Get off the beaten track and discover the wonders of Bhutan, an isolated nation which has retained its age old customs, traditions and lifestyle. Then continue on to Kathmandu to explore Nepal with its breathtaking mountain scenery, ancient temples, wonderful wildlife and more. Take in the best of these two captivating Himalayan Kingdoms in 15 days.
Paro - Thimphu. We begin our journey at the 17th-century Ta Dzong watchtower, home to Bhutan's National Museum. After a guided tour, we visit the nearby Rinpung Dzong monastery, which appears in the Hollywood film Little Buddha. Later this afternoon we drive to the capital city of Thimphu and visit the weekend market, where local vendors set up shop and sell their produce every Friday through Sunday.
Overnight: Thimphu | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Thimphu. Bhutan’s capital merges its ancient Buddhist customs with a rapidly modernising society, creating a truly different experience. We’ll visit the sacred Memorial Chorten stupa, the vast National Library, the scenic Drubthob Nunnery, the Folk Heritage Museum, and of course the Takin Preserve, home to Bhutan’s goat-like national animal.
Our tour will also introduce us to local arts and cuisine, with stops at various workshops producing a range of lovely handicrafts.
Overnight: Thimphu | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Thimphu - Punakha. This morning, we drive through lush forest to the 3050m-high Dochu La Pass, stopping briefly before proceeding to the Punakha Valley. We'll trek up to Chimi Lhakhang Temple, dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, a lama known as the 'Divine Mad Monk' for his unorthodox teaching methods. We then continue to the beautiful Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan's most architecturally striking monasteries, which is located at the confluence of two rivers.
Later this afternoon we head to our campsite on the banks of the Mo Chu River, where we have time to settle. Perhaps try a traditional hot stone bath and local drinks in the early evening before dinner.
Overnight: Punakha Valley (camping) | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Punakha - Paro. After breakfast, we embark on a scenic hike (2-2.5 hrs) to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a small but majestic hill temple looking down on the Punakha Valley. We'll also drive to the picturesque villages along the valley ridge. After stopping for a picnic lunch, we visit Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery, with fantastic views of the Punakha and Wangdue valleys. Apart from religious training, the nuns are taught skills such as embroidery, tailoring and statue making. After our visit to the nunnery, we drive to back to Paro.
Overnight: Paro | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we embark on a 4-6 hour hike to the incredible sight of Taktshang Pelphung (Tiger’s Nest), one of Bhutan's most sacred monasteries. Built on the face of a sharp cliff 900m above Paro Valley, Taktshang itself is only accessible on foot, though you can ride a pony for part of the journey (must be arranged in advance).
From the main trail, we take a steep hour-long walk up to a cafeteria for a short break, with views of the monastery. The trail continues uphill for another 45 minutes to a high vantage point, then descends past a dramatic waterfall and hermitage, before a flight of steep steps leading to the monastery.
After exploring the monastery's shrines and temples, we return to the cafeteria for lunch, before trekking back to Paro. This evening we enjoy a traditional Bhutanese dinner at a farm house, giving you the opportunity to interact with a local family and learn about the local cuisine of Bhutan.
Overnight: Paro | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Friday. Paro - Kathmandu. Our tour of Bhutan concludes after breakfast today. A departure transfer will take you to Paro airport for your flight to Kathmandu in Nepal.
Note: The flight from Paro to Kathmandu is not included in the cost of the tour. Drukair fly direct. If you provide us with your flight details, we will be there to meet you at Kathmandu airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Overnight: Kathmandu | Breakfast
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, seamlessly merges ancient tradition with cosmopolitan crowds. In the morning we visit the significant worship site of Bodhnath stupa, home to spinning prayer wheels and prostrating pilgrims. We then travel to the ancient town of Bhaktapur, a World Heritage site famed for its art and architecture, including the vast Bhaktapur Durbar Square. We’ll watch local families make the unique Ju Ju dhau (yoghurt), and try crafting pottery ourselves. Our final stop is the old Newari city of Patan, which has its own Durbar Square. We end the evening with dinner and a traditional Nepali dance performance.
