12 Days Cultural Nepal Tibet Bhutan Tour by Air

Kathmandu - Lhasa - Kathmandu - Paro - Thimpu - Punakha - Paro

From USD p.p

The 12-day Nepal Tibet Bhutan cultural tour takes you to explore Kathmandu, Lhasa, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha in just one go. Starting from Kathmandu, you can visit the three gorgeous Durbar Squares, Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Pashupatinath, and Boudhanath, and then fly over the Himalayas to enjoy the best of Lhasa, like Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Drepung, and Sera Monastery. After that, you’ll fly back to Kathmandu and continue traveling to Bhutan. Here you’ll tour around some of the most beautiful dzongs in “the Land of Thunder Dragon”, like Paro Rinpung Dzong, Thimphu Tashichho Dzong, Punakha Dzong, etc., and do the scenic Tiger’s Nest trekking.

Itinerary Day by Day

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

When you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, our tour guide will meet you at the exit and then transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is for you to have a good rest or take in some local sights.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing: Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Patan City (B)

After tasty breakfast in hotel, let’s enjoy the spiritual odyssey in a number of must-visit medieval heritage sites. As one of the iconic buildings of Nepal, Kathmandu’s Durbar Square would be our first stop. Durbar literally means palace, where the former kings ascend the throne and rule the country. You can stroll along the three main parts of Durbar Square and sit on the terraced platform to feel the vibe of Nepali city.

Then we will head to the renowned “Monkey Temple” - Swayambhunath. With lovely monkeys jumping around on the gilded spire of the temple, you can see the iconic Buddha’s eye on the stupa. The pious religious worshippers doing kora around the stupa and burning butter lamps and smell of incense draw you back to the similar experience in Tibet.

Afternoon we are about to visit Patan City, 15 minutes’ drive from Kathmandu. In fact, Durbar Square is not exclusive to Kathmandu. Ancient temples literally is packed in Patan City. Patan Durbar Square, Golden Temple and Taleju Temple, etc. are some of the best places to take photos. You will learn more of the legends of Nepali deities and kings.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 3: Kathmandu Sightseeing: Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, Bhaktapur City (B)

Today, we will cover some of the most important Hindu temples in Nepal. Though looked not that impressive that exterior, Pashupatinath serves as source of Hindu spiritual power. Shiva is worshipped here as Pashupati, the lord of the beasts. You can see the dead of Shiva, being cremated on the banks of the holy river. Don’t forget to take photos with sadhus with outlandish clothes and red tika on the forehead.

Then Bouddhanath is our visit. The gigantic stupa originally serves as the staging post for businessman travelling between Lhasa and Kathmandu. Now, the holy stupa is a hot destination, drawing numerous pilgrims, both Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists, to do the kora under the gaze of the Buddha. Monasteries and workshops selling incense, butter lamps, and Tibetan drums and other souvenirs can be found. The strong bond between Tibet and Nepal and historical significance are so palpable.

After lunch we will tour Bhaktapur City. Bhaktapur is three of the best preserved medieval cities in Nepal. Three major Durbar Squares here hold some of the finest religious sites in the country. The town is also known for its skillful artisans who lead a peaceful life and are experts for making pottery, wood craving, etc. The final tour highlights the ancient arts of Nepal.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 4: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa

In the morning, you will take the flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Upon your arrival at Lhasa Gonggar Airport in Lhasa, our tour guide will hold a board with your name on it at the exit to welcome you. A private car will take you to the reserved hotel. You may view the Yarlung Tsangpo River/Bhamaputra River (the longest and largest river in Tibet) and Lhasa River on your way to Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 5: Lhasa Sightseeing: Potala Place, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street (B)

On the next day in Lhasa, you’ll pay a visit to the famous Potala Palace, the world culture heritage. You can explore its audience halls, the jeweled and golden burial chortens (stupa tombs) of past Dalai Lamas, and tremendous number of Buddhist frescoes, thangkas, combinations of mandala, etc.

Then tourists will head to the holiest temple in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple, built during Srongtsen Gampo's reign by princess Wencheng of Tang dynasty, 647 A.D. Here you can observe sincere pilgrims making prostration in front of Jokhang Temple. While entering inside the temple, you can see the holiest statue of Buddha. Around the monastery is the famous Barkhor Street, where you can do the kora with pilgrims and locals. And then we’ll go to explore the old market and you may have chance to see the traditional jewelry trading between people from different parts of Tibet.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 6: Lhasa Sightseeing: Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery (B)

Today, you will visit two important monasteries in Lhasa, the Drepung and the Sera. Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in Tibet, was founded by Jamyang Choje in 1416. Situated at the foot of Gebeiwoze Mountain, it was once home to more than 10000 monks. Here you can see the biggest monastery kitchen inside and then pay a visit to the Buddhist Sculpture Carving near Drepung.

