TOUR CODE: EGBLKB
Experience the magnificence of three majestic nations all in one journey. Starting from the holy city of Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region known as the roof of the World. Visit popular Tibetan landmarks such as Potala and Norbulingka palaces, Tibet Traditional Museum, Barkhor Bazaar and impressive Tibetan monasteries. Then, fly to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. We will spend a few days to explore the authentic art and culture of Nepal in the UNESCO listed heritage sites in Kathmandu and admire the blend of mountains and lush landscape from a popular hill station – Nagarkot. Then take a mountain flight to Paro in Bhutan, a land of pristine natural beauty and spectacular scenery. Bhutan’s magnificent ancient temples, the Bhutanese culture, the calm and unpolluted atmosphere and the natural beauty will enchant you. Come join us on this 14-day journey for an exceptional vacation and the memories of a lifetime.
We arrive in the Chinese capital and transfer to our hotel located just outside the terminal. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure.
This morning, we will return to the airport for our flight to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital and the only major city. Sitting on a plateau on the northern side of the Himalayas, Tibet is an autonomous region of China covers an area 965,000 square miles. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your Tibetan guide at the airport. From the airport, drive into town along the beautiful Kyi Chu River, taking approximately 60 minutes. After we check into our hotel, enjoy the rest of the day to relax and acclimate to the high altitude at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. It is critical to stay well hydrated and avoid over-exertion until you are more used to the altitude.
DREPUNG AND SERA MONASTERIES (B/D)
Today we will visit the beautiful Norbulingka, the former summer palace of Dalai Lamas in the ancient time, and now is a public park. It is famous for its Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai lamas with grandiose Tibetan architecture style. Next, venture west to the Drepung Monastery. Drepung Monastery is known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered one of the ‘Three Great Monasteries’ (the other two are the Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery). Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given the name ‘Drepung‘, which, in the Tibetan language, means ‘Collecting Rice. Then, learn about the rich cultural history and natural resources of Tibet at the Tibet Autonomous Region Museum. It exhibits and artifacts ranges from unique Tibetan art and handicrafts, costumes, jewelry, and adornments made of precious metals, as well as fine Chinese pottery. In the afternoon, we will visit the Sera Monastery noted for its theological debates. The monastery was named Sera which means wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when the monastery was built. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the Buddhist doctrines with supplemented gestures, which is thought to be helpful to facilitates better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. Afterward, explore the traditional Tibetan Hospital of Mentsekhang for an introduction to Tibetan medicine-dating back 2,500 years, it is one of the oldest medical traditions in the world.
POTALA PALACE/JOKHANG TEMPLE/BARKHOR STREET (B/D)
Start today’s Lhasa exploration with an exciting visit to Lhasa’s iconic Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We walk up to the palace along the zigzag stone paths with white-and-red walls to the top of the palace where you appreciate the exotic Tibetan-style architecture and a panoramic view of Lhasa’s urban areas. We walk into the inner space of Potala Palace to explore the stately chapels and learn about the history of the palace. Then visit the 7th-century Jokhang Temple, a four-storey timber complex with a golden top, which combines Tang Dynasty, Tibetan and Nepal architectural styles. Every day, pilgrims come from every corner of Tibet worship here and make it a perfect site for photographers. Continue to the famous Barkhor Street, a circular and wide street encircling the Jokhang Temple. The local people like to walk on the street for several circles usually in the late afternoon as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handcrafts.
GANDEN MONASTERY/DRAK YERPA CAVES (B/D)
In the morning, drive 30 miles east of Lhasa to visit the spectacularly situated Ganden Monastery, one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism, located on top of Wangpori mountain. Admire fantastic views of Lhasa valley as you perform kora by walking a full circle around the sacred grounds. On your way back to Lhasa, continue along the opposite side of the Kyi Chu Valley to visit the Drak Yerpa caves, one of the holiest cave retreats in Tibet.
This morning, we will return to the airport for our flight to Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city of the mountainous nation of Nepal. The city was once known as ‘Kantipur’ (City of Glory), nestled about 4,594 feet above the sea level and is surrounded by four major mountains that include; Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu has the densest UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites among the capitals of the world. People in Nepal do not greet each other with a handshake. They touch their palms and bow saying ‘Namaste’ which is translated to mean ‘I salute the God in you’.
DURBAR SQUARES/SWAYAMBHUNATH/PATAN (B/D)
This morning we visit Durbar Square, lies in the in old town of Kathmandu, in front of the former royal palace. It is one of the three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As a cluster of classic architectures and over 50 temples, palaces and courtyards which date back to 12th to 18th centuries, the square maintains its original building style and glamour. The major attractions on our tour include a visit to the house of the Living Goddess Kumari Bahal. Two painted stone Lions stand guard at the entrance. We enter the courtyard to see the Living Goddess but are forbidden to take photographs. Then venture outside of the city to visit the hilltop Swayambhunath stupa. Its lofty white dome and glittering golden spire are visible from all sides of the valley. On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God’s all-seeing perspective. There is no nose between the eyes but rather a representation of the number one in the Nepali alphabet, signifying that the single way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. From its hilltop setting, you can get a panoramic view over Kathmandu valley on a clear day. In the afternoon, we travel through Kathmandu Valley to Patan, a hub of Buddhist and Hindu culture, full of religious art, temples, and monasteries. Stroll through Patan Durbar Square which holds the greatest concentration of Newari architecture anywhere in the valley. In the fascinating narrow streets surrounding the square, there are more than 600 stupas. The Patan Museum is the restored palace of the 17th century Malla Kings and houses bronze statues and religious objects, some dating back to the 11th century. The gilded doors and windows open to the Krishna Mandir Temple which was built by King Siddhi Narasigh Malla in 1637 and is still in use. The temple has three floors and 21 golden pinnacles. The first floor enshrines Krishna, the second Shiva, and the third Lokeshwor. Late afternoon we return to our hotel for a free evening.
