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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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Heavenly Bhutan

Our verdict:

The mystical Kingdom of Bhutan promises a rarified encounter with Himalayan peaks, Buddhist culture and unique wildlife. There is also something beguilingly strange about this country, where foreign television and tobacco are banned and men are obliged by law to wear Argyll socks and knee-length, cross-buttoned tunics. Prepare for a trip of a lifetime.

Recommended tour operator: TransIndus

TransIndus says

The tiny mountain Kingdom of Bhutan is roughly the size of Switzerland but what it may lack in size it more than makes up for with its unique culture, spectacular scenic beauty and refreshing approach to life. This is the country that measures its success on a scale of Gross National Happiness.

  • Unique culture
  • Emerging destination
  • Private & group tours

Tourism is growing but admirably slowly to ensure the best possible visitor experience and minimum impact on the environment and way of life. New hotels have opened, some offering world-class levels of luxury but all with an authentic feel for Bhutan and its culture.

To quote our founder, Amrit Singh: “Bhutan is a place people feel privileged to have experienced.”

Explore and soak it all up on a tailor-made private holiday or join one of our escorted small group tours.

A private journey gives you the freedom to set your own pace and our Bhutan experts will create an exclusive itinerary for you which precisely matches your interests. There’s a wide choice of places to stay, to suit most tastes and budgets. We’ve created some suggestions to inspire you.

Bhutan Highlights is a 12-day trip that starts in the Indian city of Kolkata and includes visits to all of Bhutan’s most iconic sites including the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

For a more in-depth exploration, Eastern Bhutan is a 17-day journey that starts and finishes in New Delhi. It offers real insights into rural life – from forested valleys to traditional farmsteads, impressive dzongs to a remote corner of the Himalayas.

The Bhutan Journey is a two-week immersion in Bhutanese culture, Mahayana Buddhism and vibrant festivals.

If a small group tour is your preference, we have a maximum number of 16 people on each departure (minimum of four) and outstanding local guides who all speak excellent English. Accommodation throughout is in comfortable hotels and our modern transfer vehicles are air-conditioned.

Essential Bhutan is a ten-day group tour which takes you to Kathmandu, Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha and Paro. You will get a real feel for Bhutan’s mystique and magic as well as its wildlife and history with the added bonus of a short stay in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu.

The best time to travel to Bhutan is between September and May.

Find out more about our holidays in Bhutan.

Note: All the travel companies featured on this site are personally recommended by our editors. Companies pay us a flat annual fee; we don’t get any additional payments if you click on their sites or make a booking. Those fees pay for the upkeep of our site, so we can keep it current and reliable. See more about how we work.