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Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

Gaiberg
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Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

Unfortunately the topic "Best Travel Guide in Bhutan" was closed due to inactivity. I would like to continue where they left off.

We were in Bhutan from October 12 – November 2, 2013 with two friends. About a year before that we contacted Wangda (Mr. Wangda Tobgyal), the Managing Director of Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks. Our friends had used Wangda’s company a few years before and could not stop enthusing about his service.

And they were right! From the very beginning, Wangda assisted us in all the paperwork and financial transactions that a trip to Bhutan requires. In addition, he helped us with all flight arrangements with Druk Air, and contacted them on our behalf when we mistakenly double-booked one of our flights! Any questions we had were answered immediately. And he ensured that we met all deadlines by his gentle reminders. We knew we were in good hands from day one.

Wangda purposely has kept Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks a small company to ensure personal service for each and every customer. Although he was unable to be our tour guide, when we arrived in Bhutan Wangda was there with our tour guide Kezang to personally welcome us. The first half of our trip was the Jomolhari Trek. Kezang kept Wangda abreast daily of how we were faring. When I left my hat behind on day one of the trek, Wangda came to meet us at our camp on day two to bring me my hat!

A trek requires a team, and as Wangda is a tour guide as well, he knows the people who work on his teams and knows also how to put together a good team. We experienced luxury camping with a team who took care of our every need and our gourmet cook Dechen.

The second half of our trip was the cultural tour. Kezang was very knowledgeable in Bhutanese and Buddhist history. As you know, Bhutan requires a fixed fee per person per day. Wangda ensured that the best hotels, best food and best services were provided for that money. Our driver Karma was a master of the tricky narrow roads of Bhutan, always cheerful and always helpful. And in the cities Kezang and Karma were also available in the evening when we wished to experience the nightlife of Bhutan.

We highly recommend Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks. Please see their ad here in Trip Advisor, and when you contact Wangda, tell him hi from Thomas and Regina.Rosenberger@villagaiberg.de. We hope this was not our last trip with his company!

Sisters, Oregon
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1. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

My husband and I traveled to Bhutan in April 2012. Two years later I still remember reading the blog that convinced us to contact Wandga and his company Lakhor, stating that it was the very best tour they'd ever been on. Usually we are independent travelers so this was a first for us to be with a guide and driver for 8 days. And what an experience it was. From the beginning Wandga wanted to know why we wanted to visit Bhutan and what we were interested in. After several exchanges he sent us a customized itinerary that reflected our desire to learn about Bhutan while also being active. Wandga was an incredible teacher with a knack for both story telling and explanation that brought Bhutan's culture and Buddhism to life. He was also spontaneous, noting what we liked and incorporating unexpected and memorable experiences into every day. I will always cherish the time we spent in Bhutan from sitting quietly with monks while they chanted and prayed, stopping at a farmhouse and being invited for a drink, to witnessing the amazing artistry of the many dzongs and temples we visited. We know there are many international travel companies which provide travel to Bhutan, but we can't imagine a more professional, comprehensive service provider than Wandga and his Lakhor tour company. Paula and Jeff Reents Oregon.

Amsterdam, Holland
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for Bhutan
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2. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

Another post advertising a local agency and not giving any real information for travel to Bhutan.

As said before: all local agents give a very personalised trip and adapt the program according to the wishes of their clients, also during the trip. All local drivers are very careful, drive slowly, and clean their car every day.

This is the Bhutanese way of making a holiday unforgettable, and is not confined to one specific agent.

Ettlingen, Germany
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3. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

Travelling to Bhutan is definitely a very special experience and you have to know a couple of things before you book and travel there. First of all, you have only little influence on your cost of travel. You pay 250 USD per person and day. That sounds a lot, but you have to know that basically everything is included in that fee (car, driver, guide, hotel, food, entry fees, hiking tours etc.). You might chose to travel with a bigger group, what reduces your travel cost to 200 USD per day, but you lose your individuality.

As you have little influence on your cost, you have to carefully plan what you would like to do and which travel agency you are dealing with to get the best service.

We chose Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks run by Mr. Wangda Tobgyal and were super satisfied. He helped us plan the tour and gave us important advise on how to best learn and see about Bhutan.

