Embark on an extraordinary learning journey to Druk Yul - Land of the Thunder Dragon, the Kingdom of Bhutan
6 – 15 December 2023
Be nourished by pristine nature to pause and reflect, Experience a uniquely spiritual and still unspoiled culture.
Bhutan, often referred to as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” is a captivating destination that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. This enchanting kingdom nestled in the Himalayas offers a truly unique experience that sets it apart from other tourist destinations.
Bhutan’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage, coupled with its stunning landscapes, makes it an ideal place to visit. From the majestic monasteries perched on cliffs to the breathtaking valleys dotted with prayer flags, Bhutan immerses visitors in a world untouched by modernity. The warmth and genuine hospitality of the Bhutanese people further enhance the experience, as they share their traditions, beliefs, and rich history. Additionally, Bhutan’s emphasis on sustainable tourism and its philosophy of Gross National Happiness ensure that visitors can explore the country’s natural beauty while contributing to its preservation.
FBN Asia curate this experience in a 10 day’s journey led by Dr Mary Ann Tsao (FBN International and FBN Asia board member) who had a transformative experience in Bhutan. She will be taking you through a journey to the past (1857) and present, you will have the privilege to access historical site and palace that are only offered for FBN members, enjoy the serenity and beauty of the country in a Amankora’s luxury resort to reflect, recharge and appreciate the wonder of nature around you.
This journey to Bhutan promises to be a transformative adventure that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
- Arrival in Paro, Bhutan
- Lunch at Amankora Paro
- Afternoon visit to Dongstse Lakhang / Kychu Lakhang / Paro town
- Talk on Gross National Happiness before dinner
- Overnight in Paro
- Domestic flight to Bumthang
- By privileged access, special tour for FBN Asia to Wangduechhoeling Palace in the afternoon
- Talk by the Bhutan Foundation on the history of Bumthang and Wangduechhoeling Palace
- Pre-dinner cocktails
- Overnight in Bumthang
- Morning visit to Jambay Lakhang and Kurjey Lakhang
- Bumthang Farmhouse Lunch
- Afternoon: visit to Tamshing Monastery / Red Panda Brewery / archery (Bhutan’s national sport)
- Cultural performance before dinner
- Overnight in Bumthang
- Drive to Gangtey in Phobjikha valley
- Trongsa and lunch at local café by a beautiful waterfall
- Afternoon walk through Gangtey valley / traditional hot stone bath
- Overnight in Gangtey
- Morning visit to Gangtey monastery / walk through meadows and groves of blue pines
- Observe the endangered black-necked cranes and visit to Crane Center
- Afternoon hike on beautiful trails / tsa tsa making
- Overnight in Gangtey
- Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery for breathtaking views of Punakha Valley en route to Punakha, and visit Chimi Lhakhang, the famous fertility temple
- Relaxing afternoon to enjoy the surrounding views and spa facilities of Amankora Punakha Lodge
- Village dance around a bonfire
- Conversation with Dr Mary Ann Tsao on the Bhutan Elder Sangha Sanctuary (B.E.S.S.) project, an elder-friendly home in response to the plight of ageing monks, on land granted by royal bequest, and sharing of her experience developing a non-profit construction project in Bhutan
- Overnight in Punakha
- Morning visit to Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s most important Dzong and the winter home for the Jhe Khenpo, the Chief Abbott of Bhutan
- Visit to B.E.S.S. where we will offer lunch to the elderly monks. Facilitated dialogue with some residents about their experience staying at B.E.S.S. and tour of the site.
- Tranquil evening and overnight in Punakha
Thimphu · Paro
- En route to Thimphu, stop at Dochula, a high mountain pass that offers magnificent panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges
- Lunch at Amankora Thimphu Lodge with an afternoon to visit Thimphu town or the majestic Big Buddha (Buddha Dordenma) before driving back to Paro
- Formal Dinner at Amankora Paro Lodge
- Overnight in Paro
- Morning ascent to the iconic Tiger’s Nest, built on a cliff face 10,000 feet above Paro Valley / visit Kychu Lakhang or Paro Dzong for the less energetic
- Free and easy afternoon in picturesque Paro town or stop by an archery competition
- Special FBN Asia Dinner in traditional dress, in an unforgettable setting
- Overnight in Paro
Paro · Bangkok
- Departure from Paro to Bangkok for international connections
Join us in Bhutan for this exceptional Learning Journey
LEARNING JOURNEY COST
- US$12,635 per person for double occupancy
- US$20,565 for single occupancy
- All accommodations* at Amankora lodges in Bhutan
- All meals (including room service), house-pour wines, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, teas, etc.
