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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 its progress by Gross National Happiness.
You will be staying in accommodations at four boutique hotels in four different regions. From a palace with ancient characteristics to a family-owned guesthouse and a five-star spa, you will delight yourself in the luxury accommodation planned for you.
On this journey through mystical mountains, sacred temples and this richly preserved culture, you will explore Bhutan alongside the local people, discovering their unique perspectives and enjoying the light of their inspiring spirits!
There are 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.
You meet at the Bangkok airport in the morning for our 2-hour morning flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival in the beautiful mountain town of Paro, you will settle into the guides’ favorite family hotel that overlooks the town of Paro, a historic and characteristic old palace constructed over 100 years ago by the Bhutanese royal family. You will have a gentle unwinding yoga practice and opening circle outside under prayer flags with a view to the valley below. Dinner is at the lovely Gangtey Palace restaurant. You are in for a treat of Bhutanese food in its finest traditional expression.
After an invigorating morning yoga practice and a delicious breakfast, you will delve into the history and culture of Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum and the historic monastery of Paro Dzong. You will have the opportunity to wander the small town of Paro, getting a feel for the local culture, looking in shops, etc. Or return to the hotel for a good siesta and a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath or massage. Late afternoon there will be a restorative yoga and pranayama practice followed by a lovely and healthy dinner at the hotel.
After morning yoga and breakfast, you depart Paro and drive 90-minutes along a sweeping valley to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. The base for these next two nights at a beautiful 5-star spa resort located a few miles outside Bhutan's’ largest city (with a population of less than 100,000!) Here you will have a glimpse into how present-day Bhutanese people have adapted to the 21st-century. The guide will take you to some of his favorite local sights and experiences.
In the evening, enjoy great Bhutanese cuisine and an optional night out at one of Thimphu'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.
Following yoga and breakfast, you embark on an exciting and challenging 2-hour trek into pine and rhododendron forests above the Thimphu valley to a monastery with sweeping views of cascading mountain ranges. Observe how resident monks live, and join in meditation and prayer.
Following yoga and breakfast you will walk the hill to visit the world’s largest Bhudda, which overlooks the town of Thimphu. Great yoga photo opportunity under this magnificent golden Bhudda. You will then travel 4-hours along the scenic 10,300 ft pass to a small village called Punakha, arriving to our next lovely family resort, a peaceful haven amidst gardens and rice paddies.
After yoga and breakfast, you will trek through the rice fields to arrive at Chimi Lhakhang, also known as The Temple of the Divine Madman. Built in 1499 and named after Lama Drukpa Kunley, this fertility temple is one of Bhutan’s most sacred and funny temples, as you will see. You will lunch in a wonderful local restaurant, then return to the hotel for a siesta and afternoon restorative yoga and pranayama practice, enjoying full use of the lovely yoga space overlooking rice paddies and green hills.
After yoga and breakfast, you will drive about 30 minutes to explore the most important and beautiful buildings in Bhutan: The Punakha Dzong. It was first constructed as a war fortress in the 1600’s, evolving over the years as Bhutan’s central administrative hub, but this does not begin to express the awesomeness of this architectural wonder. Next you will visit a small hilltop temple situated among farming fields and meditate with the resident monks. Weather-depending, you will have a lovely hike down a hill through forests.
No yoga this morning, as there is a surprise for you, weather depending. After an adventurous morning, you will relax into the long ride back to Paro town, where you will spend the final three nights at a stunning 5-star hotel that is a model of Bhutanese art and architecture. Just to wander the hotel and grounds is an experience of pure luxury and beauty.
Luxuriate at the hotel spa, an iconic blend of Bhutanese craftsmanship and modern amenities set on 11-acres of meadows and mountains. This lovely haven is chosen for the last three nights of the retreat because it offers an exquisite atmosphere to relax, restore, and delve more deeply into yoga. There is a lovely full-service spa, yoga studio with props, a temple to meditate, and beautiful spots, indoors and out, to relax and enjoy your retreat time exactly as you wish. You will also have a chance to shop in Paro for souvenirs and gifts.
During the last few days, after you have acclimated to the altitude of Bhutan, you will attempt, weather-depending, to hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery. Nicknamed the Tiger’s Nest Monastery for its geography and history, the Taktsang 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 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.
The closing circle and yoga practice will carry you into a final dinner together, celebrating your 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, you bid farewell to Bhutan.
This retreat includes different trips to museums and parks and it also will feature a rafting trip if the weather permits it.
This retreat will take place in Bhutan.
Prices include all meals, with vegetarian, vegan, seafood, and meat options. Also, wine will accompany your dinner course.
You will meet at the Bangkok International Airport (BKK) early morning on August 1st, 2017 and fly as a group to Bhutan. The flight leaves Bangkok at 6:30 a.m. 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 jet lag. Airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan is included in the price.
On August 11th, 2017 the return flight from Bhutan to Bangkok departs Bhutan in the afternoon, arriving to Bangkok early evening. Most return flights to the USA depart in the early morning, so chances are good that participants will need to spend a night in Bangkok.