Bhutan Feature

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Recommended Tour Operators

There is little that's typical about visiting Bhutan, including the length of stay; depending on your budget and inclination, you can spend as few as four or five days, or several weeks. One common thread of the most enjoyable Bhutan trips is a reliable tour operator.

Booking a private tour may cost you slightly extra than if you join a group tour, depending on the season and where you choose to go, but it is possible to do so if group tour travel is not your preferred way of vacationing. Groups can range from 4 to 16; but caution—the larger the group, the more likely you are to be traveling Bhutan's winding narrow roads in a mini-bus.

Because credit cards are still not widely accepted, you will be asked to remit the cost of your trip up front. Wiring thousands of dollars to a total stranger half a world away is, understandably, unsettling to even a seasoned traveler. Bhutan does have alliances with tour operators in the US, Europe, and Asia to add to the trust factor.

The largest tour operator in Bhutan, Yangphel Tours and Treks has many affiliations with operators outside the country and runs beautiful hotels like the magnificent five-star Zhiwaling in Paro and charming Dewachen in Phobjikha. www.yangphel.com/explore/.

Wind Horse Tours is an established tour company. www.windhorsetours.com.

Bridge to Bhutan is a small operator that opened in 2008, with a focus on sustainability. www.bridgetobhutan.bt/.

For the highest end travel, Amankora offers packages at five lodges across the country. www.amanresorts.com/amankora/home.aspx.

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