HIMALAYA GRAND TOUR (NEPAL - TIBET - BHUTAN)

  
Code HH19D

Price £6,495 per person

Best time to travel : April to October

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A fantastic three week long voyage along the Himalaya to closely encounter incredibly enchanting natural beauty and discover peaceful ancient towns & villages, enthralling Buddhism practice and fascinating culture and traditions.

Kathmandu - Pokhara - Bakthapur - Lhasa - Yamdrok lake - Paro - Thimpu - Punakha - Wangdue - Trongsa- Bumthang - Phobjikha.

Price includes : Visa for Nepal (multiple entries) & Bhutan and Tibet Travel permit, private chauffeur driven car, English speaking local guides, hotels as specified or similar with daily breakfast, sightseeing tours, entrance fees, internal flights and flights between Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan, main meals where stated.
Price excludes : International flights to Kathmandu and return, other meals, optional visits, video & camera fees, tipping and any service not specified.

Day 01 Fly to Kathmandu.

Day 02 Kathmandu (-/-/D)
Arrive Kathmandu. Meet & assist at the airport and transfer to Hotel Yak & Yeti.

Rest of the day is at leisure to relax after flights.
Evening watch "Aarati" to from the bank of river Bagmati. Every evening hundreds of people gather on the bank of river Bagmati to offer "Aarati" (traditional lights) to Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath temple and chant prayers. Special praying songs are presented by singers with traditional musical instruments. Dinner and overnight in Kathmandu
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boudha stupa
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durbar square Kathmandu
Day 03 Kathmandu (B/-/D)
Kathmandu tour includes Pashupatinath, the holiest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Nepal is situated on the bank of the sacred Bagmati river, the temple is built in pagoda style with gilt roof and richly carved silver doors on four sides. Boudhanath temple is one of the biggest in the world of its kind. It stands with four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal direction keeping watch for righteous behaviour and human prosperity. The shrine is ringed by houses of Lamas (Buddhist priest) and Monasteries.
Afternoon explore Kathmandu City- Nowhere in the world can one find the same concentration of culture, art and tradition that exits in Kathmandu valley. Once known as Kantipur, the city is a concentration of temples. In Durbar Square is the residence of Kumari the Virgin Goddess who acknowledges the greetings of the devotees from the balcony of her temple residence also Kasthmandap Temple, the source of the name of Kathmandu, Hanuman Dhoka the ancient palace of the Nepalese Royalty.
Complete the day with a visit to Soyambhunath situated on the hillock. This Buddhist Stupa is said to be over 2000 years old. The Stupa which forms the main structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four sided base of the spire are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. This hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and Pagoda temples. From the hillock, one can have a spectacular view of Kathmandu city.
Dinner and overnight in Kathmandu
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changunarayan temple
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phewa lake
Day 04 Pokhara (B/-/D)
Depart by road to Pokhara (210 km- approx 5 hours drive). En-route visit Manakamana Temple by Cable Car. The rare combination of snow-clad peaks and snow fed lakes and rivers has helped to make the valley of Pokhara one of the most picturesque natural attractions in Nepal. There may be no other place in the world from where Great Himalayas peaks can be admired from such a close distance. Dinner and overnight at Fish tail Lodge.

Day 05 Pokhara (B/-/D)
Morning half day sightseeing tour in Pokhara : The Devi's Fall, Seti River Gorge, Mahendra Cave and Bindebaseni Temple. Afternoon at leisure for boating on Phewa lake or lakeside walk. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.

Day 06 Kathmandu (B/-/D)
Transfer to airport for a morning flight back to Kathmandu (25 mins). Arrive Kathmandu and transfer to hotel. Afternoon visit to Patan city, Bungmati and Khokana villages. Patan City known as Lalitpur is 6 Km south of Kathmandu city. It is full of Buddhist monuments, Hindu temples and the ancient Palace. Patan city is renowned for wood carving and metal works. It is also known as the city of artists.
About 6km South of Patan lies the two medieval villages of Bungmati and Khokana. To reach these villages one has to follow the straight road from the Tibetan refugee Camp, Jawalakhel. About 5000 people live in Bungmati and 3000 inhabitants in Khonkana. Most of the people are Newars. From Khokana it is 15 minutes walk to Bungmati. In these villages one can see typical Newari houses. Also these villages are popular for chilly and mustard oil. The best time to visit Bungmati and Khokana is in October and November because at that time the whole village looks colourful. Farmers hang red chilly garland from the top floor to the ground floor in the whole village.

