Kingdoms of the Himalayas

Nepal - Indian Himalayas - Sikkim - Your tailor-made trip

18 days - from 

Day 1

Welcome to Nepal! Your Himalaya tour begins now! Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, your driver will welcome you and bring you to your hotel where you check-in and settle down. Depending on your arrival time, enjoy a free afternoon to discover the tourist district of Thamel and Durbar square, the former royal square. Night at the hotel.
Day 2

Your first full day in Nepal will be devoted to visiting Kathmandu and its surroundings. Visit Bodnath, the valley district where Tibetan refugees gathered after the Chinese invasion, and discover its huge stupa, one of the largest in the world, which dates back to the 5th century. The surrounding monasteries, Pashupatinath and Swayambunath offer a chance to get your first taste of the religious spirituality of Nepal. Finally, discover the historic centre of Kathmandu: the huge paved Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many temples and pagodas, including the Temple of Kumari, which houses the ‘Living Goddess’, a young girl believed to be the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. Night at the hotel.
Day 3

Wake up early and set out for Patan, ancient capital of Lalitpur. In the afternoon, visit the small town of Bhaktapur and visit the Nyatapola Temple with its five-tier roof. Legend says that the king of Bhaktapur and all the local population would have participated in its construction. The construction of the city of Bhaktapur, also called Bhadgaon, dates from the end of the 17th century. It was once the rice granary of the valley, and today it is a place of great religious devotion. Walk in the streets of the city, observing local wood craftsmen and potters at work. Back to Kathmandu. Night at the hotel.
Day 4

3h drive - 80 km
In the morning, drive to the lovely and quiet village of Bandipur, a charming Newar village located on the top of a ridge. Visit the village and the small temples of Khagda Devi and Mahalaxmi. The absence of motorized traffic and its beautiful renovated houses makes it a living Newar museum where life flows slowly. From the fairground, the panorama of the Himalaya range is extraordinary. There is the possibility to do small walks in the surrounding areas, for example Gurungche Hill, to admire the sunset. Night at the hotel.
Day 5

3h drive - 80 km
We advise you to get up very early to admire the sunrise from the old square. The Himalayan range seems to float on a sea of ​​clouds, resembling a white lake. After breakfast, depart for Kathmandu by road. Transfer to your hotel and settle down. Depending on the visits made on the first day, enjoy a free day or set out for more visits. Night at the hotel.
Day 6

2h + 1h30 of flight and 2h drive
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel for an early departure to the airport to catch your flight to Bagdogra via Delhi. You leave the Himalayan foothills to climb the high pre-Himalayan range. Following the traditional tea route, you will ascend over two thousand meters to reach, after about 2 hours’ drive, Darjeeling, a climatic resort created by the British in the nineteenth century. The town, also famous for its tea plantations, has kept its British character with its colonial-style houses. Night at the hotel.
Day 7

Early in the morning, watch the sunrise from the Tiger Hill on the Himalayan range, dominated by the third highest peak in the world, the Kangchenjunga. Visit the Ghoom Monastery where Alexandra David-Neel resided, and return to the city, which was the summer residence of the viceroys of the Indies when Calcutta was the capital. The lively bazaar will allow you to meet the main ethnic groups of this part of the Himalayas: Lepchas, the oldest inhabitants of the region, Bhotias from Tibet, Nepalese, Bengalis and Tibetan refugees. In the afternoon, enjoy a visit to the famous tea plantations. Night at the hotel.
Day 8

4/5h drive - 100 km
In the morning we drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim state. This city has international borders on three sides: Tibet to the north, Nepal to the west, and Bhutan to the east. Along the way, enjoy the views of the hilly terrain, surrounded by the Himalayan mountain range. Stop for lunch on the way. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9

Wake up early to enjoy the sunrise at Tashi viewpoint, facing the Kanchenjunga (8,590 m), where the panorama of the Himalayas is superb. Continue on to visit the Institute of Tibetology, known throughout the world for its studies on Buddhist philosophy. This foundation contains very interesting ancient books, sacred objects and beautifully painted and embroidered tangkas. Next, visit the Orchid Garden, which boasts more than 250 varieties of this exotic flower. Visit the Phodung Monastery, one of the five largest monasteries in Sikkim. Enjoy free time in the afternoon to walk stroll through the old Lal Bazaar. Night at the hotel.
Day 10

