Uncover the beauty of Bhutan, the last Himalayan kingdom, with its towering fortress-monasteries, sweeping mountains, fertile valleys and vibrant traditions.

At a Glance

  • Wander through ancient monasteries of the last Himalayan kingdom
  • Attend one of Bhutan’s colourful festivals, with masked dancers and spectators wearing their finest embroidered costumes
  • Explore the Bumthang region in central Bhutan, the country’s cultural heartland
  • Ascend to Tiger’s Nest, the emblematic Bhutanese temple perched on a cliff edge 900 meters above the Paro Valley

The ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ is like no other, with its impressive architecture, dramatic landscapes, wonderful textiles and fascinating Buddhist customs. Myth and legend intertwine in a place where monks dance and tigers are said to fly, where rice is red and men don traditional robes with argyle socks.

Venture into picturesque central Bhutan and discover the country’s cultural and religious heartland in the Trongsa and Bumthang regions.

Spring is an ideal time to visit Bhutan; rainfall and humidity are low, while pleasant temperatures and mostly clear skies allow the incredible landscapes to be enjoyed at their best.


This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.


09 – 21 March 2025 (13 days)

Tour leader

Alex McKay

Tour Status


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Arrive in Bangkok in the late afternoon on suggested flights and make your way to the airport hotel (included in tour price). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel) and accommodation before or after the tour.

In the evening, join your tour leader Alex McKay and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing.

Depart Bangkok in the early morning on a Drukair flight to Paro, Bhutan (flight included in tour price).

Upon arrival in Paro, visit the Paro Dzong and Ta Dzong Museum. Established with Austrian technical assistance, the museum provides a wonderful display of the kingdom’s rich culture and heritage with an impressive collection of artefacts and thangkas (religious scroll paintings).


This morning travel by coach to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu – a vibrant city with an exciting blend of tradition and modernity.

En route, visit the Memorial Chorten, considered the most sacred religious landmarks in Bhutan. Continue to the Royal Textile Academy, which showcases Bhutan’s achievements in fabric arts.

In the evening, join Alex for a talk, followed by dinner at the hotel.


Today, visit the Choki School of Traditional Arts and witness Bhutan’s cultural heritage come to life, delving into the intricate techniques and timeless traditions of Bhutanese artistry.

After lunch visit Dechen Phodrang, known as the “palace of great bliss”, and the Zilukha Nunnery, which plays a vital role in providing the residents of Thimphu with their religious needs.

Later, join Alex for a talk, followed by dinner at the hotel.


After breakfast, depart from Thimphhu on a remarkable drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La, located at 3,100 metres. On the prolific hillside at the top of the pass is a congregation of 108 memorial chortens around a temple. Weather permitting, enjoy panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkhar Puensum (7,570 metres).

The road then drops down through lush forest, finally emerging into the highly-cultivated Punakha Valley, the old winter capital of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955 when the seat of government was moved to Thimphu under the modernising reforms of the 3rd Dragon King. On arrival to the town, explore Punakha Dzong, considered to be the most beautiful and historically important Dzong in Bhutan.


Depart Punakha and cross the Black Mountains range that divides western from central Bhutan, then descend the Pele La pass, marked by prayer flags. Stop at the beautiful 18th century Nepali-style Chendebji Chorten. Continue through hillsides of dwarf bamboos, lush pasturelands and evergreen forests.

Upon arrival in Trongsa, stop at the Taa-Dzong Museum and learn how its watchtower and defensive fortress were pivotal in defending Bhutan. 


In the morning, visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s monarch, where novice monks are often found reciting mantras or practising on sacred red horns, flutes or drums. Admire the solidity and strength of the Dzong’s traditional architecture and its superb wall-paintings.

Travel over the picturesque Yotong La pass and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving and traditional textiles.

Visit Tamshing Lhakhang, a major Nyingma monastery, known for its collection of Bhutanese paintings. Continue to Jambay Lhakhang, or the ‘Temple of the Maitreya’, said to be one of the 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in 659 CE on a single day, to pin down the body of a demoness who lay across the Himalayas.


