Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet: Himalayan Passages | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet: Himalayan Passages

Trip Length 15 days

From $7,095

  • Experience the three great kingdoms of the Himalayas—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—and their unique cultures and traditions on this rare itinerary with the Himalayan experts!
  • Discover Bhutan, one of the most tradition-rich lands in the world, and its beautiful folk art
  • Explore exotic Kathmandu, home to elaborate Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (reliquaries), and lively bazaars
  • Hike in Nepal’s magical middle hills, the beautiful Pokhara Valley, and enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Range
  • Visit Tibet’s monasteries and the long-forbidden closed city of Lhasa, and meet Tibetans in their rapidly-changing homeland

The goliath proportions of the Himalaya cannot help but cast an air of mysticism and adventure over its diverse landscape, into its remote monasteries, and in its irresistibly kind people. Seeing all three kingdoms of this magnificent range—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—on the same journey is a rare feat. Today, reliable air travel coupled with Mountain Travel Sobek’s four decades of expertise in the Himalaya has put a formerly arduous odyssey easily within reach. This exclusive itinerary showcases these unspoiled Buddhist cultures in all their glory through 16 approachable days of touring and moderate day hiking. Come discover Bhutan, one of the most tradition-rich lands in the world, and its beautiful folk art. Explore exotic Kathmandu, home to elaborate Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (reliquaries), and lively bazaars. Hike in Nepal’s magical middle hills, the beautiful Pokhara Valley, and enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Range. Visit Tibet’s monasteries and the long-closed city of Lhasa, and meet Tibetans in their rapidly-changing homeland. It’s an incredible line-up of each kingdom’s must-see destinations that you won’t want to miss!

Flights between Bangkok and Paro on Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline, sell out four to six months in advance. If your trip includes Bhutan, we recommend you reserve your trip as early as possible, so we can secure these flights for you.

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok

Arrive in Bangkok (most flights arrive in the evening). Take a complimentary shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, a 5-minute ride from the airport. The hotel operates 24-hour free shuttle bus service between the terminal and the hotel, and runs every 10-15 minutes.

NOTE: Most airlines arrive late at night into Bangkok, and our flight from Bangkok to Paro departs very early the next morning. If your flight into Bangkok is delayed by even just a few hours, it would be easy to miss the group departure flight to Paro. We therefore encourage you to arrive a day or two early in Bangkok to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. There are many sightseeing possibilities. We’d be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.

  • Accommodation:Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel

Day 2: Paro (7,500)

Today we will fly to Paro (7,500'), Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If the weather cooperates, you might have spectacular views of four of the ten highest peaks in the world—Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga—plus peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After meeting the Mountain Travel Sobek trip leader at the Paro airport, we'll drive into town for lunch. We then drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, where we check into our hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon we will visit some of the sites in town. These may include the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk; Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious center; the Traditional Hospital of Herbal Medicine; and a school that trains students to paint, sculpt, and carve religious artwork.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Druk Hotel or similar

Day 3: Thimphu (7,600)

After breakfast, we will drive to the trailhead for our hike to Kuenselphodrang.  The trail will take us through sparsely populated blue pines, with excellent views of the Thimphu Valley, As we continue, the forest gets more and more dense with coniferous trees like oaks and bamboo shrubs. The trail then heads along gentle slopes, as well as steep rugged mountain paths in the placid woods. After 2-1/2 hours of walking in the shade, we will arrive at an open space and catch sight of a giant statue of Buddha Dordenma--the biggest sitting Buddha (169 feet) in the world. We then have lunch and drive to Wangdi Tse for a peaceful one hour loop hike where we can enjoy wonderful views of Thimphu, but see few others on the trail.  Dinner and overnight in Thimphu. (3-4 hours moderate hiking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Druk Hotel or similar

Day 4: Punakha (4,100

In the morning we will drive across the Dochu La pass at 10,000 feet, where we might view the snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalaya (weather permitting). The pass is marked by hundreds of colorful fluttering prayer flags and is an awesome sight. We then continue to Punakha, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s. We will visit the ancient Punakha Dzong dating back to the 17th century, which is spectacularly situated at the confluence of the Mo and Phu Rivers.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Drupchu or similar

Day 5: Paro (7,500')

