Photos courtesy of Self-Compassion Journey travelers, 2018
Welcome! We’re glad that you’re interested in the Self-Compassion Journey Bhutan! Below is some information that might help you with preparing for our journey together.
Registration and Financial Contributions
You can register for this journey by filling in the contact form on this page of the Samsara Asia website.
Once you have registered for the tour, Tshering Lhamtshok, our contact at our tour company Samsara Asia, will send you a remittance sheet with account numbers and bank information along with an invoice and an itinerary. The cost is US$2,990 which covers:
- all transport in Bhutan,
- hotels, twin share (see single supplement information below),
- bottled water,
- visa fee and
- a tuition payment to Kristy.
You’ll be invited to offer a gratuity to our driver and our cultural guide at the end of our journey. The suggested gratuity for the whole journey is between US$50 and US$200 for each of these two invaluable support staff. We’ve found that credit and debit cards don’t always work in the ATMs in Bhutan and while we’ll do everything we can to make sure you can take out cash in Bhutan, you might be better off bringing cash for the gratuity in US dollars or your local currency.
Flights and Accommodation
Flights to and from Bhutan
There are two national airlines operating from the cities of Bangkok, Singapore, New Delhi, Kathmando, Kolkata (India), Bagdora (India). They are:
Paro is the only destination airport for Bhutan and the airfares (with approximate flight fares) are as follows:
- Singapore-Paro-Singapore= $930 (2 flights per week – 6 hour flight – no visa required for most nationalities)
- Bangkok-Paro-Bangkok= $750 (2 flights per day – 3 hour flight – no visa required for most nationalities)
- Kathmandu-Paro-Kathmandu= $390 (1 flight per day)
- New Delhi-Paro-New Delhi= $590 (1 flight per day – 2 hour flight)
and a few flights from
- Dhaka and
If you need our tour operator, Tshering, to book your flights, please email her at email@example.com. Tshering suggests that you book your other international flights after you book the flights to and from Bhutan since options for flights to and from Bhutan are limited.
Once you have your air ticket to Bhutan confirmed, please send Samsara Asia a copy of that to arrange for airport pick up and for visa application.
Arrival and Departure
Group members will arrive on the day our journey begins and will leave on the final day of our journey. Our group visa requires that all participants arrive and depart on the same day. Please let Tshering know if you have made arrangements that include different travel days.
We will be staying at various 3-star hotels during the retreat in different valleys. We have yet to confirm hotels but some of the names of hotels we have stayed at in the past include Bhutan Suites, Druk Hotel, and Puna Tsangchu Cottages.
Single rooms are available – the single room supplement can be purchased in advance for US$315 for the entire journey.
Visas and Vaccinations
Samsara Asia will process your visas as your tour operator in Bhutan and will need a color copy of your passport to do that. Once your group visa is approved, Samsara Asia will send an electronic copy of your visa to you before you arrive (there is no further effort required by you to process your visas). You can find more information about visas on the Tourism Council of Bhutan website here. You can find out more about tour operation in Bhutan on the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators website here.
The only required vaccination for Bhutan is for yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone (Africa or South America) within the six days prior to entering Bhutan. For more information on general travel vaccinations, you can visit the Lonely Planet site on healthy travel in Bhutan.
The Lonely Planet website recommends not drinking the tap water in Bhutan. Bottled water will be provided on our trip.
When I asked my doctor what I might need to take to Bhutan to support my body health, she suggested:
- melatonin to help with jet-lag (this is available over the counter in the US, but possibly not in other countries without a prescription);
- probiotics to support my gut flora (over-the-counter supplement in the US); and
- ciprofloxacin antibiotic in case of gut bacterial infection (you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor for this one).
We will be at altitudes up to 4000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level during the day so altitude sickness may be something to prepare for. The Lonely Planet website suggests that altitude sickness can occur once we get over 2500 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level. Here are the altitudes of the places we’ll be sleeping in:
- Thimphu: 2,300m/7,700f above sea level
- Punakha: 1,200m/4,100f above sea level
- Paro: 2,200m/7,200f above sea level
Altitude sickness can present with symptoms such as headache and fatigue. The best way to take care of your body at altitude is to drink plenty of water – up to 4 quarts/litres per day – and to eat plenty of carbs. Also, staying away from alcohol, tobacco and sedatives (sleeping pills other than natural remedies like melatonin) will help you avoid altitude sickness. Over-the-counter pain medication can help if you get a headache. You can find out more information on the Lonely Planet website.
Weather and Packing
As we draw closer to the tour dates, Samsara Asia will send a suggested packing list and weather information. You can get an idea of the weather in Paro on this page, Thimphu on this page and Punakha on this page. We’ve found some weather apps to be notoriously inaccurate when predicting weather in Bhutan, so please don’t rely on those.
It’s no fun spending 10 days in another country with no access to the power supply. You might like to check out this page for information about the power source in Bhutan.
Some dietary requirements can be accommodated on this tour. Please email Tshering to ask if your dietary requirements can be met. Gluten-free options are available. Rice is the mainstay of the Bhutanese diet. If you are particular to your coffee in the morning, you may wish to bring your own supply and brewing paraphernalia as instant coffee may be what’s on offer at some hotels.
Our tour is designed to be friendly for all fitness levels. All activities are optional. One hike is one hour long at 1400 meters (4,500 feet) above sea level and Tshering categorizes this hike as “easy.” The other uphill hike to the Tiger’s Nest (Paro Taktsang) will take up to 3 hours and climb to 3100 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level, one way. You have the option to ride a horse half way up and then walk the rest of the way. The walk back down again will be 2.5 hours at the most. For those who choose to not hike that day we have alternative activities planned.
Flying and Jet Lag
If you’re traveling over a number of timezones to get to Bhutan, you may well experience jet lag. It’s an act of self-compassion to stay in a country close to Bhutan a few days before our journey, to help you recover from jet lag before our journey begins. While recovering from jet lag, you can do some things to support your body to sleep. You might like to read over this article about supporting sleep, this one about the neurochemicals that contribute to trouble sleeping, and this article to remind yourself to practice self-compassion if you cant’ sleep.
See you in Bhutan!