This two-country tour of Nepal and Bhutan offers you an exciting mixture of culture and nature; you will visit bustling Kathmandu, watch rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park and ascend the breathtaking Tiger’s Nest and much more. This round trip is the answer for everyone who always yearned to explore the Bhutan kingdom and also get a taste of fabulous Nepal. From vibrant Kathmandu your trip will take you to the Land of the Thunder Dragon. You will hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest and admire the specific architectural beauty of monastic fortresses, also called dzongs. In Nepal you will get the opportunity to see one-horned rhinos and other wildlife in Chitwan National Park, the perfect way to bring a thrilling tip to a relaxing end.
In Bhutan the Thimphu and Paro Festivals are the two celebrations most popular with both the local people and visitors alike. The reason is two-fold; they take place during autumn and spring respectively, the two best seasons weather-wise for a visit to the kingdom. Secondly, they are held a mere hour’s drive from the airport, in the western region of Bhutan, making them easily accessible. This means visitors can easily attend a festival during a four-day visit.
Paro Tshechu, Paro, Mar 20, 2024 – Mar 24, 2024
Talo Tshechu, Punakha, Mar 17, 2024 – Mar 19, 2024
If perchance you are traveling in the kingdom but cannot attand the festival, you still have a good opportunity to see a lot of the preparations as they start weeks prior to the actual celebrations. At the Dzong you can watch the monks preparing all the colorful materials they will need, so there are plenty of wonderful photo opportunity. The monks and lay people also start practicing their dances so you will be able to strike up conversations with the dancers hiding behind the elaborate masks, and learn more about the meaning and origin of these important celebrations on the Bhutan religious and cultural calendar.
If you are in time for one of the festivals, we will spend a full day watching and enjoying it. Lay dancers and monks in vibrant colored silk and brocade costumes with beautifully painted masks of all colors re-enact the lay and religious histories of the kingdom of Bhutan through dance movements and music. Prayer meetings, rituals and dances continue for a number of days, attended by hordes of villagers from all around the city. The atmosphere is lively and festive as people meet up with old friends and enjoy the sights. Every Bhutanese comes proudly dressed in his/her very best national finery and magnificent silks in all the colors of the rainbow are on display, one of the highlights of the festival. Thimphu and Paro reign as Bhutan’s most popular festivals, and although the celebration in Decehenphu is also well attended, it is smaller in scale.
Please note: If you would like to visit only Bhutan, you need to arrive either in Kathmandu, Nepal or New Delhi, India. Please contact us for a tailor-made itinerary.
Kathmandu is Nepal’s colorful capital city, constantly buzzing and pleasantly chaotic. Narrow alleys, and secreted temples and shrines hide hundreds of century’s history while the mighty Himalayan mountains are ever watchful and present in the distance.
On arrival, you will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel half an hour’s drive away. This transfer is included in the cost of the tour.
Since arrival times differ, we have not planned any specific activities for this day and you are free to spend it as you wish. Maybe you would like to take the easy ten-minute walk to the heart of town, take a look around and later try some of the tasty Nepalese traditional cuisine. The downtown Thamel area has a variety of good restaurants and we suggest you choose one with a rooftop terrace from where you can observe the goings on in the streets and squares below. The Nepalese dumplings, for instance are a very good initiation into the local food. Here they are called momos and consists of steamed vegetables wrapped in a flour based dough. You might next like to try dal bhat, the delicious lentil soup served with curried vegetables and rice. The Kathmandu cuisine is an interesting mixture with influences from many regions with a profusion of flavors and colors.
Today a local guide is taking you on an exciting sightseeing tour of the city, starting with the historic Durbar Square where you will see temples, palaces and courtyards erected during three hundred years of Malla, Rana and Shah dynasties. You will also pay a visit to the Asan ceremonial market square, as well as the residence of the living goddess, the Kumari Devi worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists alike.