3/4h drive
This morning, set off towards Kalimpong. The road passes through hills of rhododendron and cardamom (green and black) to reach this peaceful market town. Kalimpong used to be the gateway town for trade between India and Tibet before China’s annexation of Tibet. Nowadays, it is known for its educational institutions and flower markets. In the afternoon you can make visits to monasteries in Kalimpong and its surroundings, such as the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery, which houses a number of rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. Night at the hotel.
Day 11

5/6h drive
Today, you descend along the river to reach Jaigoan, an Indian city located at border between India and Bhutan. Continue on through the beautiful forests and huge tea or rice plantations that dominate the Indian plain. You cross the border to Bhutan to reach Phuentsholing, the administrative seat of the Chhukha District. Night at the hotel.
Day 12

6h drive
Today, set off into the heart of Bhutan. The road climbs, turn after turn, towards Chhukha and Simtokha before reaching Thimphu (2,300 m). Admire the stunning landscapes and typical architecture of the villages you pass on your route. On the way to Thimphu, take a break at Kharbandi Monastery, from where you have a beautiful view of the plains and the city of Phuentsholing. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 13

In the morning, visit the Memorial Chorten, a prominent landmark of Bhutan, with its golden spires and bells. Next, visit Changangkha Lhakhang, a traditional Bhutanese temple built in the 15th century, where locals come for their daily prayers. You will also visit the Folk Heritage Museum which offers a fascinating testimony to the lifestyle and traditions of Bhutan. There is the possibility, for those interested, to visit a local fabric factory, a traditional paper factory, a painting school or a local market. In the evening, visit Tashicho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery-fortress located on the northern edge of Thimpu. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 14

3h drive - 80 km
Today, take the road to Punakha. You will cross the Dochu La (3,050 m), which offers you a magnificent panorama of the Bhutanese Himalayas and the highest peak of Bhutan: the Gangar Punsum which rises to 7,520 m. Make a stop at the village of Wangdue, and admire its impressive Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, built in the 15th century. Arrive in Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan in the afternoon and spend the evening discovering the city and its elegant architecture. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 15

4h drive - 120 km
After breakfast, set off for the Chorten Nebu Hike, which starts at Kabjisa. After three hours of walking, you arrive at the top of a hill overlooking the valley of Punakha where the Chorten Nebu is located amidst a stunning landscape. Enjoy the scenery before making your way back to the car where your driver will be waiting for you. Make a stop at the beautiful Punakha Dzong, which was the Winter Residence of the royal family, and admire its richly-decorated interior. Continue your journey to Paro, where you can enjoy a free evening in the city centre. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 16

You set off early in the morning to enjoy the beautiful light and climb to the Taktsang Monastery (3,070 m), a magnificent monastery-fortress clinging to the edge of a cliff. Nicknamed the “Tiger’s Nest”, the Taktsang Monastery is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in the Himalayas. It takes about 2 hours to walk to Takshang Monastery. For the less sporty, you can enjoy a superb view of the monastery from the cafeteria (1 hour walk) or choose to go on horseback (extra charge). Then continue your excursion to visit Kyiuchu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and holiest temples in the Kingdom. Night at the hotel.
Day 17

1h flight
Today, your driver picks you up to bring you to Paro airport for your flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel where you can enjoy a free afternoon to walk around the town. Don’t forget to try the delicious momos, a traditional dumpling, and other Nepalese delicacies. Night at the hotel.
Day 18

Depending on your flight schedule, you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the international airport to catch your return flight home. The Shanti Travel team hopes you enjoyed this magical visit of the Kingdoms of the Himalayas and hope to see you again soon in Asia!
Garance Travel Expert Nepal - Indian Himalayas - Sikkim This Himalaya tour is based on a combination of the main destinations of the Eastern Himalayas. During this trip, you will discover three destinations, three populations and three distinct cultures. The beauty of the landscapes crossed, from the peaceful villages of Bhutan to the lively cities of Darjeeling, restores the meaning of travel.
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