In the morning, travel to Bhaktapur, one of three medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley with an altitude of 4,596 feet. With three different styles square – Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square and Dattatreya Square, it is the best place to explore traditional Nepalese architecture and local life and custom, also the best place to witness the great achievements of arts and crafts created by famous Nepal’s Malla Dynasty (1201–1769). Bhaktapur is also famous as the Town of the Devotees. There are many devout Hindus and Buddhists living in the city. Continue to the hilltop temple of Changu Narayan, the oldest Vishnu shrine in Kathmandu Valley. The two-story temple has many intricate carvings of the ten incarnations of Vishnu and different multi-armed Tantric goddesses. Changu Narayan’s true gems, however, are the Lichhavai period (4th to 9th centuries) stone, wood, and metal carvings in the courtyard surrounding the main temple. The Changu Narayan Temple is one of seven structures cited by UNESCO as demonstrating the historic and artistic achievements that make the Kathmandu Valley a World Heritage Site.
Travel northeast to Nagarkot, noted for its striking views of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest to the northeast. Among all the places for mountain viewing in the Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot is usually considered to be the best. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) from Nagarkot.
Located on the banks of Bagmati River is the sacred Pashupatinath Temple. Pashupatinath is a manifestation of Shiva and means ‘The Lord of Animal’. This temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The temple premise consists of temples, ashrams, idols, and inscription added over centuries. The temple is the ultimate destination for devotees during the Maha Shivaratri Festival, where a crowd of thousands gathers to pay homage to Lord Shiva. The main temple within the complex is of pagoda shape with golden roof and silver doors on all the four sides of the temple. Inside the temple is a Shiva linga with four faces of Shiva, with four different names and significance. Pashupatinath area is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimages for Hindus. Thousands of devotees from all around the world come to Pashupatinath every day. The temple is barred to non-Hindus, but one can get a good view of the temple from the opposite bank of the river. Every evening aarti (light offering) to Lord Shiva is performed which can be observed from across the river. The view of Arya Ghat (cremation ground only for Hindu) is also possible from the spot.
Boudhanath, the largest stupa in Kathmandu Valley at about 131 feet high and one of the largest and most important Buddhist stupas in the world. The all-seeing red, white and blue eyes of Buddha are painted on all four sides of the stupa, and surrounded by hundreds of fluttering prayer flags, prayer wheels and small images of Buddha.
Transfer to the airport to board a scenic flight to Paro, a historic town located in the Paro Valley of Bhutan. Upon arrival in the Dragon Kingdom, we travel to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. In the afternoon visit the Folk Heritage Museum and the Takin Preserve where you can spot Bhutan’s national animal.
Today we enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including stops at the Memorial Chorten – a beautiful stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King. Next, tour the Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as ‘the painting school’, operates four- to six-year courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts of Bhutan. Continue to the National Library – which has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts, manuscripts and modern academic books. Stop at the Handicrafts Emporium, a government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture. Continue to Tashichho Dzong, the “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhö Dzong has been the seat of Bhutan’s government since 1968. It presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the cabinet secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. In the evening, take a stroll along the town’s main street.
Set out for Punakha, climbing up through oak, pine and rhododendron forest to reach Dochu La Pass at 10,300 feet. Stop for a break and enjoy the panoramic views of the majestic Himalaya Mountains. Continue on to the spectacular Punakha Valley, visit Chimi Lhakhang, a 15th-century fertility Shrine. Then visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, and an exemplary masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Rise early for a hike approximately 2.5 hours, up through rice fields and along the banks of the Mo Chu river to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning temple located on a hill with stunning views of the valley below. We continue our exploration of the area with a drive to the picturesque villages scattered along a ridge above the Punakha Valley. In the afternoon we stop for a picnic lunch before visiting Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery, perched on a ridge with spectacular views of the Punakha and Wangdue valleys. Apart from religious training, the nuns are also taught skills such as embroidery, tailoring and statue making. After our visit to the nunnery, we continue our drive to Paro,
In the morning, take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The main structure was severely damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street or enjoy refreshments at a local café or bar.
PARO DEPARTURE (B)
Our tour concludes today after breakfast. A departure transfer will take you to Paro airport for your onward travel.
Meals: B= Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner
Per person, based on double occupancy
|2020||Standard Option||Single Supplement||Upgrade Option||Single Supplement|
|Jul 01 - Aug 26||$3,899||$2,299||$5,399||$3,199|
|Aug 27 - Oct 31||$4,299||$2,299||$5,899||$3,399|
|Nov 01 - 25||$4,199||$2,099||$5,499||$3,099|
|Nov 26 - Dec 16||$3,699||$2,099||$4,899||$2,999|