In October 2013 we did a week of culture followed by a week of hiking. The first week we visited Paro, Timphu, Punakha, Trongsa, Jakar, and Phobjeka. Lots of culture, Bhutanes people, traditional Bhutanese festivals, Dzongs and Monastries. Excellent experience to get to know the country. Be careful when you plan your itinerary though, as roads are in tough conditions and windy. The hiking experience in the second week was fascinating (and the advice from Wangda was excellent to do culture first and adapt to the altitude before hiking between 3.000 and 4.500 m). We were 4 friends hiking with 8 horses, a guide, 2 horsemen, a cook, an assistant, 2 sleeping tents, 1 dinner tent, 1 kitchen tent, 1 toilet tent. We looked like a real Himalaya expedition. Still everything included in the 250 USD.

The service we received all along the trip was brilliant. Our guide Kinga and our driver Tsering were very knowledgeable, friendly and they were always willing to do the extra mile or change the program, if we had special wishes. The hiking team was the same and we still ask ourselves how our cook was able to prepare delicious meals with such an astonishing variety 3 times a day.

All in all, we can only recommend the tour we did and we would book with Wangda Tobgyal from Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks again. Thanks for the great experience, the wonderful service and the friendship we received.

Hong Kong, China
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2 posts
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4. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

We visited Bhutan for a week at the end of April/ beginning of May 2014. We wisely chose Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks as our agents and our guide was Wangda. Wangda had been corresponding with us from the very beginning even before we left for Bhutan so he is fully aware of all of the details of our trip including what we are hoping to see and what our interests are. We were impressed from the moment we met Wangda and Kama (our driver) at the airport in Paro. Wangda is extremely knowledgeable about the history of Bhutan and through him, we gained quite good knowledge of Bhutan, its history, the culture and its people. He also tries his best to ensure that we get the best experience we can from the trip. He even anticipated certain of our requests in advance and he even made the arrangements before we even asked him about it. The car we traveled in was very nice and clean. The hotel rooms were excellent and we had some of the best rooms in some of the hotels because of Wangda's thorough arrangement and planning. Wangda is also very friendly and we enjoyed the chats we had with him during some of our longer drives. Overall we had an excellent experience thanks to Wangda and we would not hesitate to recommend Wangda to anyone who is considering traveling to Bhutan.

M F
Hong Kong, China
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5. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

My parents and I traveled to Bhutan for about 8 days (last week of May 2014) and had the immense pleasure of having Wangda as our tour guide. Although he is technically a "tour guide," Wangda is so much more than a tour guide. He is one of the most amazing individuals I've met and extremely knowledgeable about Bhutan, its history and traditions, as well as Mahayana Buddhism. WHAT A TREASURE! Our experience was perfect, and that is of course thanks to Wangda, Karma (our driver and protector!) and Wangda's family (whom we had dinner with one evening). He tailored the trip to our needs and was meticulous about everything -- we got the best rooms in hotels, he took us to places that were not part of the schedule but that he thought we would enjoy based on our preferences (which he mostly identified without us telling him), he he helped us understand the rich traditions that make Bhutan such a fabulous country, he provided different culinary experiences, including an unforgettable traditional meal at a temple, he introduced us to friends and family that he met during the trip, adding a very personal touch to the trip, he also took us to the most amazing sites across the country. Bhutan is a truly wonderful country but we were only able to fully enjoy and understand what the country, its people and its culture stand for thanks to Wangda.

Interesting facts: Wangda was the first Bhutanese to cross the country in a mountain bike. Wangda is also an avid rider (motorcycles). He is also sought out by organizations such as National Geographic for his expertise on Bhutanese culture and traditions. He is also deeply spiritual and was able to share his Buddhist beliefs with us. He has a beautiful family whom he introduced to us on our last night -- he invited us to their beautiful house for a home-made meal (amazing food!). He has also traveled extensively so he understands exactly what a tourist hopes to get out of his or her travels. And the amazing thing is that both my parents and I were able to connect with him, even considering the generational gap (between my parents and I). He is one of those rare people that you will never forget. And he makes one of the most beautiful and special countries in the world even more unforgettable.

Heidelberg, Germany
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6. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

My wife and I already travelled twice to Bhutan and both times we went with Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks. Beyond the excellent service we received during our stay I would like to emphasize, that planning both trips already was a great experience. Wangda Tobygal, who is running the agency, tailored the itinerary to our individual ideas and needs.

On our first trip (in September 2010) we wanted to see festivals and a good combination of cultural sights, wildlife and hiking. The itinerary was Paro, Timphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang and return the same route back with a detour through the Phobjekha valley. This is very much a “standard itinerary”, but there are not many alternatives, if you want to go to Bhumtang. We enjoyed 3 festivals:

• A rehearsal of the dancing ceremonies in Wangdue Phodrang

• The big festival in Bhumtang (2 days)

• A smaller festival in the Gangtey goenpa (Phobjekha valley)

For the Bhumtang festival Wangda organized Bhutanese dresses for us. Although we were skeptical in the beginning, the local people appreciated that very much. In the Gangtey goenpa valley we were nearly the only tourists. This gave us many opportunities to interact with the local people.

During this itinerary we saw a lot of Bhutanese culture and learnt many things about Buddhism. Hiking was built in our trip in different ways: We did a great one-day hiking tour to a monastery in Punakha or by being dropped off the car some miles before our destination town and then hike the rest. The latter alternative gave us an unforgettable hike via the Trongsa Dhzong. And of course we closed our trip with a hike to the tiger’s nest (Taktsang Monastery).

For our second trip in October 2013 we decided to do hiking along the Jumolhari Trek. Our itinerary was Paro, Shana, Soe, Thangthangkha, Jangothang, Lingshi, Shodu, Barshong, Dolam Kencho, Thimphu.

The tour was again perfectly organized. We had excellent guides, a perfect cooking team and good horse men (who treated their horse really well). Late October is typically the best time for hiking, as it is not too cold and the rainy season is already over. Views are normally great and hiking routes are not muddy and easy to walk. However, in 2013 there was a huge cyclone over the golf of Bengal transporting quite some rain and snow even in to the Himalaya. Although Wangda did not join us due to an injury, we were always in contact with him, in order to make the right decision on how to proceed. Due to the weather conditions we only went up to the Nyile La pass at 4,890 m and returned. It would have been too dangerous to go further.

We can really recommend Bhutan Lakhor Tours & Treks, as they made our trip to Bhutan always very special and individual and they gave us always the feeling of being welcome in the country and safe as well.

We can definitely confirm their motto “"Visit as Guest...Return as Friend".

7. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

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adelaide
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8. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

cat your post is meaningless

who are you and your partner - are you humans

which restaurants did you enjoy

how far in advance did you need to book to get the rooms with the best view

what were the views of

how many other rooms did you look at to see what the view was like from them

all the drivers are fantastic - otherwise they wouldn't have a job as a driver

the guides are meant to be your friend so that is nothing special

where did you go and what did you see

if you are in fact the lauded Wangda then you should be able to promote yourself more enthusiasticly

NYC
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9. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

After reading a number of very positive comments about Wangda and his Lakhor Tours & Treks I came across this snide one and want to respond to it. Yes, all tourists to Bhutan pay the same fee and many of us go to the same places but it is the care, attention, warmth and knowledge of Mr. Wangda that sets him apart from others. My family of 4 (husband and two adult children) just spent 6 nights in Bhutan and 6 in Tibet so I can at least compare the two. Because Wangda is such a welcoming person who is sophisticated in his travels and himself is a marathoner, biker and outdoors person as well as a spiritual one well versed in his Buddhist religion, he gave us an incomparable experience in Bhutan that was not the one we had in Tibet where the guide adequately dealt with getting us from point A to point B but with none of the concern that we learn about his culture or that he was there at our service not just a job. And the drivers, while both competent were also different. Wangda's also became part of our group clearly enjoying be part of our experience which is not what we had in Tibet. Wangda was unable to be our guide as his wife had just had a baby but he met us at the airport, welcomed us with the traditional white scarves and a bottle of Bhutanese red wine and joined us for our final dinner in Paro. He was in constant contact with our guide Kinga and unlike in Tibet, had a feedback survey at the end to find out how he might better serve future clients. There is a reason that National Geographic works with him and why all the comments except for this one is a rave. Not all Bhutan travel tours are the same even if they go to the same places. People are the most important ingredient and in this regard Wangda is special and I speak from having visited over 90 countries mostly in non traveled areas.

10. Re: Best Travel Guide in Bhutan, Part Two

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