All holidays to Bhutan need to take in another country as well, and this Nepal & Bhutan tour starts and finishes with some time in the Kathmandu Valley. Extensions to the time in Nepal are possible to visit one of the wildlife parks, do some trekking, rafting, or further cultural sightseeing. In Bhutan the tour features 8-days/7-nights covering cultural and scenic sites in the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha Valley regions of this spectacular and unique country. Read more
You arrive in Kathmandu today where we meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Our rep will help you settle in and give you an introduction to the surrounding area.
This morning we start with a walking tour from the tourist centre of Thamel, through Kathmandu's busy winding streets passing numerous tiny shops, workships and street corner temples to Durbar Square with its splendid array of Hindu temples and the old Royal Palace. We then drive up to the Swayambhunath Stupa and see great views over the city and surrounding valley.
We pick you up from the hotel this morning and transfer to the airport for the spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Bhutan (try and sit on the left side of the plane). On arrival at the beautiful Paro airport, you'll really feel you've arrived somewhere very different and very special. After an introductory lunch, you visit Ta Dzong, originally the Watch Tower for the Rinpung Dzong in Paro and now the National Museum. We then walk down to Paro Dzong and learn about how these spectacular buildings have managed Bhutan over the centuries through a combination of monastic and civic administration.
Keen birdwatchers may wish to enjoy a pre-breakfast tour this morning and drive up to the Che Le La Pass for sunrise to look for the beautiful Blood Grouse and colourful Himalayan Monal. After breakfast, we drive over the Dochu La Pass (3050m) on steep winding roads through beautiful forests to the Punakha Valley. Here we have a short walk across the valley floor to the Chimi Lhakhang Temple, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley or ‘The Divine Madman’ and renowned for blessing barren women with fertility. We also visit Wangduephodrang Dzong.
After breakfast, you drive through the valley to the north of Punakha for a morning walk to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten and along the banks of the river through mixed forest and past fields of chillies and other produce. After lunch you visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong, which lies between two rivers known as Phochu and Mochu. Symbolizing masculine and the feminine co-existence, their currents are of different colours and they unite at this spot. Overnight in the Punakha Valley.
Leaving Punakha, you drive back across the Dochu La Pass to Thimphu (approx. 3 hours) where a selection of day tours will be organised for you. In the evening we normally take you to a restaurant on the hillside with great views overlooking the city.
After breakfast we visit the huge weekend food and crafts market, which is a great place to pick up a souvenir of your time in Bhutan. We then tour several sites and museums in Thimphu before making the short drive back to Paro.
You have some time for sightseeing in and around Thimphu this morning with your driver and guide, they will be able to give you a choice of tours to choose from. If there is an archery tournament taking place, a stop at the national stadium is well worthwhile. Displays of traditional folk dancing also run every day for those who are interested. Later in the day we then make the short drive back to Paro.
After an early breakfast, you drive to the foot of the Taktshang cliff just outside Paro, before walking uphill for 2-3 hours to reach this monastery, perched on a sheer 800m rock face. Taktshang is probably Bhutan’s most famous site and means ‘Tiger’s Nest’. You’ll break for lunch at the Taktshang Cafeteria about two thirds of the way up. The return trip to the monastery takes 4-5 hours and riding ponies can be arranged for most of the uphill journey if you wish. In the afternoon, visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong and the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. In the evening you could enjoy a relaxing traditional hot stone bath to ease any tired limbs.
This morning we fly back to Kathmandu and transfer to the ancient centre of Bhaktapur. Formerly a capital of the Kathmandu Valley, the pedestrianised centre of Bhaktapur is full of squares and temples with some stunning wooden architecture. You have a tour here, as well as time to explore the narrow winding streets which bustle with life. In the afternoon we make a short drive uphill to the village of Nagarkot, which sits on a ridge at the north-eastern edge of the Kathmandu Valley. Accepted as probably the best of the valley’s mountain views, from the village lodges and hotels you can see all the way from Kanchenjunga in the east, past the tiny (from here!) peak of Mt. Everest, to Dhaulgiri in the west.
After waking early to enjoy the sunrise views, we have a downhill ridge walk through the Tilkot Forest Reserve, tiny Chhetri villages and traditional terraced farmland to the somewhat crumbling but atmospheric Changu Narayan Temple. Before returning to the hotel, we tour the important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Pashupatinath temple and Boudhanath stupa.
Your time is free today until we transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.
We use a range of carefully selected hotels on our group departures. If you have specific requests for hotels, please ask for a private or tailor-made tour.
"Saligram was excellent!! Made the holiday very easy for us - perfect."
Mark Raeburn (Annapurna Circuit)
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