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15 Day Kathmandu to Tibet by Air and Bhutan Cultural Tour

15 Day Kathmandu to Tibet by Air and Bhutan Cultural Tour

(TNBT003) Kathmandu - Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - Tingri - EBC - Gyirong - Kathmandu - Paro- Thimpu - Punakha - Paro

Overview

This 15-day tour takes you into three different regions of Southeast Asia, with connecting flights between all three. The overland tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu is one of the greatest experiences in the world, and is worth the long drives involved to see some of the great sights, such as Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, Rongbuk monastery, and the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest. In Kathmandu Valley, the “real” Nepal, you will get to visit the best sites in the country, and experience the unique culture of the area, before heading to Tibet. In Bhutan, the tour takes you to all of the most popular sights, and allows you to experience the unique culture of the Bhutanese people, and learn about its varied history.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

When you arrive at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, your guide will collect you from the airport and take you to your hotel, where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing, or take in the local sights.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 2: Day tour in Kathmandu: Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath and Patan City (B)

The day starts with a tour of Kathmandu City, and takes in the famous Kathmandu Durbar Square. The most famous square in the city, the Durbar Square is the Royal Palace square in the city, and is surrounded by ancient buildings from the early 16th century. The magnificent architecture, exquisite decorations, and the intensity of historical items gives a great insight into Nepali culture.

You then continue the tour with a visit to the Swayambhunath Pagoda, which is one of the oldest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Swayambhunath is a huge golden stupa festooned with prayer flags that flutter in the breeze, on a hill that overlooks the entire city. Then it is on to Patan City, the second largest city in the Kathmandu Valley area. Patan City has one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Nepal that dates back to the 12th century, and is a great place to explore the Buddhist culture of Nepal.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 3: Day tour in Kathmandu: Pashupatinath, Boudhanath and Bhaktapur City

You will also get to go further afield in Nepal, to visit the ancient Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, and Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in Asia, and a focal point for Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Set on the banks of the Baghmati River, Pashupatinath is one of Nepal’s famous UNESCO sites, and the sunset over the temple roofs is spectacular.

Another great place to see is Boudhanath, located on the ancient trade route. It is a place of meditation and part of the spiritual journey around Kathmandu. With one of the largest stupas in the world, it has been the site of many Tibetan prayers over the centuries. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the last place to visit for the day, with its pagoda and shikhara temples strewn around the royal palace. The square really highlights the ancient building arts of Nepal.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 4: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa

In the morning, you will take the flight from Tribhuvan International Airport to Gonggar international Airport, in Lhasa. On arrival, your guide will greet you warmly with the phrase, "Tashi Delek", which means 'wish you all the best', and take you across the bridge over the Lhasa River, to your hotel in the city. The rest of the day is yours to rest and acclimatize.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Tips: High Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be avoided by resting and acclimatizing to the increased elevation. We recommend that you rest and eat plenty of high-protein foods and drink lots of water while you get used to the high altitude. It is also a good idea not to shower for the first two days to avoid catching a cold.

Day 5: Lhasa tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street (B)

The following day 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.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 6: Lhasa tour - Drepung Monastery, 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 7: Lhasa (3650m) to Shigatse (3900m) via Gyantse (B)

In the morning our guide will drive you from Lhasa to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city. En route to Shigatse you will pass over Gampala Pass, which lies at an elevation of 4,790 meters, and will pass the amazing Lake Yamdrok. At 4,400 meters above sea level, the lake lies nestled between lofty mountains, and you will see the holy mountain, Nyenchen Khangsar, its 7,191 meter peak standing tall in the distance.

The trip to Gyantse passes close by the Karola Glacier, and at Manak Dam Lake you will be able to hang a prayer flag at the Simila Mountain Pass. In Gyantse, you will get to visit the unique Pelkor Monastery, which is rare due to it housing three different sects of Tibetan Buddhism under one roof. You will also get to see the Gyantse Kumbum, a giant architectural stupa that stands 34 meters high.

After another hour and a half of driving you will reach Shigatse, and will be able to visit the traditional barley mill and in summer you can view the spectacular sight of the barley fields in full crop.

Stay overnight in Shigatse.

Day 8: Shigatse (3900m) to EBC (5200m) via Tingri (B)

Before leaving Shigatse, you will get to visit the seat of Tibet's second highest spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama, at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

After obtaining your Alien's Travel Permit, which is needed to tour this area, you will leave Shigatse for Lhatse, a small town where you can get a nice lunch. On the drive on to Shegar, weather permitting, you will get your first look at the amazing sight of Mt. Everest, or Mt. Quomolangma as it is called in Tibetan.

The route will go over the Tsola Pass, at 4,600 meters, and the Gyatsola Pass, which is higher at 5,248 meters. On entering the Mt. Everest National Nature reserve you will be able to enjoy the amazing panoramic view of the Himalayas as you travel over Gawula Pass, at an elevation of 5,198 meters. After arriving at Rongbuk you will be able to rest from the long drive, ready for the trip to EBC.

Stay overnight at Rongbuk Guest House.

Tips: The location is very remote and inhospitable, and the accommodation facilities are very basic here. Water is in short supply, there is no hot water, and toilets are just a pit in the ground. You should also be aware that in this remote region, you will be "roughing it", and sleeping facilities are not ideal. However, it is more than worth it to put up with the basic facilities for the amazingly spectacular views of Everest, and we will do our best to ensure that your personal requirements can be met, and you get the very best service from us.

