Two Bhutanese dancers at a traditional tsechu festivaql

Masked dance festival

Bhutan carefully guards its traditonal Buddhist heritage. Mask dances, performed in the open courtyards of ancient monasteries, are a wonderful spectacle to behold in this unique country.

Photo by Dan Heller

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Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms

Sacred Monasteries and Exotic Bazaars of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan

Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7495  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Lhasa, Tibet
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 7 nights deluxe hotels, 7 nights best available hotels or simple lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Optional walks, altitudes between 4,000-13,700 feet
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Highlights

  • Visit Tibet’s Potala Palace and historic Samye Monastery
  • Explore Kathmandu’s Buddhist center at Bodhnath
  • Hike to Bhutan’s famed cliff-perched Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest”
  • Experience Tibetan Buddhism in the great chanting halls of ancient monasteries
  • Discover the rhythms of everyday life in remote, yet welcoming, villages


An outstanding trip. One not to miss in this lifetime!Demetra H.—Narberth, PA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

The eerie chanting of maroon-robed monks in brightly painted monasteries, snow plumes trailing from high peaks, the smiles of Buddhist pilgrims at their ancient temples—this is the Himalaya! Our journey weaves together three of its realms: Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, bringing you inside these lands to experience the immense power of places like Tibet’s exquisite 8th century Samye Monastery, enchanting Nepal, a medieval world unto itself, and the flourishing kingdom of Bhutan, where the Buddhist faith is a part of everyday life. Our cultural adventure will have you walking alongside pilgrims on sacred koras and sampling momos in Tibet, traveling by cyclo-rickshaw through Kathmandu’s narrow lanes, and hiking to a cliffside monastery in Bhutan.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-5
Lhasa / Yarlung Valley / Samye, Tibet

A day of exploring major sites of the holy city of Lhasa sets the stage for our introduction to the ancient cultural heritage of Tibet. We visit the massive Potala Palace, walk the Barkhor kora (sacred circuit), and visit Ganden Monastery, where the present Dalai Lama studied as a youth. In the hauntingly beautiful Yarlung Valley, we see spectacular 8th century Samye Monastery, built in the shape of a mandala to symbolize the structure of the Buddhist universe, and Yumbu Lhakhang, perched on a crag like a medieval European castle. From its lofty ridge, we toss “wind horses” (tiny colorful prayer papers) into the high winds.

Days 6-8
Kathmandu, Nepal

In this ancient city where Hindu and Buddhist worlds intertwine, our explorations bring you to the riverside Hindu ghats at Pashupatinath and the thriving Buddhist center at Bodhnath, where new monasteries have risen to serve Tibetans in exile.

Days 9-15
Thimphu / Punakha Valley / Paro, Bhutan

Gold-roofed monasteries, emerald valleys, deep, rustling forests—Bhutan’s landscape is so enchanting it seems taken from the pages of a storybook. In this tiny kingdom, the presence of Tibetan Buddhism is everywhere, from fluttering prayer flags dotting the countryside to exquisite hilltop lhakhangs (temples). You’ll explore the capital city of Thimphu, stop at a lively weekend market, visit the Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s winter capital for 300 years, see the remarkable Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, a 17th century fortress-dzong perched on a spur above a river, and hike to the ancient hermitage of Taktsang Monastery. Depart on Day 15 via Paro.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2+, Easy to Moderate, according to our trip rating system. It features vehicle-based sightseeing with day walks and hotel/lodge accommodations throughout. This trip is appropriate for anyone in good health living an active outdoor lifestyle. Although you carry only a daypack on the walks, there are some steep ascents and descents, and the hikes are at moderate altitudes (4,000-13,000 feet), which can make them feel strenuous. You always have the option to skip any hike you don’t want to undertake.

Getting in Shape
For your own enjoyment, we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition for the journey by hiking, running, swimming, bicycling, or engaging in other forms of aerobic exercise well beyond your normal routine. Walking up and down flights of stairs is also an effective way to train for the steep ascents and descents in the Himalaya. Weekend hikes that involve long sections of uphill and downhill walking are great for conditioning your legs.

Accommodations and Food
Accommodations in these Himalayan countries range from rustic to deluxe. The Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro, the Le Meridien in Thimphu, and the Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu offer a great deal of comfort, while the lodges in Punakha and the hotels in Lhasa and Tsetang are well situated and cozy, but somewhat rustic. Most rooms are twin-bedded. Please be aware that lodges and guesthouses in Tibet and Bhutan provide simple buffets for meals. The cuisine in these countries is generally based on basic rice with stir-fry and stew options.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2015
Oct 12-26, 2015  Hashmat Singh
2016
Apr 11-25, 2016  Hashmat Singh
Sep 26-Oct 10, 2016  Steve Webster
Oct 17-31, 2016  Devendra Basnet

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$7495 (13-15 members)
$7795 (10-12 members)
$8195 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $1820
Forced single supplement: $1620
Internal airfare: $1550 (subject to change)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Burma Extension
   from: $2595
Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension
   from: $1395
Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension
   from: $2495
South India Extension: The Malabar Coast
   from: $2395
Kanha National Park Extension
   from: $2195

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Internal Airfare Payment, Change, and Cancellation Fee Schedule:* Payment for Internal Air will be collected from each trip member approximately three to six months (or even more) prior to departure, depending on flight availability and seasonal ticketing deadlines. Once issued, internal air tickets are subject to a $100 per person fee for any changes or cancellation until 60 days prior to the trip. Within 60 days of the trip, all tickets are non-refundable. The name on your tickets must match your passport exactly, and any name changes are subject to these same fees. We therefore request that you send us a scanned copy of your passport photo page immediately upon reserving your trip. Internal Air payments and cancellation fees are in addition to Trip Cost payments and cancellation fees as noted above.

