Experiencing all three Himalayan kingdoms in one journey is a rare feat, but MT Sobek's 50 years of expertise in the Himalaya puts this odyssey within easy reach. Blending cultural touring with moderate hiking, this exclusive itinerary goes deep into the heart of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet - beautifully showcasing unspoiled Buddhist cultures. Along the way, discover Bhutan's rich traditions; explore Kathmandu's elaborate temples, stupas, and bazaars; and marvel at Tibet's remote monasteries and the holy city of Lhasa. This incredible line-up of each kingdom's must-see destinations can't be missed!
Explore three great Himalayan kingdoms on this rare itinerary crafted by local adventure experts
Discover Bhutan and Tibet, two of world's most tradition-rich lands and visit Lhasa's Potala Palace
Explore Kathmandu's temples and bazaars, and take enchanting hikes along scenic mountain paths
Welcome to Bangkok! Transfer to the hotel via a free 24-hour shuttle bus.
Board an early-morning flight to Paro, Bhutan. Vie for a seat on the left side of the plane: Weather permitting, you'll have spectacular views of the eastern Himalaya, including Cho Oyu and Everest, and Bhutan peaks such as Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Meet your MTS trip leader at the Paro airport, drive into Thimphu for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten; Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious center; the Traditional Hospital of Herbal Medicine; and a traditional arts school.
After breakfast, drive to the Kuensel Phodrang trailhead. The path leads through sparsely populated blue pines, with excellent views of the Thimphu Valley, then the forest gets denser with oaks and bamboo shrubs. The trail then heads along gentle slopes as well as steep, rugged mountain paths. After 2.5 hours, catch your first glimpse of the giant Buddha Dordenma - at 169 feet, the biggest sitting Buddha in the world! After lunch, drive to Wangdi Tse for a peaceful hike offering wonderful views of Thimphu and a rare few other hikers.
In the morning, drive across Dochu La (10,000') where, weather permitting, you behold the snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalaya. The pass, marked by hundreds of colorful fluttering prayer flags, is truly an awesome sight! From here you continue to Punakha, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s. Visit the ancient Punakha Dzong (a fortified building for administrative and monastic institutions) dating back to the 17th century, which is spectacularly situated at the confluence of the Mo and Phu Rivers.
Drive to Paro this morning, and in the afternoon visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum's collections include 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.
Today it's a steep hike to a traditional teahouse for a great view of Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley floor. Taktsang, meaning "tiger's nest," is Bhutan's most spiritual place and a major pilgrimage spot. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, Taktsang has been completely rebuilt. After a tea break, you can sit outside and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Enjoy free afternoon time to explore Paro on your own.
Enjoy breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu (4,500'). Settle in for lunch at the hotel before an afternoon of cultural exploration in the city. Marvel at the remarkable Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath - the largest in Asia and the center of the Tibetan Buddhist culture in Kathmandu.
Experience the rich cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley as you visit the Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar (Palace) Square, and the ancient fortified city of Patan. Patan is best-known for its Royal Palace Museum and Himalayan healing bowls, which have been used across the region for meditative and medicinal purposes for 2,500 years. View the bowls (or even buy your own) before enjoying lunch at the museum cafe.
Rise early for a drive to Nagarkot, from where you'll enjoy a 2-hour hike to Telkot. Pass traditional Tamang villages and take in views of the eastern Himalayan ranges en route (weather permitting). Transfer to the ancient town of Bhaktapur for lunch and witness an enchanting display of medieval Nepalese town life. A highlight is Durbar Square, with its many temples, remains of an ancient palace, and intricate Sun Dhoka ("Golden Gate"), a gilded copper gate crafted in 1753. Next, visit Hindu shrines and ghats at Pashupatinath on the Bagmati River before returning to the hotel.
Another flight this morning - this time reminiscent of the famed novel Lost Horizons, as you admire the incredible Himalayan views en route to Gonggar Airport, about 75 miles from Lhasa. After arrival in Tibet, 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, they serve as a green oasis in the middle of the high-altitude desert.
No journey to Tibet is complete without a visit to Samye Monastery, Tibet's first monastery (around 775 AD) and the birthplace of Buddhism. Needless to say, it's a holy place of major historical and religious significance. Today is entirely dedicated to experiencing Samye, about a 1.5-hour drive west of Tsedang. Founded as a school to train monks, Samye has the unusual honor of affiliation with all three sects of Tibetan Buddhism. After touring the extensive buildings, chapels, murals, statues, relics, and prayer wheels, we will drive to Lhasa.
The holy city of Lhasa deserves at least the three days this trip dedicates to it. Its major sights are yours for the exploring, from the imposing Potala Palace to the age-worn streets of the Barkhor bazaar, where you mingle with pilgrims, monks, traders, and nomads. The itinerary of your time in Lhasa varies, but you are certain to see the Tibetan old town and take excursions to key highlights such as the seventh-century Jokhang, the principal and holiest Buddhist temple in Lhasa and all of Tibet.
Other Lhasa sights you visit include the 13-story Potala Palace, reputed to contain 1,000 rooms and countless brilliant thangkas, frescoes, and images. One of the world's most extraordinary buildings, it completely covers the mountain it stands upon. Just north of Lhasa stands Sera, a Gelugpa monastery founded in 1419. Its white buildings sit at the base of a rocky hill, and gilded, bell-shaped gyamtschens grace the roofs of many of the larger structures. And tour the architecturally unique UNESCO-listed Norbulingka Summer Palace, from which the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet.
If you haven't seen it already, today head to Ganden Monastery, about 25 miles outside of Lhasa. Ganden was almost completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but is now being painstakingly restored. Founded in 1409, it was the first Gelugpa monastery and is still considered the main seat of this major Buddhist order (the Dalai Lama's sect). The views here are spectacular! Walk the two-hour kora, light juniper, hang prayer flags, and have stunning views of the whole Kyichu Valley. At the end of each day, time permitting, explore Lhasa on your own - or rest.
Bid farewell to Tibet and transfer to the airport for your direct flight to Chengdu. Upon arrival in Chengdu, catch your connecting flight to Bangkok.
MT Sobek is a legendary outfitter in the Himalayas, offering pioneering cultural and hiking adventures since 1969.
Our team of local guides are true experts, with over 20 years' experience in Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet.
This unique itinerary includes three kingdoms and seamlessly blends cultural touring with epic hiking - a perfect see-it-all option for active travelers.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Cultural touring in Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet with visits to shrines and temples, plus mountain hikes and scenic flights.
Comfortable inns and luxurious hotels exuding warm hospitality, also includes two nights at Paro's Zhiwa Ling Hotel.
Daytime temperatures range from low-50°Fs-low 80°Fs. Nighttime temperatures range from mid-30°Fs-mid-40°Fs.
You will be met by an MT Sobek representative
Yes, we handle your visa to Bhutan and China. For Nepal, you can either get your own visa before the trip or on arrival.
This trip begins and ends in Bangkok, so make your roundtrip air to Bangkok
Sanjay will meet you in Paro, as he flies from Kathmandu to Paro.
Flights between Bangkok and Paro sell out several months in advance, so we recommend you reserve as early as possible.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"Great experience every time with some of the most knowledgeable guides in their fields. We always come home with wonderful memories of the people we meet and things we see."
MT Sobek Guest
"The Himalayan Passages Journey was an experience of a lifetime! The trip was full of surprises, and unique activities you can only do with a local and experienced guide, like the one I had. 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!"
MT Sobek Guest, Himalayan Passages