Reveal Bhutan: an Untouched Wonder in the Himalayas

Encounters Travel •

deal over

Escape Kit

  • An Eight-Day Tour of Bhutan ($1,499 to $2,199 per Person), Including:
  • Round-Trip Ground Transportation from Airport and on Tours via Private Air-Conditioned SUV or Bus
  • Double-Occupancy Accommodations for Two Nights at Janka Resort in Paro, Two Nights at Jumolhari Hotel in Thimphu, One Night at Dragon's Nest Hotel in Punakha Valley, and Two Nights at Dewachen Hotel in Phobjikha Valley
  • Seven Breakfasts, Six Lunches, Seven Dinners
  • Local Tour Guide and Driver
  • Local Fees, Entrance Fees, and Permits
  • Priced per Person Based on Double Occupancy (See Fine Print)

Stand in awe of the magnificent Himalayan scenery and preserved culture of Bhutan—a remote bucket list destination you didn't even know you had.

The Destination
What were you doing in 1999? If you're Bhutanese, you might answer, "watching television for the first time." Only opening its mysterious gates to tourists in 1974, Bhutan has kept plenty secret that you wouldn't think was possible—towering Himalayan peaks nearly 25,000 feet tall, wildlife rarities like Bengal tigers and red pandas, and a culinary tradition that seduces and sets ablaze with cheese and chilies. Indeed, Bhutan seems to command as much recognition as its designation "Land of the Thunder Dragon" would suggest, but this modern-day Shangri-la remains largely unspoiled by the outside world both physically and culturally, thanks to the government's strict regulation of tourists. But don't mistake secluded for suppressed—the vivacious Bhutanese clearly have a pervasive respect for quality of life, valuing their "gross national happiness" higher than GDP and throwing tsechus (festivals) as often as they can invent a reason.

Bring your camera, but you might ditch the technology to lose yourself on this eight-day tour of a land from another time, courtesy of Encounters Travel.

The Itinerary
day 1:
Perhaps no airport better introduces its country than the one in Paro, surrounded by soaring mountains in a dramatically curving valley. A guide will be on hand to pick you up; depending on your arrival time, you may tour Paro Dzong and Ta Dzong for an introduction to this style of fortress architecture unique to the Himalayan kingdoms of Bhutan and Tibet—plus, the latter is also a modern-day museum showcasing paintings, masks, and carvings depicting Bhutanese lore and history.
Overnight at Janka Resort. Lunch (for morning arrivals) and dinner provided.

day 2:
Traverse the winding roads of Dochula Pass on the way to Punakha from Paro, enjoying panoramic vistas of the Himalayas looming over dense forests. You'll stop at the Chimi Lhakhang Temple in Punakha Valley, a Buddhist monastery renowned for bestowing fertility blessings.
Overnight at Dragon's Nest Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 3:
Spend the morning walking along river banks and terraced fields on the way to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, getting a feel for rural life in Bhutan. Then, you'll visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and largest dzong in the country, which lies between two rivers symbolizing harmony between man and woman. After lunch, enjoy a drive past fertile farmland, misty mountains, and endless forests on the way to Phobjikha Valley.
Overnight at Dewachen Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 4:
You might spot the black-necked crane on your walk through the Phobjikha Valley, which the rare birds call home from October to March after an arduous migration over the Himalayan Mountains. You'll also tour the picturesque Gangtey Monastery, host to many tsechus throughout the year, including November's crane festival.
Overnight at Dewachen Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 5:
As you travel back to Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu, you'll stop at Wangdue Phodrang. The ancient dzong offers spectacular views of Dochula Pass and the surrounding peaks, despite recent reconstruction following fire damage in 2012.
Overnight at Jumolhari Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 6:
Today is all about Thimphu—visit the Memorial Chorten; Folk Heritage Museum; school of arts and crafts; and the Takin research center to learn about efforts being made to protect the endangered goat-antelope Bhutan has designated as its national animal. Along the way, you'll stop by the food and craft market, where traders have journeyed from all over the country to sell their regional handiwork and goods. You could even catch an archery tournament, regularly held at the national stadium.
Overnight at Jumolhari Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 7:
Returning to the countryside, you'll take a three-hour hike up the steep cliff (ponies are also available for rent) that leads to the iconic Taktshang monastery. This dramatic spot is perched on a sheer, 800-meter rock face near a cave where the monk credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan was said to have meditated for more than three years; its nickname, the "Tiger's Nest," pays homage to his fierce hermitage. Afterward, you'll visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong and the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple before a final walk through the shops of Paro. Now might be a good time to spring for a traditional hot stone bath, perfect for reflection—and soothing sore limbs.
Overnight at Janka Resort. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

day 8:
Enjoy free time until you're transported back to the airport for your return flight.
Breakfast provided.

