The Laya Trek

Discover the remote Eastern Himalaya on foot in Bhutan

19

days

Trek

From $4,820 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview

Highlights

  • Trek to Chomolhari Basecamp at Jangothang (4040m)
  • Cross 4 passes over 4500m - including the Shinge La (4900m)
  • Descend the Punakha Gorge & the enjoy the hot springs at Gasa
  • Meet the charming people of Laya Village near the Tibetan border

This absolutely classic Bhutan trekking holiday, from Paro to Thimpu via the village of Laya and the Punakha Valley, is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's great treks.  It certainly has all the right ingredients; from picturesque farmland and ancient forest, to alpine pasture and challenging high mountain passes including the Shinge La (4900m). The spectacular campsites beneath some of Bhutan's most impressive peaks, including Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake, are amongst the many highlights of this trekking circuit. Whilst visits to a number of strategically located fortress-monasteries (dzongs) and scattered settlements including Laya Village, close to the Tibetan border, provide a full measure of cultural appeal. The friendly people of Laya present a most unusual and striking picture, with their pointed hats, hair covered in mustard oil and highly decorative jewellery, this will be a highlight of the holiday. The magical descent of the Punakha Gorge, via the imposing dzong and refreshing hot springs at Gasa, is a fitting climax to the trek. With time for sightseeing in the Paro Valley, including the Tiger's Nest monastery, the winter and summer capitals of Thimpu and Punakha, and a city tour in Kathmandu, this is a superlative 3 week trekking adventure.

BOOK EARLY for BHUTAN! With only two airlines operating flights into Paro from Kathmandu, seats are limited and in high demand. Book early to guarantee your place on your chosen departure. We strongly advise booking a year in advance where possible.

Is this holiday for you?

Trekking conditions on this circuit are reasonably straightforward, since the trail has been well prepared for the ponies or yaks which are traditionally used to carry supplies on the route. In general this trek offers easy walking conditions, as there are no glaciers to negotiate and the passes that we cross should not be heavily snow covered. However, the trekking is  sustained and does involve some long days and the crossing of four passes over 4500 metres, including the Shinge La at 4900 metres. There are some quite strenuous days and a good degree of fitness is a necessity. This route presents a great variety of landscape types; ranging from fertile and intensively terraced farmland, through some of the finest mixed forest in the world, to open, alpine pastureland and high mountain valleys and passes.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfers from Kathmandu Airport are provided.
  • Fly to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
  • Drive to Drugyel Dzong (2530m) and on to Shana (2860m). Trek to Thongo Samba (3250m).
  • Trek to Soi Thangka (3575m).
  • Trek to Jangothang (4040m).
  • A rest day at Jangothang.
  • Cross the Nyele La (4850m) to Lingshi and descend to camp.
  • Trek to Chebisa (3850m) via Gang Yul.
  • Cross the Gobu La (4405m) to Somothang (3985m).
  • Cross the JhariLa (4720m) to Robluthang (4200m).
  • Cross the Shinge La (4900m) to Limithang (4050m).
  • Arrive into Laya (3750m).
  • Rest day in Laya.
  • Trek to Chamsa (3700m) below the Bale La.
  • Cross the Bale La (3800m) and trek to Gasa (2500m)
  • Drive to Thimpu, via Punakha en route.
  • Sightseeing around Thimpu and Paro.
  • Fly to Kathmandu. Half day sightseeing tour.
  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.
2016
Mon 02 May - Fri 20 May Code LAY /01/16/ Adult$4,820 Status Departed
More information
  • The Laya Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is LAY /01/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 02 May and departs on Fri 20 May
  • This trip has already departed
  • Single Supplement $260 - Group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Single Tent $290
Sun 09 Oct - Thu 27 Oct Code LAY /03/16/ Adult$4,820 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • The Laya Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is LAY /03/16/
  • This tour begins on Sun 09 Oct and departs on Thu 27 Oct
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $260 - Group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Single Tent $290
2017
Mon 01 May - Fri 19 May Code LAY /01/17/ Adult$5,300 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Laya Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is LAY /01/17/
  • This tour begins on Mon 01 May and departs on Fri 19 May
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $260 - Group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Single Tent $290
Mon 09 Oct - Fri 27 Oct Code LAY /02/17/ Adult$5,300 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Laya Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is LAY /02/17/
  • This tour begins on Mon 09 Oct and departs on Fri 27 Oct
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $260 - Group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Single Tent $290
Mon 16 Oct - Fri 03 Nov Code LAY /03/17/ Adult$5,300 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Laya Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is LAY /03/17/
  • This tour begins on Mon 16 Oct and departs on Fri 03 Nov
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $260 - Group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Single Tent $290
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Kathmandu, Nepal. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Kathmandu International airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.


BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

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Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • peaks
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek
  • internalflight

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfers from Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Complimentary Airport transfers are provided for all KE clients. KE Land Only package services begin with the evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Fly to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

    We transfer to the airport for the Druk Air flight to Bhutan’s only airport, at Paro. The flight from Kathmandu to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. From the left side of the plane Everest, Makalu and Kangchenjunga, three of the world’s highest mountains, are clearly visible. The total flying time is only 45 minutes and soon we are descending into the Paro Valley, enjoying the splendid views of alpine forests, small monasteries, temples and flat-roofed farmhouses. You will receive a warm welcome from our Bhutanese hosts who will assist with the transfer to the hotel. The Paro Valley is enchanting. A single road lined with willows, clear mountain streams, families working in the roadside fields and one of Bhutan’s most impressive Dzongs (fortress monasteries) creates a memorable first impression. After checking into our hotel in Paro the rest of the day is free to look around the town. Overnight at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Drugyel Dzong (2530m) and on to Shana (2860m). Trek to Thongo Samba (3250m).

    We can enjoy a leisurely start to the day as the distance we can trek in the first couple of days is limited by the need to gain altitude slowly. We drive for 15 - 20 minutes to the end of the surfaced road at Drugyel Dzong (2530m). We will take a look around the old fort which once protected the Paro Valley from Tibetan invasions from the north. Unfortunately only the outer walls remain, as it was gutted by fire in 1651. From Drugyel Dzong we continue in 4X4 vehicles following a newly built farm road for around 1.5 hours, passing through small hamlets of houses built in traditional Bhutanese design. Arriving at the end of the farm road at Shana (2860m), we will be happy to stretch our legs. While our bags are loaded on the ponies we will set off following a path beside the river before climbing through beautiful lush forest of oak, rhododendron, bamboo and pine. After 2 - 2.5 hours we pass the 2-house hamlet of Shing Karap. Beyond here the trail forks with one path leading across the Tremo La (forbidden pass) to Tibet. We take the other path following the main river. We make a steep climb and descent to cross the river on a bridge and soon after we reach the clearing of Thongo Samba (3250m) where we make camp.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Soi Thangka (3575m).

    A reasonably short day of trekking today, but it is important at this stage to gain height slowly. We continue along the river through a magnificent forest of pine and spruce, mixed with oak, birch and maple. The autumn colours of the leaves contrasts with the Pale Spanish moss (old man’s beard) festoons many of the trees. After rain the trail can be muddy in places and where we cross streams there will possibly be slippery rocks to contend with, however, our local guides will be on hand to assist anyone if necessary. There are several small ups and downs today as we follow the river north and after crossing a bridge at 3560m. we make a short steep climb to reach a junction of two valleys, marked by a large chorten. There is a bridge here from where, weather permitting, we can see Chomolhari at the head of the valley. Our trail stays on the west bank of the Paro Chu and our next camp at Soi Thangka is only a half an hour’s walk away.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 - 4 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Jangothang (4040m).

    We have a longer day today. Our destination is Jangothang, a beautiful grassy meadow beneath the enormous east face of Chomolhari. We pass a small army post at 3600 metres and a chorten a little higher and then, leaving the forest behind, we enter more open country and encounter our first yaks. Our way continues through lovely juniper forest, to a tiny hamlet where we take a cooked lunch. As is the case with every meal in Bhutan, chillies are also provided, and we may be able to try the local thomba (beer made from barley), tsampa (roasted flour) or even Tibetan butter tea. Our camp is a little further on, by a ruined dzong (4040m) beneath the huge east face of Chomolhari.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • A rest day at Jangothang.

    Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid everyone’s acclimatisation before the crossing of the Nyele La to Lingshi. There are plenty of options for a walk, and one possibility is a hike up the ridge behind the ruined dzong to a grassy summit at approximately 5000 metres, from where there is an incredible close-up view of Chomolhari. Alternatively, a 2-hour hike to a lake above camp provides a stunning location for photographs of Jitchu Drake. Green grass, grazing yaks, stunning mountain scenery - it doesn’t come much better than this. For a spectacular view of Jitchu Drake closer to camp (even better at sunrise if you can get up sufficiently early), follow the river for 20 minutes to a lone house and here the mountain is presented before you. No matter what you choose to do today, the cooks will have had all day to prepare dinner and a veritable banquet will be waiting at the end of the day.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Nyele La (4850m) to Lingshi and descend to camp.

    One of the longest days of the trek, as we climb to cross the Nyele La to reach Lingshi. We follow the river for a while, crossing on a bridge close to the house at the end of the valley where Michael Palin met with the old Bhutanese composer during the filming of his Himalaya series. Climbing steeply at first, this path offers views toward Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake which are some of the finest of the trip. We are now very near the Tibetan Border as we make our way along a broad hanging valley to the final steep slopes leading to the Nyele La (4850m), which is adorned with prayer flags. From the pass we descend, steeply at first, to follow a long ridge before finally dropping through forests of rhododendron and pine to our camp beside the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Chebisa (3850m) via Gang Yul.

    Today is a shorter day, yet one of the most fascinating. After a leisurely breakfast we climb up to the old Lingshi Dzong. From the dzong, a delightful path contours the hillside, passing numerous farms. There are good views across the valley to the Basingthang Peaks and we have plenty of time to sit and watch the kestrels (almost identical to the European variety) 'wind hovering' above the ridges. After a couple of hours the path turns a corner and there is a fine view of Tserim Kang, before we descend to Gang Yul (meaning 'village at the pass'). Set beneath enormous limestone cliffs and dwarfed by the enormous east face of Jitchu Drake, Gang Yul’s situation is one of the most impressive in Bhutan. Home to about 150 people, living in a dozen or so beautifully designed houses, this village offers endless photo opportunities and it is worth spending some time here - you may even be lucky enough to be invited into a house to try chang and roasted rice. Leaving the village, the path continues along the hillside for another hour to Chebisa, only a few hours from Tibet. Try climbing the hill by the side of the entrance chorten for an even better view of this fairytale setting. There are two parts to the village, with the upper section seeming to be the oldest, consisting of four houses. The architecture in this valley is particularly interesting, with traditional windows, wooden slatted roofs, an assortment of intricately carved ladders, and an ingenious system of insulation which involves packing the roof-spaces with straw and wood.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Gobu La (4405m) to Somothang (3985m).

    From Chebisa, the path gradually climbs steep slopes high above the river to the Gobu La at 4405 metres. Although climbing for most of the morning, this is a lovely walk and there are some excellent views. In this part of Bhutan, bharal (blue sheep) are very commonly sighted. Resting on the pass, watching the eagles soar by (over 20 were spotted in less than an hour on one of our previous trips) is very memorable and it is difficult to leave such a picturesque spot. A short walk down through the rhododendron forest leads to our lunch spot by a stream, which is followed by a very pleasurable afternoon’s walk through forest of silver fir and juniper. Bushes of yellow and crimson berberis make particularly vivid foregrounds for photography. Descending to the main river (Shagipasa), the scenery is reminiscent of British Columbia with forests, clear streams and stunning mountain scenery - we are entering some of the finest scenery in Bhutan. From the river, the path contours across the hillside and then climbs steeply into a side valley, where we set up camp at a site known as Somothang (3985m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the JhariLa (4720m) to Robluthang (4200m).

    We start early for the climb up to the Jhari La (4720m). The views from the pass are stunning, especially the view of Kang Che Da (7000m). Our next objective, the Shinge La, is the lowest point of the horizon opposite, which presents a daunting prospect, high above the valley. As we descend through more glorious pine forest into Tsharithang, we keep a look out for takin (small deer) which are quite common in this part of Bhutan. The scenery on this day’s walk is absolutely breathtaking - it inspired Victor Saunders, one of Britain’s most travelled Himalayan climbers and the first person to climb Jitso Drake, to comment that this was the best walking he’d ever done! We cross a river and camp in a very scenic position just half an hour’s walk up the hillside, at a place known as Robluthang (4200m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Shinge La (4900m) to Limithang (4050m).

