The 17-day Nepal Tibet Bhutan offers you a golden chance to delve into the three classic Himalayan destinations. In the first three days, you can stroll around Kathmandu Valley and visit the iconic tourist attractions, like Durbar Squares, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, etc. Then you’ll take the epic overland adventure from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Traveling along Sino-Nepal Highway G318, you’ll take in all the essence of Tibet, like Mount Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Pelkor Monastery, Kumbum Stupa, Lake Yamdrok, and Potala Palace, etc. After that, you’ll fly back to Kathmandu and continue traveling to Paro. Not only will you visit the landmarks of Bhutan but also make an in-depth expedition to the western part of “the Land of Thunder Dragon”, like Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey Monastery, etc.
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
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: Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (137km, 7 hrs)
You will be picked up by our driver in your hotel during 9:00-9:30 am and then tranported to China Tibet border. While driving near Mt.Himalaya, you can see the deep gorges, snow-capped mountain on the way. We will also drive across the LuangTang National Park.
Stay overnight in village guest house in Syabrubesi.
Day 5: Syabrubesi to Gyirong (40km, 4-5hrs) (B)
After breakfast, we will drive 15km to the border to enter China. You will meet our guide in China side. Then we will drive down along the winding road to Gyirong (2800m), where is surrounded by lofty snow-capped mountains and dense forests. You will see the green gorges at the edge of Himayala mountain, and the landscape makes big change from snow land.
In the afternoon, you will go to visit Paba Temple, a Nepali style temple of Gelugpa Sect that built by Tibetan King Songtsan Gambo.
Stay overnight in Gyirong.
Day 6: Gyirong to EBC to Tingri (480km, 11hrs) (B)
Today, we will first drive to pass through Peikutso Lake and grassland. 40km to the east of Gyirong county, Peikutso is a beautiful alpine lake, with a water area over 300 square kilometers. The light salty lake is near the world's fourteenth highest mountain,Shishapangma.
Then we will continue to drive to the amazing Everest Base Camp (EBC). The road to EBC passes over the famous Gawu La Pass, at an elevation of 5,198 meters, where you get a great view of the four highest peaks in the world - Mt Lhotse (8,516m), Mt. Everest (8,848m), Mt. Cho Oyu (8,201m), and Mt Makalu (8,463m). EBC is one of the most popular sites in Tibet for foreign visitors, and the views of the Himalaya mountain ranges are spectacular.
After taking plenty of photos at EBC, you will transfer to the nearby Rongbuk Monastery. The highest monastery in the world, at 5,000 meters above sea level, it is part of the Nyingmapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and is unique in that both monks and nuns live together in the same monastery. After that, you will be transferred to Tingri for the night.
Stay overnight in Tingri.
Day 7: Tingri to Shigatse (280km, 7 hrs) (B)
Today, we will drive from Tingri to Shigatse. On the way, you will visit the 5000m G318 National Highway milestone in Lhatse. After your arrival in Shigatse in the early afternoon, you will get to visit the famed Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, with its ancient statue of Jampa, the "future god". Tashi Lhunpo is also the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 8: Shigatse to Lhasa via Gyantse (375km) (B)
Today, we will drive to Lhasa via Gyantse. On the way you can see many Tibetan farmer villages. Afterwards, you will drive the short distance to Gyantse and visit the famed Pelkor Monastery and Kumbum Stupa. The monastery is the main monastery for Buddhists in Gyantse, and houses thousands of Buddhist sutras, scripts, and artifacts, as well as many paintings, which have left a deep influence on Tibetan art.
Then on the way to Lhasa, you will also visit the beautiful and turquoise Yamdrok Lake, one of the three holy lakes in Tibetan Buddhism, and see the spectacular Nyenchen Khangsar Mountain, the highest mountain near Lhasa. Besides, you can also appreciate Korola Glacier on the roadside. At Manak Dam Lake, tourists can hang pray flag at Simila Mountain Pass.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 9: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street (B)
Today your first stop will be the world famous Potala Palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama. Sitting atop Moburi (Red Hill), the palace looks down on the town of Lhasa from its 3,750-meter vantage point. The temple dates back to the 7th century, and houses artifacts and works of art from throughout Tibetan History. The palace also has the gilded burial stupas of the past Dalai Lamas, and below ground lies the ancient meditation cave of the 33rd King of Tibet.
After some lunch, you will head downtown to Jokhang Temple, the primary seat of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built by the 33rd King of Tibet in 647AD, and is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Inside sits the most precious object in the temple, a life-sized statue of Buddha Sakyamuni when he was just 12 years old. Adorned with many precious gems, this gilded statue is the most sacred object in Tibet.
Running around the temple is the famed Barkhor Street. As well as the route of the holy kora, or religious circumambulation, it is also the site of many sellers where you can buy authentic souvenirs from across the region. You can join the pilgrims on their clockwise walk around the temple.
Besides, You can taste Tibetan tea with locals in the tea house.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 10: Lhasa Tour - Drepung and Sera Monastery (B)
The next morning you will leave early for a trip outside Lhasa, first to Drepung Monastery, one of the Great Three monasteries of the Gelugpa sect. Sitting at the foot of Gambo Utse, 5 kilometers outside Lhasa, it was founded by Jamyang Choge, one of the disciples of Tsong Khapa, in 1416. The Ganden Potrang, sited in the southwest corner of the monastery, was the former residence of the Dalai Lama, until the move to the Potala Palace.
In the afternoon you will travel back across the city to the northern suburbs, to visit Sera Monastery, another of the Great Three monasteries. Founded in 1419, the name, Sera, means "wild rose" in Tibetan, and was named because of the roses that were in bloom on the hill behind it when it was built. The main attraction of the monastery is the colorful and animated debating of the monks, held under the trees in the debating field every afternoon. Definitely something to watch, even if you do not understand what is said.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 11: 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 12: 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 13: Sightsee in Thimphu and Travel to Punakha
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 Bhutan, National Folk Heritage Museum, Hand-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 14: Punakha to Gangtey (Phobjikha) and Wangdiphodrang
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.
Then, we’ll head southeast to Gangtey (Phobjikha). Phobjikha Valley, the Bhutan’s widest and largest valley full of green grass and colorful flowers, is a delight to your eyes. As one of the most important wildlife preserves in Bhutan, it’s home to the rare species, like black-necked cranes, sambars, leopards and red foxes, etc.
After that, we’ll pay a visit to Gangtey Monastery (Gangtey Gompa). Built in the 17th century, it is considered as the largest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan. Here you can not only catch a panoramic view of the entire Phobjikha Valley but also enjoy the black-necked crane festival in winter.
Finally, we’ll drive back to Wangdiphodrang.
Stay overnight in Wangdiphodrang.
Day 15: Wangdiphodrang to Paro
After breakfast in Wangdiphodrang , 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 16: Trek from Paro to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
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 17: 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.
- Tibet Travel Permit and all other necessary permit to Tibet
- 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
- Meals listed in itinerary
- Flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary
- Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
- Local Tour Transfers according to group size
- Local Tibetan English-speaking guide
- One shared big Oxygen tank in the car
- Tourist accident/casualty insurance
- First aid kit
- Chinese visa
- Flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We offer domestic train/flight ticket booking service, please contact our travel experts for the details.)
- Meals not specified the itinerary
- Tips and gratitude to tour guide and drive
- Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.
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