Morning drive to Paro. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum’s collections include displays of spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, Bhutan’s beautiful stamps, and the Tshogshing Lhakhang ("Temple of the Tree of Wisdom"), with its carvings depicting the history of Buddhism. Time permitting, we will also visit the Paro Dzong, built in 1644 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 6: Hike to Taktsang Monastery (10,300

Today we’ll take a steep, 1-hour hike to a teahouse, where we enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery (its name means “tiger’s nest”), perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the floor of the Paro Valley. Our hike follows a steep switchback trail through the forest. After a break with tea and cookies, you have the option to sit outside the tea house and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Much of Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt. We’ll have some time in the afternoon to explore Paro on our own.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 7: Kathmandu (4,500') – Pokhara (2,800'), Nepal

Transfer to the airport and fly to Kathmandu and connect with your flight to Pokhara (3,000'), a lively town set beside Phewa Lake with fantastic views of the Annapurna Range. Rest of the afternoon free to rest or wander around this beautiful valley. You might want to explore the lakeside with its array of Tibetan shops and restaurants or take a canoe out on the lake.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Shangri-La Village

Day 8: Pokhara (2,800

Today, we’ll take a short hike around Pokhara, in the magical foothills of Annapurna and Lamjung Himal. Walks in this region provide memorable opportunities to meet the people of Nepal’s middle hills and take in the Pokhara Valley’s astounding Himalayan views. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Shangri-La Village

Day 9: Kathmandu (4,500)

Early morning flight to Kathmandu. We’ll tour the temples and monuments of the Kathmandu Valley, including the remarkable Buddhist stupas of Bodhnath (largest in Nepal) and the Hindu temple of Pashupati on the banks of the Bagmati River. We’ll also visit Patan, a nearby city in the Kathmandu Valley that dates back to 570 A.D. and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It boasts one of the 10 best museums in Asia (according to the Smithsonian Institute) inside the Royal Palace.  The monks in Tibet and Bhutan have purchased the metal statues for their monasteries in Patan since the 6th century. The city is also known for the Himalayan healing bowl, which the Himalayan region has used for 2,500 years for meditative and medicinal purposes.  Return to Kathmandu and there will be time to stroll Kathmandu’s busy streets and shop in the bazaars in the afternoon. You will have lunch and dinner on your own.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 10: Kathmandu to Tsedang (10,200

We will transfer to the airport and take a flight reminiscent of the famed novel, "Lost Horizons" to the Gongkar airport, located about 75 miles from Lhasa. After arrival, we will drive 48 miles to Tsedang (11,152') in the Yarlung Valley, which sheltered the ancient kingdom of Yarlung, the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Tsedang is the capital of this modern administrative region, and together with the adjacent town of Nedong, is a green oasis in the middle of the high altitude desert.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Xiangchu Garden Hotel

Day 11: Samye Monastery (12,100)

Drive west about 1-1/2 hours to Samye, the first monastery to be built in Tibet (775 AD). The monastery was founded as a school to train monks during the reign of King Thrisong Detsen and has the unusual affiliation with all three sects of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, and Gelugpa. We will tour the extensive buildings and then drive to Lhasa.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Four Points by Sheraton

Days 12-14: Lhasa (12,000)

Drive four hours to Lhasa (11,800'), the “Forbidden City,” and check into our charming Tibetan hotel. We will have three full days to explore the major sites, including excursions to the following places. We will also wander the age-worn streets of the Barkhor bazaar, mingling with pilgrims, monks, traders and nomads.

The Jokhang is the principal and holiest Buddhist temple in Lhasa, as well as all of Tibet. It is the focus of devotion of hundreds of Tibetans from near and far who circle it to gain spiritual merit. The Jokhang was first constructed in the 7th century and has a large gold image of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Sera   Sera, founded in 1419, is a monastery of the Gelugpa order. Its many white buildings sit at the base of a rocky hill. Gilded, bell-shaped gyamtschens grace the roofs of many of the larger buildings.

Potala Palace   The 13-story Potala Palace is reputed to contain 1,000 rooms and hundreds upon hundreds of brilliant thangkas, frescoes, and images built in an era when religious art was created anonymously as a means of gaining merit for future lives. It’s one of the world's most extraordinary buildings and completely covers the mountain it stands upon. When remarkable late 19th- and early 20th-century explorer Alexandra David-Neel saw the Potala, she remarked, “…even the best photograph will fail to convey a true idea of its imposing appearance, as it stands, a red palace capped with gold roofs, uplifted high in the blue sky, on a shining pedestal of dazzling white buildings.”