Later in the day we plan a visit to maybe the most sacred Shiva temple in the world, namely the Pashupatinath Temple located on the Bagmati river banks. This is also Nepal’s holiest and oldest Hindu shrine. The Bagmati River is revered as it eventually meets up with the holy Ganges and its ghats are crowded with pilgrims coming to bathe in the river’s waters. The ghats, the steps which lead down to the water, are also an important cremation site for commoners and royals who have their ashes scattered on the water that later joins the holy Ganges. Please note that cremations may be underway during our visit as they take place in the open air next to the river.
We return to the city to admire the highest stupa in the entire Kathmandu Valley, the 131 ft./40 m high Boudhanath Stupa. The massive mandala of this marvelous temple makes it one of the largest spherical stupas on the globe and definitely the largest in Nepal. The all-seeing, ever-present eyes of the Buddha painted on the spire look down on monks and pilgrims while hundreds of prayer flags move in the breeze.
Your driver will take you to the airport in Kathmandu for your Drukair flight to Paro. If visibility is good, you will be happy to see the wonderful Himalayan Mountains from the plane, just the thing to put you in the right mood for what is to come.
The flight leaves at around 9:10 a.m. and arrives in Paro at 10:30 a.m. The cost is around 285 USD per person.
While traveling in Bhutan you will have your own guide and a driver, all included in your tour cost. Your overnight stays, excursions and three meals a day are also included.
After all entry formalities have been dealt with, you are ready to start to discover what Bhutan has in store for you. We take to the road for the 1.5-hour drive from the airport in Paro to Thimphu, capital city of this Himalayan kingdom.
Once in Thimphu, we will start a full day tour of the city to see the main attractions. First on the itinerary is the Tashichho Dzong, a 17th century monastic fort also referred to as the Fortress of the Glorious Religion. This magnificent complex is Bhutan’s religious center and has been the seat of government ever since the 1960’s. We continue to the Takin Zoo to see the kingdom’s national animal, a gnu goat or takin up close, before either watching a workshop on thangka painting or otherwise witness the process of paper making at a factory. If you are interested, and we are sure you will be, we can stroll through the market of traditional handicrafts for a few memorable souvenirs to take back home. In Bhutan all the city buildings must constructed in the traditional design and decorated in religious symbols and Buddhist motifs. We will also pay a visit to the King Jigme Dorji Wanhchuk Memorial, built in Tibetan style, in honor of Bhutan’s 3rd king. The chorten sits in the heart of the city and is the focus of the local people’s daily worship.
Depending on the time, we will end the day with a stroll through the buzzing streets of Thimphu, emerge ourselves in the vibrant ambience of this unique capital, so singular in fact, that there is not one single traffic light in sight.
Tip: Thimphu’s weekend markets are worthwhile; this is when traders from all around the region gather to sell their goods.
Your hotel in Thimphu is centrally located so you can easily strol to the huge archery stadium and main street.
In the morning your guide and driver will meet you for the two to three-hour drive on pretty curving roads to Punakha, our next destination.
The Black Mountain roads lead through the scenic landscapes up to Dochula Pass at 10,499 ft./3,200 m above sea level. It is a beautiful journey past expansive terraced rice fields and small scattered villages. As we get nearer the summit of the pass, more and more multi-coloured prayer flags grace the sides of the road. If the day is clear, this serpentine highway surprises with spectacular views of the Himalayan Mountain Range as well as Bhutan’s highest peak, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, Gangkhar Punsum towering 24, 741 ft./7,541 m up into the heavens.
As we descend into the Punakha Valley on the other side of the pass, there is a change in scenery. Oak and pine forests, cypresses, alders and fields of rhododendrons are replaced by more tropical vegetation. The milder climate of the valley floor allows for cacti, bamboo and orange groves to thrive here. This is fertile farmland, fed by the Mochu and Phochu Rivers that flow through the valley.
We make a stop at the so-called ‘Mad Monk Monastery’, Chimi Lhakhang. The lama Drukpa Kenley was a controversial figure who allegedly managed to subdue the Dochu La demoness. Highly revered, his teachings razed many an eyebrow amongst the more conventional and traditional Buddhists. He would often go to outrageous excesses in order to deliver his messages. The yogi was of the opinion that the strict doctrines of the time isolated the monks from the ordinary people. He intended to overcome these rigid barriers by calculated provocations, by using ‘…fair and foul words for mantras’, to quota him directly.
