One single journey to cover the most spectacular sights of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, this 15-day tour will let you take in the Bhutanese culture of the Dragon Kingdom, explore world heritage relics in Kathmandu Valley, and experience the heroic road trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa via diverse landscape on Tibetan Plateau. Firstly, you will enjoy a classic Bhutan tour to Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, discovering amazing sites like Taksang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest) and Punakha Dzong. Then fly to Nepal for the best part of Kathmandu has to offer. After that, the tour will take you travel across Gyirong Border to enter Tibet from Nepal. Following the Friendship highway via Tingri, Shigatse, you will see the great Mount Everest, beautiful Yamdrok Lake, magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery en route, before reaching Lhasa and enjoying a city sightseeing there.
- Immerse in the Buddhist world of Bhutan to visit famous Paro Rinpung Dzong, Tashichho Dzong and Punakha Dzong.
- Trek to the holiest temple in Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest.
- Explore the world-heritage attractions in Kathmandu valley, including Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath etc.
- Take one of the most popular overland trips from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
- Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
- Go down into the bowels of the Potala, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas.
- Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
- Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera and Drepung Monastery, two of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
Day 1: Arrive in Paro and Drive to Thimphu
When you arrive at Paro International Airport, you tour guide will await you outside the arrival area. Then you will be transferred to your hotel for a rest.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Thimphu. It is a drive of 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. Upon arrival, you will head to visit the landmarks in Thimphu, including the Kyichu Lhakhang and Paro Rinpung Dzong. Kyichu Lhakhang is also known as Kyerchu Temple and is the oldest and most beautiful temple in Bhutan. Paro Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century as a fortress to protect Paro valley, offers you picturesque scenery and a sense of inner peace.
Stay overnight in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing & Drive to Punakha
In the Morning, we will continue sightseeing in Thimphu. You will pay a visit to National Library that houses the world’s largest book and many ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, Painting School which is famous for traditional Thangkha paintings, Traditional Medicine Institute where the centuries old herbal medicine is still practiced and the folk heritage museum. And the highlight comes as you tour the Tashichho Dzong, the most beautiful Bhutan dzong as well as the headquarters of Bhutan government.
After lunch, we will drive from Thimphu to Punakha crossing Dochula pass at 3100mtrs where you can see the 108 beautiful chortens built by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. From this pass, on a clear day, you can have a superb view of the highest peaks in Bhutan.
Stay overnight in Punakha
Day 3: Punakha Sightseeing & Drive back to Paro
Punakha is a low-lying sub-tropical valley, it served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still it is home of Chief Abbot in winter months. Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal has played prominent role in civil and religious life of the Kingdom. Destroyed four times by fire and an earthquake in 1897, the Dzong has been now fully restored in its original splendor.
After touring Punakha, we will drive back to Paro. In the afternoon, we will enjoy sightseeing in Paro. First head to visit Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined Fort, which once defended this valley from the Tibetan invasion. This fortress, now a burned shell, was once strategic in Bhutan's defense against the Tibetan invasion. Then visit Ta Dzong, built in 17th century as a watch tower for Paro Dzong. This Dzong was later converted into the National Museum in 1967, and is filled with antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armor. Also visit the Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century to defend valley against Tibetan invaders. It is now used as an administrative center and home of monastic community.
Stay overnight in Paro
Day 4: Trek to Taksang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest)
Today, we will enjoy the wonderful trek to Taktshang Goemba, also known as Tiger's Nest. Perched 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 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.
In the afternoon, you may opt for a stone bath or enjoy free exploration nearby.
Stay overnight in Paro
Day 5: Fly from Paro to Kathmandu
In the morning, your guide will take you to Paro International Airport for your flight to Kathmandu. At Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, you will be met by the local guide, and taken to your hotel, where you can spend the rest of the day resting, or seeing the local sights.
Stay overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 6: Day tour to Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath and Patan City
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is one of three durbar (royal palace) squares in the Kathmandu Valley. It is the site of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex, which was the royal Nepalese residence until the 19th century and where important ceremonies taken place. Swayambhunath the golden spire of the 5th-century Swayambhu stupa is adorned with a colorful fluttering of prayer flags; it crowns a hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley and offers fantastic views over the city of Kathmandu.
The last site we visit for today is Patan City which is the second largest town in Kathmandu valley. Patan's central Durbar Square is entitled in the World Heritage Site and absolutely packed with temples, the Golden Temple which is the unique Buddhist Monastery was founded in the 12th century, is a large rectangular building has three roofs and a copper gilded facade with the images of Buddha and Avalokitesvara where there are Buddha images and illustrations on the walls.