    An obvious yak trail, scarring the hillside, can be seen directly above the camp. This is followed to a beautiful hanging valley with a lone yak herders hut, two hours above the camp. The path takes the left side of the valley and soon the Shinge La (4900m), the highest pass on the trek, is visible. The final climb is quite strenuous, but save some energy to place a small stone on one of the four cairns that mark the end of the climbing. Prayer flags and dried leaves enhance the fascination of this pass which marks the boundary of the Laya District. Our descent follows an obvious path into the centre of the valley, to a clearing by a huge rock. We continue descending until we see a bank of moraine, which is holding back a very picturesque lake. The backdrop to this beautiful valley is Kang Che Da, the Great Tiger Mountain. We camp a short way down the valley at Limithang (4050m), in a meadow by the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Arrive into Laya (3750m).

    A beautiful walk today through a bird spotter's paradise. Though shorter than some of the days so far there is quite a lot of up and down. We cross a bridge and follow the left bank of the river on an undulating trail through more forest of spruce and juniper. As we descend we start to see Spanish moss once again hanging from the trees. The path then gradually climbs above the river and soon we see the first houses on the outskirts of Laya (3750m). The people of this fascinating village are very friendly and they present a most unusual and striking picture, with their pointed hats, hair covered in mustard oil and highly decorative jewellery. We have the afternoon free to look around the Laya or to visit their hillside monastery. We set up camp on one of the village fields. In the autumn season the fields have been harvested and finding a camping place is easy.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Rest day in Laya.

    A well earned rest day and an opportunity to observe the daily lives of the people who live in this remote village. This is also a good time to catch up on laundry, diary writing etc. There are opportunities for walks around the village for those who simply have to exercise!

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Chamsa (3700m) below the Bale La.

    From Laya, we descend to the Mo Chu to begin our walk-out to Gasa. The main path from the village descends to the lowest house, passes through a large entrance chorten and drops down to the river. During the monsoon, from June to September, this valley receives a great deal of rainfall and as a result the forest and jungle is particularly lush and impressive. We pass through a small army outpost and continue on a trail alongside the Mo Chu (mother river). Although the overall tendency is to descend, there are many places where the path has to climb quite high above the river to negotiate steep spurs. We may choose to camp at the BTC hut at Koina or continue uphill for a further hour and a half to a small clearing in the woods known as Chamsa (3700m), about an hour below the Bale La

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 - 9 hrs trekking

  • Cross the Bale La (3800m) and trek to Gasa (2500m)

    Depending on the position of our overnight camp we will have a climb of one or two and a half hours to the Bale La (3800m) which marks the high point of the trek to Gasa. Dropping down through splendid sub-tropical forest, the trekking on this part of our route is a sheer delight. Huge banana plants, bamboo and an array of exotic plant life make this part of the trek a botanist’s paradise. Passing Gasa Dzong, which used to control the routes to the religious areas of Lunana and Laya with its dominating position high above the Mo Chu, we reach the road head where we make camp. Some way below here are the famous Gasa Tsachu (hot springs) where many people from all over Bhutan come to bathe.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Thimpu, via Punakha en route.

    Getting an early start we drive alongside the Mo Chu through Damji and across several ridges steadily descending. As the valley becomes more populated we begin to encounter rice fields, scattered little hamlets and villagers about their work. Eventually we reach Punakha (1350m), which was the winter capital of Bhutan for more than 300 years. Punakha Dzong lies at the junction of the Mo (mother) Chu and the Po (father) Chu and, in winter, is home to over 1000 monks. From Punakha we drive to Thimpu on Bhutan’s remarkable east-west highway, which winds its way up to the Dochu La (3050m). The pass is marked by many prayer flags and a large chorten. The road winds its way down from the pass, passing through Hongsto, an ancient village founded in 1525 by the 14th Drukpa hierarchy of Tibet, to arrive at the relatively modern capital of Thimpu. We check into our hotel where we can clean up before sitting down to a celebratory evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Sightseeing around Thimpu and Paro.

