Unexplored South Asia (Bangladesh & Bhutan) Combo Tour
YPT has been running tours to Tibet for several years now. It was only natural then, after offering this classic for that long, that we’d get interested in offering you the neighbours of the region. Looking more and more into For the first time this year, YPT offers you the opportunity to join us for a tour of Bangladesh and Bhutan, with the option to have a shorter or longer time in Bangladesh, based on your time and budget.
A land of rivers, Bangladesh has been completely off the radar when it comes to tourism, especially when compared to its neighbour, India. Bangladesh offers frantic action and the same kind of noise, colours and fragrance overload as India, only without the peddlers and the hordes of tourists. You’ll journey from the capital city of Dhaka to the village of Tangail where we stay with the locals. We’ll see UNESCO sites, mosques, ruins and temples, including the Bagerhat mosques and the temple city of Putia. All of this with the YPT sauce, homestays with hill tribes and a visit to the world’s infamous shipbreaking yard of Chittagong.
If you do not have much time but would like to see a bit of Bangladesh and Bhutan, join for our shorter version of the Bangladesh leg, taking in a bit of Dhaka and Chittagong.
Throughout the Bhutan section of the trip, we will visit the capital city of Thimphu and take in all of its museums and monasteries. We’ll then head to Punakha to visit the Temple of Fertility, built by the Divine Madman as well as other masterpieces of Buddhist architecture. It wouldn’t be a tour of Bhutan without visiting its most impressive building, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, built on the flank of a mountain near Paro.
The longer part of the trip you book, the best deal you get and if this wasn’t good enough, we are throwing in the flights to connect the whole thing! Discounts available for all our returners!
Meet your tour leader at our centrally-located hotel at 6pm and go for a welcome dinner and drinks.
Overnight in Dhaka
Tuesday 23rd June – Dhaka
This morning, after breakfast, we head to the busy Karan Bazar. If you had not noticed before, you are in Bangladesh. Prepare yourself for a rush of colours, fragrances, noises and people, along with formidable photo ops!
We will then head to the Parliament building of Dhaka, one of the most impressive buildings in the whole country.
Our next stop is the Lalbag fort, a prime example of Mogul architecture and a great place to get views of the city.
Dhaka University! Here, we are sure to bump into friendly and very curious students as they show us around the sites here like the Language Monument, Curzon Hall and the Dakheswari Temple
Lunch of the various Bangladeshi curries, pride of a culture!
By then, it will be time to hop on a rickshaw for a city tour of Dhaka, stopping by the Star Mosque and the Hindu street.
Visit the Pink Palace, or Ahsan Manzil
As the sunset and the merchants are slowly packing up, we’ll go for a walk around the riverfront of Sadargaht.
Before calling it a day, we’ll end out on a boat ride on the Burigonga river
Overnight in Dhaka
Wednesday 24th June – Dhaka/Tangail
In the morning after grabbing a quick breakfast we’ll transfer to the train station to catch our morning train to Tangail. The trains of Bangladesh are famous around the world for their crowdedness and are sure to be an interesting experience full of encounters
Upon arrival, we will drop off bags in Ubinig Tangail guesthouse
We then head to the weaving work plants of the village. Famous around the whole country, the weavers of Tangail still weave by hand.
Village lunch, trying the local foods of the region
We will then hop on a local tuktuk to go to nearby villages where the inhabitants live by making pottery. We can expect to bump into a few markets along the way and get chai with the inhabitants here and there!
We stop by the Atia Mosque, famous for its terracotta art.
Head back to the hotel before we go for dinner, getting a traditional homecooked Bengali feast. If you are interested, join in in the kitchen and help cook the meal!
After dinner, we’ll go outside to watch fireflies and enjoy the surrounding nature.
Overnight in our guesthouse
Thursday 25th June – Rajshahi
This morning, we hop back on the train, heading to Rajshahi, nicknamed the Silk City.