Stay overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 7: Day tour to Pashupatinath, Bodhnath and Bhaktapur City
Pashupatinath the most important Hindu temple in Nepal, the old buildings on the site were destroyed by Moslem invaders in the 14th century, its stone linga smashed to dust, but it rose again behind their retreating backs. Succeeding monarchs reinstated the temple and the images. Bouddhanath is among the largest stupas in South Asia, and it has become the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa is located on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers here for many centuries.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal.
Stay overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 8: Kathmandu to Syabrubesi
In the morning, our driver will pick you up in your hotel and drive to China Tibet border. There is a distance about 160km from Katmandu to Gyirong Border which usually takes about 7-9 hours on the way. So we will live in the Syabrubesi adjacent to Gyirong for a night before crossing the border in the second day morning.
On the way, will pass Mt. Himalaya, where you can see the deep gorges, snow-capped mountain. We will also drive across the Luang Tang National Park, one of the well- preserved national parks in Nepal.
Stay overnight in village guest house in Syabrubesi.
Day 9: Syabrubesi to Gyirong
After breakfast, we will drive 15km away to the Nepal-China border. Our guide will meet you at the Gyirong Border in Tibet side. Then transfer to Gyirong county, a small town built on the side of Himalayas. It would be nice to see the Himalayan mountains and vibrant forest from there.
In the afternoon, you take a stroll to visit Paba Temple (2850m), a Gelugpa temple built by Tibetan King Songtsan Gambo.
Stay overnight in Gyirong.
Day 10: Gyirong to EBC to Tingri
From Gyirong, your guide will take you to Old Tingri. You will first drive to pass through Peikutso Lake and grassland. Then we continue to drive to Everest Base Camp and visit the world’s highest Rongbuk Monastery. The route from Gyirong passes along the beautiful border country of Tibet, with its spectacular evergreen forests and stunning snow-covered mountains. The views of the awe-inspiring mountains along the road to Tingri are some of the most beautiful in the world, and well worth the long drive.
Stay overnight in Old Tingri.
Day 11: Drive to Shigatse
After breakfast, we will drive from Tingri to Shigatse. After your arrival in Shigatse in the early afternoon, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the holy seat of the Panchen Lama, which is essentially a walled town with cobbled and twisting lanes that revolve around a magnificent monastery.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 12: Drive to Lhasa via Gyantse
Today, we will continue drive to Gyantse, visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby, both built in the15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse.
Afterwards pass by the 5,010 m high Karo-la and the Simi La to Lhasa. You will have a chance to get lost in the endless Tibetan landscape while you take a short hike along the turquoise waters of Lake Yamdrok, one of the four holy lakes in Tibet. This dazzling lake is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la (4700m). The lake lies several hundred meters below the road, and it is shaped like a coiling scorpion. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangstsang (7191m). Finally, driving to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 13: Lhasa Highlights Escorted Tour
After breakfast, we go to the Potala Palace, a golden feather upon the roof of the world, which Tibetans proudly claim to be the prime miracle since the creation of this world.It is visible from any distance, with the golden roof shinning in the sun, spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and the many Buddhist icons within.
In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang Temple. The Jokhang, like most of the larger temple structures have numerous individual temples within it dedicated to specific enlightened beings, protectors, high lamas, or saints. Images, both sculpted and painted, are everywhere. Every inch of wall and ceiling is brightly painted with images of clouds, beings, mandalas, or decorative patterns. Colorful silk banners, three stories high, hang in various places. Color, pattern, and images crowd in around you. The central image inside the building is a 30-foot high gilded image of Maitreya Buddha.
Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor area of Old Lhasa. The streets smelled of yak butter and incense while hordes of pilgrims shuffled along the main Kora (circumambulations) around Jokhang Temple. If someone just walked at a normal pace, one kora would take about 15-20 minutes.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 14: Drepung and Sera Monastery
In the morning, tourists go to Drepung monastery, which used to be the largest monastery with more than 10 thousand monks, Buddhist debates often occur there. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. Drepung monastery, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.
In the afternoon, visit Sera Monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 15: Depart from Lhasa
You can have free time this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, transfer clients to airport or train station.
1.Tibet Entry Permit
2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;
3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
4. Professional English speaking tour guide;
5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
6.All measl listed in the itinerary;
7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance
What’s not included?
1. International flight to and out of China;
2. Chinese Visa
3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)
4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;
5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish
6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.
1. Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.
In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.
Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.
We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.
3.Guiding and Tipping
Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.
Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.
Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.
However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.
5. Tibet Weather
One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.
Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.
6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude
For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.
7. Other Dos and Don'ts
Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.
As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.