    This morning we have a chance to look around Bhutan’s tiny capital. There is also time for souvenir shopping. After lunch, we make the short drive westwards to Paro and here visit one of Bhutan's most iconic sights, the The Takstang or ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery. This monastery has a most stunning location, perched on a ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. It is rarely possible to go inside the monastery and to reach it involves a return trek of 5 to 6 hours but about half way along the path to the monastery, there is a classic viewpoint for Takstang, looking across the gorge to the monastic buildings which cling, seemingly impossibly, to the cliff wall opposite. There is a small café located at this viewpoint and this makes a great spot to take in this fantastic sight. This evening will be our last in Bhutan and we will celebrate by sampling some excellent Bhutanese cuisine.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6hrs walking

  • Fly to Kathmandu. Half day sightseeing tour.

    We transfer to Paro Airport to catch the flight to Kathmandu. The flight takes only 45 minutes and on arrival we transfer to our comfortable hotel. As part of the holiday package we have arranged an optional sightseeing tour which will visit two or three major sites of interest in Kathmandu such as the great stupa at Bodhnath and the temple to Shiva on the ghats of the Bagmati River at Pashupatinath. In the evening, we will have a celebratory meal in one of the city's finest restaurants. Overnight at our Kathmandu hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Transfers to Kathmandu airport are provided. There are lots of extensions that can easily be added to your holiday. Why not pre-book a simple full day-tour in the Kathmandu Valley, or a multi-day excursion to wildlife reserve at Chitwan. Contact the KE office for more details..

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced English-speaking local guide plus support crew
  • Kathmandu Airport transfers
  • Bhutan flights and transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Once on trek a full service including food and all equipment (excluding personal equipment)
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • A guided sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
  • Travel insurance
  • Nepalese visa costs
  • Tips for drivers and trek staff
  • Departure taxes on leaving Bhutan
  • Miscellaneous expenses - beer and souvenirs etc

Typically the food in Bhutan is not very spicy though the Bhutanese do themselves eat a lot of chillies both raw and cooked. Hotels in Thimpu and Paro generally offer a range of dishes including those designed for the Western palette. On trek the emphasis is on providing a high-carbohydrate and largely vegetarian diet, which we have found to be easily digestible at high altitude. Breakfasts will consist of cereal or muesli, eggs, toast, beans, sausage or bacon with tea and coffee. Lunch is usually a hot meal which is cooked at breakfast time and carried in insulated pots. Dinner is a 3 course meal starting with soup and finishing with a sweet. The main dish is a mixture of local and Western cuisine, with the ingredients mostly purchased in Bhutan and cooked for us by highly trained trek cooks. In Kathmandu we take our meals in some of the finest restaurants the city has to offer. All meals while on trek and while staying in hotels are included in the trip price.

All meals are included from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 19.
The group will rendezvous at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Airport transfers are provided for all clients arriving and departing Kathmandu. Land Only clients must provide their full flight details and should let us know if the complimentary transfers are NOT required. Hotel contact details and an emergency telephone number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
This trip has 2 nights in Kathmandu, one en route to Bhutan and one on the return journey. We use a comfortable, centrally located hotel. In Bhutan, we use the best available standard of hotel accommodation at Paro and Thimpu. Whilst on trek there are 12 nights camping. All accommodation is allocated on a twin sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek for an additional cost. (Please note single tent hire does not include single rooms in hotels). It is also normally possible to book a single room for the 2 hotel nights in Kathmandu, or extra nights if you plan to arrive early or depart later than the group trip dates (subject to availability). In Bhutan, single rooms are much more difficult to pre-book. However, if there is availability, single rooms for the 4 hotel nights in Bhutan can be arranged at an additional cost. Please note that it will not be possible to book single rooms in Bhutan for festival trips. For Single tent hire costs, Single room Supplements and additional hotel night costs please refer to our website (note that hotel prices are subject to change)

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

Shortly after first light one of the cook crew will wake you with a cup of tea or coffee brought to your tent. You will have plenty of time to get up and pack your kitbag before sitting down to a hot breakfast, during which camp will be struck and the pack-horses will be loaded. Setting off in the cool of the morning, we will generally reach our lunch stop by mid day. A lunch transported in insulated pots, is served on route, or at the camp-site if the day is sufficiently short. The horses or usually catch up with the group during lunch and are well on their way to camp which we hope to establish well before dusk. It is usual for the afternoon’s walk to be shorter than the morning session. On arrival at camp, the trek staff will quickly put the tents up and a hot drink will soon follow. Dinner is a 3-course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socialising. After dark, the temperature quickly falls and everyone will soon be tucked up in their sleeping bags.