Kathmandu – Chitwan. On day 9 we travel by road to Chitwan National Park, arriving in time for lunch. Hailed as one of Asia’s finest game parks, Chitwan is home to more than 500 species including the vulnerable one horned rhinoceros, gharial crocodile, Indian elephant, sambar deer, bison, striped hyenas and vultures. This afternoon or tomorrow, we'll take a jeep safari through the buffer zone that adjoins the national park. The remainder of our stay offers free time for you to choose from the various optional activities available in Chitwan National Park. You can opt for additional safaris within the park or buffer zone, take part in a nature walk or journey in a dugout canoe and admire the scenery - if you are lucky you may even see an elusive and endangered Bengal tiger!
Overnight: Chitwan National Park | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Chitwan NP - Pokhara. We continue to Pokhara, the lakeside city at the gates of the famous Annapurna Range, consisting of five mountains over 7200m and the 7000m Machhapuchara Mountain, considered so sacred by locals that it is closed off to climbers. Enjoy an afternoon of rest in the city, and perhaps wander round its museums and markets.
Overnight: Pokhara | Breakfast
Boating on Lake Phewa
This morning, watch the sunrise from the Pokhara World Peace Pagoda, which offers impressive views of the Annapurna range from its hilltop location. A two-hour walk through Raniban forest takes us down to Lake Phewa for a short cruise. In the afternoon we visit a Tibetan refugee camp and a local school, before observing daily prayers at Matepani Monastery.
Overnight: Pokhara | Breakfast
R&R in Pokhara
Today is a free day for you to explore Pokhara and participate in optional activities such as paragliding, ultra-light flight, zip line, bungy jump, mountain biking, cycling, boating and horse riding, or if you prefer, simply relax down by the lake.
Pokhara - Kathmandu. This morning, we take a short flight back to Kathmandu. We continue exploring the city in the afternoon, admiring the views from the beautiful Swayambhunath stupa before walking to Kathmandu Durbar Square, home to over 50 incredible temples and shrines. We’ll also traverse the city streets by rickshaw, from Hanuman Dhaka to Thamel, immersing ourselves in Kathmandu’s daily life. We finish the day with an evening walk around the vibrant Thamel Market.
Saturday. Our tour comes to an end today with a transfer to Kathmandu Airport. An optional Everest scenic flight is offered on the morning of day 8 or day 15 (subject to availability) so if you’d like to book this please ensure that your onward flight on day 15 does not depart before midday.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Per Person' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged provided there is another single traveller booked on the tour date of your choosing. If a roommate cannot be found the single room supplement will apply.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Nak-Sel Boutique Hotel & Spa, Paro
The eco friendly and community based Naksel Boutique Hotel and Spa tastefully combines traditional Bhutanese design with the comforts of modern living. Guest rooms include queen size beds, hard wood flooring and delightful en suite facilities with under floor heating. The hotel is home to Olive restaurant which serves up a mouth watering array of Bhutanese, Indian, Asian and Western cuisine. The onsite bar - Chabchu is great for relaxing at in the evenings. For the adventurous try a glass of the local favourite, Ara, Bhutanese rice wine.
Hotel Migmar, Thimphu
Opened in 2010, Hotel Migmar is designed in classic Bhutanese style. Guest rooms are very colourful with wooden flooring and free wi-fi access. The hotel also has an onsite restaurant serving up a range of Asian cuisines, including Bhutanese and Indian. Those wishing to really relax whilst visiting should take advantage of the steam bath and meditation rooms that are available to guests. Located in the southern suburbs of Thimpu in a quiet neighbourhood.
Mo Chu River Camp, Punakha
A short drive from Punakha, the Mo Chu River Premium Camp sit on the banks of the River Mo Chu. Our accommodation tonight is set up 8 kilometres from the centre of Punakha on the banks of the Mo Chu River. We camp in two man walk in tents (twin/double sharing), which include thick mattresses, all bedding and towels. A toilet tent is built for the evenings stay, as is a shower tent (with hot water!) and there is also the option to try out a traditional hot stone bath. There is a central area with space to relax around a camp fire and the cook team will create traditional Bhutanese meals which will be served in the dining tent.
Mulberry Hotel, Kathmandu
The Mulberry Hotel is an inviting oasis in the heart of Kathmandu. The elegant rooms are bright and airy with complimentary WiFi. Guests have a choice of two dining venues at the hotel with a rooftop infinity pool, spa and wellness centre to take advantage of also. The hotel is conveniently located in the popular entertainment district of Thamel and a 30 minute drive from the airport.
