by driving west back toward Paro. The group will stop at Yotong La Pass and then continue on through Trongsa, to Pele La Pass, and then turn south to the Phoblika Valley (10’000 feet), considered the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas. Lunch will be provided along the way. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
HIGHLIGHT! This valley is the winter home to the endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from the high Tibetan Plateau. Though they are generally only here from November through March, on occasion there are stragglers that can still be seen in April.
April 27, 2011
Day 9 – Gangtey – Wangdue
An early morning yoga class will be taught as you view the amazing valley below the hotel. After breakfast, the group will visit Gangtey Gompa, which dates back to the 17th century and was recently renovated. You’ll then walk along a path through a beautiful forest and then along the valley floor back to the hotel where you will have lunch.
You’ll then drive about 2 hours to a riverside hotel near Wangdue (4,000 feet). Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
HIGHLIGHT! The morning’s walk through the Phoblika Valley is one of the easiest and loveliest on this tour. The area will take your breath away as you watch horses and cows mingling along the valley floor that’s ringed by low mountains.
April 28, 2011
Day 10 – Wangdue – Thimphu – Paro
From Wangdue, you will drive to Thimphu for lunch and a last chance for shopping and sightseeing. You’ll then proceed to Paro where you’ll have dinner and overnight at the hotel.
April 29, 2011
Day 11 – Paro
You’ll get an early start on this last full day in Bhutan to hike 2+ hours up to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest), Bhutan’s most photographed and iconic monastery. You’ll spend some time enjoying the views and visiting the temples here. You’ll then hike down, stopping at the tea shop, located at the halfway point, and where there are lovely views of Tiger’s Nest. You’ll continue down and enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest.
You’ll then return to Paro. There will be time for resting or visiting the town for last-minute shopping. Final overnight and dinner at hotel.
April 30, 2011
Day 12 – Paro – Bangkok
After an early breakfast, you’ll depart for the airport for a bittersweet goodbye to the Kingdom of Bhutan and fly back to Bangkok. Though it’s possible to connect with your flight home on the same day, consider overnighting in Bangkok in case flights out of Paro are delayed (not uncommon).
Price includes: Roundtrip flights from Bangkok to Paro, transportation in Bhutan, all meals, hotels, bottled water, visa, airport tax and tourist development fund charge. Also includes cost of yoga classes, meditation session, Ayurvedic workshop and entrance to monasteries and festivals.
Price does not include: Flights to and hotel in Bangkok, evacuation insurance (highly recommended), souvenirs, personal purchases (such as books and snacks), beverages other than water, and tips.
Please make payable and send check to:
PO Box 16102
Seattle, WA 98116
For questions, please contact Beth at:
beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com
Deposits and full payment may also be made with a credit/debit card through PayPal. Simply send payment to: beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com.
Bhutan Packing List (PDF)
Bhutan Sacred Sites TourÂ 2011 Itinerary (PDF)
Your tour leader, Susan Weis-Bohlen, is the owner of breathe books, a new age bookstore located in Baltimore, Maryland. Through the shop, Susan has been able to deeply explore and teach areas of great interest to her, including yoga, Ayurveda and meditation. This has also given her the opportunity to lead groups to sacred sites around the world.
Susan began traveling in her teens and has had the opportunity to live overseas for almost a decade, and to visit a wide variety of countries including Bhutan, Cuba, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Turkey, Iceland, India, Israel, Jordan and Peru.
Susan has been practicing yoga since 1995 and has studied Hatha yoga in the Iyengar style. She has also trained through the Chopra Center for Well Being in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Susan is a Chopra Center certified teacher of Ayurveda, the 5,000 year-old Indian system of health and nutrition.
At breathe books Susan regularly teaches Ayurveda, which includes yoga and meditation and pranayama.
About Yoga in Bhutan
Throughout the tour, the group will explore not only yoga asanas (poses), but also the yogic philosophy of life. Through yoga postures you’ll be able to deepen your connection to your body, and through breath work, your connection to the earth. There is no better place then the Himalayas to explore this connection. Since you will be at altitude, the yoga will be about exploring the breath in conjunction with movement. This will help you more thoroughly enjoy the experience of being at over 8,500 feet above sea level!
Your practice will be comprised of several great yogic traditions including Iyengar, Sivananda and Kundalini yoga. Gentle movements will serve to wake up the body as you move deeper into poses to strengthen and enliven your body and spirit. The yoga sessions are suited for all levels of practitioners from beginner to experienced yoginis alike. Meditation will also be incorporated into your practice.
Though yoga is not generally practiced by the Bhutanese, this tour is a way for westerners to incorporate this popular practice into a journey that is naturally spiritual in nature due to the location.
Few tourists visit Bhutan due to the country’s lack of infrastructure and the government’s wish that the country preserve its wonderful culture. While hotel accommodations are generally quite comfortable, they are basic. Meals are usually served buffet-style at the hotel and consist of lots of cooked vegetables, rice and some meat. Vegetarians will have no problem finding plenty to eat.
Bhutan is located in the Himalayas. The altitude should not be an issue for most but occasionally some people react to it with slight headaches or stomach upsets. Participants should be reasonably fit and should expect to do light trekking and hiking throughout the journey.
For those who are prone to motion sickness, carry medication or natural remedies in case the twisty roads get to you.