Day 07 Kathmandu/Lhasa (B/-/D)
Transfer to airport and fly over the highest mountains of the world to Gongar airport (approx 1 hour flight). In a clear sky Mt. Everest can be seen very clearly. On arrival transfer to Lhasa. Rest of the day free for acclimatization. Dinner and overnight at 4* Four Point Sheraton.

Day 08 Lhasa (B/L/D)
Lhasa sightseeing tour of Jokhang Temple, the foremost temple in Tibet, built in the 7th century AD and now housing the most precious Buddhist relic, a 1300 year old Sakyamuni Buddha statue. The main section of the temple is topped with golden roofs found nowhere else, except in Tibet. Watch the many worshippers paying their respects at the main gate. The Jokhang is encircled by the Barkhour Bazar, a sacred pilgrim path and also a lively and colourful market, where you can bargain over "treasures" such as ornate long bladed knives, prayer wheels and exquisite jewellery.
After lunch visit to the Sera Monastery. Sera is more like a small town on the outskirts of Lhasa, at the base of Tatipu hill. It is the main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa Universities - one housing more than 5500 monks. Here one can see the young novices learning scriptures in the debating garden and being rewarded for a correct answer by a resounding hand-clap from their master, Sera is also the birthplace of Tibetan medicine.
Dinner and overnight in Lhasa.
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Phalkor Chorten
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Sera Monastery
Day 09 Lhasa (B/L/D)
Morning is reserved for Potala Palace, the dominant landmark of Lhasa, 117 m above the city. The construction started on the red hill in 1645 under the 5th Dalai Lama. This is an immense 13 floor building with walls 3 m thick and over 1000 rooms, containing 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues. The place was both the residence of the current Dalai Lama and the tomb to the former head of state. The entire building is made of stone and wood and covers an area of 130,000 m2.
Afternoon visit to the Norbulingka Palace on the banks of Kyichu river, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas (8th to 14th). The small palace of the of the 13th Dalai Lama is an odd mixture of traditional Tibetan architecture and modern paraphernalia, such as philips radiogram and Victorian bathroom fittings. Dinner & overnight in Lhasa.

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Monk's debate
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Norbulingka
Day 10 Yamdrok Lake - Lhasa (B/L/D)
Drive to Yamdrok Lake (also known as Yamdrok Tso), a freshwater lake in Tibet. It is one of the three largest sacred lakes Tibet. It is over 72 km long. The lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and is fed by numerous small streams. The lake has an outlet stream at its far western end. Around 90 km to the west of the lake lies the Tibetan town, Gyantse. The lake (638 km² in area, 30m average depth and 60m at its deepest) is fan-shaped, spreading to the south but narrowing up to the north. The mountainous lakeshore is highly crenellated, with numerous bays and inlets. Lake Yamdrok freezes in winter. Today, both pilgrims and tourists can be seen walking along the lake perimeter. One of the lake islands contains an old fort or castle called Pede Dzong. From April to October, fish caught from this lake are sold at markets in Lhasa. Additionally, the lake islands serve as rich pasture land to local herdsmen. Return to Lhasa. Dinner & overnight in Lhasa.
Yamdrok lake

Day 11 Lhasa/Kathmandu (B/-/D)
Early morning transfer to airport for your flight to Kathmandu. On arrival transfer to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur City, the city of devotees is the cradle of medieval art and architecture. Situated 12 km to the east of Kathmandu City, this place was founded in the 9th century and is shaped like a conch shell. The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces - the Lion Gate, the Palace of 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Nyatapola temple which is the best example of Pagoda style structure in Nepal. Dinner in town. Overnight at Bhaktapur Heritage Hotel.

