BHUTAN YOGA TOUR • AUGUST 2015
THE HAPPINESS NATION
“When I think of Bhutan I remember bursts of color against the soothing serenity of Buddhist chants; I remember the stories that make their culture so everlasting; I remember the graciousness, kindness and beauty of the Bhutanese; and I remember the quiet joy I felt just being there. I know I’ll be back.”
A LIVELY & AUTHENTIC CULTURAL IMMERSION
Prepare yourself for something entirely different from what you may have seen in Asia, or elsewhere. Located high in the Himalayan mountains between India and Tibet, Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures it’s progress by Gross National Happiness! On this 12-day journey through mystical mountains, sacred temples and this richly preserved culture, we will explore Bhutan alongside the local people, discovering their unique perspectives and enjoying the light of their inspiring spirits!
We have two amazing guides: Dorji, a very lively and funny Bhutanese local; and John, an American who has spent seventeen years exploring Bhutan and is currently staying there by special invitation of the Bhutanese government to study the language and write a book about Bhutan. These two have led numerous tours together, and have a reputation of keeping their guests in high spirits, with lots of laughs and fully immersed in local experiences!
YOGA CLASSES W/ GAYLE OLSON
Discover or rediscover the joy of moving meditation with Exotic Yoga Retreats founder Gayle Olson with classes blend traditions of hatha, Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga. Whether fiery and energetic or soft and receptive, the practice will include Gayle’s trademark hands-on massage adjustments, and encourage you to maintain a strong, meditative focus on your breath — and on the joy of yoga. Gayle has been teaching world-wide for more than twenty years and is author of the Women’s Guide to Yoga & Fitness.
ITINERARY FOR THE BHUTAN YOGA TOUR
We meet at the Bangkok airport at 6:50 a.m. for our 2-hour morning flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival in the beautiful mountain town of Paro, we’ll settle into our stunning and characteristic 5-star Zhiwa Ling Hotel, an iconic blend of Bhutanese craftsmanship and modern amenities set on 11-acres of meadows and mountains. Our first day in Bhutan will be one of unwinding and relaxing with an opening yoga circle and beautiful day enjoying the surrounding nature and perhaps a hot-stone massage or spa treatment. Dinner at the Zhiwa Ling Restaurant is an exquisite introduction to Bhutanese cuisine!
Wake up in Bhutan to a serenity walk and yoga practice in the beautiful yoga studio at the Zhiwa Ling, followed by a feast of a buffet breakfast! Today we will delve into the history and culture of Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum and the historic monastery of Paro Dzong. Departing Paro in the late afternoon, we’ll drive 90-minutes along a sweeping valley to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, in time for a sunset yoga practice. We stay in the heart of this capital “city” at Hotel Druk, our base for the next three nights.
Thumphu, Bhutans’ capital and largest city (with a population of less than 100,000!) provides a glimpse into how present day Bhutanese people have adapted to the 21st century. After morning yoga we will visit the National Textile Museum, paper making factory and Folk Heritage Museum. In the evening, enjoy great Bhutanese cuisine and an optional night out at one of Thumphu’s dance clubs renown for great electronic beats! Note that all activities are optional and you can choose to do your own thing, or just lounge and relax.
Start the morning with yoga and a 2-hour trek into pine and rhododendron forests above the Thimphu valley to the Cheri Monastery. Built in 1750, the monastery still today maintains sweeping views of cascading mountain ranges. Retreat inward with a guided meditation led by resident monks. Stay another night at Thimphu.
Enjoy a relaxing morning in Thimphu practicing yoga and enjoying a leisurely breakfast After lunch we travel the scenic 10,300 ft pass to Punakha, arriving in the afternoon in time to settle into the lovely Drubcchu Resort, practice yoga, then have a lovely dinner.
Get ready to explore the Punakha Dzong. Architecturally and aesthetically one of the most beautiful dzongs, Punakha Dzong was first constructed as a war fortress in the 1600s evolving over the years as Bhutan’s capital and today, as an administrative hub. Traverse scenic trails for an afternoon hike to Chimi Lhakhang, also known as The Temple of the Divine Madman, built in 1499. Named after Lama Drukpa Kunley also known as the “Divine Madam” it is one of the most revered temples in Bhutan. Return in the evening to Drubcchu Resort.
