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Bhutan and Tibet Adventure


13 days 12 nights

Code

Category Bhutan Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-10 persons
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 5,045m (16,548ft) at Karo La
  • Trip Starts From Lhasa
  • Trip Ends At Paro
  • Type Classic Circuits
  • Destination Lhasa Gyantse Shigatse Kathmandu Thimphu Punakha Paro
Dates & Prices

Overview

Flanked by the high Himalayan mountains, Bhutan and Tibet are among the oldest civilizations in the world and bucket list destinations for many travelers. Situated on the northern side of the Himalaya up in the high plateau is Tibet-the land of high mountains, sacred lakes, and ancient Buddhist monasteries-where religion is a part of daily life. Bhutan lies in the southern foothills of the Himalaya-the only carbon-negative country in the world with high happiness index. Never colonized in its history, Bhutan has deliberately kept itself isolated for thousands of years to preserve their unique way of life. Guided by the principles of Mahayana Buddhism, Bhutanese people share many similarities with the Tibetan people. However, there are topographical and climatic differences between Bhutan and Tibet. Tibet is the world's highest plateau with barren land, dry weather and most parts are inhabitable. Bhutan has lush greenery with more than 70% of the country covered by virgin forests. 

Land Cost (April-October)

  • US$ 2495  per person (Minimum group size 3 persons). 
  • US$ 2995 per person (2 persons)
  • US$ 520 Private Room Supplement (Mandatory if no-one is available to share the room).

Land Cost (November-December)

  • US$ 2350  per person (Minimum group size 3 persons).
  • US$ 2798 per person (2 persons)
  • US$ 495 Private Room Supplement (Mandatory if no-one is available to share the room).

Additional estimated In-tour Airfare

US$1200-1300 (Chengdu-Lhasa-Kathmandu-Paro-Bangkok). Fares are dynamic and subject to change. An exact quote will be available once we book the reservation for you.

Note: International airfare to Chengdu and return from Bangkok needs to be booked separately and is not included.

Trip Dates 2019-2020

  • 15 Jun 2019 ( Trip overlaps with Saga Dawa Festival)
  • 10 Jul 2019 (Trip overlaps with Tashilunpo Festival)
  • 13 Aug 2019 (Trip overlaps with Ganden Monastery Festival)
  • 25 Aug 2019 (Trip overlaps with Shotun Festival).
  • 9 Sep 2019 
  • 29 Sep 2019 (Trip overlaps with Thimphu Tsechu Festival)
  • 9 Nov 2019
  • 13 Apr 2020
  • 2 May 2020
  • 30 May 2020
  • 29 Jun 2020 (Trip overlaps with Tashilunpo Festival)
  • 18 Aug 2020 (Trip overlaps with Shotun Festival)
  • 19 Sep 2020 (Trip overlaps with Thimphu Tsechu Festival)
  • 18 Oct 2020 (Trip overlaps with Dechenpug Festival)
  • 8 Nov 2020 ( Trip overlaps with Deepawali Festival)

Note: Festival dates are subject to change. Trip dates don't work for you? Consider a private trip and depart when you want.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Lhasa

(Alt 3,595 m/11,792 ft.)

Flights to Lhasa arrive from Beijing or Chengdu or any other major cities of the mainland of China. Plan to arrive in Beijing or Chengdu minimum a day before the trip date. You will pick up Tibet entry permit at your hotel. We can help you book hotel and flight to Lhasa on your request.

Upon arrival at Lhasa airport, your guide and driver will meet you at the arrival gate and proceed on a scenic one hour drive to Lhasa city. Check into your accommodations and take rest for acclimatization. All travelers are expected to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, including but not limited to: headache, dizziness, disorientation, breathlessness, etc. but you should be fine in a day or two. Today, take complete rest, do not over exert yourself. Drink plenty of water and consume liquid food. 

Overnight: Dekhang Hotel
Day 02~Visit Potala Palace and Sera Monastery

Sightseeing today includes Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street. First, we visit the majestic Potala Palace-the winter residence of Dalai Lama. The palace used to be the power center of Tibet until Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959. It still stands with all its glory and attracts visitors from all over Tibet and the world.

