Bhutan Multi-sport Adventure Retreat
Oct 16-26, 2023
The Bhutan Adventure Retreat is our exclusive offering designed to give you an unparalleled experience in Bhutan. Indescribable magic awaits you on Women’s Quest’s annual trip to the “Land of the Dragon,” giving you the chance to discover the culture, nature, people, and Bhutanese way of life. We will start most mornings with a yoga practice and spectacular views. We will spend our days with adventures, from hiking through the hills and lush valleys, visiting towns and monasteries, and meeting the local communities. We will travel through several towns and villages, including Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha, Tangsibje, Bumthang, and Paro. The trip will culminate with our most challenging and scenic hike: the Taktsang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest), which is Bhutan’s most iconic temple and landmark.
We will also raft down the stunning Puna Tsang Chu River, which is framed by quaint riverside villages and rice fields. A chilly dip in the glacial river will leave you invigorated before we picnic in this beautiful Punakha Valley. A crowd favorite of this retreat is the opportunity to spend time with a Bhutanese family in their traditional pastoral hamlet. Two days of living, sleeping, and working with this family truly helps us understand their traditions and life. This country’s traditions, spirituality, and culture have been beautifully preserved, making Bhutan the “Happiest Country in the World.” And of course, we will visit the ancient temples and fortresses where we will learn and participate in their spiritual ceremonies and traditional festivals. After our challenging hike to the Tiger’s Nest, we will fill our final night with relaxation and festivity. Try the local hot stone baths before ending our night with a closing ceremony, delicious dinner, and slumber at National Geographic’s hidden gem, the 5-star hotel Zhiwa Ling.
Every day of this Women’s Quest adventure retreat will be laden with activities, attractions, and views that will enliven your senses. Join us as we hike, raft, bike, and drive through the soul of Bhutan. This trip will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Trust us, you won’t leave the same way as you came. Happiness awaits in magical Bhutan!
What to Expect:
Bhutan has recently opened its borders for tours. We will be part of an exclusive offering designed to give you an unparalleled experience. You will get the chance to explore and get to know the culture, the people, and the Bhutanese way of life. Enjoy daily yoga and meditation practices, hikes through spectacular landscapes, rafting trips in Punakha, and all the thrills of riding your mountain bike through the best kept secret trails of Bhutan and the Phobjikha valley.
We will then venture further into the countryside by car to visit our Bhutanese family’s village in Trongsa. Here, we will experience the traditional lifestyles of rural Bhutan – a totally off-the-beaten-path exclusive experience. We will proceed to the central heartland of Bumthang Valley to witness a beautiful festival and enjoy impressive day hikes. Finally, we will fly back to Paro to visit Bhutan’s ultimate highlight – the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
- 11 days of adventure-filled activities – hiking, yoga, philanthropic activities, cultural experiences, optional mountain biking and much more
- 10-nights of accommodations that range from 5-star hotels to guest homes
- Our last 2 nights will be spent at the Zhiwa Ling – one of National Geographic’s Hidden Gem. The Zhiwa Ling is a work of art, painstakingly constructed, carved, and painted by Bhutanese artisans over five years. It is not an old hotel—it first opened its doors in 2005 and is equipped with all the modern amenities you’d expect—yet the stunning architecture conveys an atmosphere of timeless tradition that fits right into Bhutan’s cultural landscape. The hotel’s temple exemplifies this emphasis on the authentic: it was built using 450-year-old wood from the original Gangtey Goemba monastery, one of Bhutan’s most cherished sites.
- Restaurant with indoor and garden seating
- Yoga classes
- Meditation sessions in tranquil Meditation House
- Tea House with traditional Bhutanese teas
- Spa, steam room, and massage offerings
- Boutique with local goods
- Greenhouse with rare Bhutanese orchids and other beautiful plants
- The Herbal hot stone bath at a local farm will calm and relax us on our last night. Afterwards, we will eat a delicious meal and end the trip with our closing ceremony.
- Hikes to many Buddhist temples, including the Taktsang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest), Bhutan’s most iconic landmark and religious site. This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the Paro Valley. The most Memorable challenging hike with incredible views but also an amazing spiritual experience
- Rafting in the spectacular Punakha valley will enhance our adventure. As we float down the river surrounded by incredible views, we will stop for a quick and somewhat chilly swim in the glacial river.