After our morning serenity walk and yoga practice we’ll head out for a mid-day hike above Punakha to the Nalanda Monastery situated among farming fields. Visit and meditate with the resident monks, partaking in their Bhuddhist teachings as we assist them in English conversation.
Yoga and meditation before departing for Thimphu to arrive in time for lunch. We’ll stay again at the lovely Hotel Druk. With a sense of the city’s geography, the afternoon and evening are yours to indulge in your personal exploration of Thimphu, enjoy a spa afternoon at the Taj Tashi Hotels’ Jiva Spa, and relax with sunset yoga. For the evening, get a good night’s sleep or join our guides for a happening night on the town!
After yoga and breakfast, we depart late morning back to Paro and settle into our guides’ favorite hotel in Bhutan, the Gangtey Palace! This historic hotel, constructed over 100 years ago by the Bhutanese royal family, is a traditional and majestic palace overlooking the town of Paro. It is within walking distance of the town, so easy to come and go at your whim.This afternoon is yours to explore Paro town, shop for souvenirs and take in the culture and local activities. We’ll stay our final three nights here.
After our morning practice, we will head for a wonderful day of exploration in the Paro Valley—a walk through impressive Buddhist history! We will visit the Kichu Monastery, and The Jowo Temple of Kyichu, one of the oldest temples of Bhutan dating back back to the 7th century! A 30-minute drive to the end of the valley brings us the the impressive ruins of the Drukyel Dzong. Enjoy dinner and an evening stroll in Paro.
Our final full day in Bhutan is a special one… a short 20-minute drive takes us to the base of the mountain home of the Taksang Monastery! Nicknamed the Tiger’s Nest Monastery for its geography and history, the Taksang Monastery is renown for its cliff-side location perched 2,700 feet above the valley floor where it is said that the Rimpoche first arrived on the back of a flying tiger is 746 CE and meditated in a mountain cave for three months. You too can gain merit by making the 3-hour ascent and visiting the monastery seemingly glued to the barest concavity of the cliff face. Following our excursion to the monastery, we return for our final dinner and celebration, commemorating our new friends and new perspectives from this sacred time together in Bhutan.
Breakfast and a leisurely transport to the airport for your flight home. With joy and gratitude, we bid farewell to Bhutan!
——— Prices & Information to Register ———
SHARED ROOM: $4,995 (En-suite room with Twin or King/Queen beds, in quality boutique hotels)
SINGLE ROOM: $5,995 (En-suite room with King or Queen beds in quality boutique hotels)
INCLUDES: The most amazing trip of your life! 10 nights, touring and staying in beautiful and locally characteristic hotels, mingling with local people at every turn, sight-seeing and hiking, yoga and meditation, eating interesting and delicious foods, and learning about a totally unique culture and people from our two wonderful guides on Bhutan, one American and one Bhutanese. All meals and transport within Bhutan is included.
NOT INCLUDED: Airfare, gratuities Bhutanese guides, driver and hotel staff generally totaling $175 US per person.
Review our Payment & Cancellation Policy, then click the BOOK NOW button below. You will be redirected to our MindBody registration site to deposit by credit card. If you prefer to pay by bank transfer, please contact us here. If you have questions before you book, feel free to contact us by phone (+1) 720-924-8666 PST.
RETREAT DATES & TIMES
DATES: August 10 — August 21, 2015
NOTE: You need to arrive in Bangkok, Thailand no later than August 9th, and preferably a few days early to acclimate to the time change.
We will meet at the Bangkok Int’l Airport on August 10 at 4:30 am (yikes…there is only one flight a day, so no other option!) Our flight leaves Bangkok at 6:50 am but the process of boarding can be lengthy, as all documents are scrutinized and seats are allocated only at check-in. *Participants should arrive in Bangkok at least 24 hours in advance to allow for any flight delays; more than 24 hours is even better to explore Bangkok, experience a few thai massages and recover from jetlag!
August 21, 2015… Return flight from Bhutan to Bangkok departs Bhutan late morning, arriving to Bangkok about 4:00 p.m.
Most return flight to USA depart in the early morning, so chances are good that participants will need to spend a night in Bangkok.
TRAVEL ROUTES & TIPS
You will need to buy 2 plans tickets: 1) TO BANGKOK 2) TO BHUTAN
GENERAL INFO & FAQ’S
Consult the Tourism Board for Bhutan for general questions not covered below: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/about-bhutan
1. What is the weather in Bhutan?
September temperatures will be in 70’s to low 80’s during the day, and 60’s at night. See Bhutan-Weather.com for an up-to-date forecast.
