There is no place left in the world like Bhutan for photography tours. This exotic and remote country is a photographer’s dream! Exquisite temples and monasteries, colorful prayer flags, charming villages, busy markets, and breathtaking mountains – just to get you started. Monks in flowing red robes, friendly locals in their traditional Bhutanese dress (the Gho or the Kira), otherworldly forests, and magnificent panoramas of snow-clad Himalayan peaks. Our guides know the best off-the-beaten-path places to go to get the best photographs. And do not miss one of the many festivals that are held throughout the year. The colorful masked dances with the whitewashed dzongs as a backdrop are not to be missed. There are pictures to be taken around every corner in Bhutan – pictures that tell a story and will bring a smile to your face as you remember your adventure for years to come. This tour is also customizable – just talk to one of our travel specialists and we can arrange the perfect tour for you.
- Morning Sunrise at Buddha statue
Most flight arrivals are morning flights into Paro. Once you are met by your guide and driver, we will take our time driving to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. We will take our time making the drive through the countryside. Once in Thimphu, we will begin our photography-focused tour by visiting several local sites.
Highlights for Today include:
1. Tashichho Dzong: A fortress and Buddhist monastery with distinctive Bhutanese architectural design. Located on the banks of the Wang Chhu (river), today it houses the offices of the current king.
2. Centenary Farmer’s Market: Where local farmers go to sell their vegetables, cheeses, grains, and the occasional yak leg. Across the street is the Kundeyling Baazam where you can bargain for local handicrafts, such as mala beads and prayer wheels.
3. Buddha Dordenma: Buddha Point is found in the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. It is a 169-foot-tall bronze statue of the seated Buddha Dordenma. It is one of the largest sitting Buddha statues in the world and from this location are sweeping views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
Today we will do full day Thimphu tour including an excursion to the Dochula Pass and Royal Botanical Gardens. Dochula is a mountain pass on the road from Thimphu to Punakha, overlooking the Himalayas, with a concentration of 108 Chorten's (stupas). On a clear day, you have an excellent panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains. The botanical gardens will also offer numerous photographic opportunities.
Highlights for Today include:
1. Dochula Pass: Dochula Pass is located about 45 minutes from Thimphu on the way to Punakha. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 Chorten's gracing the mountain pass.
2. Botanical Garden: The park is the home to cool broadleaf forests, fir and sub-alpine forests, mixed conifer forests, and the temperate rain forest. The botanical garden of the park is planted with 46 species of rhododendron of which eighteen species are native to the park and twenty-six others are brought from other regions of Bhutan. These flowers bloom from March to August. In total, about 300 species of plants and animals can be found in the park, including several endangered species. They include the Himalayan yew (Taxus Gattaca), Panax pseudo ginseng, and Tetracentron Sinensis, Himalayan Monal and blood pheasants, native rhododendron, Royal Bengal Tiger, and red panda. We will hike the 14.5 km eco-trek trails for a fantastic photographic journey to capture a wide range of nature photographs.
3. Simply Bhutan Museum, Simply Bhutan Project: It is a living museum and a photo studio. The project is aimed at preservation and promotion of culture is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness (GNH) by involving youth as the core group because they are the future leaders of the country.
4. National Textile Museum: Weaving is considered the national art of Bhutan. At the National Textile Museum, you will learn about the brightly colored and beautifully designed fabrics that are worn by the Bhutanese people.
5. Zilukha Nunnery: This is the biggest nunnery in Bhutan and an excellent place to capture that fascinating portrait. Here you will have the opportunity to document nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels. You can also interact with the nuns to learn more about their way of life.
Today we will return to Paro for a little pampering in one of the most scenic valleys in Bhutan. Willow trees and apple orchards line many of the roads, large whitewashed farmhouses and temples complement the terraced fields with forested hills rising on either side to create a beautiful, organic, and peaceful whole. A great place to capture that glimpse into the life of the people of Bhutan.
Highlights for Today include:
1. Tamchogang Temple and Bridge: Tachogang means ‘temple of the hill of the excellent horse’. It is said that while Thangtong Gyalpo was meditating here, he had a vision of the spiritual horse Balaha-an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. He decided to build a temple on this spot along with an iron bridge, which was destroyed in 1969 and rebuilt in 2005. Currently, the temple is privately run by the descendants of Thangtong Gyalpo.
2. Kichu Temple: The oldest temple in Bhutan, it dates to the seventh century. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace, and you will feel at peace here. Next to the temple is a house that was turned into a museum dedicated to the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
3. Rinpung Dzong & Tadzong (Museum): This monastery and fortress are of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school in Paro District. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. Ta Dzong, the unusual round building, suffered damage in the 2011 earthquake but has recently reopened as Bhutan’s premier museum.
4. Dungtse Lhakhang: Dungtse Lhakhang was constructed by the great bridge-builder Thangtong Gyelpo in 1433. It is said to have been built on the head of a demoness, who was causing illness to the inhabitants. The building was restored in 1841 and is currently a unique repository of Kagyu lineage arts.
Highlights for Today include:
Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest): One of the highlights of any trip to Bhutan is a visit to Tiger's Nest Monastery. This breathtaking structure is also known as Paro Taktsang and is perched tentatively off the cliffs overlooking Paro valley. The site gets its name "Tiger's Nest" as legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress. It is approximately a 2 to 2.5-hour hike (one way), but so worth the journey. Tiger’s Nest Monastery is not to be missed.
Later that evening we will visit a traditional Farmhouse to experience a traditional hot stone bath and authentic Bhutanese cuisine for your farewell dinner.
Guide and driver will drop you at Airport terminal for your departure
Trip Cost Include & Exclude
- Accommodations in 3-star Category
- All meals, evening tea/coffee with snacks
- All land transfers and transportation
- English speaking Bhutanese Photography guide
- Daily Tourist Fees & Taxes
- Bhutan Visa and all applicable permits
- Sightseeing with entrance fees to all monuments
- Bottled water in the vehicle
- Flights into and out of Bhutan
- Optional Travel/Medical Insurance
- Personal expenses such as bars, beverages in the hotel, telephone, laundry, trips, and others
Is it possible to make this tour a privately guided tour?
Druk Experience can work with you to customize this tour to ensure that you can photograph a masked dance festival. Festivals are held periodically throughout the year; we would need to schedule your tour based upon when a local festival would be held.
We suggest that you bring extra SD cards for capturing photos and extra camera batteries.
Please feel free to take as many pictures as you would like. However, you will be asked to not take pictures in our temples. If you have any questions about where/when you can take pictures, please ask your guide.
Druk Experience provides vehicles based on tour size. For small tours we provide 4 door SUV type cars, for larger tours, we provide smaller tour buses that can accommodate 8-10 individuals. Our cars are in excellent shape and our drivers are always safe and careful. All vehicles will be equipped with air conditioning or heaters.
Pack light for all of our tours, soft suitcases/duffel bags are best. Dressing up will not be necessary, dress for comfort. Layer, layer, layer. Wear sturdy shoes for walking/hiking. When we visit holy sites, you will be asked to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
The daily tariff that you pay, pays for your tour guide, driver, hotels and all your meals. The only money you need to budget for is for alcohol, souvenirs, and tips. It is best to bring cash and exchange it for local currency at the airport in Paro. There are ATMs available in some locations, but they work sporadically.