Best of Bhutan and the Kathmandu valley 14 days
Bhutan was without a doubt one of the great highlights of our trips in 2023. It is one of the worlds most enigmatic destinations, they limit tourism to the "high" end, and measure their progress each year on the happiness scale, how cool is that.
The accomodation we have chosen on this trip is comfortable,
3-4* and we have planned the trip to have 2 nights at most hotels to enjoy a more leisurely pace. We have added 2 nights more in this year in Bhutan as last year everyone wanted more.
Yes it is an adventure trip, and you will need average fitness, but there is comfort, wherever we can provide it. On this trip we will get to see the very best of Bhutan along with the, Imperial cities of Nepal's Kathmandu valley.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu /day at leisure/hotel. (D)
You can arrive any time today. We will be waiting to greet you at our arrival hotel and will provide easy instructions on how to get there from the airport..
Free time before this evening when we will meet for a traditional Nepali welcome and dinner. Our guide for the trip will brief us on our day to day itinerary during our "welcome" dinner this evening. (2 night stay)
Day 2: Kathmandu sightseeing. (B)
After breakfast, embark on a tour of Kathmandu, Patan Dubar Square, Krishna Temple, and Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, a Buddhist monastery. Next is Pashupatinath, the temple of Lord Shiva. This is probably the most famous temple for Hindu in Indian Sub-continent. There is a crematorium beside the temple where family members are cremated. Then to Boudhanath, which is possibly the largest stupa in the world and the center for Tibetan Buddhism. It is a full but very rewarding day.
Day 3: Fly to Paro / Drive to Thimphu. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we have a transfer to the airport for our morning flight to Paro. On arrival we will meet our local Bhutanese guide who will be with us for the duration of our time in Bhutan.
We then have a scenic drive to our hotel with some interesting stops, enjoying a Bhutanese lunch on the way.
In the afternoon we will take a cultural tour of the capital city of Thimphu, before checking in at our lovely central hotel (2 night stay)
Day 4: Sightseeing in Thimphu. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha that sits at the Buddha View Point overlooking the stunning panoramic views of the city. Thimphu is the only capital city in the world without any traffic lights. There will be the option to do a hike from here back to town through the forests, or to have some free time to walk around and enjoy the city before we visit the Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest monastery in the valley.
DAY 05. Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley / Gangtey Valley
(B, L, D)
After an early breakfast, we will embark on a scenic drive over the Dochula Pass, reaching an altitude of 10,200 feet, and continue our journey to the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. If the weather is clear, we will have the wonderful opportunity to witness panoramic views of Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan's highest mountain, standing at an impressive 24,840 feet.
As we descend, we will pass through the tropical valley of Punatsang Chhu River, catching a magnificent view of Wangdue Dzong along the way. Throughout the journey, you will be treated to breathtaking vistas of the vast and remote Phobjikha valley and the striking black mountain ranges.
Upon reaching Phobjikha, you will experience the traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle still prevalent among the villagers. This valley is renowned for hosting hundreds of black-necked cranes each November, after their summer sojourn in Tibet. To preserve their habitat and avoid disturbing them, the valley does not have electricity.
Please note that today's drive is our longest on this trip and will be quite lengthy, spanning about 6-7 hours. However, we will make several breaks along the way for lunch, to relish scenic views, and capture photographs of the stunning landscapes.
Day 06. Phobjikha Valley - Gangtey Nature Trail (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will take a 15-minute drive to the Cranes Museum. After a brief exploration of the museum, we will embark on a delightful walk that will take approximately 2 hours, providing us with a wonderful experience of the scenic Phobjikha valley. This nature trail is considered the most beautiful of the short trails in Bhutan.
Starting from a small hilltop with a captivating view of Gangtey Goemba, we will proceed downhill, passing through flower meadows, and continue to the village of Semchubara. From here, we'll venture into beautiful forests and eventually arrive at the open valley. Along the way, we will come across a Chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. The trail concludes at the local community school, which involves a 30-minute walk back to town.
The Nature Trail can also be combined with a visit to Gangtey Goemba, a remarkable 16th-century monastery situated atop a hill, overlooking Gangtey village, and serving as a significant landmark of Phobjikha Valley.
Day 07: Phobjikha to Punakha (B L, D)
After breakfast, we will set out on a pleasant 3.5-hour drive to Punakha, where we will enjoy a delicious lunch. Following that, we will embark on a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, affectionately known as The Fertility Temple. This sacred temple is dedicated to the revered 15th-century saint, Drukpa Kunley, famously known as the "Divine Madman." He was known for his unorthodox methods of teaching Buddhism, which involved singing, drinking, and engaging in unconventional behaviour.