Flights to Bhutan

It is possible to fly to Bhutan from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore, as well as from Dhaka and several regional airports in India. Our preferred port of transit for this holiday is Kathmandu, which has daily flights to Paro and a good tourism infrastructure. In addition, Nepal visas are easily obtained on arrival and are relatively inexpensive. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines operating flights to Bhutan and seats can be limited, particularly around the time of the major festivals. Early booking is essential. It is not always possible to confirm seats immediately and it is not uncommon for passengers to be ‘waitlisted’ for several weeks until their booking clears. In rare circumstances, it may be necessary to route our groups or individual clients through an alternative airport if waiting lists are not cleared in good time.

A professional English-speaking local leader will accompany the group in Bhutan. The leader will be assisted by a full trek support crew including camp assistants, cooks and baggage animals and their handlers.

Approximately $250 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including those mentioned below. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on arrival (into Nepalese rupees in Kathmandu, and Bhutanese Ngultrum at Paro Airport). Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal and in Bhutan. You should allow approximately $60 - 80 (in equivalent local currency) for tips to local staff. You can withdraw cash from ATM's in Kathmandu. In Bhutan money can be easily exchanged but you cannot rely on withdrawing money from ATM's.

Tips are the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to your local guides and porters. They do not form part of their wages. KE always pays local crews the best rates of pay, no matter what country they are in and any tips they receive are seen as a personal thank you from group members. For our part, we advise local teams that tips are not a duty or a prerequisite but are a bonus and entirely dependent on the service that was given. For your local guide and trek crews we recommend that you give a tip if you feel that their services have met your satisfaction. We recommend that these tips are given by the group as a whole rather than individually and you should decide as a group on how much you wish to give. As a rough guide we suggest that each group member contributes US$60 - 80 (in local currency equivalent) to a group tipping pool.

Your baggage on trek will be carried by pack animals. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 15 kg / 33lbs. It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on the trek at the group hotel in Kathmandu.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4000 metres and/or trekking to 5000 metres or above. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude. Unless you have previous experience of trekking above 4000 metres you should consult one of our trekking experts before embarking on this holiday. On this trip we carry a portable altitude chamber (PAC-bag) and/or bottled oxygen for use in emergencies.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a maximum of 15 kgs.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots

  • Smart shoes (if your trip includes visiting a festival)

  • Socks

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket

  • Waterproof and windproof overtrousers

  • Trekking trousers

  • Thermal baselayer leggings

  • Thermal baselayer shirts

  • Fleece jacket

  • Warm jacket (down)*

  • Sunhat

  • Fleece hat

  • Scarf or buff

  • Sunglasses

  • Thermal gloves

  • Warm and waterproof gloves or mittens

  • Daypack 30 litres

  • Headtorch with spare batteries

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial handwash

  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)

  • Water bottles 1 Litre  (x2). (Note that the tube on camelback / platypus type systems can be prone to freezing in cold conditions)

  • Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)

  • Sleeping bag (comfort rating -15°C)*

  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), altitude (Diamox), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.

The following items are optional:

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Thermos flask

  • Swimwear (for the hotel pool in Kathmandu)

  • Travel clothes

  • Trainers or similar

  • Spare laces

  • Trekking poles

  • Gaiters (highly recommended due to muddy conditions)
  • Insect repellant – (DEET)

  • Pen-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)

  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)

  • Camera

  • Small travel towel

  • A selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contacts dry)

Notes

Equipment hire / rental

Items marked * can be hired / rented through KE Adventure Travel. Please make all requests at least 6 weeks prior to the trip departure date. Please note all hire / rental equipment is issued in Bhutan. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items.