Ganden Monastery is about 25 miles outside of Lhasa. Ganden was almost completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but is now being painstakingly restored. It was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the yellow hat sect (Gelugpa); it was the first Gelugpa monastery and is still considered the main seat of this major Buddhist order (Dalai Lama’s sect). The views here are spectacular; we will hike the two-hour kora and have stunning views of the whole Kyichu Valley. Along the way we’ll light juniper and hang prayer flags and then enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the monastery. Return to Lhasa in the afternoon, with time to rest, shop, or explore on your own.

Norbulingka Summer Palace has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique representation of Tibetan palace architecture. It is from this palace that the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet. We will visit the grounds as well as his bedroom, throne room, audience hall and other rooms.
 
 

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Four Points by Sheraton

Day 15: Lhasa to Chengdu to Bangkok

Transfer to the airport for your direct flight to Chengdu.  Upon arrival in Chengdu, catch your connecting flight to Bangkok. 

  • Breakfast

Apr 05 - 19, 2018

Apr 26, 2018 - May 10, 2018

Oct 11 - 25, 2018

Nov 01 - 15, 2018

pricing

2018 Prices

$7,095 (5-15 members)

$2,070 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu/Lhasa/Chengdu/Bangkok - subject to change
$2,000 single supplement

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Druk Hotel or similar — Thimphu, Bhutan

Experience the legendary hospitality of the Bhutanese people at this fine accommodation in the midst of the Himalayas. Located in the heart of the capital city, the hotel is close to shopping, culture, and the bubbling Thimphu River. Pleasant rooms are outfitted with comfortable beds, tiled bathrooms, soaking tubs and modern amenities, while the spa rounds out the offering here at Druk Hotel Thimphu.

Four Points by Sheraton — Lhasa

Hotel Drupchu or similar — Punakha

Hotel Shangri-La Village — Pokhara

Guests at the Shangri-La Village enjoy up close and personal views of the Himalayas from their rooms, which feature epic panoramas. Private balconies off each guest room face the mighty Annapurna range, and spacious landscaped gardens complete the scene. Guests will enjoy every comfort in a beautiful and serene setting.

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel — Bangkok

The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a four-star hotel located a short walk from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Boasting 612 comfortable and contemporary rooms, the hotel also offers two bars and four restaurants, a beautiful pool, a fitness room, and a spa! With a 24-hour airport shuttle running every 10 minutes and plenty of parking available, accommodations here couldn't be more convenient.

Shangri-La Hotel — Kathmandu

Shangri-La is a premier five-star deluxe hotel. It is centrally located and within a short walking distance to the former Royal Palace and the bustling Thamel market. The hotel has pool & gardens and three restaurants, several shops, and a bookstore.

Xiangchu Garden Hotel — Tsedang, Tibet

Zhiwa Ling Hotel — Paro, Bhutan

The Zhiwa Ling is a luxurious retreat that combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of modern comforts. The exquisite hand-carved wooden cornices, extensive stonework and manicured gardens create an authentic and inviting atmosphere. Guest rooms are spread out on the 10 acres of pristine land that make up this breathtaking property, and feature modern amenities and comfortable furnishings. Guests can enjoy a traditional outdoor hot-stone bath, tea at the Tea House, a Meditation House, and two restaurants specializing in both contemporary international and classic Bhutanese cuisine.

