19 Days

Darjeeling Sikkim and Bhutan Tours

Explore Darjeeling Sikkim and Bhutan (Kingdom in Clouds Tours)
  • Trip Style: Bhutan2
  • Ways to Travel: Guided
  • Activities: Bhutan Travel
  • Group Size: 2-12
  • High Altitude 3685 M
Activity Level:
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Trip Overview

Explore Sikkim and Bhutan, two of the most isolated Himalayan regions. Centuries-old Buddhist monasteries cling to mountain cliffs and rice paddies stair-step down steep hillsides. Your journey begins with an arrival transfer to Darjeeling, where we include a ride on the narrow-gauge mountain railway and sunrise over Kangchenjunga from Tiger Hill. Visit the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, and passing on to Rumtek, visit the Karmapa’s Monastery. Travel to Kalimpong, once an important trading post for these parts of the world.
From Kalimpong, our road then descends into the plains known as Duars, filled with lush tea gardens and some remote villages that are much isolated from the mainstream. Cross into Phuntsholing, Bhutan. Discover Bhutan’s captivating cultural mix, reflected in its beautiful shrines, temples, and handicrafts as you travel from south to western Bhutan; in the towns and villages of Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha valley. Explore the Dzongs, ancient fortresses that once protected the kingdom

USD 3500
USD 3150 per person
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Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1 Darjeeling (7380 Ft / 2250 Mts, 100 kms / 03 - 04 hrs drive). Hotel

    On arrival at (IXB) Bagdogra Airport, (413 Ft / 126 Mts) board your vehicle to Darjeeling. The town is in the state of West Bengal, in the Himalayan foothills. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it’s famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, which is world’s 3rd highest peak. Evening free to explore the town. Overnight at Hotel.

  • Day 2 Darjeeling (7380 Ft / 2250 Mts). Hotel

    After breakfast visit to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Closed on Thursday), Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Tibetan Refugee self-help (Closed on Sunday) Center & Tea Estate (Tea Factory remains closed from November to March every year, the guest can visit tea garden & factory, but will not be able to see tea manufacturing). Overnight at Hotel.

    Note:
    **If the sightseeing points like Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Zoological Park falling on Thursday, Local Festival and State & National Govt. holidays then we will include Dali Monastery and Ava Art gallery as an alternative sightseeing.

  • Day 3 Darjeeling (7380 Ft / 2250 Mts). Hotel

    Early morning tour to Tiger Hills (8364 Ft / 2550 Mts at around 4 AM) to view sunrise over Kanchenjunga Peak (subject to clear weather). On way back visit Ghoom Monastery. After breakfast drive to Darjeeling Railway Station to board Joy Train ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom & Back. Afternoon walking tour of Observatory hill, The mall road and Bhutia Busty Monstery. Overnight at Hotel.
    Note:

    * Tiger Hill visit is subjected to availability of coupons as only 600 vehicles are allowed in the morning. In case of non availability of coupons we will provide the Tiger Hill visit after breakfast).
    ** Joy Train ride will be subjected to availability of seat & operational condition.

  • Day 4 Darjeeling - Gangtok Hotel

    Gangtok (5412 Ft /1650Mts, 110 Kms / 04 to 05 Hrs drive)
    After breakfast drive to Gangtok, which is the capital of the mountainous northern Indian state of Sikkim. Check in and over night at Hotel

  • Day 5 Gangtok Hotel

    Gangtok (5412 Ft /1650Mts)

    After breakfast go out for sightseeing covering Rumtek Monastery, Droul Chorthen, Research Institute of Tibetology, Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom (Closed on Saturday, Sunday State & National Holidays), flower Show & Enchey Monastery. Evening free to explore Gangtok.Overnight at Hotel.

  • Day 6 Gangtok– Excursion to Tshangu Lake Hotel

    Tshangu Lake (12400Ft / 3780 Mts / 43 Kms in 02 Hrs one way drives)
    After breakfast, start for excursion to Tshangu Lake. (In case of landslide or due to any other reasons if Tshangu Lake is closed then an alternate sightseeing will be provided). Overnight at Hotel.

  • Day 7 Gangtok - Kalimpong Hotel

    Kalimpong (3937 Ft / 1200 Mts, 85 kms / 3 Hrs drive).

    Transfer for Kalimpong, is a small hill town in foothills of West Bengal. Perched on a ridge above the Teesta River, it’s home to colonial-era buildings.Check in at hotel. Afternoon visit Flower Nurseries & Jang-Dong-Palriffo Brang. Overnight at Hotel.

  • Day 8 Kalimpong –Phuntsholing Hotel

    Phuntsholing, (185 Kms/ 5-6 Hrs drive)
    After Breakfast transfer to Phuntsholing, for your onward connection.

  • Day 9 Welcome to Bhutan at Phuenstholing. Hotel

    Upon arrival at the Bhutan Gate, you’ll be received by our friendly professional guides who will help you check in to your hotel.