You are booked in a traditional style hotel some 3 mi./5 km from the city center. Lunch is an introduction to the kingdoms national dish called Ema datse, a hearty soup made with chilli peppers and cheese. Suitably restored, we embark on a two-hour round trip hike to the Khamsum Yulley Chorten, walking past houses and farmlands. At one of the farmsteads we will stop for some yak butter tea, talk to the people and see what life on a traditional Bhutanese farm is really like.
We have breakfast in our hotel and then continue to explore the beautiful Punakha Valley. Water from the glaciers flow down into the valley, making the soil moist and fertile, conditions which suit the cultivation of large fields of rice. One of the most uncommon kinds of rice on earth, red rice is also grown here. It is rare since only one crop is sown and harvested per year. If you would like to find out more, your guide can accompany you to a rice field where the farmer can tell you more about this labor intensive process. You will learn that as rice plants grow older, they need less water and so are moved to higher terraces with less water.
Undeniably one of the largest and most striking monastic forts in the kingdom of Bhutan is the Punakhu Dzong, and this is where we head next. Located on a sandbank between two meeting rivers, is was the former seat of Bhutan’s government. Today however, the 17th century construction serves as winter residence for the chief abbot of the kingdom, his Holiness the Je Khenpo and his entourage. We come face to face with golden spires, numerous courtyards, tiered walls, a main temple with treasures inside, and the utse, all of which withstood floods, earthquakes and fires through its long history. Maybe your arrival coincides with a prayer meeting and you are lucky to observe the monks deep in prayer in the flickering light of candles with the tinkle of bells and beating of drums as background sounds that seems to engulf the whole space.
After this uplifting spiritual experience we drive back across the Dochula Pass to Paro, a four-hour journey.
Spreading out along the Paro Chhu River, the city of Paro has a beautiful location surrounded by terraced fields and forested valleys, the perfect setting for the numerous large ancient dzongs which form the region’s military, religious and political centers.
Your overnight stay in Paro is in a traditional stone cottage, decorated with beautiful carvings and the typical bright colors of Bhutan.
Depending on the time, we may make a short orientation tour through Paro and pay a visit to the Rimpung Dzong, a high point in Bhutanese architecture.
This morning you will see one of the most impressive sights in the world when we follow the trail to the highly revered Taktsang Monastery sitting precariously on a steep cliff face 2,953 ft./900m from the valley floor. Popularly called the Tiger’s Nest, the story goes that the founder of the Drukpa Order and of Buddhism in Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche was transported on a flying tiger to a cave at this location. Here he spent the next few months in meditation before he established the famous monastery. The 1.9 mi./3 km hike is steep and quite demanding, and depending on your level of fitness and pace, the round trip will take between four and five hours to complete. Stone steps make up most of the way and you will be walking through pine and oak forests, eventually reaching a ridge where you will be delighted with wonderful views of your surroundings and the monastery.
We will spend the afternoon visiting this pretty town’s other attractions. The Paro Dzong is a huge monastic fort with numerous courtyards and temples. Above the dzong stands the historic watch tower which serves as the National Museum. Here you will find a wealth of information on the history and life in Bhutan, Land of the Dragon. Take some time to enjoy the fantastic views of the Paro Valley.
On our way back we stop at the Kyichu Lhakhang Temple, one of the kingdom’s oldest temples said to date back to the 7th century. It was erected by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan king as part of a series of more than 100 temples constructed to halt a giant female ochre from preventing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan and Tibet. Apparently this temple secures the left foot of the humongous demoness.
Today is a day filled with happy crowds, masked dances, music and other festivities. We will join the locals and thousands of people from all over the kingdom to celebrate the Paro Festival.
We are up before the crack of dawn to witness the unfolding of the huge thangka painting for display on the monastery walls. This occurs only once every year on the final day of the festival and allegedly the sins of those who witness it, will be cleansed. It is a very special and unique occasion and definitely worth such an early start.
