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Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet

Duration:
15 Days
Route:
Kathmandu - Paro - Thimphu - Phnakha - Thimphu - Paro - Kathmandu - Lhasa
Season:
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter
Tour Type:
Private Tour
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Overview

The 15 Days Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet will provide you with in-depth exploration. Bhutan and Tibet Both share the Buddhist culture but the natural scenery in Bhutan and Tibet is quite different. In Bhutan, you will visit the impressive Taktsang Monastery (the Tiger’s Nest) in Paro and the magnificent riverside dzong in Punakha. In Nepal, you will call at Kathmandu Valley, which is an excellent place to see the historical architecture of Hindu temples and palaces. In Tibet, your tour guide will show you around the most classic spots, like Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc.

DayRouteAttractions & Activities
1 Arrival in Kathmandu Pick up and transfer to the hotel
2 Kathmandu Sightseeing Swyambhunath Stupa, Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple
3 Kathmandu - Nagarkot, 35km, Approx. 1.5hrs Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Nagarkot Village
4 Nagarkot-Kathmandu, 35km, Approx. 1.5hrs Patan Durbar Square, Patan Museum
5 Fly from Kathmandu to Paro Send off to Tribhuvan Airport and pick up from Paro Airport
6 Full Day in the Paro Valley Tiger's Nest, Kyichu Lhakhang, Bhutan National Museum
7 Travel to Punakha Dochula Pass, Chimi Lhakhang Temple, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong
8 Punakha Sightseeing and Drive Back to Thimphu Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, Punakha Dzong
9 Sightseeing in Thimphu. Drive Back to Paro. Trashi Chhoe Dzong, Takin Zoo, National Memorial Chorten, Postal Office, National Museum
10 Fly to Kathmandu and then to Lhasa Send off to Paro Airport and Pick up from Lhasa Gonggar Airport
11 Lhasa Sightseeing Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery
12 Lhasa City Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
13 Lhasa- Gyantse- Shigatse, 360km, Approx. 6hrs Yamdroktso Lake, Karola Glacier, Pelkor Chöde Monastery
14 Shigatse - Lhasa, 300km, Approx. 5hrs Tashilhunpo Monastery, Yungdrungling Monastery
15 Lhasa Departure Send off to the airport/train station

Daily Itinerary

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Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be greeted at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and transferred to the hotel. It’s only 6km from the airport to the downtown area. After a little bit of rest, you can wander around this old city by yourself. The colorful houses, a dazzling array of shops, and the bustling crowds will make you feel the enthusiasm of Kathmandu for the first time. In the evening, you can try the local cuisines.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu

Today you will start to explore Kathmandu with our experienced Nepali guide.

Firstly, you will go to Swyambhunath Temple to see the stupa there. Swyambhunath was built 2000 years ago, even older than Kathmandu city! It's one of the World's Cultural Heritages in Nepal. And it's also called "Monkey Temple" as there are hundreds of wild monkeys living around it. The Swyambhunath Stupa is the second largest stupa in Nepal. The Buddha's eyes were painted on the four sides of the stupa, which means Buddha is watching you. The paint makes it so sacred that many pilgrims come to worship.

Then you will go to see the largest stupa in Nepal, as well as in the world. Boudhanath Stupa is located in the eastern of Kathmandu. 90% of Nepalese are Hindu devotees. you can see Lord Shiva everywhere. But here, Boudhanath is a holy place of Tibetan Buddhism as it's located in the main trading pass between Nepal and Tibet. So, every morning, there are many Tibetan Buddhists doing kora here, which is really an impressive scene. .

In the end, we are heading to Pashupatinath Temple, the largest Hindu temple in Nepal. The god of destruction - Shiva is enshrined in it. "Pashu" means "all living creatures", and "Patinath" means "the lord". This temple is also known as the "corpse cremation temple" because it's the place where Hindu devotees cremate the dead bodies in public.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu

Today we are going to visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square first.

"Durbar" means“Palace" in Nepalese language. There are three famous Durbar Squares in Nepal, one is in Kathmandu, one is in Bhaktapur, and the last is in Patan. After the 6th. The King of Malla Dynasty died, and all his three sons wanted to be the new king, so they controlled three different places and fought each other. These three Durbar Squares were built during that time.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is bigger than the other two squares. There are many temples, statues, and palaces over 500 years of history there, thus it's called "The Treasure of Medieval Nepalese Art” and "Outdoor Museum" as well.

After lunch, we are going to Nagarkot(2175m), 35km from Kathmandu. It's called the“Viewing Deck of the Himalayas" because it's the best place to see the overall perspective of the Himalayas. It used to be the secluded place of the Nepalese rulers, later it became the most popular place to enjoy the sunrise and sunset. The peak season is from Oct. to Mar. every year..

