Kingdoms of the Himalaya (Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet) Combo Tour
Join YPT as we circle the Himalayas from Bhutan through Nepal to Tibet
This region is a land of rough and sturdy people used to their harsh environment but also profoundly marked by a spirituality and mystery only waiting to be discovered!
In Bhutan 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.
We’ll then fly across to Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal which was recently greatly damaged by a huge earthquake, its palaces, temples and markets are still amongst the most iconic in Asia. Nepal is also the country which most recently scrapped its monarchy and became a republic.
We then fly to Xi’an, ancient capital of China, from where we’ll head to the land of snow: Tibet, where we’ll take full advantage of the sights of Lhasa such as the Potala palace and its various monasteries but also take you away from the regular Chinese tourist circuit, into the countryside of Tibet, with an option to go all the way up to Everest Base Camp.
Driving there is quite the journey so we’ll stop by and explore smaller Tibetan cities of Shigatse and Gyantse, a fortress, a spectacular glacier, multiple peaks over 5000m high, Tibetan’s longest river and highest lake before we take the train out of Tibet on the world’s highest railway line.
The more parts 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!
If you were not with us for our tour of Bangladesh, meet the group at Dhaka airport at 12:30pm. 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 – Kathmandu
We wake up early as we need to catch the early 07:40 flight to Kathmandu!
Arrival in Kathmandu, where we hit the ground running after dropping our bags at the hotel with our city tour of Kathmandu.
It wouldn’t be a YPT trip if we didn’t stop first by the Narayanhity Palace. This palace was the home of the Nepalese royal family until in 2007 the Maoist leader and new Prime Minister Prachanda gave King Gyanendra 15 days to leave. It was turned into a ‘People’s Palace’ and is now a museum where we can check out throne room, banquet halls, royal baths and bedrooms of the old royal members.
Lunch in Kathmandu
This afternoon we visit Patan City, an artistic and architectural jewel founded in 250 AD, and previously known as Lalitpur. Sometimes it is known as the “Town with a Thousand Golden Roofs.” Here we shall visit the Durbar Square which is being reconstructed since a devastating earthquake.
Patan is known to have some of the most incredible temples of Nepal, and we shall be visiting the Mahaboudha Temple, a buddhist temple in the Indian style and the Krishna Mandir an hindu temple built to celebrate a war victory.
The wildest temple we’ll visit today, certainly, is the Hirayana Mahabihar Temple, also known as the Golden Temple. What so special about it? Well believers feed rats, the local inhabitants of the temple, here!
We also visit a Tibetan Handicraft Centre, definitely a good place to get that souvenir-shopping out of the way.
Later afternoon, we visit the Pashupatinath Temple, famous for its superb architecture, two – tiered golden roof and sliver doors. Built in 1696 and dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is the most sacred of Nepal’s Hindu temples and a famous pilgrimage site.
Before returning to Kathmandu, we will also pay a visit to Boudhanath, nothing less than the world’s largest stupa, and a site of great veneration for Buddhists.
Dinner of traditional Nepali food in Kathmandu, as we’ll have a feast of local specialities!
We’ll use the evening to explore Kathmandu’s unsuspectingly busy nightlife and try out the local drinks
Overnight in Kathmandu
Thursday 9th July – Pokhara
This morning we wake up early as we need to start the 6 hour drive to the Cultural Treasure city of Nepal, Pokhara. The ride won’t feel that long however as it goes through some of the most scenic hills and areas of Nepal. We’ll make numerours stops for pictures and rest breaks and picking up some samosas or other roadside snacks
Arrival in Pokhara for lunch time and check-in into our hotel
Once refreshed, we’ll go for a late afternoon walk along the lakeside followed by a boat ride on Phewa Lake. Phewa Lake is the second largest lake in Pokhara. It is renowned for its pristine character and mirror-like appearance. If weather permits, we should be able to see mountains reflected in the lake, the little island and the Tal Barahi temple in the middle, a white stupa on the top of the hill. This is as idyllic as it gets!
Go for dinner at the famous lakeside market and join the locals for drinks
Overnight in Pokhara
Friday 10th July – Pokhara/Kathmandu
After breakfast, we head out for an early morning drive to Sarangkot for sunrise. We have to walk for about 45 min to reach the top from where we can see the close magnificent views of the Annapurna ranges and the Dhaulagiri ranges.
Our day will be dedicated to a sightseeing tour of Davis fall, locally known as Pataale Chhango. It is an awesome waterfall lying about two km southwest of Pokhara airport on the way to Tansen.