‘Thermarest’ inflatable camping mats are provided

Bhutan Festivals

  • FESTIVAL DRESS CODE
If your holiday involves visiting any of the ‘tsechu’ or festivals in Bhutan, we would like to advise you that there is a dress code that you need to be aware of when attending any festival. The Bhutanese always come dressed in their finest for a festival and it is important that you to bring a smart set of clothes if you plan to attend. You will need to wear long sleeves, long trousers (no jeans) and no trainers, boots or open toed sandals. Hats should not be worn and umbrellas are not acceptable.
  • FESTIVAL ETIQUETTE

Festivals are religious events. The ground where they are held is purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival you are, in essence, on the perimeter of an outdoor religious ground. The conduct of the onlooker should be governed with this in mind. The dancers, whether monks or laymen, are in a state of meditation. They transform themselves into the deities which they represent on the dance ground. They generate a spiritual power, which cleanses, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators.

Any behaviour which may be deemed obtrusive, disrespectful or discourteous is out of place at such an event. The dance ground is not a place to eat, drink, smoke, talk or laugh loudly at inappropriate times. You should not use flash photography or intrude on the dance space. Common courtesy should rule one’s action when photographing dances or onlookers.

Festivals are not pageants or entertainment events. They are not held as tourist attractions. They are genuine manifestations of religious traditions thousands of years old which outsiders are given the privilege of witnessing. We would like to see that privilege retained. In the past, the actions of a few unthinking visitors have caused shock and dismay to the local people. Any recurrence of such unfortunate events may lead to future restrictions on attendance at festivals. We hope that KE groups will always display courtesy, sensitivity and respect to the people of Bhutan who have welcomed them to attend these beautiful and sacred events, and will visibly demonstrate their respect by dressing as well as their circumstances permit on such occasions.

 

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Transit via India

If you are travelling via India (Delhi or Calcutta) to your destination you may also require a visa for India. This may apply even if you are not leaving the airport unless your baggage has been checked all the way through to your destination. Generally, if you use the same carrier for both legs of your journey, you will not need an India Visa. Please download the detailed information document: Visa PDF India.

Visa Bhutan

All nationalities require a visa. KE will apply for the visa for you. The visa fee is $40 and this will appear on your final invoice. We require copy of the information page of your passport. A colour scan must be emailed or posted to us at the earliest opportunity.

Visa Nepal

All nationalities require a visa. The visa fee is $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, $100 for 90 days and is obtainable on arrival. Payment must be made in cash and USD, GBP or Euros are accepted. You will require 2 passport photos.

For all the regions of Nepal that we visit an additional permit is required. This is included in the holiday price and KE will apply for it, with your full passport details and 1 passport photo (sent by post or emailed). You must supply this to us at least 4 weeks prior to departure.

For the following holidays, in addition to the above, we will also require you to supply a copy of the information page of your passport (sent by post or emailed).

These trips are: Kanchenjunga (KAN), Mustang (MUS), Dolpo (DOL), Manaslu (MAN), Hidden Valleys of Naar and Phu (NAP), Naar to Mustang (NTM), Humla and Limi Circuit Trek (HUM), Naya Kanga and the Ganja La (NKG), Yala Peak and the Ganja La (YPGL), Tent Peak (TPK), Ramdung and Parchemo (RAM), Mera Peak, Island Peak and the Amphu Labsta (MIP), Island Peak Climber (IPC), Peaks and Passes on Nepal (MTR); Mera Peak Climb (MER); and Chulu Far East & the Tilicho La (CTL); Tabsar Peak and the Tsum Valley (TVC), Mukot Peak (MKP).

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee.

The unit of currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. For this trip you need to be aerobically fit and also comfortable with walking up to 7 hours per day or longer on some days. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Regular hiking in hill country is the best training but jogging, squash and swimming are also good for developing cardio vascular fitness and stamina. Whatever your chosen method for getting in shape, before departure we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

In general the climate of Bhutan is colder and damper than one would expect to find in the Himalaya of India or Nepal. The monsoon usually arrives in June, and lasts until mid September, bringing with it the heavy rainfall which is responsible for the lush vegetation which carpets much of Bhutan. March and April, as well as late September through to December are the best months to visit Bhutan. These months outside of the monsoon generally give good weather, with bright, sunny mornings and a moderate build up of cloud in the afternoons. However, mountains do produce their own weather, and rain, snow and even storms cannot be ruled out. Day-time highs of around 20°C / 68°F can be expected at altitudes around 2000 metres with average daytime temperatures at 3000 metres around 10 to 15ºC / 50 – 6ºF. Night-time temperatures at any time can reach or dip below freezing. December departures will be between 5 to 7ºC lower than the above temperature ranges and in December the overnight temperatures at our highest camps can reach –10ºC / 14ºF.