Stay overnight in Nagarkot village

After enjoying the great sunrise of Himalaya in Nagarkot, today we are going to another Durbar Square---Patan Durbar Square. It’s also one of the world's cultural heritages in Nepal. The biggest difference compared with the other two squares is the Newari classical architecture here.

In the afternoon, we are going to the Patan Museum. It may be the best museum in the South Asian Sub-Continent. It’s a complex of modern and ancient architecture art. The specialty seeing is those bronze statues, which are gods of Hindu and Buddhism. There are three showrooms of Hindu while 2 of Buddhism.

We will go back to Kathmandu in the late afternoon.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu

Today you will be taken to the airport, for the flight from Kathmandu to Paro, and you will see the breathtaking views of the Himalayas from the plane, including the sacred Mt. Jumolhari, known as the “bridge of Kanchenjunga”, and its companion mountain, Mt. Jichu Drake, in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, your guide will transfer you to the hotel. You still have lots of time to wander around the town of Paro/Thimphu. You could appreciate the famous Queen Mother’s Winter Palace and get a view of the Dzong architecture.

The rest of the day is for you to stroll around the town or take a rest in the hotel.

Stay overnight in Paro

Mt. Jumolhari
Mt. Jumolhari

In the morning you will trek from the bottom of Paro Valley to the Taktsang Monastery, perched on the side of the mountain. Taktsang (commonly known as Tiger's Nest) is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan and one of the most challenging monasteries to get to. Located at an elevation of 3120 meters, Taktsang is the birthplace of Bhutanese Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche flew here from Tibet on the back of a tigress, which was the manifestation of his divine consort Yeshe Tsogyal.

You can ride a horse or walk to Tiger’s Nest. It is a challenging trek so you will gain merit with every step. The view from the Paro Valley to the monastery is worth your climb. The hike starts from a gentle forest with some prayer flags. After passing a creek and some water-powered prayer wheels, the trail starts getting steeper.

On halfway up the monastery, there is a nice teahouse with great views of Tiger's Nest that makes a welcome stopping point. You can get some tea and take a break here. You can continue climbing to the viewpoint, which is the best place to take photos of Taktsang. From here, you will walk down a series of steep stairs to a waterfall to achieve your final ascent to the entrance. Here you will be required to leave your backpacks, cameras, and phones.

After visiting Tiger's Nest, then we will go on exploring the Paro Valley. We will drive to the end of the valley to visit the damaged monastery/fortress of Drugyel Dzong. This was burnt down at the beginning of the last century when a monk accidentally overturned a yellow oil lamp. You may get a view of Mount Chomolhari to the north from Drugyel Dzong if the weather is clear. Back in the valley, you can visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lhakhang and have time to see the treasures of the Bhutan National Museum. After the 2011 earthquake, the museum was closed for restoration. Many of the artworks are placed in the nearby building during the restoration.

Stay overnight in Paro

Today, we will leave for Punakha. You'll pass the 3,150-meter Dochula Pass, a famous pass on the way from the capital of Bhutan- Thimphu, to the ancient capital of Bhutan - Phunaka. If the weather is good, you can enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Himalayas here. At the same time, you can see the "108 memorial Chortens" located here, also known as Druk Wangyal Chortens. It's to commemorate those who lost their lives in the suppression of the Assamese rebels in southern Bhutan and to pray for world peace. Then you'll visit the Chimi Lhakhang Temple, which is named the fertility temple and is associated with its mythical power to help couples with pregnancy problems. If time permits, you can appreciate the historical Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Legend has it that when people were choosing the site, they saw four crows flying in four directions, showing auspicious signs of Buddhism spreading far and wide, so they decided to build a temple here.

Stay overnight in Punakha

After breakfast, drive to the north of Punakha to visit the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten. It is the only pagoda in Bhutan that enshrines all kinds of protector gods, and its various levels are dedicated to different protector gods. This is unique in the world. Then visit Punakha Dzong, the second castle in Bhutan, located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley. It was still the seat of the national government until 1950. Punakha Dzong is recognized as the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan, especially in spring, when the blue-purple jacarandas surrounding the Dzong are in full bloom. Then drive to Thimphu and check into the hotel to rest.

Stay overnight in Thimphu

In the morning, you will go to visit Trashi Chhoe Dzong, a majestic and grand castle on the west bank of the Wangchu River. This is the office of the current king and the seat of the internal affairs and finance departments. It is also the summer residence of religious leaders and central religious institutions. After the visit, go north to Takin Zoo, where is exclusively built for Bhutan's national animal - takin. Takin is a creature with a sheep head and cow body which is only living in Bhutan.