Next, we visit the Sera Monastery, which is the last of the three Yellow Sect Monasteries to be built in Lhasa. If you are a hiking enthusiast and if you are well acclimated, you may opt for 1 to 2 hours of hiking on the pilgrimage path around the monastery. Usually around 3.30 to 4 p.m. Sera monastery holds monk's debating ceremony which is quite an impressive event, and it's worth seeing it. The debate takes on Buddhist philosophy and holy scriptures.

The afternoon is for exploration of the old town of Barkhor and the ancient Jorkhang Temple. While Lhasa today has turned into a modern city, the ancient quarter of Lhasa still retains it's Tibetan character. We will visit the back-street chapels, and stroll on the pilgrimage path robbing shoulders with devout Tibetans who circumnavigates the Jorkhang temple by spinning prayer wheels or counting beads with the utterance of sacred mantras. The complete circuit can take up to 3 hours, but you may cut it short and return to Barkhor Square from anywhere if you choose. Jorkhang Temple-built in the 7th century is among the most revered temples of Tibet.

Overnight: Hotel Dekhang
Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Excursion of Drak Yerpa Hermitage

This morning, we take an excursion to Drak Yerpa Hermitage which is in the rural area about 18 miles north-east of Lhasa. Despite being so near to Lhasa, the region has a truly rural setting. We visit the cave hermitages and retreats where many noted Buddhist teachers, including Guru Rinpoche and King Songtsen Gampo, believed to have meditated. The site is peaceful, with stunning views, and an experience of rural Tibet that is away from the crowds of Lhasa.

Back in the city, we will have time to visit other attractions, depending on available time and your interests.

Overnight: Dekhang Hotel
Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Across the high passes and via Yamdrok Tso Lake to Gyantse

(13467 ft., 176miles, 6 ½ hrs. drive).

Today, with your guide and driver, you will set off on the high roads of Tibet heading to Gyantse. Gyantse is the third largest town of Tibet and still maintains the ancient Tibetan characters. The journey involves the crossing of two high passes the Kamba La (15,700 ft.) and the Karo La (16,500 ft.) and follows the shores of Yamdrok Tso Lake for more than 40 miles. Yamdrok Tso Lake is one of the four holiest lakes in Tibet and has beautiful turquoise water. As you leave the lake shore behind, the road climbs to Karo La (16,500 ft.), once again offering breathtaking views of the mountain and vast Tibetan plateau.

You will also take a side trip of Samding and Ralung monasteries which are less frequented by the foreign visitors.

You will arrive in the Gyantse town late afternoon. We check into our accommodations and the balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Gyantse Hotel or Yeti Hotel
Meals : Breakfast
Day 05~Travel to Shigatse

(12,785 ft., 57miles, 2 ½ hrs. drive).

After breakfast, visit the Pelkor Chode and Kumbum Monastery-the main highlights of Gyantse. The Kumbum Stupa is a landmark of Gyantse, and we can spot it from far away. We will also take a short hike to the historical fortress of Gyantse. The fort offers excellent views of the town.

From Gyantse, it's less than 2 hrs drive to Shigatse, which is the second largest city in Tibet. About 13 miles (20 km) before Shigatse, we will take a 2.5 miles side trip of Shalu Monastery. It was the first of the significant Monasteries to be built by noble families of the Tsang Dynasty during Tibet's revival of Buddhism and was an important center of the Sakya tradition.

Upon arrival in Shigatse, check into the hotel and later take a relaxing walk through Shigatse's Flea market. It is an excellent bargain place to buy a Tibetan souvenir.

Overnight: Gesar Hotel or Van Ray Hotel
Meals : Breakfast
Day 06~Return to Lhasa

 (186 miles, 5-6 hrs. drive).

After breakfast, we check out hotel and as we return to Lhasa today. Before we hit the road, we visit Tashilunbo Monastery-the principal seat of Panchen Lama- the second most revered religious leader of Tibet after Dalai Lama. Tashilunbo is also among the six major Gelugpa Monasteries of Tibet.

For the return journey, we will take the southern friendship highway that follows the Yarlungzanbo River. The road is rough, and a lot of rehabilitation work is going on.

We arrive at our hotel in Lhasa late afternoon. The balance of the day is free for your interests.

