Bhutan Awaits – Where happiness is not just a destination, but a way of life.

Hello, fellow travel enthusiasts! I’m Kendra Thornton, and I’m thrilled to take you on an extraordinary adventure into the heart of Bhutan, the last great Himalayan Kingdom. Join me as we explore enchanting landscapes, delve into vibrant culture, and witness breathtaking architecture – all carefully curated by our wonderful partner &Beyond. I had the pleasure of taking this trip in March 2024 along with 10 friends who joined me.

Day 1: Thimphu – A Cultural Prelude
Our journey begins with a mesmerizing flight into Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport. A scenic drive takes us to Thimphu, where the fusion of modernity and tradition is palpable. On our way, we stop at the Tamchog Lhakhang, a bridge steeped in history. We check into Pemako, Thimphu, a haven of luxury where we spend the night. Afternoon explorations include the Buddha Dordenma, the vibrant Farmer’s Market, a talk on Gross National Happiness from a member of the Bhutanese government! The evening concludes with a traditional-themed dinner at Taj’s Specialty Bhutanese restaurant with our group dressed in Kira (what women’s traditional Bhutanese outfits are called.) After dinner we were treated to the most vibrant cultural show of dancing and singing.

Day 2 and 3: Punakha – Fertility and Fortresses
Today, we embarked on a scenic drive to Punakha, a town adorned with prayer flags. An exhilarating hike to Chimi Lhakhang and exploration of Punakha Dzong mark the day. Our home for the next two nights is the brand new &Beyond Punakha River Lodge, where a Tented Suite awaits. The property is pristine and the most incredible setting with every service and amenity a luxury traveler would crave. Our group of 11 have the lodge to ourselves on a full buy out basis, but individual tented suites can be booked as well as 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom family suites. The following day is full of adventure. We had a morning hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten followed by an exhilarating river rafting experience on Pho Chu River.

Day 4 and 5: Paro – Journey to the Tiger’s Nest
Paro is a historic town, situated at 2250 m (7382 ft,) with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, the National Museum and the country’s only airport. Paro is one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom, producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.

An early scenic drive takes us to Paro through the Dochu La pass, adorned with 108 stupas to honor fallen Bhutanese soldiers. To prepare for our epic hike to Tiger’s Nest the next day, we indulge in a 2-hour vertical hike through a hemlock, birch and rhododendron forest up to the Lungchuste monastery where we enjoyed 360-degree views of the Himalayas including some of Bhutan’s sacred peaks like Mount Jumolhari, Masagang, Gangkar Puensum and more. We conclude our day indulging in spa treatments at the wellness centered Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary.

The following day, we embark on the iconic hike to Taktsang Monastery (“Tigers Nest”). Built on a sheer cliff face at a height of 2950 m (9678 ft.), the four- hour trek up offers spectacular views. The trail climbs through a beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Himalayan Mountains Tour -Bhutan Rinpoche, founder of Buddhism in Bhutan flew from eastern Bhutan ona tigress, bringing Buddhist teachings and meditation here on this cliff. This is one of the most venerated and sacred of all Buddhist sights around the world. This hike takes about five hours with a 3000 foot approximate gain in altitude.

We have the incredible good fortune of climbing at the same time as the Queen Mother who is making a spiritual journey to Tiger’s Nest with her daughter, grandson and several high ranking monks from Tibet and Bhutan. The Queen is stunning and friendly and we chat with her and the monks and take photos. She even comments that 11 is a lucky number and since we are 11 women traveling together we must be lucky. Reaching the peak of Tiger’s Nest and seeing the incredible 16th century monastery built into the rocks is amazing and we feel lucky indeed to have made this climb. After our hike we enjoyed some shopping in Paro – so many wonderful souvenir and art stores to peruse. We conclude our evening with a celebration back at the Spirit Sanctuary and a 6-course tasting menu for dinner.

Day 6: Departure – A Farewell to Bhutan’s Splendor
As my Himalayan adventure concludes, I carry with me the memories of Bhutan’s majesty, vibrant culture, Bhuddhist perspective, and the serenity of its breathtaking landscapes.


  • Bhuddhist
  • Bhutan
  • Himalaya
  • Himalayan Kingdom
  • Paro
  • Punakha
  • Thimphu
  • Tibet
  • Tigers Nest