Jungle Villa Resort, Chitwan National Park
Situated at the northern borders of Chitwan National Park, the Jungle Villa's cottages contain well-furnished rooms with fully equipped ensuite bathrooms. Wake up to the sights of the World Natural Heritage Site from your private balcony overlooking the Rapti River. The resort's restaurant and outdoor bar serve a variety of cuisines and cocktails crafted from local produce. During the day, the National Park is right on your doorstep, should you wish to view the endangered flora & fauna on a safari tour, or join a village tour to learn about life in local communities.
Kasara Resort , Chitwan National Park
Situated on the border of Chitwan National Park, Kasara Resort blends simple luxury with a lush jungle setting. Each guestroom boasts a private, water-garden courtyard, an indoor-outdoor bathroom space and a sun deck set up for personal dining. Alongside a restaurant and spa facilities, guests can take part in an exciting range of outdoor activities. Perhaps enjoy a scenic cruise along the Rapti River in a dugout canoe, take a guided jungle walk in search of native wildlife or cycle around the nearby villages.
Atithi Resort and Spa, Pokhara
Atithi (Sanskrit for 'guest') offers genuine Nepalese hospitality in central Pokhara. At the heart of the resort are its spa, which incorporates yogic methods into a range of modern treatments, and an intimate outdoor pool looking out upon the majestic Annapurna range. The all-day restaurant and lounge-bar offer comfortable spaces for guests to relax. All rooms are ensuite, with rosewood furniture, LCD television, and a mountain view.
Travellers have rated this tour as 4.67 out of 5 based on 3 recent reviews
Our guide Lhab Tshering (LT) and our driver Arjun in Bhutan were exceptional. They both were always extremely helpful and knowledgeable, answering all our questions, guiding us when touring around and very kind and supportive on the very special climb we did to Tigers Nest, I couldn't have done it as well and as easily without his help. LT's daily trips were always very well planned and he and Arjun thought about our every need each and every day, planning what we did to also allow time to wander as well have snacks and drinks along the way, as well as adding in little extra things as the opportunity arose. Rob and I loved our tour in Bhutan and found the country and the people very friendly and helpful, and less crowded and rushed than in Nepal. Our guide in Nepal was Bir, who was also a good guide, and ensured we covered the itinery that had been planned for us to do, however, some days we seemed to have an awful lot to see, with little time to wander around, and with so much to see and do, a break in the middle for a snack or lunch was sometimes a bit later than some of the group would have liked, being around 3 to 4 pm having started the days sightseeing around 9am. To cover all the places we went to meant we had a couple of very long days, 6+ hours, traveling on Nepal's often quite poor and congested road system, the flight back from Pokhara to Kathmandu was a welcome relief.
The tour was actually 2 tours so rating the whole tour as one is difficult,
Bhutan I would give 5 stars for the tour, the tour guide and giving me a true feeling for that country.
Nepal I would give it 4 stars for the tour, because of the days traveling by road, 4 stars for the tour guide as sometimes his organization of the day felt rushed and lacked time for us and 5 stars for giving us a true feel for the country.”
Our guide Lhab Tshering (LT) and our driver Arjun in Bhutan were exceptional. They both were always extremely helpful and knowledgeable, answering all our questions, guiding us when touring around and very kind and supportive on the very special climb we did to Tigers Nest, I couldn't have done it as well and as easily without his help. LT's daily trips were always very well planned and he and Arjun thought about our every need each and every day, planning what we did to also allow time to wander as well have snacks and drinks along the way, as well as adding in little extra things as the opportunity arose. Rob and I loved our tour in Bhutan and found the country and the people very friendly and helpful, and less crowded and rushed than in Nepal. Our guide in Nepal was Bir, who was also a good guide, and ensured we covered the itinery that had been planned for us to do, however, some days we seemed to have an awful lot to see, with little time to wander around, and with so much to see and do, a break in the middle for a snack or lunch was sometimes a bit later than some of the group would have liked, being around 3 to 4 pm having started the days sightseeing around 9am. To cover all the places we went to meant we had a couple of very long days, 6+ hours, traveling on Nepal's often quite poor and congested road system, the flight back from Pokhara to Kathmandu was a welcome relief. ”