When the festival finally winds down, you are free to relax and spend the rest of the day as you please.
After a week filled with thrilling experiences of all kinds, you will take a flight back to Kathmandu in Nepal. On arrival in the capital, your driver will transport you to Chitwan.
The flight leaves at around 7:10 a.m. and arrives in Kathmandu at 8:10 a.m. The cost is around 270 USD per person.
The drive to the national park lasts around four hours and follows the mountains east. Formerly the hunting grounds of the royals, Chitwan was declared a conservation area and nature reserve in 1973. Thick forests and jungle make up large parts of the park where we will spend the next two nights. Optional activities are a ride on an ox cart to see Tharu Village or a dance show in the evening. Both of these will add to your knowledge and understanding of the fascinating details of tribal village life.
Often nature is at its most beautiful at sunrise, and Chitwan Park is no different. A thin mist of mystery and hidden secrets moves across the plains while sunlight slowly starts to illuminate the villages. Around the waterways and rivers animal and human life begin to stir, and working elephants slowly make their way across the shallow water. Fishermen in canoes cast their lines and an old ferry crosses the river.
This morning you will go on a Jeep safari through the park. The reserve covers around 356 square mi./923 square km of the low lands of southern Nepal, the terai. On both the plains and in the forested areas, the opportunity of seeing wildlife is excellent and you can expect to spot sambar, the one-horned rhino of India, chital deer, Rhesus monkeys and languor, guar, jackal, crocodiles and mongoose. With a little luck, one of the rarer animals will show itself, maybe a tiger, leopard, sloth beer, leopard cat or Indian bison. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise with more than 500 species recorded in the area.
In the afternoon your guide will take you for a trip in a dugout canoe. Floating down the Rapti River for a relaxing half hour you will pass crocodiles sunning themselves on the river shore. Afterwards the jungle tour continues on foot and you follow narrow nature trails surrounded by forest. Although the thought of rhinos, tigers and leopards roaming here may scare most people, you need not be alarmed as you will be accompanied by a very knowledgeable guide who knows how to avoid danger and dangerous animals in this specific habitat.
Returning to the lodge, you have the remainder of the day to just relax and enjoy the sounds of nature, or to look around on your own.
Back in Kathmandu after a road trip with your competent driver, you will book into the same hotel you previously stayed in.
Today you can discover more of the treasures of the city and its surroundings unescorted. Here you can pick and choose; Bhaktapur is a Newari town which has been preserved almost intact. It is located in the Kathmandu Valley towards the eastern corner. The City of the Devotees, as it is also known, is a medieval town where time seems to have come to a halt. In its hay day it stood central on the prosperous India, China and Tibet trade routes. The ancient city center is filled with palaces, monasteries and temples, ready to rope you into its beguiling cultural and historical embrace. Watch potters shaping lumps of clay on their traditional wheels, and jewellers and other artisans at work in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pick up a few bargains while you take your time to wander through interesting stalls and shops.
Alternatively, take a trip to the charming so-called ‘Monkey Temple’ where the omniscient, all seeing eyes of the Buddha keep watch over the Kathmandu Valley from the hilltop Swayambunath Temple. Watch out for the brazen monkeys living in the temple’s ancient walls, they will happily relieve you of food, your camera, bag or other personal items.
If you feel like relaxing and let all the wonderful experiences of your Bhutan and Nepal Tour properly sink in, make your way to a rooftop restaurant or café on Durbar Square, order a coffee, sit back and just enjoy the comings and goings of the people down below. Do not forget to lift up your eyes every now and then for the fabulous view of the serene mountain landscape outside the city.
After a last breakfast at the hotel your tour comes to an end and the driver will take you to the airport in time to catch your home bound flight. Please send us an email, relating your experiences and travel stories, we would love to hear from you.
• Price based on two persons in a double room
• Prices are in USD Excluding international flights
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Thanks for the tour arrangement and everything is fine, except some of the areas. I understand is not easy coordination works sometimes. Overall is good.
**This review was written in German and has been translated using free translating software
We experienced a wonderful trip that impressed us very much. Our program was very varied and ran without any problems.
