Sacred Bhutan

Walking and Meditation in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Nov. 23 – Dec. 6, 2019

Susie Harrington

REGISTRATION and pre-trip assistance: Kathy Cheney

COST: $5,140 plus $800 for the round-trip flight from Bangkok to Paro. For more detail, please go to the Registration and Cost tab to the right.

LOCATION: We will spend our days trekking through Bhutan. Trip begins and ends in Bangkok, Thailand (see itinerary).
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    This trip is a rare opportunity to travel behind the scenes in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, a country steeped in centuries of Buddhist life and practice. Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that has successfully resisted the wave of globalization. The country was quite isolated from the modern world until the 1960's, and residents enjoy a culturally intact lifestyle, complete with well-preserved festivals, traditional food and dress, and traditional architecture.

    Our focus will be on the active monasteries and temples that arise from the landscape everywhere. Monastic life is active and strong in Bhutan, and we will practice in many of these monasteries, listen to the chanting monks and nuns, and meet with the local Rinpoches and Khenpos who guide monastic life. Many of the temples that we will visit are remote, inaccessible by road, and infrequently visited by tourists.

    Rice and barley terraces line a sparkling river

    On most days we will walk – visiting remote temples, exploring villages, or hiking from town to town. We will stay in comfortable and interesting Bhutanese lodges. The trip includes an overnight trek with a night of 'luxury camping', many remote temples and hermitages, and stunning views of the Himalaya range.

    Stupa in the mountains

    We will support our journey and enrich our experience throughout by allowing time for individual practice, sharing experiences and reflections, and opportunities to practice in the temples and monastic communities we visit. The trip will culminate in an overnight trek to Bumdra Monastery and the famous Taksang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, built directly into a vertical cliff.


    (summary – see attached document for more detail)

    Friday November 22: travel day.
    DAY 1: we will gather and start getting to know one another.
    DAY 2: we will fly to Paro and visit our first temple.
    DAY 3: we will drive to Chele La where we will see spectacular views and visit Kila Nunnery.
    DAY 4: we will drive to Punakha with various stops along the way.
    DAY 5: we will visit the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lankhang
    DAY 6: we will drive to the Bumthang province, the spiritual heart of Bhutan, and we will stay for two nights at the Chumey Nature Resort.
    DAY 7: we will spend the morning in intensive practice, and the afternoon at Tharpaling Monastery.
    DAY 8: we will visit Pema Choling Nunnery in the Tang valley and stay at the noble heritage home Ogyen Choling
    DAY 9: we will spend the day visiting temples and walking in the remote Tang Valley
    DAY 10: we will visit the ancient temples of the Jakar valley
    DAY 11: we will have a valley walk in Bumthang in the morning and fly to Paro in the late afternoon.
    DAY 12: We will begin our overnight trek to Bumdra monastery.
    DAY 13: we will trek back to Paro visiting other remote monasteries including Taksang Monastery.
    DAY 14 (Friday, December 6): we will conclude our time with sitting, reflection, and goodbyes to our local guides after which we will catch a flight back to Bangkok.

    Prayer flags flutter over a sea of clouds

    Please click here for a more detailed itinerary pdf and description of our activities each day.


    Susie will facilitate and guide the trip. She first went to Bhutan in 2005 and fell in love with the country and its people. She has since spent many months there exploring, being a tourist, practicing in remote locations, and guiding groups of Buddhist practitioners. While these trips are usually held in the context of a retreat with her in the role of teacher, she is excited to share her love of the place with a group of fellow dharma adventurers.

    If you don’t know her directly and would like more information about Susie please check out this website.


    A note on cost – The Bhutanese government sets the fees for travel in Bhutan and has chosen to charge more, have fewer tourists, and maintain a high quality experience for visitors and residents alike. There is a set fee for tourists, which includes local guides, lodging, meals, and transport. It is one of the ways they have opened up their country to us, without sacrificing the value they place in their own culture.

    $5,100, plus $800 airfare for RT Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. This cost is based on double occupancy. Single supplement $700.

    What’s Included:

    • Lodging, including the first night in Bangkok
    • Three meals a day, starting with dinner on November 20th.
    • All activities on the itinerary
    • Donations to the nunneries and monasteries we will be visiting.
    • Transportation
    • Bottled drinking water
    • Domestic airfare (Jakar to Paro)
    • Carbon offsets for the carbon impact of flying from the U.S. to Bhutan
    • Round trip airfare from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan (This flight will be arranged for you, and we will pay the outfitter the $800.)

    What’s Not Included:

    • Bhutan Visa- $40 (we will arrange this for you)
    • Round trip airfare from your originating location to Bangkok. (You will arrange this on your own.)
    • Final night stay and meals in Bangkok, if your flight leaves the following day
    • Alcohol
    • Optional tips for local guides
    • Medical insurance, as required by Bhutan. (See below.)

    We will be making reservations on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines, for our flight from Bangkok to Paro, as soon as the minimum number of ten people have registered. Once the reservations have been made, this amount ($800) is nonrefundable, unless someone else registers to take your place and we are able to transfer the reservation. (Reservations must be made far in advance, as only the national airlines serve Bhutan.) A $500 non-refundable trip deposit is also due with your registration.

    Due with Registration $500-non-refundable deposit
    plus $800 for Bangkok-Paro flight (mailed to address on registration form.)
    Additional payments due:
    March 1, 2019 $1500
    June 1, 2019 $1500
    September 1, 2019 $1640- includes $40 visa fee

    Getting There
    We will begin our trip in Bangkok, the afternoon before we depart for Bhutan. Most flights from the United States arrive late at night, so you will probably arrive in Bangkok the night before. We suggest coming an extra day or two early, if you have the time, so that you can adjust to the different time zone. We can help arrange lodging if needed. More details on arranging your flights will be sent once you register. Please wait to make your flight arrangements to Bangkok until we let you know that we have the minimum number of participants (ten) to make the trip go.

    Remember that you will need a current passport with at least six months beyond our trip dates before expiration.

    After you register, we will send more logistical details about travel, vaccinations, and what to bring. Please feel free to contact either of us by phone or email if you have any questions!

    Kathy Cheney

    Susie Harrington


    Please read carefully
    Because we must make non-refundable deposits in Bhutan, we have the following cancellation policy. You will be making nonrefundable deposits for the trip expenses, and we cannot refund payments except according to the following cancellation policy.

    The $500 deposit is non-refundable, and, once plane reservations have been made, the $800 airfare is non-refundable. Refunds can be made as follows:

    • For cancellations between March 1-May 31, 50% of the first payment ($750).
    • For cancellations June 1-Aug 31, 50% of the first two payments ($1500).
    • For cancellations Sept. 1-Sept. 24, 50% of first three payments ($2300).

    *After Sept. 24, no refunds can be made. If Sky Mind Retreats needs to cancel the trip for any reason, all fees, including the deposit, will be returned. Plane flight cost cannot be reimbursed.

    Prayer flags with snowy peaks

    Things happen! It is required that you purchase trip insurance, which will reimburse your trip cost if you cannot travel due to injury or illness. The Bhutanese government requires all travelers to purchase medical travel insurance, and most of these policies include trip cancellation. Be aware that you usually are required to purchase the policy shortly after you register for the trip and make your first payment in order for the trip cancellation insurance to be effective. Please read carefully the benefits for different plans and you might consider the 'cancel for any reason' clause available in some plans.
    Two companies that we like are:
    Worldwide Trip Protector, or 1-800-243-3174.
    World Nomads,