Check into Hotel Star Inn
The afternoon will be dedicated to exploring Rajshahi, often described as the educational capital of Bangladesh. The city is full of colonial buildings such as the Barendra Museum as well as the Rajshahi cottage.
After having fully visited Rajshahi, we’ll go on a boat trip along the Ganges. While most people visit the Ganges in India, we’ll be seeing a much less seen part of the sub-continent mightiest river.
Overnight in Hotel Star Inn
Friday 26th – Puthiya/Khulna
Today, we take a car to visit the temple city of Putia or Puthiya, on the way, we’ll stop in local villages to catch the hustle and bustle of the morning market.
It is in one of those villages that we’ll stop and try local food found nowhere else.
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – Arrival in the temple city of Putia, which is filled with exquisite temples from aeons ago. We’ll visit Aniket Temple, Govinda Temple, Shiva temple and the palaces. The city was built during the Mughal period and flourished during the British period, the design of the temples and the way of representing the Hindu history in the temples using terracotta statues make it a truly unique place.
In the afternoon, head back to Rajshahi to catch the afternoon train to Khulna
Dinner on the train
Late arrival in Khulna
Overnight in hotel City Inn
Saturday 27th June – Mongla/Bagerhat
After breakfast, we’ll catch our own chartered boat to zip through the Sundarbans heading toward the UNESCO world heritage site of Bagerhat.
Bagerhat is famous for its multiple mosques built to commemorate the famous 15th century Sufi which founded the town. Elsewhere in the world, like Siem Reap or Venice, this place would be crawling with tourists. But, since much of Bangladesh is off the radar, we can expect to have those beautiful sites all for ourselves.
We’ll eat a boxed lunch around the mosques.
Back on our boat, we’ll stop by some dolphin hotspots as well as the Karamgol crocodile breeding center.
Our home for the night is an eco cottage located inside a fisherman village.
Our bamboo cottage is made in traditional architecture and we’ll wander around the fishing village before coming back to a homecooked meal.
Overnight in our eco cottage
Sunday 28th June – Bagerhat/Paddle Steamer
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – After breakfast, we will transfer onwards to what promises to be the journey of a lifetime, a trip from Moraljonj to Dhaka on some of the world’s last paddle steamers!
Bangladesh is the land of rivers, and there is no better trip to see Bangladesh to the fullest than on this epic journey.
As we spend the day on the boat we will stop at around 10 stops, every time the offloading is a unique experience.
Lunch will be served for us on the boat.
We’ll see the sunset from the boat and discuss with the locals, coming from all walks of life in Bangladesh
Dinner served in our first-class cabins
Overnight on the paddle steamer
Monday 29th June– Dhaka/Chittagong – (BEGINNING OF GROUP B)
Arrival back in Dhaka
End of tour for members of Group A, an airport transfer or accommodation can be arranged, get in touch with us.
For those of us continuing onwards, we continue to the airport to catch our morning flight to Chittagong
After arriving in Chittagong, we will head on a city tour of Bangladesh’s second most important city stopping by the World War II cemetery and the Chandarnpura mosque.
Chittagong is famous for its beef curry served in claypots, so we’ll make sure to sample that!
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – We head to the shipbreaking yard at Kumira Shitakuna to see the work done on enormous boats as they are being torn into pieces for recycling. It is the world’s biggest shipbreaking industry and is now world famous. It was the inspiration of a level in the video game series Uncharted and used as a film location in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
If we get permission from the government using our great contacts in the country, we’ll charter a boat to go around the shipbreaking yard and get incredible photo opportunity of this post-apocalyptic landscape. Recently, however, the government has not given the permission to many people to visit the area as it is highly controversial due to the lack of safety measures for the worker
Visit the sadarghat river port, thriving with fish hagglers and renowned to be a wonderful spot for sunsets in Chittagong. Here, we will pick fresh fish for dinner.