After having lunch, you’ll continue to visit the Sera Monastery, which was founded in 1419 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamchen Choje. The most interesting thing is to see monks debating in the courtyard at around 3-5 in the afternoon. Besides, you can also see the colorful Rock Painting of Buddha and the three sand Mandalas and then visit the Tibetan religious text printing house.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 7: Fly from Lhasa to Kathmandu/transfer to hotel

Today, you will fly to Kathmandu from Lhasa Gonggar International Airport. Upon your arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, our Nepal tour guide will meet you and take you to the hotel. The rest of the day is yours to rest in the hotel or have a strolling around.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 8: Fly from Kathmandu to Paro and Transfer to Thimphu

Today, you will take the flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to Paro, Bhutan. On the way, you will have a chance to see the stunning peak view of the Himalayas from the plane, including two of the holy mountains in Bhutan: Mt. Jumolhari known as the “bridge of Kanchenjunga” and its companion mountain, Mt. Jichu Drake.

Upon your arrival at Paro International Airport, our Bhutan tour guide and driver will pick you on time. Then we’ll pay a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest and holiest temples in Bhutan and houses the eight-year-old Buddha statue of Sakyamuni in the Lhakhang (temple) inner sanctum. There is an orange tree in the courtyard that bears fruits all the year round. Later, we’ll travel to Rinpung Dzong, housing administrative offices and the Monastic center of Paro. It sits at a very good location where you can get a beautiful view of Paro Valley.

Finally, we’ll go to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

Stay overnight in Thimphu.

Day 9: Sightsee in Thimphu and Travel to Punakha (B)

Today, we’ll tour around Thimphu City. First, we’ll visit Thimphu Chorten (Memorial Chorten). In memory of the third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, it's a neat, clean three-story memorial, where you can see many locals turning the prayer wheel and chatting with the monks. Later, we’ll travel to National Library and Archives of BhutanNational Folk Heritage MuseumHand-made Paper Factory, and the School of Arts and Crafts, where you’ll gain a panoramic view of Bhutan history, handicraft making, and art.

Then, we’ll travel to Tashichho Dzong (Thimpu Dzong), which combines the huge Buddhist monastery, a complex of government offices and the modest palace of the reigning king.

After roaming around the peaceful courtyard, we’ll head to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. On the way, we’ll make a stop at scenic Dochu La Pass (3,100m), where you’ll be amazed by the colorful prayer flags and a huge collection of 108 chortens.

After lunch at Wangduephodrang (1,350m), we keep driving to Punakha.

Stay overnight in Punakha.

Day 10: Sightsee in Punakha and Drive back to Paro (B)

Today, we’ll pay a visit to Punakha Dzong. Located at the confluence of the two rivers - the Mo Chu (mother river) and the Pho Chu (father river), it’s reputed as the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. The scenery reaches its best when the thriving jacaranda trees are loaded with purple flowers in spring. And if time allows, you can also time your trip with Punakha festival around mid-Feb.

After that, we’ll head back to Paro and visit National Museum, where you can get an idea of Bhutan on all aspects in a nutshell, including Bhutan wild lives and local culture and arts, etc. Later, we’ll move to Drukgyel Dzong, a fortress and Buddhist monastery. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan's Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. Here you can visit the majestic ruins with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day 11: Trek from Paro to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) (B)

Today, you will trek from Paro Valley to Taktsang Monastery, which is commonly known as Tiger's Nest. Standing 3000 meters high on the cliff, it is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. It is said that the Guru Rinpoche once flew here from Tibet on the back of a tigress.

The trekking to Taktsang is a challenging one and you can choose to reach there by walking or horseback. Starting with a gentle forest climb, you will pass a creek and some prayer wheels, as the trail gets steeper and steeper. On the way, there is a nice teahouse where you have a short rest and have a great view of the monastery. As you continue your trek, you will climb to the viewing point which is the best place to take photos of Taktsang. After that, the trail goes down until you make it to the entrance.

Then, you can choose to enjoy a stone bath or free exploration nearby.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day 12: Departure from Paro

The driver will pick you up and take you to the airport, then you can take your flight home or your next destination.

Route Map

Service Inclusion

  1. Tibet Travel Permit and all other necessary permit to Tibet
  2. All lodging listed in the itinerary. If you travel individually, you will need to share one room with another tourist. If you prefer to stay in one room by yourself, you will have to pay the single room supplement
  3. Meals listed in itinerary
  4. Flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary
  5. Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
  6. Local Tour Transfers according to group size
  7. Local Tibetan English-speaking guide
  8. One shared big Oxygen tank in the car
  9. Tourist accident/casualty insurance
  10. First aid kit

Service Exclusion

  1. Chinese visa
  2. Flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We offer domestic train/flight ticket booking service, please contact our travel experts for the details.)
  3. Meals not specified the itinerary
  4. Tips and gratitude to tour guide and drive
  5. Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.

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