Overnight: Hotel Dekhang
Meals : Breakfast
Day 07~Flight across the Himalaya to Kathmandu

A one-hour and half long spectacular flight across the Himalaya whisks us to Kathmandu-the capital city of Nepal. Complete immigration and customs formalities and meet our local representative at the arrival gate.

Today, you have a free day in Kathmandu. Kathmandu valley has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include the Durbar Squares, Buddhist stupas, and Hindu temples. You can book a car with a driver and an English speaking local guide for $80 for six or seven hours at your disposal. 

Overnight: Maya Manor Boutique Hotel or similar
Meals : Breakfast
Day 08~Fight to Paro, Bhutan

After breakfast, our Kathmandu representative will transfer you to the airport for flight to Paro. It's about a one-hour long, and we enjoy spectacular views of the Himalaya! The landing at Paro airport is also quite thrilling.

After clearing immigration and customs, meet your guide and driver at the arrival gate. After introductions, we proceed on a scenic one-hour long transfer to Thimphu, the capital, with a stop for a short walk at the 13th-century temple of Tamchog Lhakhang-built by the famous Tibetan iron-bridge builder Thangthong Gyalpo – architect, physician, teacher, and a saint! The temple is owned and maintained by his descendants until today.

In Thimphu, we’ll have time to settle in and enjoy lunch before a walking tour of the tiny city. Thimphu is probably the only capital in the world without any traffic lights! We will take a stroll and visit the Memorial Chorten (shrine) of the 3rd King of Bhutan Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, and whatever else time and our interest allow.

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 09~Sightseeing and hiking in Thimphu

After breakfast, we are off for sightseeing and hiking. We have a lot to see today! Depending on your interest, pace and available time, we may or may not visit all the sights listed below. We first visit the weekend market of Thimphu, if we are here during the weekend. Farmers from the neighboring villages come to sell their fresh produce. We will also visit the archery field to see the national sports of Bhutan.

Next, we can visit the National Institute Zorig Chusum that offers a six-year course on Bhutan's traditional arts and crafts, including painting, wood carving, embroidery, and statue making. Then we can head to the Folk Heritage Museum, a three-story mud and timber building that replicates a century-old traditional farmhouse that gives us a glimpse of not only the lives of ancient Bhutanese people, but also many rural people even today.

Next, we can visit the Takin Sanctuary. Takin– a kind of sheep by way of antelope — are the National animals of Bhutan and believed to exist only in Bhutan Himalaya. On the way back, stop at the Zilukha Nunnery in Drubthob Goemba, home to 40-60 Buddhist nuns.

We can visit the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Center, which produces traditional hand-woven textiles and has a selection of cloth and ready-made garments for sale. Here, you can see the local women working their looms. 

Next, visit the Changangkha Temple, one of the oldest in Thimphu, built in the 12th Century. The temple houses Chenrizig (Avolokitesawara), an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation as the central statue. 

In the afternoon, we can visit the World’s Largest Buddha Image — Buddha Dordenma, situated atop a hill overlooking the Thimphu Valley. This 169 feet tall image is the latest addition to Thimphu's attractions and houses a large chapel, while the body itself enshrines 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. 

An option: hiking enthusiasts keen to experience monastic lives away from the crowds of town can take a half-day hike to Tango Goemba monastery. You’ll miss some sights listed above, though. Tango Goema Monastery is Bhutan's highest learning center for Buddhist studies. All Je Khenpo, the religious head of Bhutan, must complete a nine-year program here, including a three-year, three-month, three-day course in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba Monastery! With luck, the monks will be in recess, and we can join them for tea. (Note: on a group tour, there must be a unanimous decision to take this hike.)

Interested in Buddhist astrology? On our way back, we can stop at Pangri Zampa Temple-an astrology school for the state clergy. More than a hundred monks study astrology in this center, and they welcome the public for astrology consultation if anyone is interested. A week-advance notice is requested for scheduling purpose, though. 

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Travlel to Punakha

(77 km/ 48 miles, 3 hrs.)

A scenic three hour or little more drive brings us to Punakha, the former winter capital of Bhutan. As we leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually winds up through villages and pine forests to Dochula Pass (3100m/10168 ft.), marked by 108 Buddhist shrines, flickering with sacred prayers flags offered by the Buddhist devotees. On a clear day, the pass offers a superb panorama of the snow-capped mountains and the valleys.

