Tibet, Nepal & Bhutan
16 Days/15 Nights
This is an enriching cultural tour that introduces the three Himalayan kingdoms of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan in one single trip! A breathtaking flight over the Himalayas whisks us to the incomparable Tibet. In Lhasa, Tibet’s long-forbidden capital city at 12,000 feet, we’ll tour the major monuments, including the legendary gold-roofed, thousand-room Potala Palace. We’ll walk pilgrim trails, hike up to ancient ridge-top monasteries, meet a colorful array of people, from nomads to lamas, and relish in some of the most majestic mountain scenery on earth! Come take a step back in time and join us on this enriching, non-trekking journey for an eye-opening look into traditions and cultures far removed from those in the West!
Fly to Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu, an unforgettable melting pot of Hindu and Buddhist cultures. In the local markets and bazaars, we’ll rub shoulders with some of Nepal’s very diverse people; explore its wealth of Hindu and Buddhist sites, as well as charming valley towns like Bhaktapur, with its well-preserved 17th-Century architecture. Another spectacular flight brings us to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan where we will feel time has moved back. Explore the pastoral back roads of Bhutan, a true bastion of tradition in an uncertain world, where we find an independent people who have not rejected their ancient spiritual heritage for modern ways. We’ll visit the Shangri-La setting of the Paro Valley, the central Bhutanese town of Punakha, with its huge, spectacular monastery set by the river, and the capital city of Thimphu.
Day 01, Monday: Flight to Lhasa.
Upon arrival at Lhasa airport, you are met by your Tibetan Guide and transferred to your hotel in Lhasa City (1 hr). Check in hotel and take a rest in order to cope with the effects of altitude.
Day 02, Tuesday: At Lhasa (B)
Today, you will visit Drepung Monastery, Jorkhang Temple and the Barkhor Street, all deeply associated with Tibetan people, their religion and culture. Drepung Monastery, situated to the west of Lhasa city, was the largest and the richest of the three major Yellow Sect monasteries of Lhasa. From here, we will drive to the center of Old Lhasa to visit the TheJokhang Temple which was original built in 647 AD by the queen of King SongtsanGampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng, hiring craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal. The Barkhor, which means a pilgrim’s inner circuit, is situated in the heart of Lhasa and circles the Jokhang Temple. As time went on, shops and businesses sprung up in the Barkhor Street and it slowly became a prosperous area.
Day 03, Wednesday: At Lhasa (B)
Today, in the morning we will visit the Potala Palace and in the afternoon, Sera Monastery and Norbulingkha Palace. The world famous Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama is located on "Red Hill", to the west of old Lhasa and it dominates the Lhasa skyline. This architectural wonder of the world used to be the administrative and political center of Tibet and even today, it draws the greatest fascination of the visitors and pilgrims. From here, visit Norbulinka the summer palaces of the Dalai Lamas which is situated 2.5 miles west of Potala Palace. In the afternoon, we visit Sera Monastery, the last of the three principal Yellow Sect monasteries to be built in Lhasa. Sera means”Hailstone” in Tibet, and legend tells that it hailed during the foundation of this famous monastery. We will visit the meditation room, the reception room and the throne room and also have an opportunity to see the debating session of the monks.
Day 04, Thursday: Lhasa-Tsedang (3,500m/11,667ft, 183km/122miles, 4 hrs) (B)
Leave Lhasa early morning for Tsedang- the gateway to Yarlung Valley. About 20 miles before Tsedang, we take a ferry across the Yarlungdzanbo River, followed by a truck ride to the ancient Samye Monastery. Samye is the first Buddhist Monastery of Tibet. We retrace our drive to take the ferry back and continue to Tsedang. Check into the hotel and take a rest.
Day 05, Friday: At Tsedang (B)
ruk Temple and Yambulakhang Palace. Tradruk Temple lies about 4 miles south of central Tsedang and is one of the earliest Buddhist Temples in Tibetan history. It is said that King SongtsanGampo established the temple to suppress the Evil Ogress and allow his kingdom to prosper. Later,the temple became the winter palace of the King and Princess Wencheng in Tsedang. From here, we continue 4 miles farther south to Yambulhakangwhich towers at the summit of Mt. Tashitseri, on the east bank of the Yarlung River. This is the first palace as well as one of the earliest constructions in Tibet. From here we have a bird's eye view of the whole beautiful Yarlung Valley. In the afternoon, we visit the Chongye Valley to see the tombs of ancient Tibetan Kings.
Day 06, Saturday: Flight to Kathmandu (B/D)
Early morning, we are transferred to the airport (58 miles, 2 hrs) for our flight to Kathmandu. This is a one hour long flight that takes you right across the Himalayas, offering spectacular views of vast Tibetan plateau as well majestic Himalayan peaks. People on the right side will get the opportunity to see even Mount Everest if it’s not blanketed by clouds. Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, we are met by our Nepal representative and transferred to our hotel.