Your commitment and your availability around the clock, with wishes or changes during the trip, were great and certainly not self-evident. For this a very big thank you to you!
Visiting the Taj Mahal early in the morning to avoid the large crowds was a very good recommendation. The silence and the atmosphere at sunrise are simply fascinating.
We are very grateful for the great experiences and the unforgettable impressions we were able to collect.
We will be very happy to recommend you.
Dear Mr. Vikas, we had a hitch-free travel experience, full of positive impressions. As a matter of fact, we recommend this trip to everyone strongly, and we will never forget the organizers for a real professional job. Vacation India is highly recommended from us.
We spent 2-days in New Delhi and Agra. We later move from Delhi to Chennai. Going to our plan, we intended making a roundtrip all through Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tanjore and Trichy, Chettinad, Thekkady, Madurai, Munnar, Backwaters using a houseboat. Also, Mararikulam Beach to Kochi, and from there we had a return flight to Singapore.
As the journey progressed, we experienced India and its rich culture in an excitingly different way. We enriched our travel experience by learning about the people of India from their birth times to death days. It did not end there; the trip was made more fun-filled with houseboat experience and night in Backwaters. Also, we visited tea plantations in the mountains, botanical garden and so much more.
The rainy weather in Thekkady (Periyar Tiger Reserve) made us have a change of plan—we canceled our trip on a bamboo raft. Though the journey was worth it in every regard; we enjoyed our trekking tour in the Reserve. But we ran out of luck as we couldn’t set our eyes on the flying squirrel due to the heavy downpour. Some of the places of interest that made our trip worthwhile are the Taj Mahal, National Museum, the Rail Museum in New Delhi and the Mosque in Old Delhi.
We can’t simply exhaust all here, but we are convinced that our fond memories will always be with us all along.
**This review was written in Spanish and has been translated using using Google Translator
Actually The service turned into friendliness and was excellent. He knew the places perfectly and I had a very good explanation of everything. Vipul Gupta is an excellent guide.
**This review was written in Spanish and has been translated using using Google Translator
He was traveling to Delhi for work and only had 3 days available that he wanted to make the most of. I contacted vacationindia.com and quickly Laura contacted me and she understood my idea very well. With the little time she had and having visited India 10 years ago, Laura proposed a brief but intense experience tour of Agra and Jaipur. I didn’t want to miss the Taj Mahal, it’s a place you can always come back to. June may not be the best time due to the heat, but on the contrary, it is very calm in terms of tourism and the Taj Mahal was almost for me and some Indian travelers. I loved the proposal of having dinner with a local family, I was able to see how some typical dishes are prepared, all a science and an art! The most important lesson is to be generous with spices, and the concept of too much and too little is very relative. I take with me this little time so unique and familiar.
The traffic is still chaotic but the carts have improved a lot and the trip to Jaipur was very nice and safe with my driver Madam. In Jaipur my guide Manu was waiting for me, with a flower necklace and a smile that did not fade for two days. Manu is charming, he made me feel very comfortable and relaxed and he speaks good Spanish. As I had little time, I selected with Manu the visits that most interested me, I wanted to see the observatory, and Manu knew how to explain the instruments to me wonderfully and even he made me able to calculate the time with exact precision using the huge sundial!
We rode a rickshaw through the old part and as I wanted to get out of the city, we went up to Nagarah Fort to see the sunset over Jaipur.
Jaipur is known for its textile manufacturing and its semi-precious stones and gems, I wanted to know a little more but I had a bad memory of my first time in India when the guides took me to emporiums and tourist shops and I felt pressured to buy. I mentioned this to Manu and he suggested that I visit an area of artisans, where I could see how local textiles and gem shops work. I enjoyed the time without pressure and I couldn’t resist buying a silk pashmina, but nothing else and everyone was so happy.