"The Himalayan Passages Journey was so much greater than I had expected it to be! It was an experience of a lifetime! MTS did a great job in finding the right leader who created the full itinerary. His knowledge, and in-depth teaching of Buddhism we received from the leader was invaluable. The trip was full of surprises, and unique activities you can only do with a local and experienced guide, like the one I had. The trip as a whole had so much depth, personality, teachings, and uniqueness, it can't compare to any other of my vacations. It's a stand-alone and will be hard to beat! I recommend this trip to everyone that can take the time to go. Thank you MTS for providing me with this opportunity. And thank you to my leader, you were fabulous!" Debra Hurt

  • Experience the three great kingdoms of the Himalayas—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—and their unique cultures and traditions on this rare itinerary with the Himalayan experts!
  • Discover Bhutan, one of the most tradition-rich lands in the world, and its beautiful folk art
  • Explore exotic Kathmandu, home to elaborate Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (reliquaries), and lively bazaars
  • Hike in Nepal’s magical middle hills, the beautiful Pokhara Valley, and enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Range
  • Visit Tibet’s monasteries and the long-forbidden closed city of Lhasa, and meet Tibetans in their rapidly-changing homeland

The goliath proportions of the Himalaya cannot help but cast an air of mysticism and adventure over its diverse landscape, into its remote monasteries, and in its irresistibly kind people. Seeing all three kingdoms of this magnificent range—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—on the same journey is a rare feat. Today, reliable air travel coupled with Mountain Travel Sobek’s four decades of expertise in the Himalaya has put a formerly arduous odyssey easily within reach. This exclusive itinerary showcases these unspoiled Buddhist cultures in all their glory through 16 approachable days of touring and moderate day hiking. Come discover Bhutan, one of the most tradition-rich lands in the world, and its beautiful folk art. Explore exotic Kathmandu, home to elaborate Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (reliquaries), and lively bazaars. Hike in Nepal’s magical middle hills, the beautiful Pokhara Valley, and enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Range. Visit Tibet’s monasteries and the long-closed city of Lhasa, and meet Tibetans in their rapidly-changing homeland. It’s an incredible line-up of each kingdom’s must-see destinations that you won’t want to miss!

Flights between Bangkok and Paro on Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline, sell out four to six months in advance. If your trip includes Bhutan, we recommend you reserve your trip as early as possible, so we can secure these flights for you.

reviews

"The Himalayan Passages Journey was so much greater than I had expected it to be! It was an experience of a lifetime! MTS did a great job in finding the right leader who created the full itinerary. His knowledge, and in-depth teaching of Buddhism we received from the leader was invaluable. The trip was full of surprises, and unique activities you can only do with a local and experienced guide, like the one I had. The trip as a whole had so much depth, personality, teachings, and uniqueness, it can't compare to any other of my vacations. It's a stand-alone and will be hard to beat! I recommend this trip to everyone that can take the time to go. Thank you MTS for providing me with this opportunity. And thank you to my leader, you were fabulous!" Debra Hurt

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok

Arrive in Bangkok (most flights arrive in the evening). Take a complimentary shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, a 5-minute ride from the airport. The hotel operates 24-hour free shuttle bus service between the terminal and the hotel, and runs every 10-15 minutes.

NOTE: Most airlines arrive late at night into Bangkok, and our flight from Bangkok to Paro departs very early the next morning. If your flight into Bangkok is delayed by even just a few hours, it would be easy to miss the group departure flight to Paro. We therefore encourage you to arrive a day or two early in Bangkok to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. There are many sightseeing possibilities. We’d be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.

  • Accommodation:Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel

Day 2: Paro (7,500)

Today we will fly to Paro (7,500'), Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If the weather cooperates, you might have spectacular views of four of the ten highest peaks in the world—Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga—plus peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After meeting the Mountain Travel Sobek trip leader at the Paro airport, we'll drive into town for lunch. We then drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, where we check into our hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon we will visit some of the sites in town. These may include the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk; Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious center; the Traditional Hospital of Herbal Medicine; and a school that trains students to paint, sculpt, and carve religious artwork.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Druk Hotel or similar

Day 3: Thimphu (7,600)

After breakfast, we will drive to the trailhead for our hike to Kuenselphodrang.  The trail will take us through sparsely populated blue pines, with excellent views of the Thimphu Valley, As we continue, the forest gets more and more dense with coniferous trees like oaks and bamboo shrubs. The trail then heads along gentle slopes, as well as steep rugged mountain paths in the placid woods. After 2-1/2 hours of walking in the shade, we will arrive at an open space and catch sight of a giant statue of Buddha Dordenma--the biggest sitting Buddha (169 feet) in the world. We then have lunch and drive to Wangdi Tse for a peaceful one hour loop hike where we can enjoy wonderful views of Thimphu, but see few others on the trail.  Dinner and overnight in Thimphu. (3-4 hours moderate hiking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Druk Hotel or similar