Today, depart for a day trip to the Ura Valley and the Tangsibi Mani Festival, thought to be the oldest festival celebrated in the region. The festival revolves around the sacred “mani” ceremony, where villagers spin prayer wheels and recite mantras to accumulate blessings. The sound of the chanting and the sight of colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind are said to create a spiritually uplifting atmosphere.

Alongside religious rituals, the festival features traditional dances, music performances and cultural displays, fostering community spirit and preserving Bhutanese traditions.


Today drive to the stunningly beautiful Tang Valley, the most remote of Bumthang’s regions. This seldom-visited valley has some off-the-beaten-track lhakhangs (temples) and monasteries. Visit the museum at Ogyen Choling Palace, an aristocratic mansion that has been transformed into a folk museum with a fascinating collection of domestic and defensive artefacts. This is the ancestral home of Kunzang Choden, one of Bhutan’s most celebrated writers and intellectuals.

Stop at Membar Tsho, a small freshwater lake and sacred pilgrimage site also known as Burning Lake.

This evening, after a talk by Alex, enjoy dinner at the hotel.


After an early start, depart Bumthang on an included domestic flight with Drukair to Paro, Bhutan’s second largest town.

On arrival, visit the small Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, an unusual Buddhist temple in the form of a chorten. Dating to the 14th century and attributed to Chaksampa, the “Iron bridge builder”, it features an outstanding range of wall-paintings of early Indian Buddhist “magicians”.

Then visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a sacred monument said to pin down the left foot of a treacherous demoness and another of the 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in 659 CE.

This afternoon is at leisure to browse the local markets and shops.


Today, take the opportunity to hike up to one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, Taktsang, more commonly referred to as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of the great Himalayan architectural masterpieces. Built on the side of a mountain overlooking Paro Valley, it is an ancient site connected to great Buddhist masters such as Milarepa and Guru Rinpoche. This optional four-hour trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor.

Please note: this is a strenuous activity and should only be undertaken if you are confident about your physical ability to do this.

The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore Paro at your own pace. Consider visiting Ka Ja Throm, the farmers’ market gifted by His Majesty the King to the people of Paro.


Today, return to Thimphu for a few hours to see a different side of the city. Visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory to see how the paper traditionally used for scriptures, lampshades and other handicrafts is created.

Explore Norzin Lam Street, where Bhutanese come from all over to shop for handcrafted wares. Back in Paro, visit the market with its bustling stalls selling everything from fresh produce to textiles and souvenirs.

Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Alex and fellow travellers.


After an early breakfast, transfer to Paro Airport for a Drukair flight to Bangkok (flight included in tour price). Tour arrangements conclude upon arrival in Bangkok.

Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).


Note: Festival programs
The Tangisi Mani festival program will be released a few weeks prior to the events. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the visits to sites and events in the Ura Valley as published, the order of the visits is subject to change.


Per person, twin-share

AUD 13,450

Single supplement

AUD 850

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 3,000

Final payment due

8 January 2025

Tour price includes

  • Accommodation in good quality 3-star superior hotels with breakfast (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wine with welcome and farewell dinners
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
  • Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Return economy class flight Bangkok – Paro with Druk Air (30kg luggage allowance)
  • One-way economy class flight Bumthang – Paro with Drukair (20kg luggage allowance)
  • Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on suggested flights
  • Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Alex McKay
  • Visa fee for Bhutan for Australian and New Zealand passport holders
  • Bhutan government royalties and taxes
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares between Australia/New Zealand and Bangkok (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Airport porterage
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure if not travelling on included flights
  • Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotels
Bangkok – Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport****
Thimphu – Namgay Heritage Hotel***+
Punakha – Zhingkham Resort***+
Trongsa – Yangkhil Resort***
Bumthang – Yu-Gharling Hotel***+
Paro – Olathang Cottages***

N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.

More Details

Tour code: AG2506

Limited numbers
Due to local conditions, this tour is limited to no more than 15 tour members.

Fitness level: Above Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.

Note: Travelers to Bhutan are less prone to altitude sickness, with only brief periods spent at higher altitudes and nights spent in lower altitude valleys, aiding in acclimatization.

Suggested airline: Qantas
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.

Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a visa to visit Bhutan. Renaissance Tours will assist you with your visa application.

Download booking form here.


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