- Cultural walks and visits to temples, bridges, stupas, gardens, and more
- Sunrise yoga most mornings – most with spectacular views
- Village life: two incredible days with our guide’s family, enjoying their traditional lifestyle and listening to stories, legends, and music from the locals. We will also try our skills at archery (national sport), dart throwing, and milking the cows.
- Handloom weaving demonstration
- Craft beer and music
- We love to give back! We will visit the Dsraktsho Foundation which supports children with disabilities. Get to know the children and enjoy a special concert performed exclusively for us. We will have the chance to support this organization by purchasing any of the art, baskets, toys, and other memorabilia that they create.
- Lifelong friendships and magical experiences
Included in the Price:
- 11 day/10-night accommodations in Bhutan that range from five-star hotels to guest homes – double occupancy (see below for details about single rooms)
- All accommodations in 3-5 star hotels, resorts, and guest house
- Domestic airfare from Bumthang to Paro
- Airport transfers on arrival into and departure from Paro
- All ground transportation in our comfortable bus
- All meals, evening tea, and drinking mineral water throughout the trip
- Bhutan Tourism Royalty/Levy ($65 per day per person)
- Visa Fees ($40 per person)
- All necessary permit fees
- All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees
- Women’s Quest staff leader and culture expert tour leader
- Rafting in Punakha
- Gentle morning yoga and meditation practice
What is NOT Included in the Price:
- International round trip airfare from your hometown to Bangkok, Thailand
- Round-trip airfare from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan, which is arranged by our guides. You pay the airlines directly — estimated around $900-$990 – to be finalized at time of booking
- Travel insurance – required
- Additional spa services beyond the traditional hot-stone bath
- Yoga mat for daily practice
- All personal expenses (e.g., shopping, laundry, telephone)
- Tips for guides, drivers, and baggage handlers
What are the accommodations?
The accommodations in Bhutan are always clean, comfortable and have a traditional ambiance. We will be staying in hotels that range from 3-5 stars and a guest home. Most of our questers love the guest home as we eat, sleep, and adventure with our hosts, really enjoying the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. But the final 2 nights at the 5-star Zhiwa Ling are an unforgettable experience!
Single Rooms are available at an additional cost of $1200.
How do we get there?
We recommend flying into Bangkok (BKK) at least a day early. Please arrive no later than the night of Oct 15th. Our flight to Bhutan is early morning on October 16th. We will be returning to Bangkok on Oct 26th. Please do not book your return flights until late on Oct 26th or 27th. We recommend staying in the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel if you need accommodations before and after the Bhutan adventure and yoga retreat.
The flight between Bangkok and Paro Bhutan will be booked (at a group rate) by our guides and you will pay them directly for this flight (around $900-$990 determined at a later date). The ticket will be emailed to you after purchase. Make sure you bring the email and a copy.
For citizens of Canada and the United States: You will need your passport, valid for 6 months beyond your travel. It also must have two blank facing pages. A tourist visa is needed to enter Bhutan, and we will provide the visas for the group and email you a copy to bring.
What will the food be like?
Food staples for the Bhutanese include rice, beef, pork, poultry, goat, yak, and fish. Yak cheese is part of the diet of upland nomads. Meat soups, rice or corn, and spiced chilies comprise daily food. Beverages include buttered tea and beer distilled from cereal grains. Menus of restaurants in Bhutan are a fantasy concocted of the ingredients a restaurant would like to have and what is actually on their shelves.
As this is an all-inclusive Women’s Quest adventure, expect to eat most meals at our hotel (buffet fans are in for a treat — and were not appreciated, al a carte meals may be provided). The buffet dishes are usually soup, rice, noodles, seasonal vegetables, potato, dal (lentils), and some protein (chicken/pork/beef).
This course is followed by a sweet dish, usually fresh fruits or a fruit cocktail. Tea and coffee (Nescafe) are also served. These foods are tampered to western taste and therefore are not spicy or hot as locals would eat. Your guide can arrange dinner at local restaurants but beware: traditional Bhutanese food always features chilies and the most popular dish is ema datse made with large, green hot chilies in a cheese sauce.
Though there is plenty of white rice, Bhutanese prefer a local, slightly nutty, red variety. At high altitudes, wheat is the staple. Several Tibetan-style dishes are common, including momos (dumplings) and thukpa (noodles).
While touring, we will likely eat breakfasts and dinners in our hotel. In the countryside and on long drives, we will enjoy picnic lunches. In some cases, we will stop at roadside restaurants.