Day 9: EBC to Gyirong Border (370km)

As the dawn comes, you will be able to greet the sun as it rises over the mountains, framing Everest in its morning glow in the distance. The view of Everest from Rongbuk is magnificent, with the mountain standing proud in front of you. After breakfast, you can trek from there to Everest Base Camp, which is a 4km walk, or you can take the local bus.

After visiting EBC, and taking all the photographs you can manage, you will head back to Rongbuk for a tour of this amazing 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.

When you leave the monastery, you will drive to Gyirong port, taking in the breathtaking vista of Mt. Shishapangma and Pekutso Lake. The road goes past the Ghungtang Lhamo, at 5,236 meters, and you will arrive in Gyirong in the late afternoon.

Stay overnight in a Gyirong Guest House.

Day 10: Gyirong to Nepal Border (B)/ transfer to Kathmandu

In the morning, your guide will assist you to exit China, and will see you off at the border with Nepal. On the other side, our guide from Nepal will meet you and transfer you to Kathmandu, and your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to look around the area, or just rest in your hotel after the rigorous trip across Tibet.

Stay overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 11: Arrival in Paro and Get Transferred to Thimpu (2300m) (2hrs’drive)

Today you will be taken to the airport, for the flight from Kathmandu to Paro, and you will get to see the breathtaking views of the Himalayas from the plane, including the sacred Mt. Jumolhari, known as the “bridge of Kanchenjunga”, and its companion mountain, Mt. Jichu Drake, in Bhutan. Upon your arrival in Paro internatonal airport, our Bhutan guide and driver will be expecting you and later transfer you to your hotel.

After a brief rest at your hotel, in the afternoon, with time permitting, we may visit the Kyichu Lhakhang (also known as Kyerchu Temple), the oldest and most beautiful temple in Bhutan. Surrounded by the fields, flowers and hills, Kyichu Lhakhang is home to the eight-year-old Buddha statue of Sakyamuni, historic relics, elaborate paintings and numerous Buddhist scriptures, etc. And Later explore the Paro Rinpung Dzong. Located at the suburb of Paro City, Rinpung Dzong is a fortress built in the 17th Century to protect Paro valley, which offers you picturesque scenery and a sense of inner peace.

In the evening, we will head to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan and spend the night there.

Day 12: Sightseeing in Thimpu and Travel to Punakha (1250m) (3-4hrs’drive)

As the capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu is devoid of stereotyped skyscrapers and huge traffic. Instead, surrounding by rolling mountains, Thimpu is known for its picturesque Bhutan dzong, fresh air and loveable local people. Today’s tour begins with a visit to Late King's Memorial Chorten, and explore the National Library, Folk Heritage Museum and Hand-made Paper Factory, and the School of Arts and Crafts, where you will have a panoramic view of Bhutan history and learn more of textile and the handicraft making in the most traditional way.

Of course, the highlight comes as we tour the Tashichho Dzong (Thimpu Dzong), the most beautiful Bhutan dzong as well as the headquarters of Bhutan government. Later, we will travel northeast to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. On the way, we will stop at scenic Dochu La Pass (3,100m) for refreshing tea. The perfect vintage point brings you the unobstructed vista of Great Himalayas.

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

Stay overnight in Punakha

Day 13: Sightseeing in Punakha Dzong and Drive back to Paro (1460m) (4 hrs’ drive)

Get up in the morning to visit Punakha Dzong, widely believed to be the most beautiful Bhutanese Dzong, built at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers. Never miss the Punakha festival around mid-Feb if you come at the right time.

After touring Punakha, we are about to drive back to Paro. In the afternoon, we head to National Museum of Bhutan, which looks like a round watchtower. You can trace back to the ancient Bhutan history and explore the diverse wild lives as well as splendid local culture and arts. Then we drive to visit Drukgyel Dzong, where you can enjoy the enchanting village lying at its foot.

Stay overnight in Paro

Day 14: Trek to Taksang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest)

Getting up in the fresh morning, we’ll start today’s trek to Taktshang Goemba (also known as Tiger's Nest).Standing on the cliff of Paro Valley, Taktshang Goemba (3120 meters) is the landmark of Paro as well as the holiest temple in Bhutan. It’s said that Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) had flied here on the back of a tigress and meditated in the caves on the cliffside for three months. From here, you can catch a panoramic view of Paro Valley.

After lunch, you may opt for a stone bath or enjoy free exploration nearby.

Stay overnight in Paro

Day 15: Departure from Paro

Today, our tour guide will transfer you to Paro International Airport for your next destination. Tour service end.

Service Guide

Service Included:

  • Tibet travel permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance ticket fees for all tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
  • Personal knowledgeable English-speaking Tibetan local tour guide;
  • Personal comfortable, clean and safe vehicle with reliable Tibetan local driver; vehicle ranging from 4WD land cruiser to minibus depending on your group size;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel or budget hostel, guesthouse or tent. Please tell us your accommodation preference when submitting the enquiry; we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
  • Domestic flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary;
  • All meals listed in the above itinerary;
  • Tourist accident/casualty insurance;
  • First aid kit;

Service Excluded:

  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese visa (Note: we could help you with the Chinese visa application, like providing the invitation letter, presenting the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies, etc that you may need. )
  • Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We can provide you the domestic flight/train ticket booking service at the BEST discount price; please contact us our travel experts for the details.)
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary; usually it costs about USD3-15 per person for one meal in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region).
  • Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver;
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid the alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.

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