    If time permits, stroll around town in the evening with dinner at a nice select restaurant. Overnight in selected hotel.

  • Day 10 Phuntsholing to Paro Hotel

    After breakfast, proceed to Thimphu, making our first stop about 5 km. up the road to visit Kharbandi Gompa. This beautiful monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers, was built by Royal Grandmother, Ashi PhuntshoChoedron in 1967. There is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and the Indian plains from the monastery garden. From this point the road climbs steeply up into the hills, winding in innumerable bends, to an altitude of approximately 2,000m/6,560ft. We will make stops along the way from time to time, so as not to miss the magnificent view of the Indian plains and the Toorsariver below. After a two hour drive through light mountain jungle, displaying lianas and orchids, we pass over the first ridge and begin a long and gradual descent to the river which is the source of energy for the massive Chukha Hydel hydroelectric power project. We cross the river, and rise up the mountainside ever further into the hills, leaving Chukha and the small town of Chimakothi behind us. Lunch is served en route. After passing through Chapcha the road reaches its highest point of about 2,800m/9,185ft, then descends steeply and runs along the banks of the Wang Chu (river) to Chuzom (meaning confluence), where the Paro Chu runs into the Wang Chu. From here Paro is only half an hour away.

    Drive time 5 hours

  • Day 11 Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Hotel

    We’ve saved the best of Bhutan for the last. Today you’ll experience Bhutan’s most valued attractions, and perhaps one of the major highlights of your trip. An excursion to the famous Taktshang monastery –translated as- Tiger’s nest monastery is also a good way to acclimatise before you start trekking. A two hours hike would reward you with a spectacular temple clinging on a 1000 feet cliff. The temple was built in 1692 by a prominent historical figure named Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye whose reincarnation is now a young teenager and already a prominent figure in the clergy. Your guide will complement the experience with its story. On the way back stopover at Satsam Chorten which offers you nice views of mount Jomolhari.

    On the way back visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong fortress, which is an important Bhutanese heritage as it served as a strategic watchtower and a fortress that helped repel numerous Tibetan invasions in the 1600s. Peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (7,329 mts/24,029 ft.).

    Farewell dinner at a great restaurant and proceed to your resort for the night.

  • Day 12 Attend Paro Tshechu festival. Hotel

    After breakfast, drive to Paro Rinpung Dzong fortress to witness the most popular Paro Tshechu Festival. Paro Tshechu which is celebrated in Paro every spring and it is most colourful and significant events in Paro Dzongkhag, it truly showcases the best of Bhutanese culture and tradition.

    The festival is considered one of the most sacred blessings for the local people as a precious giant Thanka traditional painting is displayed to the public and the crowd will be in a very festive and lively mood – an explosion for colours of Bhutan – making it ideal for photography. Witness the festival for most part of the day.

    Continue your drive to Paro and visit Kichu Lhakang one of the oldest temple dating back from 7th century build by Tibetan king Songchen Gyampo to propagate Buddhism and continue to embrace one of the oldest paintings dating back from 15th century in Dungtse Lhakhang.

    Drive time 1 hour.

  • Day 13 Drive to Thimphu. Hotel

    After breakfast, drive to the capital city for one hour. Drive to Kuensel Phodrang where the gigantic 169ft statue of Buddha Dordenma overlooks Thimphu valley. The interior of the statue’s temple is easily one of the most beautiful and unique with thousands of other statues inside. Enjoy a panoramic view of Thimphu city from there. Continue hiking in Kuenselphodrang nature park on one of Thimphu’s most beautiful hiking trails and end the hike at Changangkha monastery. Along the way can hoist some prayer flags to send some prayers into the world, and also enjoy a nice picnic lunch.

    After lunch, visit the Crafts Bazaar in the afternoon, along the streets of Thimphu which sells and displays various handicrafts and textiles made entirely in Bhutan. Visit the colourful Weekend Vegetable market where proud villagers behind pyramids of their agricultural produce greet you with stone weights in their hands and smiles on their faces. It is interesting to see what may seem to you as ‘weird vegetables and forest products’ that actually enriches the Bhutanese palate. Proceed to the Changlimithang Stadium to witness the national game of Bhutan – Archery – played with much fanfare and festivities over a range of 120m field.

    In the evening visit the Memorial Chorten Stupa which is a sacred shrine built in the memory of third king of Bhutan. Countiue visit to Tashichhodzong – the fortress that is now the government’s central administration headquarters, and also the offices of the King and the Prime Minister. You will enjoy welcome dinner at the best restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Bhutanese cuisines.

    Overnight in the selected hotel.

  • Day 14 Cultural highlights of Thimphu. Hotel

    Visit the Zorig- Chusum school of 13 traditional arts/crafts to see local students hone their arts skills in various forms of traditional art. Visit the Folk Heritage museum Then proceed to the Royal Textile Museum and Academy to appreciate the work of Bhutanese weavers and the rich textiles of Bhutan. Stroll around town and visit the Bhutan Post Office where you can see the famous Bhutanese stamps. If you would like, you can make stamps with your photos on it and post them to your loved ones.

