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Crystal Mountain Treks combines the energy of three of the world’s most intriguing regions in one extraordinary adventure.
The introduction to China begins in Beijing with visits to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After wandering the magnificent Great Wall, we’ll eat a traditional Chinese lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy an evening acrobat show.
Fly to Tibet with the sense of the deep connection to Buddhism interwoven throughout daily life in this vast expanse of land. The spirit of the Tibetan people resounds at the Forbidden City of Lhasa and in the Potala Palace, the ancient palace of the Dalai Lamas.
Fly to the chaotic capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, a melting pot of various ethnic and religious groups. The unique blend of Hinduism and Buddhism is apparent in the temples and stupas and in the daily lives of the Nepali people.
Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Glimpse into the heart of the tranquil kingdom of Bhutan with an experience of the lifestyle that is famously measured as “Gross National Happiness.” Hike to the legendary Taktshang Monastery, also called Tiger’s Nest, on a trail through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft.|
|Day 2 – 3||Sightseeing in Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft.|
|Day 4||Fly to Lhasa (Tibet)||Lhasa||3,656m/11,975ft.|
|Day 5 – 7||Sightseeing in Lhasa||Lhasa||3,656m/11,975ft.|
|Day 8||Fly to Kathmandu (Nepal)||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft.|
|Day 9 -10||Sightseeing in Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft.|
|Day 11||Fly to Paro (Bhutan)||Paro||2,200m/7,475ft.|
|Day 12||Hike to Tiger’s Nest||Paro||2,200m/7,475ft.|
|Day 13||Drive to Thimpu||Thimpu||2,334m/7,700ft.|
|Day 14||Drive to Punakha||Punakha||1,310m/4,430ft.|
|Day 15||Return to Paro||Paro||2,200m/7,475ft.|
|Day 16||Final departure|
You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. In the early evening, we will gather for a trip briefing where we will also get to know each other. Welcome dinner is a 15-minute walk-away in the tourist hub of Thamel.
Hotel Tibet or similar. (Dinner).
Full day exploration of the sights, sounds and pleasant chaos that is Kathmandu. You will be accompanied by our in-house city guide. Visit Bodhnath – the Stupa of a Million Dewdrops. Bodhnath is a sacred destination for Buddhists from all over the world. You will find devotees circumambulating this sacred monument during any time of the day. Step in with the devotees, spin the prayer wheels along the stupa walls, and immerse yourself in the experience of Bodhnath.
Visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, the God of Destruction. The main temple has a two-tiered golden roof and an ornate silver door. However, visitors cannot enter the main temple sanctum and must view it from across the sacred Bagmati River.
Then drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum which houses ancient Nepali artifacts, followed by a tour of Patan Durbar (Palace) Square. Patan is also known as Lalitpur, the City of Arts. Patan boasts of the most craftsmen in Nepal, and there are numerous stores selling metal artwork in the city. The medieval architecture of Patan is the finest amongst the ancient kingdoms in Kathmandu Valley with stunning architectural designs of palaces and temples including the Krishna Mandir. Return to hotel. Free evening to prepare for your trek.