  • Bhutan. A Trekker's guide. Bart Jordans. Cicerone.

  • Bhutan. Lonely Planet Guide.

  • Bhutan. Insight Guides

  • Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Owen Edmunds.

Bhutan Himalaya. 1:390,000 Nepa Maps (Himalayan Maphouse)

This map gives a general overview of the main trekking routes. Relief is indicated by shading and selected altitudes of peaks and passes. Highways, main roads , minor roads, and trekking routes are marked. Symbols denote campsites, post offices, dzongs, monuments, places of interest etc. The map is indexed for place names, dzongs, passes and peaks. Inside the map cover are printed some geographical notes on the country and driving and trekking times between selected locations.

Extend Your Holiday

Extensions

When booking your holiday, you will be able to 'add an extension option'.

Once we have received your booking we will contact you to discuss additional services required for the extension and to take any additional deposit.

Chitwan Jungle Extension

The jungles of southern Nepal are an interesting counterpoint to trekking in the foothills or the high Himalaya. Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge provides a relaxing and comfortable base for a wildlife safari and cultural village experience. During two days of wildlife viewing in the Chitwan National Park 'buffer zone' - the interface area between visitors and the animals that live at Chitwan – you will be accompanied by expert guides on safaris by jeep by boat and on foot. 



Chitwan Jungle Extension

From $1000 per person

More info

Kathmandu Tour - Nagarkot and Bhaktapur

The Kathmandu Valley contains the cities of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu itself, all of which were once independent kingdoms. An exploration of the valley’s historic and cultural sights is an excellent way to begin or end your adventure in Nepal. Highlights of this tour includes a very early drive up to Nagarkot on the Kathmandu Valley rim, the perfect place to watch a Himalayan sunrise. This is followed by a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur, renowned for its temples and traditional buildings. 

 

Kathmandu Tour - Nagarkot and Bhaktapur

From $135 per person

More info

Malla Hotel

From $100 per room per night

Gokarna Forest Resort Kathmandu

From $138 per room per night

Shanker Hotel

From $100 per room per night

Situated next to the grounds of the former Royal Palace and only a 10-minute walk from the popular Thamel district, this former Rana residence was converted into a hotel in 1964. The original architecture was based on a French palace and the hotel has a grand appearance. Set in a large and beautifully tended garden, it provides a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and is an ideal base from which to explore Kathmandu. All its rooms which are en-suite have been recently refurbished and the hotel facilities include 2 restaurants, 2 bars and a swimming pool where you can also order drinks.

Shangri La

From $119 per room per night Another of Kathmandu’s original ‘luxury’ hotels. While the sophistication of its amenities may be upstaged by Kathmandu’s more modern concrete and glass hotels, the Shangri La maintains an old world charm that cannot be beaten. Located in the diplomatic enclave of Lazimpat, away from the hustle and bustle yet just 10 minutes walk from tourist centre of Thamel, the hotel is set in a pleasant garden and facilities include a pool, tennis court and massage therapist. The hotel has a speciality Indian restaurant and a garden café serving international cuisine as well as a bar.

Dwarikas Hotel

From $279 per room per night Dwarika’s is a heritage hotel modelled on the grandeur of the palaces of the Newar Kings. Consisting of several buildings arranged around a quiet courtyard, the hotel incorporates many original 15th – 17th century features in its architecture from the lifetime collection of its founder. The rooms are in the same Newari style and lavishly luxurious in their appointments. Its location close to Pashupathinath and Bouddhanath is perfect for exploring this side of Kathmandu. There are 3 restaurants serving Nepali, Japanese and international cuisine, a bar, spa and fitness centre, and a swimming pool.

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