We also visit the Bindabasini Temple that is the centre of religious activity in the old bazaar of the town. This white dome-like structure dominates a spacious stone paved courtyard built atop a shady hilltop. It is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhagawati
Visit of the Ghorka Memorial Museum in Pokhara, famed throughout the world for their ferocity and one of the main reasons Nepal was never properly colonised by the encroaching British empire
In the afternoon we visit Mahendra cave or Ghupa. This limestone cave is locally known as the house of bats lies to the north of Pokhara.
Dinner in one of the most delicious restaurants of Pokhara
Overnight in Pokhara at Hotel White Pearl or similar.
Saturday 11th July – Kathmandu/Xi’an
We finally get a bit of a lay-in before we drive from Pokhara back to Kathmandu with snacks along the way
Early dinner in Kathmandu before…
We head to the airport to catch our Tibet Airlines flight from Kathmandu to Xi’an, arriving in the late evening.
Check into our hotel conveniently located by the airport and overnight
Sunday 12th July – Xi’An/Lhasa
Catch our Tibet Airlines flight to Lhasa
Arrive into Lhasa and receive a traditional Nada welcoming ceremony from our local Tibetan guide
Drive and check-in to Tashikatge Hotel located in the heart of old town of Lhasa city
Free afternoon to acclimatise and adjust to Lhasa’s 3800m altitude by resting at the hotel which has superb views of the Potala Palace or by a stroll through the old town on foot
Group regathers for our first feast in Lhasa and get your first taste of Tibetan Yak, the most common meat in these parts.
Overnight in Lhasa at Tashikatge Hotel
Monday 13th July – Lhasa
Drive out and explore Drepung Monastery – this is the largest monastery in Tibet, built in 1416 and houses up to 10,000 monks. This monastery sits at the base of a mountain with spectacular views of West Lhasa below.
Explore Norbulingka also known as the Summer Palace of Lhasa – serving as a traditional summer residence of the former Dalai Lamas from the 1780s and onwards
Lunch at a local restaurant
Visit Sera Monastery – here we’ll watch student monks partake in public debates within the courtyard of the monastery where one monk stands making clapping actions asking questions and the other sits and answers.
Dinner at local restaurant
Overnight in Lhasa at Tashikatge Hotel
Tuesday 14th July – Lhasa
The major highlight of exploring Lhasa – Explore Potala Palace – this was the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama until he fled to India in 1957, and previously was used as the main seat of Tibetan government for centuries. We’ll climb our way to the very top of the palace and gain access inside to see numerous waiting and prayer rooms, as well as large golden tombs of previous Dalai Lamas. The view from the top is breathtaking.
We’ll make our way all the way down joining the pilgrims on the Pilgrim Path to the viewing platform of the Potala Palace from the famous view that’s also seen on the Chinese 50RMB note
Walk to Monument to the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and explore Liberation Square located in front of the palace
Visit Jokhang Temple – this temple is actually considered the most important of Lhasa’s temples by Tibetans and was built for the Nepalese Princess of the Tibetan King
Have the afternoon to explore Barkor Street market – this part of the old town is a major pilgrimage site and we can see locals prostrating themselves as they make their way clockwise around the roads
Group regathers for dinner
Overnight in Lhasa at Tashikatge Hotel
Wednesday 15th July – Namtso Lake
Wake up early and begin our four-hour drive to Namtso Lake – the highest and largest lake in Tibet at 4718m. We’ll drive by stunning plateau scenery and pass a peak that tops 5190m, incredible for photo opportunities.
Once arriving at Natmso Lake we can make our way down to the water for reflective views and have a further understanding why this lake is known as ‘Heavenly Lake’ to the locals.
Head back to Lhasa stopping in a small local village for lunch
Arrive back in Lhasa for dinner
Overnight in hotel at Tashikatge Hotel
Thursday 16th July – Namba Tibetan Village
We’ll head an hour out of Lhasa to explore Namba, a rural Tibetan village where Nomads base themselves during summer. Explore a barley mill, see how the locals live, and we’ll try our luck to be invited into a home to try some local barley snacks and Tibetan butter tea.
We can take this opportunity to hike higher into the mountains and keep a look out for possible Nomad tents and their livestock. During our gentle hike we can take in the fresh air, blue sky and stunning scenery.
Head back to Lhasa and visit the Tibetan Museum with exhibitions on Tibetan culture and history and a section on British imperialism in the area before 1949, a good chance to learn the Chinese interpretation of Tibetan history.
