Border Information: If you are joining in Kolkata, you will most likely enter India at Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA code: CCU).
There will be an important group meeting at the joining hotel at 10:00am. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception when you arrive for more details about this meeting. The afternoon is free to explore Kolkata.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kolkata before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kolkata.
We will meet in the evening to board an overnight sleeper train from Kolkata to Siliguri - accommodation will be aboard the train tonight, where there are bunk beds with sheets provided.
Experience a local overnight train from Kolkata to Siliguri
Visit the Eden Gardens, the most famous and iconic cricket stadium in India - Cost: INR
See the famous Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River, thought to be the busiest bridge in the world with 150,000 pedestrians and 100,000 vehicles crossing every day - Cost: INR
Discover the incredible array of art and historical artefacts on display at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, the largest and oldest museum in India
- Cost: INR 500
Head out on a fantastic photographic tour of Kolkata, exploring the hidden gems, back streets, and photogenic spots of the city with a superb local guide - Cost: INR 2000
Explore the vast fields and parks of the Maidan (the 'lungs of Kolkata') and observe daily life away from the chaos of the city - Cost: INR
See the huge white marble Victoria Memorial, built in the early 20th century by the British Viceroy of India and a grandiose reminder of Kolkata's colonial past
- Cost: INR 500
Visit the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Centre, a museum illustrating the life and work of the famous and controversial missionary - Cost: INR
We will arrive into Siliguri at around 9:00am this morning, meeting our jeeps and drivers at the station for our onward journey through the narrow winding roads to Darjeeling. The town of Darjeeling is really more a collection of villages situated on a high ridge, linked by a series of steps and winding lanes and surrounded by rice and tea terraces.
Jeeps are used in this region rather than our overland truck as they are perfect for the narrow, steep and winding roads of the area.
Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 3-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the vehicle will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
In Darjeeling we will stay in a local hotel.
Today is a free day in Darjeeling to relax, enjoy the surrounding area and take part in some optional activities.
Take an early jeep trip to Tiger Hill, where you can get an incredible sunrise view of Kangchenjunda, the 3rd-highest mountain in the world
- Cost: INR 500
See the museum at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, containing many exhibits from mountaineering history and the grave of Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men to summit Mount Everest
- Cost: INR 200
Time to explore the tea plantations
- Cost: USD 5
3 nights stay in Darjeeling to explore the surrounding hills
- Cost: INR
Scenic train ride through the stunning Darjeeling foothills.
- Cost: INR 1500
Border Information: Exit India at Jaigaon, enter Bhutan at Phuntsholing.
This morning we will drive in locally-chartered jeeps from Darjeeling to the Bhutanese border at Phuntsholing, where our local Bhutanese guide will be waiting to receive us at the border gate. Your tour leader will collect all the group's passports to get the visa process underway in order to save time in the morning.
In Phuntsholing we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (in jeeps and locally charted bus).
This morning we will finalise our visas and then start our journey into Bhutan with a drive in a locally-chartered bus from the warmer climes of Phuntsholing up to the capital of Thimphu, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.
We will have time in the evening to take a stroll around Thimphu and start to take in the atmosphere and culture of this beautiful country and its gentle way of life.
In Thimphu we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours (in locally-chartered bus).
Today we will have a day in Thimphu for sightseeing. We will have an included city tour from our local guides, including the Changangkha Temple, Memorial Chorten and the Takin Reserve, and there will also be plenty of time for free exploration and visiting the Thimphu markets.
Explore the outdoor market in Thimphu
See Thimphu's iconic National Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in 1974 to commemorate the 3rd King of Bhutan
See the incredible 52m-tall golden Buddha Dordenma statue in the hills above Thimphu, the largest sitting Buddha statue in the world
Visit the Tashichho Dzong in the capital of Thimphu, a beautiful 17th-century Buddhist fortress that serves as the current seat of the Bhutanese government
Visit the Changangkha Lhakhang in the hills above Thimphu, a busy temple where parents come to recieve the names for their new-borns from the deity Tamdrin - Cost: BTN
Visit the National Folk Museum, a living museum to see a slice of traditional Bhutanese life as it would have been a century ago - Cost: BTN 150
Visit the Motithang Takin Preserve near Thimphu, a natural conservation area for the curious yak-like Himalayan Takin - Cost: BTN
In the morning we will drive to the old capital Punakha, via the Dochu La Pass at 3050m, where we will stop for a hot drink and to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. We will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach the low-lying Punakha at 1250m altitude.
