Explore two Himalayan countries in one holiday. Let us show you around the sights of Kathmandu and introduce you to life in Nepal. Then head off to a journey through the secluded Kingdom of Bhutan. Take part in some of Bhutans colourful festivals and dive deep into the ancient culture. See remote villages as well as the major sights of the country, before returning to Kathmandu for another couple of days in Nepal.
Meet our representative at the airport and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free.
Day 03 – B
You can choose to have an early start today to catch the stunning sunrise over the mountains, or enjoy a cosy lie in. After breakfast you will visit the unspoiled villages of Khokana and Bungamati. Both villages date from the 16th century and are typical ancient Newar villages. This visit offers a fascinating glimpse of rural life in the Kathmandu Valley.
In both villages you will see life taking place more on the streets than inside with villagers spinning, caring for children, gossiping, processing crops in the sun. Woodcarving is an alive and strong tradition here and you will see the beautiful pieces being produced, including doors and window frames. Bungamati is also one of the two homes of the rain god.
Later you will move on to Patan, where you will have lunch. Patan is also known as Lalitpur, the city of fine arts. According to legend the founding of Patan dates back to Pre-Christian times. As opposed to the Malla cities of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur that were mainly influenced by the Hindu religion, Patan was for many years a major Buddhist city.
It is believed that it was founded in the third century B.C. by the famous Buddhist emperor, Ashoka, who visited the town while on a pilgrimage from Northern India and built four stupas that enclosed the centre of the old town. This would make it the oldest continuing Buddhist town in the world.
You will visit the Patan Durbar Square and see the Krishna Temple built by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, Hiranya Varna Mabavihar and the Mahadouddha Temple.
Day 04 – B D
Kathmandu | Paro
Kuzuzangpola – Welcome to Bhutan!
The flight to Paro is an experience like no other. During the journey, you will get inspiringly beautiful glimpses of some of the world’s most famous Himalayan peaks.
On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met by our representative. Check in at the hotel in Paro and begin the sightseeing with a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, a short distance South of Paro town. This temple is said to have been built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. The Original building was rebuilt after a fire with a large statue of Sakyamuni as the central figure.
After lunch, drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering outer walls are still an imposing sight. From here on a clear day you will have a splendid view of Mt. Chomolhari.
Also visit Rinpung Dzong, the ‘Fortress of the Heap of Jewels’ built in 1646 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. Apart from commanding a slightly elevated strategic point overlooking the longest stretch of the Paro valley, Rinpung Dzong is symbolic as the religious and secular centre of all affairs in the valley. It now houses the district administration offices and Paro’s monastic community. It is also an architectural wonder, setting the tone for official dzongs throughout the Kingdom and inviting the visitor to wonder at the cultural strength of the Kingdom’s heritage. The dzong was built in the 15th century and consecrated in 1646.
Day 05 – B L D
Take a morning hike up to Taktsang Monastery, which is famously known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. Resting at an altitude of 900 m above the valley, Taktsang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever.
Later visit Ta Dzong, which was built in 1651 as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong. Since 1968 is home to the National Museum. Its collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artefacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection.The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of Conch shell which stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory.
Day 06 - B L D
Paro | Haa Valley | Paro
Start the day early with a one-hour drive to Haa via the Chele-la pass. Have a superb view of the mountains Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, and if the weather is favorable we will stop here to stroll around. After a picnic lunch by the river visit Lhakhang Karpo (“White Temple”) and Lhakhang Nagpo (“Black Temple”). Later visit the Wangchulo Dzong which is presently occupied by the Indian army. Take a leisurely stroll and explore this beautiful valley on foot and visit some of the local homes. Later drive back to Paro.
Day 07 – B L D
Paro | Thimphu
This morning drive down the valley following the Pa Chu (Paro River) to its confluence with the Wang Chu (Thimphu River). Turn left up the valley leading to the nation’s capital, Thimphu. En route visit Semtokha Dzong (1627), the kingdom’s oldest fortress which now houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies.
