BHUTAN YOGA TOUR
THE REAL BHUTAN
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 11-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!
ITINERARY FOR THE BHUTAN YOGA TOUR
We’ll meet in Bangkok at 6:50 a.m. for our 2-hour morning flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival we’ll settle into our hotel in Paro, then head into town for our first Bhutanese breakfast in a local eatery! During an adventurous day exploring Paro with our two wonderfully fun and knowledgeable guides we are sure to be accompanied by friends and neighbors all along the way! At sunset we’ll have our first yoga practice and meditation in Bhutan, in the gardens of the lovely Gangtey Palace.
Wake up in Bhutan to a serenity walk and yoga practice in the lovely gardens. 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 sweeping valley to land in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, in time for a sunset yoga practice. We will 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. Returning to Thimphu for lunch, followed by a drive over the 10,300-foot pass with panoramic views of the Himalayas, en route to Punakha. Arriving at the next stage of our journey, we will relax into the tranquility of riverside views of the Puna Tsang Chu River at Dragon Nest Resort.
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 Dragon Nest 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 at Dragon Nest 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… get a good night’s sleep or join our guides for a happening night on the town!
Prepare for a full day of site seeing throughout the artistic venues of the capital city. Visit the Buddha Statue, School of the Traditional Arts and studios of local artists. Gleam insight into Bhutan’s history, rich with artistry, and see how modern artists continue to express cultural histories. Slow things down with an afternoon yoga practice at a local venue, and return to Hotel Druk for a final evening in Thimphu.
Rise to a final yoga, meditation and breakfast in Thimphu, departing late morning for the beautiful mountain town of Paro. Arrive at the stunning and characteristic Zhiwa Ling Hotel, an iconic blend of Bhutanese craftsmanship and modern amenities set on 11 acres of meadows and mountains. The afternoon is yours to define: explore Paro town and the National Museum, relax with a massage at the hotel’s spa or meditate at the serene teahouse or temple. Convene at Zhiwa Ling’s on-site yoga studio for an evening practice. Spend the evening soaking up the peace, tranquility and beauty of this special spot!
After a beautiful yoga in the studio and a delicious buffet breakfast at Zhiwa Ling, we’ll set off for s short 10-minute drive 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 3 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. After descending, look forward to lunch at the hotel, followed by a nice siesta or other relaxation perhaps in the form of massage or Bhutanese Hot Stone bath. This evening will be our closing dinner together, at Zhiwa Ling Hotel - an evening to savor delicious Bhutanese cuisine, and to commemorate our new friends and new perspectives from this sacred time together in Bhutan.
Enjoy a final blend of Bhutanese flavors at breakfast buffet at the Xhiwa Ling Hotel. Leisurely transport to airport for your flight home.
YOGA CLASSES WITH GAYLE OLSON
Join Exotic Yoga Retreats founder Gayle Olson for sunrise and sunset yoga inspired by and in communion with nature: sun, sea and fresh air. 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.
SIZE OF THE GROUP
At Exotic Yoga Retreats we strive to bring you a high-quality cultural and travel experience. We find that on our cultural tours, a group of 6 to 10 participants is ideal. A group of that size is high-energy and fun but still allows for intimacy, freedom and space.
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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
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