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Lhasa

Day 12 Kathmandu/Paro -Thimpu (B/L/D)
Morning transfer to airport and fly to the Kingdom of Happiness. A flight to Bhutan offers spectacular views of the world highest mountains including Mount Everest. On arrival in Paro international airport meeting with our representative and car transfer to Thimphu (2,400m altitude ), approximately an hour drive. Upon arrival check into your hotel.
After lunch visit the National Memorial Chorten, stupa built in the memory of late 3rd king. Next is the National Textile Museum, Zhorig Chusum, school where 13 different arts are learnt & practised. We will also hop into nearby Folk Heritage Museum and perhaps time to stroll the main street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles. Dinner and overnight at Peaceful Resort in Thimphu.
Thimpu

Day 13 Thimpu (B/L/D)
After a leisurely breakfast head to the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong and further north to hike to Cheri Goenpa monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom. The hike takes about 45 mins to reach the temple on a trail crossing a beautiful cantilever bridge and through the forest. Opportunity to see birds and wild animals.
Back in town for lunch and explore some of the remaining places like traditional paper making workshops, textile weaving centre. Dinner and overnight in Thimphu.

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Day 14 Punakha (B/L/D)
After breakfast depart by road to Punakha over Dochula pass at 3088 m altitude. Weather permitting enjoy a spectacular view of the highest mountains of Bhutan at a point that stretches almost 180 degrees. After a pinic lunch visit Punakha Dzong (fortress) which houses the most elaborated temple in the country. For those who are interested the Souvenir making Centre before starting a hike to Khamsum Yulay Namgyal Chorten. Dinner & overnight at Dhensa Boutique hotel.

Day 15 Punakha - Wangdue - Trongsa - Bumthang (B/L/D)
After breakfast, get ready for a long drive to the valley of white bird. The drive passes through Wangdue, Pelela, Trongsa and Yotongla. Stop for a leg stretch walk at Pelela pass and stopover at Trongsa for lunch. After lunch, visit beautiful Trongsa Dzong and further drive to Bumthang stopping at Yatha wool weaving centre. Check in Yugarling hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 16 Bumthang (B/L/D)
Morning visit Jampay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples built in the country. This is the home of the naked dance that is still performed annually. Next visit Kurjey temple, the site where the royals were cremated. One can either walk cross the suspension bridge and visit the village of Parar and Tamshing on foot or by car. End the day with a walk passing by the Swiss farm. Evening stroll in Jakar town and try some local pancakes and noodles, Bumthang specialties. Overnight in Bumthang.
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Day 17 Bumthang - Phobjikha (B/L/D)
Enjoy the freshness of morning breeze from Chamkhar river. After the breakfast, drive to the valley of black necked cranes and rhododendron before descending into Phobjikha valley. On arrival visit Gangtey Gompa, the largest and the only monastery of the Nyingmapa sect in western Bhutan. Finish the day with an optional walk on the beautiful gangtey trail. Dinner & overnight at Dewachen Hotel.

Day 18 Phobjikha - Paro (B/L/D)
After the breakfast, we will check out from the hotel and retrace the drive to Paro. On arrival in Paro we will visit National Museum, the first of its kind which has a collection from natural history to religious paintings. Visit 17 century Paro Dzong (Fortress) on foot and continue walking through the oldest wooden bridge still in use. Evening stroll old Paro town and peep into some local handicraft stores or we will provide the options to enjoy other activities while in Paro. Overnight at Naksel boutique hotel in Paro, altitude 2200m

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Taktshang Goemba

Day 19 Paro (B/L/D)
The day starts with a visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here, an intriguing collection of artifacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lays the dominating Paro Dzong, fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge, and guests are then driven to the town. Paro options include picturesque picnic spots or, perhaps, a visit to a traditional farmhouse to lunch with the family. In the afternoon, hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four-hour trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. Dinner & overnight in Paro

Day 20 Paro/Kathmandu (B/-/D)
After the breakfast, transfer to airport for flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. Afternoon time at leisure for shopping.
Evening enjoy a collection of dance performances from different parts of Nepal followed by farewell Nepalese dinner. Overnight at Radisson Hotel.

Day 21 Departure (B/-/-)
In due time car transfer to airport for flight home.