The next day I ventured out on a bike tour of the city, and it was a sensational experience! I was a bit scared of dealing with the crazy traffic but Hisha made it easy. We leave very early, at 6am when the city has not yet woken up, we stop at a stall to have a lassi, a popular local drink made from yogurt, which the owner family prepares every day in a traditional way since 1944. Soon the More early risers of Jaipuree were approaching for their lassi to start the day. We enter the alleys of the old city, now empty and impassable after 11am when the shops overflow their premises and fill the streets with thousands of stalls. Jaipur was the first planned city in India, and it was very interesting to understand how the city was created, with its havelis, mansions that served as workshops, shops and dwellings, and how it became prosperous, attracting artisans, scholars and merchants from all over the world. India.
We walked through the bustling local market, an explosion of colors and fragrances, flowers, fruits, vegetables, aromatic herbs… we approached a Hindi temple and I mixed with the crowd that begins their day with songs, offerings and petitions to their gods. Quite a show!
Visiting the Amber Fort with my guide was great, because not only did I marvel at the architecture, decorative arts, or the ingenuity of the solutions, but I traveled back in time understanding what life in the palace was like in its origin.
Leaving Jaipur and on the way to Delhi, I was able to visit the village of Samode, rural and quiet. I keep the chai that I shared on the street with some local farmers while they told me how their harvest was going while they waited for the rains.
It has been a very short trip, although so full of experiences that it seems longer. Thanks to vacationindia for making it possible, I am left wanting more so my next destination will be India again, now the South!
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Keywords: Best of Kathmandu and Bhutan including Bhutan Festivals
New Delhi – flight to Bagdogra – drive to Darjeeling – Gangtok (Sikkim) – Pelling – Gorumara National Park – Thimphu (via Phuentsholing), capital of Bhutan – via Dochula Pass to Punakha – Paro (Tiger’s Nest) – flight to Kolkata (Calcutta) or New Delhi
Thimphu – Punakha – Paro (Tiger’s Nest)
Kathmandu ➜ Flight to Lukla ➜ Hike to Phakding ➜ Dhudh Kosi (Sherpa Villages, Namche Bazaar) ➜ Khumjung (Kunde to Acclimatize) ➜ Thyangboche Monastery ➜ Kyanjuma ➜ Khumbu Valley ➜ Imja Valley ➜ Dingboche ➜ Lobuche ➜ Everest Base Camp (Gorak Shep, Kala Pattar, Climb Down to Pheriche) ➜ Kathmandu
Kathmandu (Thamel Area, Leisure Time) ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜ Pokhara ➜ Tikhedhunga ➜ Ghorepani ➜ Tadapani ➜ Ghandruk ➜ Dhampus ➜ Pokhara ➜ Kathmandu
Kathmandu (Thamel Area) ➜ Swayambhunath ➜ Durbar Square Bazaar ➜ Hanuman Dhoka ➜ Patan ➜ Bhaktapur ➜ Pashupatinath and Boudhanath ➜ Bandipur ➜ Manakamana Temple ➜ Pokhara ➜ World Peace Pagoda ➜ Davis Falls ➜ Phewa Lake ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜Kathmandu
New Delhi ➜ Agra ➜ Abhaneri Stepwell ➜ Ghost City Fatehpur Sikri ➜ Jaipur ➜ Varanasi (Ganges & Sarnath) ➜ Kathmandu ➜ Pokhara ➜ Kathmandu (Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath & Boudhanath)
New Delhi ➜ Mandawa ➜ Khimsar (Heritage Fort Hotel) ➜ Jodhpur ➜ Ranakpur ➜ Udaipur ➜ Chittorgarh Citadel ➜ Bundi ➜ Jaipur ➜ Abhaneri Stepwell ➜ Fatehpur Sikri ➜ Agra (Taj Mahal & Red Fort) ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Varanasi (Ganges & Sarnath) ➜ Lumbini (Nepal) ➜ Pokhara ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜ Kathmandu
New Delhi ➜ Jaipur ➜ Ranthambore National Park ➜ Abhaneri Stepwell ➜ Ghost City Fatehpur Sikri ➜ Agra (Taj Mahal & Red Fort) ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Varanasi (Ganges & Sarnath) ➜ Lumbini (Nepal) ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜ Pokhara ➜ Kathmandu