Day 4: Punakha (4,100

In the morning we will drive across the Dochu La pass at 10,000 feet, where we might view the snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalaya (weather permitting). The pass is marked by hundreds of colorful fluttering prayer flags and is an awesome sight. We then continue to Punakha, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s. We will visit the ancient Punakha Dzong dating back to the 17th century, which is spectacularly situated at the confluence of the Mo and Phu Rivers.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Drupchu or similar

Day 5: Paro (7,500')

Morning drive to Paro. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum’s collections include displays of spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, Bhutan’s beautiful stamps, and the Tshogshing Lhakhang ("Temple of the Tree of Wisdom"), with its carvings depicting the history of Buddhism. Time permitting, we will also visit the Paro Dzong, built in 1644 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 6: Hike to Taktsang Monastery (10,300

Today we’ll take a steep, 1-hour hike to a teahouse, where we enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery (its name means “tiger’s nest”), perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the floor of the Paro Valley. Our hike follows a steep switchback trail through the forest. After a break with tea and cookies, you have the option to sit outside the tea house and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Much of Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt. We’ll have some time in the afternoon to explore Paro on our own.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 7: Kathmandu (4,500') – Pokhara (2,800'), Nepal

Transfer to the airport and fly to Kathmandu and connect with your flight to Pokhara (3,000'), a lively town set beside Phewa Lake with fantastic views of the Annapurna Range. Rest of the afternoon free to rest or wander around this beautiful valley. You might want to explore the lakeside with its array of Tibetan shops and restaurants or take a canoe out on the lake.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Shangri-La Village

Day 8: Pokhara (2,800

Today, we’ll take a short hike around Pokhara, in the magical foothills of Annapurna and Lamjung Himal. Walks in this region provide memorable opportunities to meet the people of Nepal’s middle hills and take in the Pokhara Valley’s astounding Himalayan views. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Shangri-La Village

Day 9: Kathmandu (4,500)

Early morning flight to Kathmandu. We’ll tour the temples and monuments of the Kathmandu Valley, including the remarkable Buddhist stupas of Bodhnath (largest in Nepal) and the Hindu temple of Pashupati on the banks of the Bagmati River. We’ll also visit Patan, a nearby city in the Kathmandu Valley that dates back to 570 A.D. and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It boasts one of the 10 best museums in Asia (according to the Smithsonian Institute) inside the Royal Palace.  The monks in Tibet and Bhutan have purchased the metal statues for their monasteries in Patan since the 6th century. The city is also known for the Himalayan healing bowl, which the Himalayan region has used for 2,500 years for meditative and medicinal purposes.  Return to Kathmandu and there will be time to stroll Kathmandu’s busy streets and shop in the bazaars in the afternoon. You will have lunch and dinner on your own.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 10: Kathmandu to Tsedang (10,200

We will transfer to the airport and take a flight reminiscent of the famed novel, "Lost Horizons" to the Gongkar airport, located about 75 miles from Lhasa. After arrival, we will drive 48 miles to Tsedang (11,152') in the Yarlung Valley, which sheltered the ancient kingdom of Yarlung, the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Tsedang is the capital of this modern administrative region, and together with the adjacent town of Nedong, is a green oasis in the middle of the high altitude desert.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Xiangchu Garden Hotel

Day 11: Samye Monastery (12,100)

Drive west about 1-1/2 hours to Samye, the first monastery to be built in Tibet (775 AD). The monastery was founded as a school to train monks during the reign of King Thrisong Detsen and has the unusual affiliation with all three sects of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, and Gelugpa. We will tour the extensive buildings and then drive to Lhasa.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Four Points by Sheraton

Days 12-14: Lhasa (12,000)

Drive four hours to Lhasa (11,800'), the “Forbidden City,” and check into our charming Tibetan hotel. We will have three full days to explore the major sites, including excursions to the following places. We will also wander the age-worn streets of the Barkhor bazaar, mingling with pilgrims, monks, traders and nomads.