In the afternoon visit the National Memorial Chorten, built as a memorial to Bhutan’s third king, “the Father of Modern Bhutan”, and as a monument to world peace. The Memorial Chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
Also visit Changangkha temple and drive up to the BBS tower view point and enjoy the stunning view of the entire Thimphu town. On the drive back, stop at the mini Takin Zoo: Takin is the national animal of Bhutan.
Day 08 – B L D
Today you will participate in Thimphu Tshechu, a festival held at Tashichhodzong. It is a religious festival where you will see masked dances. For the people it is an opportunity to get together, many come in from the remote villages. There is also a large market with goods from all over the country. By attending the festival, it is believed, you will gain merits.
Day 09 – B L D
Spend another day participating at the festival. Later in the evening, take a leisurely walk in the town or take rest in the hotel.
Day10 – B L D
Thimphu | Punakha
Morning drive to Bhutan’s former capital Punakha. After a 30-40 minutes drive from Thimphu, the zigzag course of the road brings you to Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass at an altitude of 3,140m, with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens. On a clear fine day, you will also get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around.
Upon arrival at Punakha, check in at the hotel and begin sightseeing with the Punakha Dzong. Strategically built it lies between the two rivers, the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). It is the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo, the religious leader of Bhutan.
Later take a short hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten, a three-storey shrine built by the Queen of Bhutan. It’s a brief 30-40 min walk uphill through terraces of paddy fields and chilly plantations.
Day 11 – B L D
Punakha | Wangduephodrang |Gangtey
In the morning visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (20 mins from Punakha). This auspicious fertility temple was built by the famous divine madman, Lama Drukpa Kuenley. It’s a beautiful 30 min walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living. The temple is beautifully perched on a small hilltop overlooking the entire village.
Later drive to Wangduephodrang, where you will visit the impressive Wangduephodrang Dzong built in 1638 A.D. stretched along a spur at the confluence of two rivers. Afterwards drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, into the Phobjikha valley to Gangtey.
Day 12 – B L D
Gangtey | Bumthang
Gangtey also known as Phobjikha valley. It is a beautiful valley of rolling hills and green meadows surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It is situated at an altitude of 3000 m. The valley is winter home for the Black Necked Cranes, who migrate here from the Tibetan Pleateau during the winter months. After an early breakfast, visit the Black Necked Crane centre and the impressive Gangtey Goemba overlooking the lush green valley of Phobjikha.
Later drive to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation.
Day 13 – B L D
Start the day with a visit to the Jambay and the Kurjey lhakang. There is a body print of the great Buddhist master Guru Padmasambhava on a rock inside the main temple, known as the old Kurjey Lhakhang
Drive and walk towards the east from Bumthang to visit the Tamshing Goenpa. Also visit the historical Jakar Dzong built by Minjur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (temporal ruler) in 1646 A.D. It was later repaired and expanded by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth Desi of Bhutan in 1683 A.D. It is probably one of the biggest Dzongs in Bhutan with the surrounding walls about 1 km in circumference.
In the evening you can take a leisurely walk in the town.
Day 14 – B L D
In the morning you will participate in the Tangbi Mani Festival and get the chance to make closer contact with locals.
In the afternoon visit Member Tso “The burning Lake” which is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Bhutan.
Day 15 – B L D
Bumthang |Ura valley | Bumthang
Day excursion to Ura Valley, the highest in Bumthang. It sits in the shadow of Thrumshing La (3,800m) and is characterized by wide open spaces. The cobbled streets and medieval feel make Ura an enchanting destination for a daytrip from Bumthang. You will see the old women in the village still wearing sheepskin shawls on their backs – they double as blanket and cushion.