Group gathers for local dinner and hit the Tibetan bar street scene
Overnight in Lhasa at Tashikatge Hotel
Friday 17th July – Shigatse
Group A members depart Lhasa by overnight train back to Xi’an, Xining, Lanzhou or a two-night journey to Beijing arriving at 8:30am on Sunday 21st July. The Tibetan railway is the highest in the world and is a must experience. We can arrange your flight out please contact us to confirm additional costs.
Group B members continue to Mt. Everest Base Camp
Early wake up and check out of hotel. The majority of today will be spent on the road as we make our way to Shitgatse city located halfway between Lhasa and Mt. Everest Base Camp. During our drive we’ll pass along the Yarlung Tsangpo – the longest river in Tibet stretching over 2800km long
Continue making our way up to the top of a snowcapped mountain 5000m high with an unrealistic view of Yamdrok Lake from below – one of three sacred lakes in Tibet. Locals have their Tibetan Mastiffs on display for photos, the world’s most formidable dogs on display at the peak.
Make our way down the pass towards the lake and enter a small town for local lunch
Drive up another peak to have a stunning view Karola Glacier that sits 5560m above, exceptionally unique photography opportunity.
Head through Nyangchu Valley and briefly stop at Gyantse city – the third largest city in Tibet that holds Gyantse Dzong Fortress that comfortable sits overlooking the city. The fortress went through a few rough patches after being invaded by both the British and Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.
Explore Palcho Monastery – most famous for having a tower several floors high with 108 different chapels located inside
Arrive in Shigatse – the second largest city in Tibet with population of over 80,000 in the city directly and 700,000 in total in the countries surrounding it.
Check-in to Sakya Hotel
Dinner at local restaurant
Overnight in Shigatse at Sakya Hotel
Saturday 18th July – Mt. Everest Base Camp
Wake up early and check out – we can leave larger luggage behind at the Sakya hotel to make our trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp a lot easier.
Drive to Mt. Everest Base Camp on Highway 318 most notorious for being China’s longest highway as we stop for a photo a the 5000km marker. The highway begins all the back in Shanghai People’s Square.
We’ll pass over another peak this time going as high as 5248m
As we’re about to enter Mt. Everest Nature Reserve or Qomolongma as it is known to the locals as we’ll have lunch before swapping to an electric bus to take us 20km to Mt. Everest Base Camp
Trip highlight: Arrive in Mt. Everest Base Camp – you’ll know when we arrive if weather permits as Mt. Everest stands before us at 8844m high, the highest mountain the world.
Check into our guest house at Rongphu Monastery
Have the afternoon free to walk around the base camp for photos of this mighty mountain
Dinner at Rongphu Monastery Guest House, we will warm ourselves up and brace for what is a fairly cold night at this altitude as we sleep 4900m.
Overnight in Rongphu Monastery Guest House
Sunday 19th July – Shigatse
Before we head out back to Shigatse we’ll explore the highest temple in the world
On our way back we’ll stop for lunch and anywhere we see fit for a perfect photo opportunity of Mt Everest in the foreground and to stretch our legs
Arrive into Shigatse in the afternoon to catch our breathe and to explore more of Shigatse
Dinner and evening nightlife in Shigatse
Overnight in Sakya Hotel
Monday 20th July – Lhasa
Begin the morning by exploring the largest monastery in western Tibet, the Tashilunpo Monastery. It is an extremely important site for Tibetan Buddhism as the temple is the seat of the Panchen Lama where previous Panchen Lama’s are also entombed.
Lunch on the way
Arrival in Lhasa – here we’ll use this time to catch up on anything last minute that needs seeing or buying in the city
Farewell dinner and drinks
Overnight back in our friendly Tashikatge Hotel
Tuesday 21st July
Group B members depart Lhasa by boarding the train on the highest railway line in the world to Xi’an, Xining, Lanzhou or a two-night journey to Beijing. Lay back and enjoy incredible vistas and lots of cabin fun! If you would like to fly to your next destination instead, we can arrange it (extra cost)
Wednesday 22nd July
Afternoon arrival into Xining, Lanzhou or Xi’an. YPT can arrange transportation by flight or train to any of the other cities of China such as Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen from there!
-Bhutan Visa (€45 YPT will apply for your visa), Nepal and China visas (YPT can provide support)
-Flights to Bhutan (generally around €220 per flight) and from Beijing/Xi’an to your next destination
-Single supplement (€400/€600)
-Lunches and dinners (unless specified) and drinks
-Tips for the local guides and drivers
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.