At Chimi Lhakhang, visitors often seek blessings for fertility and well-being. The temple's unique history and picturesque surroundings make it a fascinating place to explore and learn about Bhutanese culture and traditions. After our visit, we will return to our accommodations for a comfortable evening in Punakha.
Day 8: Punakha (B, L, D)
Early morning, a short trek to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten with wonderful views of the valley and its terraced paddy fields. See the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan stretching the length of 350m over Pho Chhu River. Visit the Punakha Dzong, which counts as the most intricately decorated monastery in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
If time permits, we’ll visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery with Bhutanese and Nepali style stupa, overlooking the valley from the high hill. Late afternoon at leisure. A very special day!
Day 9: Punakha to Paro (B, L, D)
After breakfast drive to Paro through the same road we took 2 days before with great view of himalaya and landscape. Here we visit the National Museum Ta Dzong, and the Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong), the monastery where the Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha movie was filmed. The Paro Valley is breathtakingly beautiful. (2 night stay)
Day 10: Paro (B, L, D)
Today is the highlight of our trip of Bhutan a walking tour of Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest. While the trek is challenging, it is definitely worth the effort. If you do not wish to climb all the way to the monastery, you can climb halfway to the cafeteria, which has great views of Taktsang. Come back to hotel, have a rest or go for spa.
Day 11: Fly to Kathmandu and drive to Nagerkot (B)
After breakfast, we will check our flight schedule and then proceed to the Paro International Airport for our flight back to Kathmandu. The flight on a clear day has breath-taking view of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other majestic Himalayan mountains, making the journey an awe-inspiring experience.
Once we arrive in Kathmandu, we will take a scenic drive to Nagarkot, a renowned hill station known for its mesmerizing Himalayan views, and picturesque countryside scenery. Nagarkot's charm lies in its panoramic vistas of the Himalayas and the serene countryside, providing us with a memorable and refreshing experience. The journey to Nagarkot promises to be delightful, allowing us to appreciate the natural splendour's of Nepal along the way. Its about 1.5-2 hrs drive. (1 night stay)
Day 12: Drive to Bhaktapur (B)
After relishing the breath-taking sunrise and the mesmerizing Himalayan vistas, we will enjoy a delicious breakfast before embarking on a scenic 45-minute drive to Bhaktapur. This enchanting medieval town will captivate you with its marvellous wood carvings, royal palace, temples, and beautiful squares, providing a delightful cultural experience. (2 night stay)
Day 13: Full day in Bhaktapur at your leisure
Today marks the final day of our journey, and it's a day to enjoy some personal time for shopping, spa relaxation, and the discovery of Bhaktapur's hidden gems. You have the freedom to explore the unexplored, savouring the unique charm of this medieval town and making the most of this special time for yourself. Whether it's indulging in local handicrafts, pampering yourself with a spa treatment, or wandering through the lesser-known corners of Bhaktapur.
Day 14: Depart for home
From Bhaktapur its a short 40min to the airport and we can book taxis at anytime today to get you to your departing flight easily, many of the flights leave late in the evening giving you the chance for some extra time to enjoy Bhaktapur.
02nd November - 15th November 2024
Starting and finishing in Nepal Kathmandu (KTM)
Small group Min 6 max 12
This years trip is hosted by Richard OTS founder
For you international flights you will need to fly into and out of Kathmandu (KTM). Singapore airlines has great connections from NZ and OZ, Qatar and Japan airlines from USA.
Option for those with the time to arrive a couple of days early and experience Diwali in Kathmandu on November 1st.
What's Not Included:
Cost : USD $4750 per person (Twin share).
Single room supplement $650 USD per person
NB Bhutan has a deposit of $1000pp to secure your place.
Singles we will try and match you up with a buddy if desired, but if we cannot then the supplement has to be paid.
When in 2022 the parliament of Bhutan put the entry tax up 200% we feared this would be the last trip we made there. However there has been a temporary concession made, by taking full advantage of the concession rules we have been able to create a 9 day in Bhutan tour of exceptional value.
Due to the nature of adventure travel and the prices of the resources on which it depends, the published price of any trip is subject to change at any time, before or after booking confirmation, up to 60 days before the departure.
Options and methods of payment.