Then, proceed to Thimphu Valley. There's National Memorial Chorten built to commemorate the King of Bhutan III and a holy place for the people of Bhutan to pray for peace. Afterward, go to the Postal Office of Bhutan and the National Bank of Bhutan. The guide will also take you to visit Bhutan's National Academy of Painting and Folklore Museum, where you can have an intuitive experience of Bhutan's culture and art.

In the late afternoon, you will return to Paro. On the way, you will see Ta Dzong, the watchtower of Paro Dzong, now the National Museum. It is a cultural relic.

Stay overnight in Paro

Today you will be taken to the airport in Paro in the morning, for the flight to Kathmandu. You will get breathtaking views of the Himalayas from the plane, including the sacred Mt. Jumolhari, known as the "bridge of Kanchenjunga", and its companion mountain, Mt. Jichu Drake.

Then you can board the plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa. If possible, please choose a seat on the right hand, therefore you can see Mt. Everest when your plane passes by.

Our tour guide and driver will pick you up from the airport. After being transferred to the hotel, you will be free to wander around the city on your own for the rest of the day but try not to overtax yourself. The first day's well-rest is crucial to acclimatize to the high altitude. Remember to drink lots of water, eat light, and not take a shower if you can help it.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

After breakfast, our tour guide will first take you to visit Drepung Monastery which is the world's largest monastery that used to house over 10,000 monks. After lunch, you will continue to visit the Sera Monastery, which is reputed as the most beautiful Tibetan monastery in Lhasa. The most attractive activity at Sera Monastery is to watch the Buddhist Scriptures debating held in the courtyard between 15:00 - 17:00.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

In the morning, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby and first take you to visit the famous Potala Palace, the cardinal landmark of Tibet and the masterpiece of Tibetan architecture. It was first built by the 33rd King - Songtsen Gangpo in the 7th century and rebuilt later by the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Now it is a museum and a world heritage site. 

In the afternoon, we will go to visit Jokhang Temple in the center of the Lhasa old town. Jokhang Temple is the most sacred temple in Tibet and it is always bustling with earnest local pilgrims since the early days. After that, you will take a walk around the Barkhor Street which is one of the most devotional circuits as well as a crowded central market of Lhasa. Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple and the locals are always proud of it. As a symbol of Lhasa, it is also a must-see place for visitors.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

We will pass by Gampala pass(4790m) on the way from Lhasa to Shigatse and visit Yamdrok Lake, one of the three sacred lakes in Tibet. Here you can have a glimpse of the holy Yamdrok Lake with its turquoise color and snowcapped Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar in the distance. Then, we will pass and enjoy the Karola Glacier on the roadside. It isn't a big glacier, but the white glacier looks spectacular from the highway.

Later, we will visit the main monastery in GyantsePelkor Chode Monastery - famous for its exquisite architecture and intact murals and statues.

Stay overnight in Shigatse

Today we will go back to Lhasa. On the way, we will visit the home of Panchen Lama - Tashilhunpo Monastery, it was founded by the 1st Dalai Lama in 1447 and is a historic and culturally important monastery in Tibet. It is located on a hill in the center of the city, the full name in Tibetan of the monastery means "all fortune and happiness gathered here" or "heap of glory".

After that, we will go to visit Yungdrungling Monastery. It's a typical Bon religion monastery in Tibet. The monks here are very friendly to visitors. Some of them can even speak English. If you are lucky to meet the key holder, he can show you the large Dukhang(the assembly hall). Inside the house, there are the impressive thrones of the monastery's two resident Shiromo along the walls-look for the deity's characteristic swastika mace. There are also a couple of more behind the main hall that you can pay a visit to. Those chapels include the Namjya Lhakhang. Keep in mind that you should visit those chapels in an anticlockwise direction.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Your Tibet tour ends today. After breakfast, you will be free in the morning. Our staff will collect you at your hotel to transfer to Lhasa Airport/Railway Station.

Our Service

INCLUSIONS

  • Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance tickets fee for tourist attractions listed in the itinerary;
  • Experienced local English-speaking tour guide;
  • Travel-licensed vehicle according to group size & season as itinerary needed including gas and parking fee;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel, or guesthouse. Please tell us your preference;
  • Breakfasts provided by hotels;
  • Pick-up & Drop-off service from Airport/railway station;
  • Travel Agency Liability insurance;
  • Government tax;
  • Express delivery fee of Permit (eg. SF. Express);
  • Food & lodgings for guide & driver;
  • Oxygen tank for emergency use;
  • Two bottles of mineral water per person per day.