Overnight in Hotel Lords Inn
Tuesday 30th June – Bandarbans
Today we are making our way across the numerous rivers of the Bandarbans hill district
Our first stop today, is the morning fish market, it is the biggest fish market in Bangladesh where all the fishermen bring all sorts of fish caught in the sea and the rivers. It is a hectic place, packed with ships and noises.
We then drive for three hours to Bandarban. Bandarban is home to over fifteen tribes and is renowned for its cultural diversity. Up until recently, it was the theatre of many tribal struggle as the tribes won’t agree on the repartition of power amongst them. Our expert guide will tell us more about the political situation of the area.
Once we’re there, we will visit the Mru tribal village, one of the tribes who are still living very remotely from the rest of civilization. Their ancient traditions are still very much alive. We’ll be invited in their homes, meet up with different members of the family and have them show us around.
We’ll then head to the Bawm tribal village, they are famous for their weaving work.
We stop by Shailo Propat, the best spot to buy local handicraft.
Visit of the Golden Temple, it is the second highest temple in Bangladesh but is also considered the main temple for Buddhist followers in Bandarban. In the afternoon, gorgeous light reflects on the temple.
To catch the daily life here, we’ll have to jump on a boat trip on the Sangu river. Here, people come to the riverside to bathe, do laundry and kids to play football, amongst many other things!
Back to the city for dinner
Overnight in Milonchori Resort.
Wednesday 1st July – Cox Bazaar
Today is market day in Bandarban. Here, you’ll see all kind of traditional tribal food, including things you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world!
We’ll sample bits and pieces of unique food in the market for lunch.
Once we’re done with the market, we’ll head to the famous beach city of Cox Bazaar.
After such a packed trip full of boat rides, tuktuk, trains and such, it will be good to make the most of the laidback city of Cox Bazaar and relax by the beach or go swimming during our free afternoon. If relaxing is not your thing, you can go see the fishermen at work or explore the nearby natural beauties.
Dinner of fish barbeque by the beach and celebration as tomorrow is the last day of our trip!
Overnight at our Eco Resort
Thursday 2nd July – Dhaka
After breakfast, we catch our flight back to Dhaka
Once in Dhaka, we’ll take a part of the day to visit Sonargaon, the old capital of Bangladesh before Dhaka became queen!
You have the rest of the day free to check out things you might have missed in Dhaka on our first time there.
Overnight in Dhaka
Friday 3rdJuly – Dhaka/Thimphu (END OF PART 2, BEGINNING OF PART 3)
Today we are moving onward to the second country of our great Himalayan adventure. After a bit of a lay-in, we’ll be heading out to the airport where we’ll meet the people joining us for that part of the trip. After getting introduced to each other, we will proceed onwards to board our Druk Air flight to Bhutan’s only airport, Paro, leaving at 14:50.
Arrival in Paro at 16:55. The airport in itself is a sight on its own. Nicknamed the world’s trickiest airport, Paro’s airport was built on Bhutan’s only flat land long enough to accommodate a runway, still, it is surrounded by mountains and requires pilots to be extremely skillful to land and take off here. Only a handful of pilots around the world are qualified to operate in this airport!
Once at the airport, we’ll meet our local guides for the tour before driving to Thimphu, across multiple river valleys.
On the way, we`ll stop by Tamchhog Lhakhang, the place of worship for the legendary iron bridge builder, whose story will be explained to us by our local guide.
Arrival in Thimphu an hour later, where we will check into our hotel.
We will then head out for a wander through the streets of the capital, with its busy markets, surrounded by the locals, all wearing the compulsory national outfit.
Greeting dinner and overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Galingkha, or similar
Saturday 4th July – Thimphu
Today is our city tour of Thimphu. As it turns out, today is also market day in Thimphu, so we`ll make sure to head out for some people watching at the market after our breakfast
We then head to the Memorial Chorten
Visit the National Library, with its collection of Buddhist scriptures dating from several hundred years back, and the School of Traditional Arts where the impoverished youth of Bhutan can go and pick up a traditional trade to get out of their situation while promoting the local culture.