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
  • Land transportation, airport transfers, and sightseeing as noted in the Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, hotels in Chengdu or Bangkok, airport transfers for individual arrival or departure, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, any additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), visa fees, travel insurance; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Lhasa, Tibet
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Chengdu, China  (airport city code CTU)
Trip members must be in Chengdu, China, at least one day prior to Day 1 of the trip itinerary.

Please note: On Day 1, you will take an early morning group flight from Chengdu, China, to Gongkar, the airport that serves Lhasa.
Departure:
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 15

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Suggested departure time: after 8:30 pm or the following day. On Day 15 (the last day of your trip), you will be transferred to the Paro airport for the group flight from Paro to Bangkok (Wilderness Travel will arrange this flight for you as part of the internal airfare).

Kyichu Hotel

Kyichu Hotel

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Lhasa, Tibet

Conveniently located just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple, Barkhor, and Potala Palace, the Kyichu, run by a Tibetan family, is ideally ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Tse Dang Hotel

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Tsetang, Tibet

In the heart of Tsetang and close to the historical sites, this large, modern, four-story hotel is an ideal base for exploring Tibet’s third largest city. Guest rooms with attached bath feature telephone, cable TV, and air-conditioning. Several restaurants are on the premises, and there is a tranquil garden where we can relax after a day of exploring.

Hotel Yak & Yeti

Hotel Yak & Yeti

Days 6 to 8 (3 nights), Kathmandu, Nepal

Perfectly located in the heart of Kathmandu yet on a quiet street, the Yak & Yeti is a combination of old and new. Its restaurants and ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Le Meridien Hotel

Le Meridien Hotel

Days 9 to 10 (2 nights), Thimphu, Bhutan

Opened in 2014, Le Meridien’s brilliant white building capped with a vibrant red roof and orange-trimmed windows reveals a modern twist on ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Hotels in the Punakha Valley

Days 11 to 12 (2 nights), Punakha Valley, Bhutan

In Punakha we stay at one of the following properties based on availability and choice of accommodation:

Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Days 13 to 14 (2 nights), Paro, Bhutan

Located on 10 acres in a serene setting in the green Paro Valley, the deluxe Zhiwa Ling is a wonderful example of traditional Bhutanese ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Devendra Basnet

Departure Dates: October 17-31, 2016

Devendra Basnet was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling, India, and makes his home in Kathmandu, Nepal with his wife and two children. A WT Trip Leader since 1987, “DB” leads our cultural and hiking journeys into the Himalayas, across India, and along the ancient silk ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Buddha Basnyat

Departure Dates:

Buddha Basnyat, MD, is one of Nepal’s top docs and a world expert on high altitude medicine, and we feel honored to count him among our team. Trained in India, the US, and Canada, Buddha now serves as the Medical Director for the Himalayan Rescue Association. He is also a Professor of ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Hashmat Singh

Departure Dates: October 12-26, 2015, April 11-25, 2016

Hashmat Singh has led over 100 journeys on three continents for us since 1990. He holds a BA in History from Delhi University and is a noted photographer. His book, Trekking in the Himalaya (Roli Books), features photographic essays from Ladakh to Bhutan. Born an army brat, Hashmat traveled ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Steve Webster

Departure Dates: September 26-October 10, 2016

Steve Webster was born in the Jersey Channel Islands of the United Kingdom and traveled to Nepal in the early 1980s to work with the famous Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge. He spent five years in the jungles of Nepal, managing several lodges and camps and studying wildlife, and he trekked extensively in ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Burma

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

India

Kanha National Park Extension

Gameviewing in one of India’s Great Wildlife Reserves

Wildlife & Natural History
5 days  -  Level 2

South India Extension: The Malabar Coast

Cochin and a Cruise Along the Backwaters of Kerala

Cultural Adventures, Walking
4 days  -  Level 1+

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension

Holy City Along the Ganges, Magnificent World-Famous Temples

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Laos

Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2

Myanmar

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Thailand

wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

An outstanding trip. One not to miss in this lifetime! Demetra H., Narberth, PA The trip leader was very enthusiastic about the areas we visited and had a good rapport with the people in all areas we visited. Laura B., Pacific Grove, CA Wonderful trip. I loved the festivals in Nepal and Bhutan. Nancy W., Prescott, AZ One of the best trips of my life. Jesseca S., Watkinsville, GA
I had a fabulous time. Everything we saw was so interesting! Linda Y., Melbourne, FL This was truly a trip of a lifetime with much thanks to our leader, Devendra, and Wilderness Travel. Cathy S., Truckee, CA It was wonderful to see the three countries with very different cultures. Molly H., Annapolis, MD