13 days

Himalayan Kingdoms

Himalayan Kingdoms

Bhutan’s capital Thimphu

Bhutan’s valleys

Paro's Dzong

Taktsang Monastery - The Tiger's Nest

Tashichho Dzong - Fortress of the Glorious Religion

Bodhnath Stupa of Kathmandu - one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world

Kathmandu’s hidden old town

Trip rating
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    Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among the requirements is that at least 60 percent of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.

     

    Why we love it

    • The opportunity to visit the bustling bazaars, the Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath, and the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple complex, along with the excitining option to take a scenic flight towards Everest is second to none.
    • Flying to Bhadrapur on the Nepali-Indian border and driving down the foothills and tea gardens to the historic and enchanting former British hill station of Darjeeling is spectacular.
    • Taking a short ride on the famous Toy Train and witnessing the majestic sunrise on the peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga.
    • Visiting Sikkim and its capital, Gangtok, where you can explore the famous Rumtek Monastery, the largest in the country, before driving to Kalimpong, previously an important centre for wool trade with Tibet is fascinating.
    • Exploring the Kingdom of Bhutan from Phuntsholing at the border to the capital, Thimphu, where you will wander the monasteries and fortresses of this ancient kingdom.
    • Visiting Taktsang, a small monastery clinging precariously to a cliff edge in Paro, is a rare opportunity. This structure has become a symbol of a beautiful and mysterious kingdom that very few have experienced.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Kathmandu (1360m)

    • Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Our airport representative will be waiting outside the airport terminal a few metres from the exit door. Look out for the Peregrine signboard. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 20 minutes.
    • A briefing given by the group leader is scheduled for the late afternoon.
    • The evening is free, but the tour leader will organise an evening meal (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants. Alternatively, you can enjoy a dinner at the hotel.
    Shangri La Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Kathmandu (1360m)

    • In the morning you will explore Kathmandu on an organised sightseeing tour.
    • You will visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you will observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the Stupa.
    • You will also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here you will see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats.
    • The rest of your afternoon in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration. In the late afternoon your leader will confirm departure information for the next morning.
    • Tonight you will partake in a wonderful traditional Nepalese banquet with traditional dancing.
    Shangri La Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Darjeeling (2134m)

    • The next part of your journey is a short flight to Bhadrapur, in the south-east of Nepal. From here it is a short journey to the Indian border at Kakarvitta, where you will need to complete immigration formalities.
    • Your journey continues with a drive through the Indian plains for an hour before the road starts to climb through the jungles, tea gardens, small towns, and village settlements that line the route to Darjeeling. On the way you may see the famous Darjeeling Toy Train, winding its way up the hill.
    • Darjeeling was once the summer capital of Bengal during the British Raj and is one of the most beautiful of India's hill stations. Commonly called the Queen of the Hills, her crown is the mighty peak of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, which overlooks the town in a most spectacular manner.
    Hotel Himalayan Resort
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Darjeeling (2134m)

    • Today brings with it a full day of sightseeing including an exploration of the Botanical Gardens, famous for its unique collection of Himalayan plants, flowers, and orchids.
    • You will also visit the Tibetan Refugee Centre, established in 1959 for Tibetans fleeing the Chinese invasion. The handicraft centre here has a selection of hand-woven carpets and other items for sale.
    • The Mountaineering Institute is well worth a visit, as it has an interesting museum dedicated to Himalayan climbing.
    • Next, you will have the opportunity to discover Tibetan monasteries, there is also free time to stroll around the town and mingle with the locals.
    Hotel Himalayan Resort
    Breakfast

    Day 5-6 - Gangtok (1600m)

    • You will rise early today for an excursion to Tiger Hill for sunrise. From here there are magnificent views of Kanchenjunga and Everest, as well as hundreds of other Himalayan giants.
    • On the way back to the hotel you will also view Ghoom Monastery (built in 1875) and stop at Batasia Loop where you will take a short ride on the early morning Toy Train.
    • After breakfast, you will head off for the drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Upon arrival, you will have the remainder of the day to spend at your leisure.
    • The following morning you will visit Rumtek Monastery, the largest in Sikkim with an original building that dates back to 1717.
    • In the afternoon, enjoy further sightseeing in Gangtok where you’ll visit the Drodul Chorten, which was built to commemorate the victory of good over evil. Surrounding the chorten are 108 prayer wheels. The Research Institute of Tibetology is renowned worldwide for studies in the Buddhist philosophy and religion. A number of priceless religious paintings (thangkas), statues, and other religious artworks are housed here. You will also visit Enchay Monastery and the orchid sanctuary, which contains over 200 exotic species.
    Hotel Netuk House or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Kalimpong (1250m)