*Please be informed that Bhutanese cuisine is limited in diversity due to the age-old isolation and lack of western ingredients and expertise. Guests who are very sensitive about food are advised to notify us in advance so that we can try to cater to your needs wherever possible. Please make sure you tell us of your dietary restrictions.
What about the yoga?
We will wake in the morning to a gentle yoga and meditation practice. Please bring your yoga mats.
What about hiking?
We will be doing some extensive hiking throughout the trip. Some of this hiking will be at altitude. We suggest starting an aerobic conditioning routine as soon as possible. We will hike to the tops of some mountains with an altitude of 12,000 feet, but we will be sure to go at a pace that is good for everyone. There is always the option of a shorter hike, relaxing at the hotel, or meditating at a temple.
What about rafting?
The rafting is a gentle float in a 10-person raft accompanied by expert guides. We will stop for a brief swim in the chilly glacial water before ending with a picnic alongside the beautiful river.
What weather can I expect?
October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan. Expect it to be mid 70’s to low 80’s in the sun, but there will be cooler temperatures in the evenings and at higher altitudes.
What is the average age on this adventure and yoga retreat?
We have a wide range of women who attend our retreats, from 15-75 years young.
What if I am coming alone?
The majority of the women who attend our retreats come by themselves. Bhutan is a safe and easy country to travel as a single woman. English is spoken in most tourist areas and we are here to answer any questions about travel that you may have. Although you may come alone, you will leave the retreat with new, lifelong friends!
Do I have to participate in everything on the schedule?
No! All activities and outings are optional. This is YOUR retreat. We encourage you to do what feels most nurturing and right for you. You will be fully supported in doing as much or as little as you choose. All of our activities will be guided by expert staff, and instruction and support will be offered for every activity according to your experience level.
Am I in good enough shape to do this retreat?
This is a retreat that everyone can do but you will love it even more if you are in good shape – please start your training program now.
A deposit is required to hold your reservation at a retreat. Deposits are $500 for domestic and $1,000 for international retreats. Additional deposits may be required to reserve a single room. All deposits are non-refundable.
We cannot hold your reservation until we have received your deposit. If you would like to reserve an available spot in a retreat 90 or fewer days prior to the retreat date, we require payment in full for the retreat to hold the spot. This is in accordance with our payment policy below.
Payment in full for all retreats is due 90 days prior to the retreat date. If you do not provide payment in full by 90 days prior to the retreat you risk losing your reservation.
A 4% payment processing fee will be added to all payments made using PayPal, Stripe or Venmo.
You are welcome to send in a check or pay by Zelle to avoid this fee.
If you must cancel a reservation, a full refund, less your deposit which is non-refundable, will be provided for any cancellation we receive in writing at least 91 days prior to the commencement date of the retreat. We are sorry but we cannot refund any payments for cancellations made 90 or fewer days prior to the commencement of the retreat.
We reserve the right to cancel retreats with inadequate participant interest. Women’s Quest IS NOT responsible for any personal expenses, such as airline tickets due to changes in schedules or tour cancellations.
Cancellations by Women’s Quest: Women’s Quest reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel or reschedule any retreat due to concerns over Covid-19. As a small company Women’s Quest is unfortunately not able to provide refunds of payments for retreats cancelled by Women’s Quest due to the Covid pandemic. This is primarily due to our financial commitments with the various retreat venues. As a result, in the event Women’s Quest cancels or reschedules a retreat due to Covid-19 Women’s Quest will apply all payments to the rescheduled or following year’s retreat, or to any other Women’s Quest retreat of your choosing through the end of the next year after the year in which the retreat was cancelled by Women’s Quest. Because of the unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances of the outbreak, this policy supersedes earlier policies.
Cancellations by You: If you need or desire to cancel your reservation due to Covid-19, or failure to comply with the requirements of a negative test and being symptom free, this cancellation is subject to the Cancellation Policy above. This is why we urge everyone to purchase travel insurance when signing up.
Covid Waiver and Release
This waiver, release and acknowledgment of responsibilities are unfortunately necessary during this unique time of the Covid 19 pandemic. By signing up for and or attending any Women’s Quest retreat you agree to be bound by the terms of this document. We understand these times are challenging, however, these provisions are necessary to protect all attendees and staff members of Women’s Quest.
