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Essence of Bhutan and Nepal

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Duration: 9 days, 8 nights
Minimum Age: Min Age : 10+
Max People : 16
Grade: 1 - easy
Max Elevation: 7,375 ft
Accomodation: Hotels

Scarcely an hour apart from each other via one of the most beautiful flights in the world, Nepal and Bhutan seem to share so much from above… the Himalayas, a rich culture, borders with China and India and warm, wonderful people. Travelers to these two countries delight in the stark differences and how richly they complement each other. The ancient town of Kathmandu has many UNESCO protected sights and historical offerings and has plenty to offer a short term visitor. Arriving in Bhutan, visitors find a much slower pace and peaceful environment. Gross National Happiness is practiced in this largely Buddhist country and applied to all governmental decisions. Though small and technically a part of the third world, many would argue that Bhutan is among the most progressive countries in the world. Join these two countries together in one fantastic itinerary for an unforgettable adventure!

Highlights

  • Explore the ancient UNESCO sites of Kathmandu and Bhutan
  • Hike to the cliff hanging Tiger’s Nest in Paro
  • Watch a Hindu cremation along the ghats of Bagmati in Kathmandu
  • Compare the different Himalayan Buddhist style of Nepal and Bhutan
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Trip at a glance

Brief Itinerary

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu. Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu. Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 3 Explore Kathmandu. Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 4 Kathmandu – Paro. Drive to Thimpu. Thimpu 2,334m/7,375ft
Day 5 Explore Thimpu. Thimpu 2,334m/7,375ft
Day 6 Drive to Punakha. Explore Punakha. Punakha 1,242m/4,075ft
Day 7 Drive to Paro. Paro 2,200m/7,218ft
Day 8 Explore Paro. Paro 2,200m/7,218ft
Day 9 Final departure    
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Kathmandu

Arrival in Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel. Cultural Nepali dinner in the evening.

Overnight Hotel Shambala or similar (4 star).

Meals: Dinner

Day 2Exploring Kathmandu

Full day sightseeing of Kathmandu. Visit Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal. Witness a Hindu cremation along the Ghats of the Bagmati river. Circumambulate the Bodnath Stupa along with hundreds of Nepali and Tibetan Buddhists. Marvel at the exquisite architecture of the temples and palaces at Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Climb the 365 steps of the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath Stupa) to erase the sins of a life-time.

Overnight Hotel Shambala or similar (4 star).

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3Exploring Kathmandu

Full day sightseeing of Kathmandu. Visit Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal. Witness a Hindu cremation along the Ghats of the Bagmati river.

Overnight Hotel Shambala or similar (4 star).

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 4Fly to Paro. Drive to Thimpu.

Fly Kathmandu to Paro. As you fly into Bhutan, you will admire the enormity of the Eastern Himalayas including Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchendzonga (the tallest and the third tallest mountains in the world respectively).
You will be met upon arrival in Paro. Drive to Thimphu (one-hour drive). Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital (7,609 feet), is situated in a valley surrounded by terraced rice fields. The main street in Thimphu, Norzim Lam, is lined with shops.

Overnight Namgay Heritage. (3 star)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5Explore Thimpu

Visit Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Drive to Drubthop Lhakhang, the nunnery temple. Learn more about the culture through visits to the Bhutanese Indigenous Hospital and Traditional Painting School. Visit Tashicho Dzong, the administrative headquarters of Bhutan.

Overnight Namgay Heritage (3 star)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6Drive to Punakha. Explore.

Drive to Punakha after breakfast at the hotel. The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochula pass (10,000 feet). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, on the descent to the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).

Before proceeding further to the town of Punakha, hike about 30 minutes to the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. The temple was dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century, known as Drukpa Kuenley, as well as the “Divine madman.” He dramatized Buddhist teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Bold phallus symbols and paintings on the houses and temples are a result of his influence. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility.

After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong (fortress) situated between the two rivers, Pho Chu and Mochu (male and female river). The fortress is now used as the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the spiritual head of Bhutan). The Dzong served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than 300 years. The intricate Buddhist paintings inside the monastery are spectacular.

Overnight Meri Puensum (3 star)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7Drive to Paro

Return drive to Paro.

Overnight Tashi Namgay or similar. (3 star)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8Exploring Paro

Begin the day with breakfast before a short drive to Taktshang Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags. Hike at your own pace for about two to four hours.

Built in 1600s, the monastery clings to the edge of a sheer-rock cliff that plunges 2,952 feet into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months. Packed lunch will be served.

Drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, the fortress of the victorious Drukpas. From Drukgyel Dzong, the Tibet border is only a two-day hike away.

Overnight Tashi Namgay Resort or similar. (3 star)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9Final departure

Final departure. You can fly either to Kathmandu, Bangkok or Delhi for you flight back home.

Meals: Breakfast

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Detailed Cost Information

Per person price (valid till December 31, 2019)
1 person: $  3,200 USD per person (includes single supplement)
2 persons: $ 2,880 USD
3 or more persons: $ 2,560 USD per person
Single Supplement: $ 500 USD

Upgrade to 4/5 star properties available starting for an additional $1,500 per person.

EXTRA:

Bangkok – Kathmandu – Paro – Bangkok @ USD $1,200 per person (economy class)

 

Price Includes

Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information; Meeting and assistance at airport and transfers to hotels; All in-country transportation and sightseeing (entrance fees included); Hotel accommodations on twin sharing basis; Meals as indicated on itinerary; Tours and excursions outlined on itinerary; Bhutan Visa and Tourism Development Fee

Price Excludes

Your international airfare; Nepal visa; Meals not indicated in the itinerary; Tips and gratuities; Travel insurance (recommended); Other expenses of a personal nature (soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, mineral water, laundry, phone calls, internet, battery charging, comfort food etc.)

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Trip Gallery

Options

It is POSSIBLE to customize and extend this trip…

If you wish to extend this trip in Nepal, you can visit Pokhara for fabulous views of the Annapurna range (2 to 3 days) or visit the tropical jungles in Chitwan National Park in Southern Nepal (3 days). Or you may do both. Both Chitwan and Pokhara have airports with daily flights. However, there are flights only in October for the Chitwan to Pokhara sector.

If you wish to extend this trip in Bhutan, you can proceed further east from Punakha to the Bumthang valley. This will add another 4 to 5 days to the trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

How do I get a Bhutan visa?

All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. We will obtain a Bhutan permit for you prior to you trip begin date. You must carry this permit with you in person and present it prior to boarding the plane to Paro (either in Kathmandu, Delhi or Bangkok). You will be required to present it again at the immigration in Paro.

What is the food like on this trip?

While the staple in Nepal is Daal-Bhaat (rice and lentils), Kathmandu offers multiple culinary choices including Continental, Chinese, Thai etc.

Thimpu in Bhutan too offers multiple culinary options. But they may limited in other regions of Bhutan. The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that is not spicy.

Rice forms staple Bhutanese diet. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are consumed most often.

Is there a limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit Bhutan each year?

This is actually a myth. There is NO limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit in a year. Bhutan follows a “High Value, Low Impact ” tourism policy. If you can PAY for the trip, you can go.

Are there ATM's available? Are credit card payments accepted?

Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara in Nepal and Paro and Thimpu in Bhutan do have ATM facilities. But do be careful that the ATM machines may not always be working. So it is a good idea to always some USD/EURO or GBP currency in cash.

All big hotels and shops will accept credit card payments but will also charge a 3-4%