    In the afternoon, let’s take another beautiful short hike to Wangditse that rewards hikers with great views of the underlying Thimphu valley. Continue up the ridge to reach Chokortse goenpa and descend down to Wangditse monastery. It leads through open grassy areas, oak undergrowth and blue pines. Descend down to the radio tower and visit the Taken Reserve Centre to see the national animal of Bhutan.

    In the evening, enjoy a nice dinner in one of the best restaurants and explore the town by foot.

  • Day 15 Thimphu and drive to Punakha and sightseeing Hotel

    Drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3140m). Situated atop the pass at the backdrop of fluttering prayer flags is the Druk Wangyal Chortens, a collection of 108 chortens (stupas) that was built to exemplify the greatness of the Fourth King.  If you would like to hike, we recommend the Lungtsezelkha hike – another lovely like that passes through Rhododendron forests and alpine vegetation. Here you might come across some Yaks as we often spot them. It starts from Dochula pass – and climbs upto the peak where the Lungtsezekha temple stands at 3800m. From here, you can see the great Himalayan peaks of northern Bhutan as well as the valleys of southern Bhutan.

    Hike back to Dochula, and descend to the low-lying rice valley of Lobesa and pay your respects to one of Bhutan’s most charming and eccentric historic figures nicknamed ‘The Divine Madman’ at the Chhimi Lhakhang – also called the fertility monastery – our guide will explain the entire story about it. The visit involves a short nice hike through a beautiful village surrounded by paddy fields. Stay in a cozy resort overlooking the valley.
    Drive time 3 hours

  • Day 16 Punakha Sightseeing with scenic hikes. Hotel

    Drive to Punakha valley to visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal stupa, which involves a short scenic hike through paddy fields for about 45 minutes till the hilltop where the temple is located. From here you can also enjoy a majestic view of the underlying valley. The temple itself is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. From here you can optionally take another great hike from the riverside crossing a suspension bridge to other side of the Mo Chu river for approximately 3 km with hours hiking. A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punakha river.

    After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan situated at the confluence of two rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leadership and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. The fortress is a fine example of Bhutan’s rich art and architecture, and our guide who is an expert in iconography will explain all aspects of art, architecture, history and its significance.

    Proceed to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery which is atop a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Interact with the nuns and they love to speak English with visitors and learn about the ways of the world.

    Note: If you’d like rafting, we can arrange that for for USD 250 per raft (for the family) payable to the rafting service provider.

  • Day 17 Punakha to Phobjikha Hotel

    Proceed to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery which is atop a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Interact with the nuns and they love to speak English with visitors and learn about the ways of the world.

    After lunch, continue to Phobjikha valley – also known as Gangtey valley. The drive to Phobjikha (Gangtey) follows the scenic Dang Chuu ( River), climbing through forests of bamboo and oak. After a 2-hour drive you will reach a junction where a small road splinters off into the hidden Phobjikha valley where the famous Gangtey Gonpa monastery – an important seat for the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism in Bhutan, welcomes you into the valley. Then we’ll proceed to the famous Gangtey Gonpa monastery. Here guests can interact with keen student monks who are more than willing to share about their monastic lifestyle. Our tour leader is a Buddhist expert and he can also organize an hour of meditation in the monastery.

    Stay overnight in a nice resort.

    Drive time 2 hours

  • Day 18 Phobikha valley Immersion and Paro Hotel

    Wake up to the sounds of the village and feel like a real Bhutanese living in the countryside. The scenic Phobjikha valley begs you to enjoy its beauty and theres no better way than exploring it on foot. So after lunch, enjoy a nice long day-hike (length of hike can be customised) down to Longtey village and the surrounding vicinity on the southside. The 2-hour moderate walk takes you to various villages heading along sloping, lined pathway that takes you through towering bushes of jade-hued bamboo, swaying together in a jumble of shadow and light. At the end of the bamboo enclave lies a small group of village houses, built in the distinct Bhutanese style, which features elevated platforms, intricately carved timber window panes and wood-lined, arched roofs. During the spring months, the woodlands on either side of the valley look particularly stunning, gloriously cloaked in a kaleidoscope of crimson, violet and candy floss colored rhododendrons.

    Gangtey valley is home to the endangered black-necked cranes that visit the valley in winter. We’ll make a quick stop at the Crane Observatory to watch these elegant birds aided with a telescope.

    After lunch, drive to Paro valley in the morning. Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. In addition, paro valley is wide and verdant and is considered as rice bowl of the country for its paddy fields.

  • Day 19 Farewell & Fly Home Hotel

    After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will drive you to the airport for your onward journey.

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Chhewang N.Lama from Responsible Treks