    • After breakfast you will take a scenic drive to Kalimpong, once a famous centre of the eastern and central Tibetan wool trade. The town is situated below the saddle connecting the Deolo and Rinkingpong (Durbin) Hills.
    • Kalimpong has a temperate climate throughout the year and experiences only a light monsoon, which is ideal for the many flower nurseries in the town. Kalimpong was once the headquarters of the Bhutanese Governor, the word kalim means minister, and pong means stronghold.
    Himalayan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Phuntsholing

    • You will start your day by visiting the nearby Zang Dhok Palri Monastery, which is shadowed by the impressive peak of Kanchenjunga.
    • Descending into the plains en route to the Bhutan border at Phuntsholing, you will pass through immigration and check in to the hotel for the night.
    • Bhutan Visas & Additional Accommodation
    • Your your leader will hand you your Bhutan visa today at the border crossing for entry into Bhutan.
    • Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. For this reason we are generally not able to provide additional accommodation outside of our tour dates. We advise all travellers to book flights out of Bhutan that correspond with the finish day of the tour. In the rare case that no flights are available and you need to depart later we are only able to book additional accommodation for you in conjunction with a special individual visa which can add around AUD1000 to the cost of your tour, to be paid at the time of booking.
    • (Driving time: approximately five hours.)
    Himalayan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Thimphu (2736m)

    • The drive from Phuntsholing to Thimphu takes about five hours, with a number of stops along the way to take in various picturesque areas.
    • After settling in at the hotel, you can venture to the local market or take a leisurely stroll around town to immerse yourself in the immense beauty of this very special place. (Driving time: approximately five hours.)
    Riverview Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Thimphu (2736m)

    • After breakfast you will have the opportunity to view Tashicho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), the administrative and religious centre of Bhutan, located on the right bank of Thimphu Chu. The original building dates back to 1216, the present Dzong on the other hand, was built by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal in 1641.
    • You will then drive to the Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in memory of King Jigmi Dorjee Wangchuk. Other sights in the capital include the Painting School, an institution where children receive formal education in the art of traditional painting, sculpture and woodcarving. You may also visit Drubthob Gompa Nunnery, which houses about 40 nuns and also provides shelter for aging women and orphaned girls. Thimphu has an excellent range of handicrafts, most notably woven cloth, wooden masks, thangkas, silverware, jewellery, and bamboo craft that come from all over Bhutan.
    Riverview Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11-12 - Paro (2280m)

    • You will awake and embark upon an early morning drive from Thimphu for an excursion to the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) - a small monastery clinging to a rock cliff 900 metres above the valley floor. A few years ago the monastery was seriously damaged by fire but has since been rebuilt; unfortunately tourists are no longer permitted to enter the interior of the monastery. Legend has it that the great guru, Padmasambhawa, flew here from Tibet on the back of a tigress to subdue the demons of Paro Valley.
    • During your stay in Paro you will also visit Drukgyal Dzong, a famous 17th century fortress that repelled many Tibetan invasions.
    • Time permitting, you may also visit Ta Dzong, a circular fortress built in the mid 17th century and now converted into the National Museum. It houses an excellent collection of Bhutanese antiquities. (Driving time: approximately two hours.)
    Hotel Janka or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13 - Paro (2280m)

    • After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight out, bringing to an end to this exciting journey exploring the highlights of the Himalaya Region. (Please note that your departure flight is not included as part of the trip and must be booked separately.)
    Hotel Janka or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur.
    • The services of expert English-speaking local tour leaders throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Authentic accommodation includes: 12 nights comfortable hotels
    • Visa for Bhutan (obtained by our local partners and held by the tour leader).
    • Meals 12 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners
    • Kathmandu orientation walking tour including Bodhnath Stupa and the holy Bagmati River
    • Darjeeling sightseeing, including the Botanical Gardens, Tibetan Refugee Centre and Mountaineering Institute.
    • Gangtok including Drodul Chorten, Research Institute of Tibetology and orchid sanctuary.
    • Thimphu including Tashicho Dzong, Painting School and Memorial Chorten; and Paro including Drukgyal Dzong.
    • Visits to monasteries including Ghoom Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, Enchay Monastery, Zangdopheir Monastery and Taktsang (Tiger's Nest).
    • Excursion to Tiger Hill for sunrise views of Kanchenjunga and Everest.
    • Exploration of Paro Valley.
    • Arrival and departure airport transfers.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas for Nepal and India
    • Insurance
    • Additional snacks and drinks
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Camera fees
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Tips and items of a personal nature

    Safety Information

    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

    Festivals: Holi and Diwali
    Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival generally held in March each year, can at times be dangerous - a lot of locals participate in consumption of intoxicating substances. The day has been associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader/guide will be advising you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or our group leader/guide in high risk situation.

    Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.

    Petty theft and personal safety
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    Traffic and driving on the other side of the road
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PHHK
Group size 6 - 16
Start City: Kathmandu, Nepal
End City: Paro, Bhutan

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