Hotel Tibet or similar. (Breakfast and Lunch)
Fly to Lhasa. Free to relax, acclimatize or explore the Barkhor Square. (Breakfast)
Visit Potala Palace, the palace of the Dalai Lamas – the spiritual and administrative leaders of Tibet – for many centuries. There are a thousand rooms in this tremendous building, which is a prominent landmark. Visit the Sera Monastery in the afternoon and watch monks hone their debating skills in the courtyard. (Breakfast and Lunch)
Fly over the Himalayas to Kathmandu. You will fly past Everest, Lhotse and Makalu – all over 8,000 m. Day free in Kathmandu. Dinner at a Typical Nepali restaurant. (Breakfast and Dinner)
Full day of sightseeing in Kathmandu. In the morning, visit Bodhanath, the Stupa of a Million dew drops, to watch monks and devotees circumambulate the largest stupa in the world. Then visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum storing ancient Nepali artifacts, followed by a tour of Patan Durbar Square. Drive back to Kathmandu. (Breakfast and Lunch)
Full day of Sightseeing in Kathmandu: visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. Then drive to Bhaktapur, the city of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (Breakfast and Lunch)
Fly Kathmandu to Paro. Drive to nearby Ta-Dzong, where you’ll be introduced to Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum which houses art, handicrafts, costumes and ancient weapons displays. Stroll the streets of Paro in the evening. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)
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 at Hotel. (All meals)
Depart Paro for Thimphu (two-hour drive) after breakfast. 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. 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. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)
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 at hotel. (All meals)
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast before making the return drive to the journey’s beginning in Paro (approximately five hours). Overnight at hotel. (All meals)
Transfer to airport for flight to Bangkok. (Breakfast)
Per person price valid till Dec 31, 2022
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 | Tibet Permit | Airfare: Kathmandu to Lhasa to Kathmandu | Airfare: Kathmandu to Paro | Airfare: Paro to Bangkok
Your international airfare | Nepal and China visas | 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.) | Meals not indicated in the itinerary | Tips and gratuities | Travel insurance (Required) | Other expenses of a personal nature (soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, mineral water, laundry, phone calls, internet, battery charging, comfort food etc.)
YES, it is possible to customize this program. You may enter Tibet from Beijing, China. You may spend some days sightseeing in Beijing. You may also spend a few more days in Tibet visiting Shigatse and Gyantse. You may also visit other areas in Nepal including Pokhara and/or Chitwan. So there are quite a few options. Please contact us for details. We would be happy to assist you.
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a licensed 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.
All International tourists wishing to enter Tibet require a Tibet permit which must be pre-arranged through a licensed Tibetan Tour Operator. If you are entering Tibet via China, you would also need a Chinese visa prior to your travel to China through the Chinese consulate in your country. We will obtain a Tibet permit for you prior to your trip begin date.
You can get a Nepal visa either on arrival in Kathmandu at the airport or prior to arrival by sending an application to the Nepali consulate in your country. Do read our blog on how to obtain a visa at the Kathmandu airport.
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.
Lhasa too offers multiple culinary options.
Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara in Nepal and Paro and Thimpu in Bhutan have ATM facilities. Similar Lhasa too has many ATM machines. 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%
Yes, you should take precautions for altitude sickness. Almost everyone will feel a small head-ache upon landing in Lhasa. So you must take it easy and not over-exert yourself on the first day. You may also take diamox (acetazolamide) 48 hours prior to landing in Lhasa. Consult with your doctor.
Yes, you can. In most of the places. But some smaller vendors may not accept foreign cash. And you would get a better exchange rate at the bank.
According to the CDC, NO vaccination is required. But there are some that are recommended.
The weather pattern of Bhutan and Nepal is quite similar. However, the altitude of Lhasa in Tibet is significantly higher. And it lies in a rain shadow of the Himalayas. Also, it is important to take into account socio-political issues in Tibet. Avoid March (March 10 is Tibet uprising day) and the first week of October is the Chinese National Day. You would have to obtain your Chinese visa and Tibet permit much earlier as all Government offices close during the first week of October. So keeping these issues in mind the best times to visit these three countries are April, May, June, September, October and early November.
We had a wonderful time. Pam and Jwalant did a wonderful job and everything turned out perfectly… All the hotels were fine (plenty of heat and hot water in ALL LOL). I think the highlight of our trip was the Tigers Nest !! Just loved seeing it and in Tibet the Potala Palace.
It was a great experience to stay with Jwalant and his family. It was great to meet him and loved his Mom and Dad !! You and Jwalant are great about following up with ALL my questions in a timely manner and I would and will recommend Grand Asian Journeys to any of my friends !! We are hoping to do Vietnam and Cambodia next but not sure when yet but WILL let you know once we decide !! The pre-trip information you gave was EXTREMELY helpful !
Ron and I want to thank you and Jwalant to all you did in planning this wonderful trip. It will forever stand as one of the most interesting trips we have taken. Will be in touch about further travel plans as we decide.
Thanks to you and Jwalant again!
-Linda Roberts., CO: Himalayan Trilogy – October 2015