International flights may be booked directly through Encounters Travel; read more about tour extensions and add-ons at Encounters Travel's website.

The Dates
Group tour: September 1 and 29, October 20, November 8, and March 16 and 30, 2015 ($1,859); December 29, 2014 and February 25, 2015 ($1,599); December 1 and January 26, 2015 ($1,499)
Private or small-group tour: August 26 to November 30, 2014 and February 22 to May 31, 2015 ($2,199); Now to August 25, 2014 and December 1, 2014 to February 21, 2015 ($1,949)
Priced per person based on double occupancy (see fine print)

  • "Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is a Himalayan kingdom with a reputation for mystery and magic, where a traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces global developments."

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  • "They are such wonderful people! Customer service is outstanding. I will definitely book with this company again!"

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escapes 30-day promise

LivingSocial gives you up to 30 days to return your unused voucher for a full refund. Once you've made a reservation, you are subject to the merchant's cancellation and refund policy. If you want to secure your preferred dates of travel, we strongly recommend that you complete reservation with the merchant within 30 days of your purchase—after that, LivingSocial will not issue any refunds.

the fine print

  • Vouchers cannot be combined to extend stay
  • Not valid toward existing or room block reservations
  • Reservations required and subject to availability; vouchers should be redeemed by September 30, 2014. Vouchers redeemed after this time may be subject to an extra fee to cover increased hotel costs
  • Merchant cancellation policy applies. For more information, please see www.encounterstravel.com/booking_conditions.php
  • After vouchers are redeemed Encounters Travel booking conditions and cancellation fees (minimum 50%) apply; voucher subject to forfeiture
  • When purchasing and gifting vouchers please list name(s) exactly as given on your passport(s)
  • Must be at least 12 years old on group departures. Younger children may join private departures at the same voucher price
  • Rates are per person based on double occupancy. Each of two guests must purchase an Escape and arrange to stay together at the hotel. Single occupancy requires an additional fee of $691 due at booking
  • Private or small group tours are subject to availability; if the tour is for one person a single supplement fee will apply (contact Encounters Travel with questions)
  • Single travelers may choose to pay a single room supplement to guarantee themselves a single room throughout the tour. Alternatively, you may choose to share a twin room with another traveler of the same sex. If there are no other single travelers available to pair up with at the time of booking, then you will need to pay the single room supplement. Encounters Travel will refund this later if they are able to pair people together. Room shares are arranged in order of voucher redemption
  • Includes Round-Trip Ground Transportation on Tours via Private Air-Conditioned SUV or Bus, Double-Occupancy Accommodations for Two Nights at Janka Resort in Paro, Two Nights at Jumolhari Hotel in Thimphu, One Night at Dragon's Nest Hotel in Punakha Valley, and Two Nights at Dewachen Hotel in Phobjikha Valley, Seven Breakfasts, Six Lunches, Seven Dinners, Local Tour Guide and Driver, Local Fees, Entrance Fees, Bhutan visa fees, Government Royalty, and Permits
  • Does not include any airfare, passport (with 6 months validity), travel insurance (compulsory and available for $140), meals not indicated in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, tips for tour guide and driver, and other personal expenses and any other items not mentioned above
  • Travel insurance covering medical costs and repatriation for medical reasons is mandatory; policy details must be provided to Encounter Travels at least 1 month before departure (policy number, name of the issuing company, and the policy emergency contact details); travel insurance covering cancellation and baggage is recommended but not mandatory. A comprehensive policy is available from Encounters Travel for $140 per person; view all details at www.encounterstravel.com/travel_insurance.php
  • Bhutan visas are required for all nationalities and will be provided by Encounters Travel. Visa fees are included in the deal price. Scanned copies of passports must be provided to Encounters Travel at least one month before arrival date to enable the e-visa to be issued and sent out
  • International flights and flights with Druk Air into Bhutan from Kathmandu/Delhi/Calcutta/Mumbai/Bangkok/Singapore may be booked through Encounters Travel directly; subject to availability and prices at the time of booking
  • Review the State Department's website for passport/visa requirements and important announcements before traveling to your destination
  • Hotels are subject to change to based on availability
  • Nights must be spent consecutively; all inclusions must be redeemed during one stay
  • The promotional value is valid only for date range purchased and may not be exchanged or redeemed for any other dates
  • Other conditions apply • PROMOTIONAL VALUE EXPIRES ON May 31, 2015 • Enjoy By May 31, 2015