Two hours later we’ll be in Punakha, the end of a road that drops slowly through the changing vegetation to the sub-tropical lowlands of the Punakha and Wangdue Valleys. After lunch at our resort, we start with a pleasant hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – about 45-60 minutes up, but only 30 minutes down. The temple sits atop a beautiful hillock overlooking the valley. Built by the Queen Mother, and is an example of Bhutan's most beautiful traditional architecture.

Back down, we drive to the stunning Punakha Dzong, probably the most impressive of all the Dzong (fortress) architectures of Bhutan. It has served as the winter capital of Bhutan, and even today the chief abbot moves there from his base in Thimphu.

Optional: If you are a rafting enthusiast, you can experience a 30-minutes or one-hour long rafting in the white waters of Mo Chu River! Cost: $150 for a group of 6 persons.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~Back to Paro

(142 km/89 miles, 4.5-5 hrs)

A short and easy hike that you don't want to miss is Chime Lhakhang Temple. It's less than 10 minutes from the main road, and the trail goes through paddy fields and villages. You will be surprised to see the phallic arts in the houses. You might even see the door handles or knobs carved out in the shape of a phallus! Ask your guide why. The temple is also known as 'Fertility Temple,' and it's associated with the Lama Drukpa Kuenley who is famously known as the Divine Madman!

Now, we retrace our drive across Dhochula Pass to Paro. Shortly before the pass, we can stop at Lamperi Botanical Garden that preserves the rich fauna including Rhododendron flowers. After a lunch stop in Dhochula, we will continue to Paro.

Balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12~The ultimate Taktsang Monastery-a.k.a Tiger's Nest

A special day, with an early start. After breakfast, we’ll hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, a highlight of any trip to Bhutan. The monastery is dramatically perched on the edge of a 4000-foot cliff above the valley floor; it is an unbelievable sight. The hike up is less than three hours. With a prior arrangement, ponies can take us two-thirds of the way up, but no further. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rinpoche by Tibetans and Bhutanese, flew on a tigress from Tibet and landed at the monastery’s site. Guru meditated in a cave here, it is said, and subdued the local demons and established the supremacy of Buddhism in Bhutan.

On the way back to the town, we will the ancient Kyichu Lakhang Temple, notable as one 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet built miraculously over a single night in the 7th century in order to subdue a demon!

This afternoon, visit a typical Bhutanese farm family and their colorful farmhouse, made up of wood without the use of a single nail! With prior arrangement, we can share a traditional meal with the family.

Experience Traditional Hot Stone Bath (Optional): 
After such an active day, we recommend a traditional Bhutanese Hot stone bath, an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other diseases. Your guide needs one-day advance notice to arrange the hot stone bath and it can be taken at some hotel or a private farmhouse. The estimated cost is $25 per person.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13~Depart Paro
The tour ends today. You hae the options to fly to Kathmandu or Delhi or Bangkok and connect with your international flight back home.
Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Accommodation on double occupancy basis in three-star hotels (by local standard)
  • Daily Breakfast at your hotel in Tibet and Kathmandu and full board while in Bhutan.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle.
  • Tibet entry permit and Bhutan visa.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • English speaking certified guides.

Trip does not include

  • International and internal airfare.
  • Airport Taxes.
  • Chinese and Nepal visa.
  • Lunch and dinner in Tibet and Kathmandu.
  • Drinks, tip, and other personal expenses.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • All extra expenses caused due to nature or unforeseen events.
  • Excess baggage charges.

Chinese visa and permits

Remaining validity of your passport must be a minimum of six months beyond your return date. Make sure you have two-blank visa pages for each country you travel on this trip.

Chinese visa & Tibetan permits

You need to apply for a Chinese visa in your country and provide us a copy of the visa and photo page of the passport a minimum 45 days before your trip date. We will obtain your Tibet entry permit in Lhasa and will ship it to your address (e.g., hotel) at the gateway city in China, such as Beijing or Chengdu. Tibetan tourism does not allow shipping permits to the foreign address. You will need to present the original document to get on the flight to Lhasa. Besides Entry Permit, there will be a few other permits that your Guide will be holding for you.

Nepal Visa

You can apply for Nepal visa on arrival. Currently, the visa fee costs $ 25 and one picture for a 15-day multiple entry visa.  

Bhutan eVisa

Bhutan visa is the part of the tour, and we will apply it for you. We will email you a copy of eVisa about a two or three weeks before your trip date. You will get your visa seal on the passport upon arrival at Paro. 

Accommodations and facilities

The trip includes local three-star hotels that ensure adequate amenities and facilities. You will have a private bathroom with running hot and cold water. They have heating and cooling provisions, cabled or wireless internet and minimum toiletry supplies. Some of them also provide hair dryers, iron, and ironing board but do not expect these everywhere. 

Trip meals.

You will have daily breakfast at your hotels while in  Tibet and Kathmandu and three meals a day while in Bhutan. Meals are usually served in buffet or set menu. Hotels in Tibet and Kathmandu have onsite restaurants where you can eat your dinner, or you can go to restaurants nearby. Your guide will be the best resource person to ask for a recommendation.

In Bhutan, you are likely to eat most of your meals at your hotel, unless you are on a road trip or a day hike, you will be provided packed lunch or eat in a roadside restaurant. They serve meals in buffet style, or it will be a set menu that includes rice dishes, stir-fried or curried vegetables, one or two meat items, spaghetti or noodles, Indian style chapati bread or local buckwheat bread, etc. Bhutanese dishes use a lot of cheese and hot pepper! The food pattern is similar in all hotels, and soon you can find it monotonous. Your guide may take you out for one or two dinners out in local restaurants in the town. If you wish, you will also have an opportunity to eat one meal in a local farmhouse. Please, bear in mind, Bhutan is not a destination for fine dining!

Transportation

Tibetan roads are now significantly improved, and so 4WD vehicles are not a need for most of the trips in central Tibet. We provide air-conditioned van and buses for all transfers and tours. Drivers speak little or no English. In Bhutan, depending on the group size, we provide Korean or Japanese made SUVs, vans or buses.

Guide

You will be accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable English speaking local guide in each country whom you meet at the airport upon arrival. Your guide helps you check in hotel, coordinate with the driver, deals with the checkpoints and local bureaucracies where required and of courses leads you on sightseeing and excursions and will always be willing to show you the wonders of the area. Guide and driver are different persons, and your driver may or may not speak English.

Vaccination and health concerns

There is no mandatory vaccination required to travel to Tibet and Bhutan, but you are expected to be up-to-date on your routine vaccines. Other recommended vaccines are Hep A, rabies, meningitis, typhoid, cholera, etc. Please, consult with your physician or check out the website of CDC for each country.

Tibet is in a high plateau and has thin air, and so the main health consideration in Tibet is altitude related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Everyone, when they first land in Lhasa, is likely to experience some mild symptoms initially such as headache, lethargy, nausea, and sleeplessness, but these symptoms should go away in a few days. If the symptoms persist or worsens, you should seek medical help. Travelers with cardiac-pulmonary issues or any other medical conditions are recommended to consult their physician before you sign up for this trip.

Although the trip doesn't require you to be in athletic shape, you are expected to participate in sightseeing and hiking excursions that involves walking, climbing stairs and a brisk day hiking. So, it's advisable that you start some physical exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, and aerobics about several weeks ahead of the trip that helps you keep fit and also reduces the chance of getting altitude sickness. You should have a good sleep the night before you fly into Lhasa and take complete rest on the first day. It's also advisable to drink 3-4 liters of water daily and consume liquid food.

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking and Cancellation

When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking. The internal flights are the critical factor as there are limited flights between Tibet and Nepal and Nepal to Bhutan.  We request an initial deposit of US$ 300 with a completed trip registration form. We will advise you for the second payment once we book the internal flights for you.  

Balance Payment

Balance payment is due 90 days before your departure. We may set an early payment date on the case to case basis or if any suppliers demand an earlier payment. Final payment by credit card attracts an additional 3.5% fee to cover the merchant's commission. 

Cancellations

  • Ninety days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's before departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five days to 59 days before departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Thirty days to 44 days before departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage, etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses, and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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