EXCLUSIONS

  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese Visa/China Group Visa; (Note: we could help you by providing the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies for your Chinese Visa or the invitation letter for your China Group Visa)
  • Domestic flight/train to and out of Lhasa; (We can help you book the domestic flight/train ticket at the BEST price. Please contact us for details.)
  • Meals are not included but we will recommend some good ones for you according to your requirements. Usually, it takes 3-10 USD per person for each meal.
  • While the gratuity for guide and driver is NOT mandatory, it is expected. Based on their service, you can tip them on the last day of the tour. Each of you is suggested to tip them 5-10 USD/day in total;
  • All the commission and tax charged by PayPal, Bank, and government when making payment. (e.g. PayPal --- 4.4%. Wire transfer --- 2%);
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.
  • Anything not mentioned in the Inclusions.

Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Winn***

Interested in Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. Can you provide us a quote? Is April a good time to go? Is it possible to start and end in Kathmandu? Can we do only 3 days in Lhasa? Also if we are to take train from Lhasa Departure, which city in China will be best to fly out from (we live in Seattle, WA). Will the train be an overnight comfortable sleeper train? My husband and I have Chinese Visas already if that will help. Sorry for all the questions but we are planning our travels for 2025 already. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you vey much.

beatrice
Answered by Beatrice

Dear Winn****,

I will answer your questions one by one.

1. I will quote you after you confirm the itinerary.

2. Yes, spring and autumn are a good time to visit Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

3. According to the current flight schedule, Chengdu and Beijing are recommended cities to fly out. And yes, there are soft sleepers, which are regarded as the most comfortable berth on the train.

4. If you have China visas, I suggest you fly to China first and then take a train to Lhasa before your Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan tours.

According to the policy of the authority, all international tourists enter Tibet by land from Nepal, they need to apply for a China group visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. It's difficult to apply for a China Group Visa now because the visa center in Kathmandu requires 4 applicants to present together for biometrics. If some of them cannot come then the application will not be accepted therefore the China group visa cannot be issued.

Asked by Izab***

Hi, my husband and I are interested in your '15 Days Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet' tour. Please may I have more information about departure dates in September?

Merry
Answered by Merry

Dear Izabela,

We can arrange 15 Days Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet departing on 1 Sep. for you. It's a private tour.

Direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is not avaible for you on Day 10 because of the new flight schedule. You need to fly to Chengdu and stay overnight in Chengdu on Day 10. Then take a flight from Chengdu to Lhasa on Day 11.

Asked by Jeff***

I would like to go on the tour in May 2024. My major concern is the flights from Lhasa back to New York City. It might require many layovers and many hours of travel time. Maybe you know a better way to travel from Lhasa?

Jennie
Answered by Jennie

Dear Jeffrey****,

Good morning!

This is Jennie at your service.

We can also arrange the 15-day private Cultural Highlights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet tour for you in May 2024. 

For the flight back to New York, I suggest you fly from Lhasa to Beijing and then to New York.

 

Asked by Vict***

Hello - we are two people and want to do a 15-day tour in Tibet/Bhutan/Nepal in September (dates flexible). Can you let me know what dates are available and the price?

beatrice
Answered by Beatrice

Dear Victo****,  We can arrange your Tibet Nepal and Bhutan tour in September. There's a 13-day group tour starting on 9 Sep.  If you want 15 days, we can add two more days in Tibet or Bhutan for you. After you confirm, I will quote you in my next email.

Asked by LISS***

Hi Kindly advise if you offer at our for Bhutan and Tibet only. I already visited Nepal. Thank you 😊

beatrice
Answered by Beatrice

Dear Lisse****,

Right now, only Bhutan is available to travel.  We can arrange your trip to Bhutan and Tibet together.

To travel to Bhutan, its government stipulates at least USD250 per person per night during peak tourist season. Eg. If you visit for 5 days and 4 nights, you need to pay at least USD1000 p.p., which includes your visa/ transfer/entrance/accommodation/guide in Bhutan. To travel to Tibet, the cost is about USD150 per person per day if you choose a group Tibet tour in August. By the way, there's no airplane between Bhutan and Tibet, you have to transfer flights in Kathmandu.

If you have any further questions or doubts, please let me know without hesitation. It is my pleasure to work with you at any time.

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What Our Customers Say

The tour we took - 5 Days Lhasa Ganden Group Tour - was very interesting and enjoyable. Tibetan culture and monasteries are formidable. Guide Lhankdon was always very helpful, competent, and attentive. The driver was also always very friendly. Jennie was always very attentive to our requests and how ....

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