We’ll finish our morning trip with a visit of Changangkha a temple perched on a hill overlooking the capital and offering some of the best views.
Lunch of traditional Bhutanese food
After lunch, we’ll visit the huge statue of Buddha Dordenma. It is so big it is possible to enter it to visit three stories filled with chapels and 125000 smaller statues of the Buddha. From the top of the statue, you’ll get a tremendous view of the whole of the Thimpu Valley.
According to the group’s interest, we’ll choose museums to visit, with the options being the National Textile Museum, the Post Museum or the Folk Heritage Museum, each showcasing different aspects of Bhutanese life.
We’ll stop by the Fertility Park, where an interesting collection of… lucky phalluses stand to greet us.
Then, we’ll head to Simtokha Dzong, once of the oldest fortresses of Bhutan, dating from 1629 AD. Built to guard a demon, it was also the site of a bloody battle between different Buddhist sects.
Dinner back in Thimphu. You can try Bhutanese butter tea or Ara, the national liquor!
In the evening, you’ll get the opportunity to wander across the handicraft markets to get some souvenirs. Once everyone is shopped out, we’ll visit the different bars and clubs of Bhutan (yes, they exist!)
Overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Galingkha, or similar
Sunday 5th July – Thimpu/Punakha
Today, after breakfast, we’ll be leaving the current capital to head to the ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha.
The drive to Punakha should take 3 hours, but we’ll break it by stopping at Dochu La Pass. Dochula is at 3050 metres above sea level and offers panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. It is also renowned for its meditation caves, where practitioners isolate themselves, trying to achieve enlightenment.
On the way to Punakha, you’ll notice how climate and vegetation changes as we are progressively getting to lower altitudes.
We’ll stop by Sopsokha village to visit Chimi Lhakhang the Temple of Fertility built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ Lama Drukpa Kuenley.
Then we will visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu.
Dinner and check-in into our hotel in Punakha, with some nightly exploration of the city
Overnight in Punakha at hotel Zhingkham, or similar
Monday 6thJuly – Punakha/Paro
Today, we’ll drive to Paro, a four hour drive.
Lunch in Paro
After lunch, we’ll start our tour of the Paro valley with our first stop the Rinpung Dzong. Rinpung Dzong is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
We will then head not so far from there to explore the watch tower which was built to protect the Rinpung Dzong as well as the whole of the valley from invaders. The tower, devastated in 2011, has now been renovated and turned into a museum which showcases a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artifacts.
Just outside the museum, we’ll meet local artisans who will show us how to make wooden bowls in the traditional Bhutanese way. You are welcome to try your hand at it afterwards!
Head back to Paro for dinner
Overnight in Paro at hotel Olathang
Tuesday 7th July – Paro/Tiger’s Nest Monastery
We’ve kept the most physical part for the end! After breakfast, we’ll take a trek up to walk to Bhutan’s most famous site, the ‘Tiger’s Nest’.
By its local name, Taktshang monastery, the building clings to the cliff, 900 metres above the valley’s bottom. Guru Rinpoche, revered all throughout Bhutan, is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress and subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries.
We’ll have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where we’ll get a spectacular view of the monastery.
Hike down the monastery and back to Paro
Depending on how well we’ve done on time, we’ll use the rest of the afternoon to see some extra spots in Paro.
Dinner in Paro, where we will celebrate our tour coming to completion.
Overnight in Paro at hotel Olathang
Wednesday 8th July – Paro/Kathmandu
End of tour, unless you wish to join us to Nepal and Tibet! Wednesdays are the days with the most option out of Paro airport andYPT can arrange a Druk Air flight for you back to Bangladesh or to Kathmandu, India, Bangkok or Singapore.
-Breakfasts and lunches
-Some dinners (as per itinerary)
-All transportation to complete the itinerary
-Flight to Bhutan
-YPT tour leader and English-speaking local guide.
-Entrance fees as per itinerary