Day 16 – B L D
Bumthang | Wangduephodrang
After an early breakfast drive back to Wangduephodrang via Trongsa. Once in Trongsa, visit the magnificent Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture and ancestral abode of Bhutan’s royal family. Built in 1647, it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Also visit the local market before continuing the drive to Wangduephodrang.
Day 17 – B L D
Wangduephodrang | Paro
After an early breakfast, drive to Paro. The rest of the day is free for your personal activities and last souvenir shopping in Bhutan.
Day 18 – B
Paro | Kathmandu
In the early morning drive to Paro Airport for the return flight to Kathmandu. In Kathmandu transfer to the hotel.
In the afternoon visit Pashupatinath, one of the most important Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world. It draws wandering Sadhus from all over India. Situated on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, the main temple is built in pagoda style with gilt roof and richly carved silver doors. Pashupatinath is the main cremation site for Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley, with cremation ghats lining the Bagmati River below the temple.
A short walk away you will find Boudhanath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world. It stands with four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal directions keeping watch for righteous behaviour and human prosperity. Around here you will experience vibrant and unfettered Tibetan culture from the large community of Tibetan exiles.
Today’s tour is an ideal experience to compare and contrast the different faiths but also see how they overlap and exist in harmony.
Day 19 – B
Kathmandu | Bhaktapur |Kathmandu
Today you will visit Bhaktapur. This is the city of devotes and the best preserved of all the ancient cities of Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is the most original and is without a doubt the most historically authentic city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is literally a living museum where farmers dry their harvest, potters turn their wheel and people go about lives as they have done for so long.
You will visit the Durbar Square (palace square) with its array of temples overlooked by the Palace of Fifty-five Windows built by King Bhupatindra Malla. You will also visit the Taleju Temple which is the best example of Pagoda style structure in Nepal. It stands majestically on five terraces, on each of which stands a pair of figures. As you go up from one terrace to the next, the figures gain strength of ten times that of the lower terrace: we see two strong men; two elephants; two lions; two griffins; and two goddesses.
En route visit the Changunarayan Temple. It is situated on a ridge overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. One of the finest and oldest specimens of pagoda architecture, the temple is said to be the oldest pagoda style temple in Nepal built sometime back in 323 A.D. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu – the Preserver. From the temple you can have amazing views of farming land and villages in this end of the valley against the backdrop of the Himalayan Range.
Day 20 – B D
Today is free for leisure activities. Enjoy a traditional farewell dinner with cultural programme in the evening.
Day 21 – B
After breakfast at your hotel, you are free until it is time for us to transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home. Your guide will help you and bid you farewell.
J F M A M J J A S O N D (Month to visit with Bold letter)
20 nights/21 days
From £3658 per person*
*on twin share basis
6 Nights & 6 Days packages programme in Nepal as specified in the above itinerary on a single Room accommodation.
Hotel in Kathmandu is on Bed and Breakfast basis.
All airport/hotel/airport transfers
All entrance fees
Transfers and sightseeing as per itinerary
English Speaking Guide throughout the tour
Return Air Ticket for the sector Edinburgh/Kathmandu/Edinburgh
Visa fee to Nepal £35.00 (Multiple Entry)
Airport tax payable at the Kathmandu Airport
Expenses of personal nature such as beverages, laundry, telephone bills, camera fees to the monuments during the sightseeing tour etc.
14 nights 15 days packaged programme in Bhutan as specified in the above itinerary on full board basis (includes breakfast, lunch and dinner)
All the surface transfers and the sightseeing tour as specified in the above itinerary by private vehicle, accompanying throughout with English speaking local guide .
Return Airfare for Kathmandu/Paro/Kathmandu
Visa fee to Bhutan
TDF (Tourism Development Fund)
Expenses of personal nature such as beverages, laundry, telephone bills, camera fees to the monuments during the sightseeing tour etc.
Any other services which is not mentioned in the service include section above.
Extra cost arises during the entire trip due to the natural calamities, political disturbances and due to any reason which is beyond the control of Himalayan Footsteps.
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