Testing For and Symptoms of Covid 19. Irrespective of vaccination status you are required to provide a negative test for Covid 19 taken within 3 days of the commencement of the retreat. This test can be either a PCR test or a home antigen test. Also, irrespective of your vaccination status, you agree you will not attend the retreat if you have any symptoms of Covid 19 immediately prior to the beginning of the trip. These symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea (these, along with symptoms outline in the following link and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control shall be collectively referred to as the “Symptoms”.) More information on symptoms of Covid 19 can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
Symptoms During the Retreat. In the event you develop any Symptoms during the retreat you must immediately leave the retreat and follow protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and all local regulations. We understand this may result in you incurring significant expenses associated with separate accommodation and travel, however, you understand these expenses are not the responsibility of Women’s Quest and must be incurred by you. You agree to be fully honest with Women’s Quest staff in regard to any Symptoms you may develop and agree to comply with a request by Women’s Quest staff to depart as determined by Women’s Quest staff in their sole discretion. As provided below, this is why we strongly urge everyone to get travel insurance covering these and other expenses prior to departure.
Procedures During the Retreat. During the retreat Women’s Quest may, but need not, endeavor to practice social distancing and wearing of masks when traveling in close proximity. You agree to comply with all requests of Women’s Quest staff during the retreat related to these procedures. Any such procedures implemented by Women’s Quest are not a guaranty you will not be exposed to Covid 19 and you understand you are responsible for taking any precautions you deem necessary and providing your own personal protective equipment during the retreat. You also agree to comply with any reasonable requests by other attendees to respect their social distancing and other protective measures (“Participant Requests”.) Notwithstanding the foregoing, you are responsible to comply with all laws and regulations of the locality visited relating to protections against Covid 19.
Waiver of Coronavirus Related Illness; Indemnification. You understand that irrespective of protective measures that Women’s Quest or you may or may not take, you may be exposed to Covid 19 by another retreat attendee, a Women’s Quest staff member and or an individual to whom you may be exposed during, or traveling to or from the retreat. You agree to waive and release Women’s Quest, its officers, directors, staff, employees, contractors, and partners from any claims, liabilities or damages you may incur in the event you contract Covid 19 at any time during travel to, attending or after attending the retreat. You further agree to indemnify and hold harmless Women’s Quest, its officers, directors, staff, employees, contractors, and partners from any loss, liability or damages it or they may incur as a result of your failure to receive a negative test for Covid 19 prior to the retreat as provided above, attending the retreat with any Symptoms, not respecting Participant Requests, and not immediately departing the retreat if you develop any Symptoms.
Cancellation. In the unfortunate event you need to cancel your trip, cannot attend due to contracting Covid 19 or developing Symptoms prior to the retreat, or must leave the retreat due to contracting Covid 19 or developing Symptoms, Women’s Quest cannot provide any refund of any amounts you paid.
Travel Insurance. As provided in this document you could incur significant personal expense in the event you contract Covid 19 or develop any Symptoms during the retreat. As such, you are strongly urged to obtain travel insurance that provides adequate protections against these risks.
Additional Waiver. This waiver is incorporated into and made a part of other waivers you agreed to in connection with signing up for the retreat. In the event of a conflict between these terms and the terms of any other waiver, this waiver shall govern.
Purchasing Travel Insurance
We highly, highly recommend you get travel insurance to cover your expenses and losses, in the event you cannot make the Women’s Quest retreat for any reason or if you test positive or come down with Symptoms prior to the retreat, develop Symptoms during the retreat, or cannot return home due to Covid related issues. We recommend getting insurance that covers the cost of your trip, medical care while at the retreat, and coverage to pay for the necessary quarantine period if you test positive or come down with Covid. Please remember, if you have to cancel your trip in the unfortunate event you come down with Covid, test positive, or suffer Symptoms prior to or during the retreat and need to leave, Women’s Quest cannot provide a refund since we have to pay your trip expenses well ahead of time.
If you are concerned about travel and the changing environment in which we are living irrespective of your Covid status, we recommend getting travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason. This coverage is more expensive, however, may provide you with the coverage and flexibility you desire.
Irrespective of the travel insurance you get, please make sure you talk to a travel insurance agent prior to buying any insurance and make sure you have the coverage you desire and that the policy will cover trip cancellation, medical expenses and trip interruption due to Covid.
You can do your own investigation by checking out Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison company that helps travelers search, compare and buy travel insurance online https://www.