The Jokhang is the principal and holiest Buddhist temple in Lhasa, as well as all of Tibet. It is the focus of devotion of hundreds of Tibetans from near and far who circle it to gain spiritual merit. The Jokhang was first constructed in the 7th century and has a large gold image of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Sera   Sera, founded in 1419, is a monastery of the Gelugpa order. Its many white buildings sit at the base of a rocky hill. Gilded, bell-shaped gyamtschens grace the roofs of many of the larger buildings.

Potala Palace   The 13-story Potala Palace is reputed to contain 1,000 rooms and hundreds upon hundreds of brilliant thangkas, frescoes, and images built in an era when religious art was created anonymously as a means of gaining merit for future lives. It’s one of the world's most extraordinary buildings and completely covers the mountain it stands upon. When remarkable late 19th- and early 20th-century explorer Alexandra David-Neel saw the Potala, she remarked, “…even the best photograph will fail to convey a true idea of its imposing appearance, as it stands, a red palace capped with gold roofs, uplifted high in the blue sky, on a shining pedestal of dazzling white buildings.”

Ganden Monastery is about 25 miles outside of Lhasa. Ganden was almost completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but is now being painstakingly restored. It was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the yellow hat sect (Gelugpa); it was the first Gelugpa monastery and is still considered the main seat of this major Buddhist order (Dalai Lama’s sect). The views here are spectacular; we will hike the two-hour kora and have stunning views of the whole Kyichu Valley. Along the way we’ll light juniper and hang prayer flags and then enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the monastery. Return to Lhasa in the afternoon, with time to rest, shop, or explore on your own.

Norbulingka Summer Palace has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique representation of Tibetan palace architecture. It is from this palace that the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet. We will visit the grounds as well as his bedroom, throne room, audience hall and other rooms.
 
 

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Four Points by Sheraton

Day 15: Lhasa to Chengdu to Bangkok

Transfer to the airport for your direct flight to Chengdu.  Upon arrival in Chengdu, catch your connecting flight to Bangkok. 

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Druk Hotel or similar — Thimphu, Bhutan

Experience the legendary hospitality of the Bhutanese people at this fine accommodation in the midst of the Himalayas. Located in the heart of the capital city, the hotel is close to shopping, culture, and the bubbling Thimphu River. Pleasant rooms are outfitted with comfortable beds, tiled bathrooms, soaking tubs and modern amenities, while the spa rounds out the offering here at Druk Hotel Thimphu.

Four Points by Sheraton — Lhasa

Hotel Drupchu or similar — Punakha

Hotel Shangri-La Village — Pokhara

Guests at the Shangri-La Village enjoy up close and personal views of the Himalayas from their rooms, which feature epic panoramas. Private balconies off each guest room face the mighty Annapurna range, and spacious landscaped gardens complete the scene. Guests will enjoy every comfort in a beautiful and serene setting.

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel — Bangkok

The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a four-star hotel located a short walk from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Boasting 612 comfortable and contemporary rooms, the hotel also offers two bars and four restaurants, a beautiful pool, a fitness room, and a spa! With a 24-hour airport shuttle running every 10 minutes and plenty of parking available, accommodations here couldn't be more convenient.

Shangri-La Hotel — Kathmandu

Shangri-La is a premier five-star deluxe hotel. It is centrally located and within a short walking distance to the former Royal Palace and the bustling Thamel market. The hotel has pool & gardens and three restaurants, several shops, and a bookstore.

Xiangchu Garden Hotel — Tsedang, Tibet

Zhiwa Ling Hotel — Paro, Bhutan

The Zhiwa Ling is a luxurious retreat that combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of modern comforts. The exquisite hand-carved wooden cornices, extensive stonework and manicured gardens create an authentic and inviting atmosphere. Guest rooms are spread out on the 10 acres of pristine land that make up this breathtaking property, and feature modern amenities and comfortable furnishings. Guests can enjoy a traditional outdoor hot-stone bath, tea at the Tea House, a Meditation House, and two restaurants specializing in both contemporary international and classic Bhutanese cuisine.

Dates and Pricing

Apr 05 - 19, 2018

Apr 26, 2018 - May 10, 2018

Oct 11 - 25, 2018

Nov 01 - 15, 2018

pricing

2018 Prices

$7,095 (5-15 members)

$2,070 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu/Lhasa/Chengdu/Bangkok - subject to change
$2,000 single supplement

Activity Level Moderate
Trip Length 15 days

From $7,095

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Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure