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Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan Cultural Tour explores the history, culture and religion as well as the art and crafts of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Your 16-day journey begins in the capital of China, Beijing, where you tour the city’s most prominent landmarks. Next, fly to Lhasa and see landscapes that have inspired epic adventures and tales of travel. Travel a little outside of Lhasa and tour the beautiful Namtso Lake. Take a flight to Kathmandu and tour several UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the Kathmandu Valley. Take a flight to Paro, Bhutan and visit several Bhutanese townships and tour prominent landmarks. The trip ends with a hike to the Taktsang Monastery.
|Day 01 Arrival in Beijing|
|Day 02 Beijing sightseeing|
|Day 03 Fly to Lhasa|
|Day 04 Lhasa sightseeing: Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Tibet Museum|
|Day 05 A day excursion to Namtso Lake|
|Day 06 Lhasa sightseeing: Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar|
|Day 07 Fly to Kathmandu|
|Day 08 Sightseeing in Kathmandu: Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath and Bauddhanath|
|Day 09 Sightseeing: Thimi, Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan and Nagarkot|
|Day 10 Fly to Paro, drive to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft): 1 hour|
|Day 11 Sightseeing in Thimphu|
|Day 12 Thimphu to Punakha|
|Day 13 Sightseeing in Punakha|
|Day 14 Drive from Punakha to Paro|
|Day 15 Hike to Tigers Nest Monastery||4-5 hrs|
|Day 16 Final departure|
After your arrival at the Beijing airport you will be greeted by our guide who will drop you off at your hotel where you will be required to check-in. Overnight in Beijing.
With more than 3000 years of history, Beijing has rich assortment of well-preserved cultural and imperial relics. Today we tour Tian’anmen Square, which is an extensive open area in central Beijing. Then walk north into the Forbidden City. For five hundred years, it served as home for the emperors of China. Later we visit the Summer Palace which was constructed from 1749 to 1764 and is the grandest imperial playground in China with elaborate Qing-style pavilions, bridges, walkways, and gardens scattered around the immense Kunming Lake. Overnight in Beijing.
Upon our arrival in Lhasa, a representative from Himalayan Glacier will pick us up either from the airport for about an hour’s drive to our designated hotel in Lhasa. We are advised to take plenty of rest for the remainder of the day in order to minimize altitude sickness. Overnight in Lhasa.
We begin sightseeing in Lhasa after breakfast. Today is the day we visit the beautiful Potala and Norbulingka Palaces. Built in the 17th century, Potala Palace provides amazing views of the entire city and houses the private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Norbulingka Palace is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and houses what is considered to be the largest man-made garden in Tibet. Next, we visit the Tibet Traditional Hospital which is the center for the treatment, training, research and production of Tibetan medicine. Overnight in Lhasa.
After breakfast, we drive for 4 hours to visit the Namtso Lake (4,718m/15,479ft), located about 240km to the northwest of Lhasa. Today, we witness the grandeur of the world’s highest salt water lake of its size and also acclimatize to the high altitude. The word ‘Namtso’ literally means ‘heavenly lake’. With its deep blue water and the fact that it is surrounded by the amazing Himalayan ranges, we realize that the name given to the lake is indeed a perfect match. After spending some quality time at the lake, we drive back to Lhasa. Overnight in Lhasa.
After breakfast we visit Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. Drepung Monastery, which was built in the 14th century, is believed to have sheltered around 10,000 monks in the past but as of now there has been quite a declination resulting in only a few hundreds. The history, culture, and religious beliefs of the Tibetan people are strongly concentrated and centered in this marvelous monastery. Sera Monastery is a preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Jokhang Temple is another important sacred site which unravels more deep-seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. We further stroll through Barkhor Bazaar (market). With its open air stalls, shops and crowd of pilgrims, it is the nerve centre of Lhasa.
From Lhasa we fly to the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu. A representative from Himalayan Glacier will pick us up from the airport and drop us off at our hotel. After checking in we can take a rest and unpack. In the evening, there will be a dinner hosted by Himalayan Glacier. For dinner, you will be served excellent Nepalese cuisine which will introduce you to the country’s food culture. Overnight in Kathmandu.
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing tour by visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Kathmandu. Kathmandu Durbar Square showcases Nepalese art and architecture at its best. The architecture is typical of the Malla dynasty who ruled over Nepal from the 12th to the 18th century. Swayambhunath Temple is popular among the foreigners as the Monkey Temple owing to the large monkey population residing in the area. Pashupatinath Temple is situated on the banks of river Bagmati and is one of the principal temples of Lord Shiva. The Bauddhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in South Asia which is built on the ancient trade route to Tibet.
Thimi is about 10 kilometers east of Kathmandu and is famous for earthen wares, masks, puppets, hand-woven clothes and other handicrafts. The place is also well-known for its sweet, beaten rice grown on tradition fields. We also visit Bhakatpur, an irresistible city with an authentic local lifestyle preserved over centuries of isolation from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. While in the city square, we get to admire the Nyata-Pola Temple, the Golden Gate, water spouts and the 55 Window Palace which merge together to provide an ambiance of a magical outdoor theater to its visitors. We also immerse ourselves in the authentic delicacy of the local food in Bhaktapur. Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu valley and boasts of being the oldest pagoda style building of Nepal. Today we also visit Nagarkot, a village in Bhaktapur which sits at 7,200 ft and boasts stunning Himalayan vistas. It is also renowned for its sunrise and sunset views of the Himalayas. Depending on your choice, we will visit Nagarkot either for sunrise or for sunset.
As your flight nears Bhutan, you can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Chomolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, you will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take you to your hotel in Thimphu for a good night’s sleep. However, if your flight arrives early and you want to visit a few places in Thimphu then it can be arranged too. Overnight in Thimphu.
In the morning, we visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), nunnery temple, mini zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Today, we also visit other landmarks of Thimphu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school, folk heritage museum, the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed in the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekends, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimphu.
In the morning, we visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), nunnery temple, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school and the folk heritage museum. After lunch, we drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass (3,100m).From the pass, we drive downhill through the rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We then pass through rice fields along river banks and reach Punakha.
We begin our tour of Punakha after breakfast. Punakha Dzong was built between 1637-1638 and is the second oldest and the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Today we also visit Chimmi Lhakhang temple of the Divine Madman Lama Drukpa Kuenley. The temple is mostly frequented by couples wishing to procure children. Later we walk for a while and tour the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten built by the Queen of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. Overnight in Punakha.
After breakfast, we begin our drive to the Paro valley. In Paro, we visit Rinpung Dzong which means “fortress made from a heap of jewels.”We will also visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country and Drugyal Dzong, built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast, we hike for 4 to 5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where the Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor. Overnight in Paro.
Our journey ends today. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.
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