This afternoon we will visit the imposing Punakha Dzong (Palace of Great Happiness). Built in 1637 CE, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. After this, we will take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across the terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley).
In Punakha we will stay in a local farmhouse, where we will experience a genuine slice of Bhutanese life and hospitality. The facilities here will be rather basic, but the accommodation is exactly how a typical Bhutanse family live, and the food is in no way adapted for tourists.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (in locally-chartered bus).
Today we drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan at 2180m. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, commands the eye from miles away. We can also visit Ta Dzong - the newly opened museum in the watchtower is dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, tells the stories of the Dzong and the valley, and features personal belongings of the kings and queens of Bhutan.
We then continue through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, an area of high valleys at 2580-3100m.
In Bumthang we will stay again in a local farmhouse with basic facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours (in locally-chartered bus).
Stay for 2 nights in a rural farmhouse near Bumthang to enjoy a slice of genuine Bhutanese life, food, and hospitality
Visit the incredible Trongsa Dzong, the largest Buddhist fortress in Bhutan set against the stunning backdrop of the Black Mountains
We will spend today sightseeing in Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. Bumthang is the collective name for an area of 4 valleys - Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume.
Our guide will take us on a fascinating walking and/or driving tour of a variety of sacred sites including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. We can also visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong, Jakar, with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley.
Take a beautiful 6-hour hike into the hills above Bumthang to visit the peaceful and remote Padtshaling Monastery
Today we drive to Gangtey at 2900m. On arrival we can enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges.
We will visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries which has recently been extensively renovated) and explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet.
In Gangtey we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (in locally-chartered bus).
Explore the colourful, recently-restored Gangtey Gompa, a monastic college famous for its annual festival to welcome the migration of black-necked cranes
Today we will head out for a day hike in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley. We will first visit the information Centre which has lots of information on the valley famous for its migrating birds. From here we will walk through local villages and forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen ( know as old mans beard ) and follow the nature trail to Kingathan Village. Here we will visit a temple built by the Queen Mother before making our way back to the hotel.
The walk takes approximately 6 - 7 hours for casual trekkers. This trail is especially recommended for bird lovers.
This morning we will take a trek up to the hill-top village of Rinchengang and learn about its interesting history. After this we will continue our drive to Paro, where we will have an included visit to the impressive Paro Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
In Paro we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (in locally-chartered bus).
Trek up to the village of Rinchengang, picturesquely situated on a steep ridge near Wangdi
Visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture
Today we take a day walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktsang monastery which clings to the rock face 900m above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress, and subsequently meditated here for 3 months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. We can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria, from where we get a spectacular view of the monastery.
In the afternoon we will visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong (Fortress of Victory), constructed to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 CE, and destroyed by a butter lamp fire in 1951. Nearby we will also visit the 7th-Century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan.
Trek up to the iconic 'Tiger's Nest', the sacred Taktsang monastery which clings to the rock face 900m above the valley floor - the most famous symbol of Bhutan
Border Information: Exit Bhutan at Paro, enter Nepal at Kathmandu.
Today we will take a short flight from Paro to Kathmandu in Nepal. On arrival we will have free time to explore the incredible city, soak up its atmosphere, and visit its historical sites.
Please note: The flights between Bhutan and Nepal will be with Druk Air or Bhutan Airines - both airlines sometimes change their schedules at short notice. If this happens we will inform you of any itinerary changes as soon as possible.
Discover Kathmandu on a guided city tour
- Cost: NPR 1000
2 nights to enjoy the sights of Kathmandu
- Cost: NPR 250
Visit the sacred Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Nepal's unofficial national deity
- Cost: NPR 1500
Border Information: If you are finishing your trip in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA code: KTM).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Visit the former royal palace of Narayanhiti and see the crown jewels of Nepal - Cost: NPR 500
Get out of the city and explore the nearby national park of Sundarijal, and see its idyllic waterfalls and rock formations
- Cost: NPR 500
Visit the beautiful and tranquil Durbar Square in the nearby medieval town of Bhaktapur, and visit its nearby museums
- Cost: NPR 1500