After some rest in the hotel, we embark on a city tour. We visit the 2000 years old Swayambhuanath Stupa, venerated by Hindus as well as Buddhists. The stupa is also known as Monkey Temple because of the remarkable monkey population residing in the temple and its vicinity. At the end of the day, we visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, comprising of the former Royal Palace of Nepal and a number of temples with intricate wood carvings. Later, we walk through the narrow streets of Indrachowk and Assan-the traditional business hub of Kathmandu.
Day 07, Sunday: At Kathmandu (B)
Today, we explore more of the wonders of Kathmandu Valley. In the morning, we visit Pashupatinath Temple and Boudhanath Stupa. Pashupatinath, with its triple-roofed temple, cremation ghats, and wandering sadhus (holy men) sits along the banks of sacred Bagnmati River, which eventually flows south to join the mighty Ganges. Pashupatinathis the holiest Hindu Temple of Nepal. Entrance to the inner precincts of the temple is for Hindus only. A short drive from Pashupatinath brings us to Boudhanath, also called Boudha, a 1,400 year old stupa that attracts pilgrims from across Buddhist Asia. Boudha is Nepal’s largest stupa, featuring a huge white dome surrounded by 108 images of Buddha. At Boudha, we see pilgrims circling the stupa to make Kora, turning the stupa’s giant prayer wheels as they go.
In the afternoon, a drive about 9 miles north east brings us to beautiful Bhaktapur City-which is one of the medieval Malla Principalities. It is the best preserved of the three medieval principalities of Kathmandu Valley. We visit the Durbar Square with Golden Gates, Palace of the 55 Windows, Royal Bath and a number of other temples with intricate wood carving and fabulous stone works. Other monuments of Bhaktapur are the 5 storied Nyatapola Temple - the only architecture that remain untouched by the earthquake of 1934, the Dutratraya Temple and the Pujarimath complex with its peacock window in the eastern end of the city. All of the private houses of Bhaktapur have maintained their traditional look. From here, we drive to Nagarkot (9 miles) for overnight stay.
Day 08, Monday: Hike to Nala and drive to Dhulikhel (B)
Nagarkot, situated at 6,560 ftabove sea level is a popular tourist destination and is renowned for Himalaya and Panorama views. Sunrise and Sunset views are something that you wouldn’t like to miss. After breakfast, we start our hike from the Watch Tower situated south of the village. The trail descends steeply to the east towards Banepa and passes through villages and terraced farm lands. A fewkilomerter north of Banepa is the traditional Newari Village of Nala where we meet our transport and drive to Dhulikhel-another beautiful hill resort contending with Nagarkot for views and facilities.
Day 09 Tuesday: To Kathmandu. (B)
We enjoy our breakfast with spectacular views of the Himalayas and prepare to return to Kathmandu. We visit Patan-famed as the City of Arts and Crafts, and which is one of the three medieval Malla Principalities of Nepal. We visit the Malla Palace, rich in architecture with intricate wood carving in the struts, windows and balconies. Other attractions of Pataninclude the Golden Temple, the Kumbheshwar Temple, the Temple of Thousand Buddhas, and several others.
From Patan, we drive about 5 km to Bungamati-a traditional Newari Village, where you will feel that time has stopped. Despite being so close to Kathmandu, Bungamati remains untouched by modernization. We will have the opportunity to meet the farmers, traditional craftsmen and artists in Bungamati Village. Return drive to Kathmandu for overnight stay.
Day 10 Wednesday: At Kathmandu.(B)
Today is a free day to pursue your own interests.
Day 11, Thursday: Flight to Paro, Bhutan (B/L/D)
We are transferred to the airport for a flight toParo, Bhutan. It’s a 50 minute long flight and offers spectacular views of Himalayas. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will get your passport stamped and obtain a tourist visa. Claim your baggage and meet your guide outside the airport. After lunch at a local restaurant, we drive to Thimphu (2hrs)-the capital city of Bhutan.
Day 12, Friday: At Thimphu (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will embark on a tour of Thimphu. We visit Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, JigmeDorjiWangchuk. Many Bhutanese people gather here to pray every day. From here, we drive to visit a nunnery on the outskirts of Thimphu, followed by visit to Takin Zoo. Takin-the legendary animal, is the national animal of Bhutan. We also visit the Textile Museum, the School of Arts and Crafts, the Heritage Museum and TasichoDzong at the end of the day. The massive TasichoDzong is the seat of Bhutan’s administrative and religious center.
Day 13, Saturday Punakha and Wangdiphodrang (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we attend Thimphu’s colorful weekend market where farmers sell their fresh produce. We can also take the opportunity to watch the archery match-the national sports of Bhutan. Late morning, we drive to Punakha and WangduePhodrang( 3hrs).
The road climbs up to Dochula pass (Alt. 3010m), where we stop to get a spectacular panoramic view of the snowcapped mountain range of Bhutan (weather permitting!). Near the pass there are many chortens (pagoda or stupas) and hundreds of prayers flags fluttering about in the wind. After the pass the road drops through changing vegetation into the semitropical lowland of Punakha - Wangdi valley
Punakha and Wangdue valleys are at a lower elevation, at around 1400m, therefore warmer with semi-tropical climate. Here we will see vegetation such as cactuses, bananas and orange groves. In fact, PunakhaDzong used to be the winter capital of Bhutan until 1958. Even today, the head of the Abbot and monks of the central monastic body reside in PunakhaDzong during the winter months and in Thimphu during the summer. After lunch in Punakha, we drive to the village near the junction road between Punakha and Wangdi and take a 20 minute easy, pleasant hike to ChimiLhakhang temple, dedicated to the Saint DrukpaKuenley (1455-1529), also known the “divine madman”.
Overnight hotel Zangdopelri or MeriPhuensum.
Day 14, Sunday Sightseeing of Wangdue Valley and return drive to Paro (B/L/D)
After early morning breakfast, we drive to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Here again there is a very large fortress (Dzong) built in the shape of a sleeping bull. After sightseeing in Wangdiphodrang, we retrace our drive back to the west across Dochula Pass, providing one more opportunity to view the peaks of the eastern Himalayas. At the pass, there is a small restaurant, where we can sip tea and enjoy the views. We descend from the pass in time for lunch at the restaurant in Thimphu and later in the evening, retrace drive to Paro.
Day 15, Monday Paro Sightseeing (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we begin the day’s tour at the National Museum, housed at Ta Dzong-the former Watch Tower. The museum has a wide variety of collections; from fine arts, handcrafts, arms &armors, bamboo crafts, stuffed animals, stamp collections, bronze statues and also a fine chapel. From here, we visit ParoRinpungDzong-which means the fortress on a heap of Jewels. It was built during the reign of Shabdrung in 1646. The Dzong, which houses the Paro Monastic School and office of the civil administration, is rich in architecture. The famous ParoTsechu is held here in the courtyard of this Dzong every year in spring.
We will also visit the ruins of DrugyelDzong from where we can also enjoy the views of Mount Jhumolari. In the afternoon, we hike to the Takstang Monastery (Optional). Taktsang Monastery (meaning Tiger's nest), was tragically damaged in the fire of early 1998. The monastery, which has now been rebuilt, is perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The hike is about 1 & 1/2 hours to the teahouse, from where we may either opt to go further uphill to the monastery for about 1 hour or return with a few snapshots of the monastery. Lunch is served at the tea house with the majestic views of Taktsang above and the Paro valley below. The return trek to the road head is downhill almost all the way and takes about an hour.
Day 16, Tuesday: Departure (B)
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport in time for your international flight.
- Trip Duration: 16 Days
- Difficulty Level: Nepal Classic Circuits
- Accomodation: Hotels and resorts
- Activities: Cultural Touring, Small Hikes, Village Visits, Attend Local Festivals
- Trip Starts In: Lhasa
- Trip Finishes In: Paro
- Best Time for Travel: Throughout the Year
Daily breakfast in hotels while in Nepal and Tibet and full board while in Bhutan
All transfers and sightseeing as on itinerary.
English speaking local guides
Tibet permits and Bhutan visa processing including fees
Sightseeing admission fees
Service on domestic airfare bookings.
Drinks, tip and other expenses of personal nature such as phone, laundry etc.
Extra expenses or loss due to nature and unforeseen events beyond the control of our management.
International airfares and airport taxes.
Great Gelugpa Monasteries of Drepung and Sera
Ancient Jorkhang Temple and Barkhor Street
Samye Monastery, ancient Tradruk Temple and Yambulakhang Palace-the first Tibetan building.
Durbar Squares of Three medieval Malla Principalities of Nepal.
Pashupatinath-the holiest Hindu Temple of Nepal and Boudhanath-the largest Buddhist Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa-the two thousand years old Buddhist shrine.
Mountain views from Nagarkot and Dhulikhel Hill Resorts
At Paro-Ta Dzong, Paro Rinpung Dzong, Takstang Monastery, Drugyel Dzong etc
At Thimphu-Tasicho Dzong, Nunnery, Takin Zoo, Arts and Craft School, Paper factory, textile factory etc.
At Punakha and Wangud Valleys-Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lakhang and Wangdue Dzong
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