2. Do I need a VISA to enter Bhutan?
Yes, but we will organize everything for you. All we need is your passport number. *Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after date of departure from Bhutan.
3. Do I need any shots before my visit?
No immunizations are suggested or required and there is no risk of malaria.
4. Will I need money and how do I get it converted?
The currency is Bhutanese Ngultrum, $1=60 Ngultrum. One can use credit cards in some stores and hotels (though they add 3-5% fee). The easiest way is to either bring US dollars to change (crisp $100 bills are best (accept 1996 series bills are not accepted). You can also withdraw Bhutanese money from an ATM / Bankomat.
5. Will there be cell service and/ or WIFI?
All hotels have free wifi. Smart phones work, but will likely incur roaming charges, check with your carrier to ascertain.There is cell service everywhere, and one can use Bhutanese SIM card for an unlocked phone.
6. Is there laundry service?
Laundry service is available at all hotels at reasonable prices, with same day or next day return.
7. What is tipping etiquette in Bhutan?
Tips are not included in our price. The gratuities for Bhutanese guide ($10 per day per person) and driver ($5 per day per person). We do not expect to be tipped. Service is included for meals. Tipping hotel staff is suggested at $2-3 per person per day, can be left in room, though some hotels have tip box where tips can be left.
8. What kind of power adapter is needed?
Standard European two-prong socket… “C adapter”.
Yoga holidays inspiring you to see the world differently!
WHY THIS RETREAT?
The peace, harmony and serenity that is Bhutan awaits you on your journey to Bhutan with guides, John and Dorji. They seem to know everyone and we were greeted with open arms and big smiles wherever we were. I went to Bhutan to feed my soul and that I did.—Jacalyn Yang, USA
AUGUST 10–21, 2015
August 10 trip is sold out. Register for our 2016 trip!
Traveling tour, staying at 4 & 5 star characteristic hotels with charm.
$4,995 ~ 12 day cultural tour!
Our trip was was of the most memorable and outstanding I've ever experienced. I can't imagine a better guide nor "once-in-a-lifetime" experience than our trip to Bhutan.—-Monica Conrady, USA
In Bhutan it truly felt like we were in a Shangri-La, so stepped out of the usual time we all run by. I think of it as a wonderful dream, one that I wish I could have by my side daily. The place, the people, the Himalayas sweep you away. Your spirit feels lightened, in awe, by what you’re enveloped in. —- Ying Mei Tcheou, USA
Larry and I had a spectacularly memorable trip to Bhutan with John and Dorji !! They are a perfect compliment to one another as guides, for Dorji knows the history and culture and capably explains these aspects of Bhutan to Americans and John interprets and expands upon answers, and adds his impressions. We enjoyed the mix of hiking and sightseeing on our journey to Bhutan. The Paro Tshechu was an exciting beginning to our trip and the hike to Eagle's Nest was a perfect finale.—Larry & Lelia Lanctot, USA
I feel so fortunate that I had traveled to many, many wonderful places worldwide before traveling to Bhutan with John and Champaca Journeys. Otherwise, I would not be able with confidence to share how singular and special a journey this was with John and his Bhutanese team.—Charlene Stern, USA
I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel and live in all parts of the world and I can say that my trip to Bhutan (from Paro to Trongsa) with John and Dorji was a real highlight as a special place. As an independent traveler, I rarely go with organized groups and so I particularly found this experience to be highly enjoyable.—Adrienne K. Chan, Canada
And finally, one of his best gifts I would say is you don't feel like you’re on a tour. Yes there are schedules, bookings, and itineraries all made well in advance, but he seems to have managed to maintain some flexibility within all that. John always seemed calm, never anxious or rigid about the trip and always seemed genuinely happy to be where ever we were, no matter how many times he'd already been there. In short, I think John is the best tour guide in the universe and the trips are worth every cent!Emilie Sederholm, USA
After the fabulous Paro Tsechu where we saw the famous “Black Hat Dance”, we traveled to Thimphu, Punakha , Trongsa and Wangdue, hiking each day to local monasteries and dzongs, exploring temples, museums, visiting workshops and sighting the occasional wildlife in the mountainous terrain. We culminated our trip with the once-in-a-lifetime hike up to 9,000 ft where the famous monastery Tiger’s Nest sits clinging to the side of a cliff. This was truly a trip I will never forget.—Susan Montauk, USA
OUR GUESTS SAY:
Naseem Nikoo, Iran
I'm leaving the retreat feeling the happiest and freest I've ever felt!
Saige Rutherford, USA
Life changing, eye-opening and deeply inspiring! This retreat 'reset' my life. It was beyond what I envisioned was possible in one week!
Jane Srivastava, Russia
My mom and I enjoyed the trip very much...every day was perfect!
Brent Vanlyke, Canada
This is, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life. I have made connections with people and myself that I never would have expected. Those connections will be in my heart and help me be a better version of myself for the rest of my life.
Ale de Rienzo, Mexico
This was my first yoga retreat and I didn't know what to expect... and it blew my mind! I would recommend this experience it to anyone!
Alia Allison, Yoga Teacher
This retreat was exactly what I needed... a week long oasis focused on self-care. Gayle did an awesome job of breaking down the poses and focusing on alignment. She built intensity and also relaxation in the practice. I loved her teaching tips for the few teachers on the retreat!
Thank you for bringing together wonderful people from all walks of life and from around the world! The connection and friendship that we shared has inspired and changed my life.
Christine Costello, USA
Gayle is an extraordinary teacher who makes everyone feel empowered, strong and special!
Kara Ellis, Canada
Gayle is everything I needed in a yoga instructor. Someone to push me try new things (headstand, arm balances) while making me feel completely safe. I did old poses with completely new eyes due to her instruction. She was warm and inviting and made me able to have the most amazing experience of my life. I loved the program. I’d do it ten times over! I feel the best I have in my life. Refreshed and ready to take on whatever I have to deal with at home.
Hala Darwazeh, Jordan
Everything about this retreat was special. I have the most beautiful memories, new friends and experiences that I will cherish! The retreat combined the perfect blend of yoga, meditation and fun excursions. I also enjoyed the flexibility in our daily schedule... I had time for myself, to re-align and reflect on my life; as well as meet great like-minded people. Meeting Gayle has been a true delight. Her loving and positive energy was very present and made this retreat a real joy for me. I recommend this retreat to anyone looking to 'switch-off', re-balance and have a lot of fun!
Joanne Joseph, Australia
Healthy hedonism" set the tone for a playful week of yoga and mindfulness, laughter and connection. Each morning, Gayle guided us through blissful meditation, followed by a combination of vinyasa flow and stretch sequences. She really took the time to tailor the class to each of our needs so it felt more like one-on-one tuition a lot of the time. I'll never forget the energy we created as a group or the peace, joy and friendships which blossom there.
John Tierney, Ph.D., USA
I came to Gayle Olson seven years ago after a traumatic back injury. She shepherded me though those painful days with care, compassion and kindness and an astounding ability to teach on old dog new tricks. Today I can keep up with my two year old grandson pain free and still taking classes and still practicing yoga. Thanks, Gayle!
Chrissy Coleman, USA
I love the personal attention Gayle gave to her students, providing not only awesome instruction, but reminding us to be ever present and mindful.
Maria Paula, France
The perfect healing at the right moment! I feel another person since this week... a more comfortable one! I hope to do another retreat soon to feed my curiosity!
Ina Yeijnen, Yoga Teacher in Holland
Gayle inspired me to try new things and gave me confidence in incorporating touch and adjustments in my classes. It feels great to give and receive authentic touch to connect.
Julie Cameron, Canada
Gayle has the unique ability to be kind and caring while pushing your yoga practice to the next level. She creates a flow that is beautiful, feels amazing and challenges you to become stronger. This program will forever be life changing. The experiences I have had this week will be cherished forever.
Gayle very clearly is a remarkable teacher because she transmits the essences of mindfulness and balance in enough dimensions so you actually get it!
Michael Neria, Israel
I love Gayle’s loving style of teaching. I appreciated the emphasis on various breathing techniques and the balance between physical intensity, relaxation and meditation.
Nicole Hernandez, USA
Thank you and Gayle for such a life changing experience. I feel so open in my body and mind. I became more devoted to my yoga practice experiencing the various styles of yoga you teach so effortlessly. The amount of hands-on guidance and adjustments helped me develop new appreciation for the postures and new appreciation for my body!