- All laundry (except dry cleaning), daily
- All private planned programmes with qualified and licensed English-speaking guides
- One (1) complimentary massage by Amankora
- All transportation in Bhutan with experienced drivers, including domestic flight from Paro to Bumthang on Druk Air
- All road permits and entrance fees to monasteries and places of interest on the itinerary
- All visa fees, tourist surcharges (sustainable development fee, sustainable tourism fund) and miscellaneous visitor fees to Bhutan
- 20% Accommodation Tax and Service Charge
*Triple sharing available. Please contact Helen Yang for more information.
Note: Learning Journey cost does not include all international airfares as well as transfers and accommodations in Bangkok, personal expenses, travel insurance (required), and tips for the guides/drivers.
PAYMENT TERMS & CONDITIONS,
in accordance with Amankora :
As the Learning Journey is taking place in less than 6 months, a 50% non-refundable deposit is required upon confirmation/registration. The 50% balance will be due by 1 September 2023.
For registrations after 1 September 2023, payment of full amount is required.
Transfer of registration: In the event that a registered participant is not able to attend, the registration may be transferred to a substitute participant from the same family business.
Due to the limited availability of flights and the nature of travel in Bhutan, it is highly recommended that you purchase travel insurance from a recognized agent or insurance provider to cover any cancellation eventualities including cancellations based on medical grounds, professional commitments and/or travel interruptions.
Any cancellation should be made in writing; Amankora Bhutan will determine applicable cancellation charges.
Learning Journey cost may be subject to change depending on availability.
Minimum size is required for Learning Journey to proceed.
- Depart Bangkok early morning to Paro by Druk Air (or Bhutan Airlines) on Wednesday 6 December, with return from Paro to Bangkok on Friday 15 December; will require an overnight stay in Bangkok to catch connecting flight to Paro, and may require the same from Paro, depending on one’s connecting flight. [Travel by international airline from home country to Bangkok; Bangkok-Paro-Bangkok on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines, transfer to international airline back to home country]
- To catch an early morning flight from Bangkok to Paro on Wednesday 6 December, a popular overnight hotel option is the Novotel Bangkok Airport Hotel (which is just 5 minutes by shuttle to the airport). Please note that the overnight hotel cost is not included in the learning journey price.
- Early December temperature is usually comfortably cool in the low teens by day, but it can be cold (near zero) at night once the sun sets
- Punakha and Tiger’s Nest can be hot in the day, especially when walking under the sun
- Most of the time, outdoor gear would be most useful, with some smart casual wear for the evenings
- Dress in light layers: T-shirt, light weight sweater, light rain jacket, shawl, jeans, light weight khakis and chinos; perhaps a fleece jacket or warmer sweater for the evening
- Shoes: Good sturdy walking shoes are important for walks, and bring hiking boots if you have them; casual flats/loafers for evenings; gentlemen will need black shoes for the two formal dinners in Paro
- Hats and good sunglasses important as UV rays are very strong in high altitude
- Sun block at all times
- Cocktail dress for the formal dinner in Paro
- Can change some Ngultrums (local currency) at the airport or hotel for small purchases, such as roadside crafts, purchases at the market, etc. For small amounts, usually the guides can pay for you first if necessary
- Ngultrums are pegged to Indian rupees. Exchange rate is currently around 80 Nus per US dollar
- US dollars, Singapore dollars and Indian rupees are also accepted by most shops
- Credit card facility is not available at many shops
- Best is to bring USD, Singapore dollars or Indian rupees
- US $1OO bills must be from 2OO6 or later and in good condition
- All the Lodges have internet connectivity in the public areas, but variable connectivity in the suites
- There is no additional charge for internet use at Amankora
- Mobile reception is usually quite adequate throughout, except for occasional areas while driving to Punakha Valley.
- Prepaid local telephone sim cards can be purchased in Paro and Thimphu. Simply inform the guide and he can arrange. Tashi Cell has slightly better connectivity than B Mobile, but both are adequate; can also use e-SIM
At the Aman, pretty much everything is covered: all food and house pour beverages at the Lodges (including room service), laundry, car/driver/guide, internet, and one complementary massage per guest.
Special alcoholic beverages, meals outside of the Lodges, additional massage and spa services, astrology reading, and shopping, of course, are not included.
- Altitude in Bhutan is not so high, and most people are fine as long as they stay hydrated and avoid over physical exertion the first few days
- Occasionally, mild headache overnight can occur. For those who have experienced high altitude sickness before, then it’s useful to take Diamox starting before the trip; please consult your physician
Due to the windy nature of the mountain roads, many people do experience car sickness. Please do bring ginger tablets (e.g., Blackmores’ are good), motion sickness medicine (such as Sturgeron), as well as candied ginger or dried mandarin orange peel for the road.
The Aman guides have scoped out clean local hotels for toilet stops along the way. Beyond those, it would be the “green toilet”, so do try to use clean facilities at every opportunity whenever it’s available!