Darjeeling & Bhutan - The Last Himalayan Kingdom
11 nights. September 2019 - November 2020. From £2899.00.
This very special Small Group Tour journeys to a remote corner of the world, where success is measured not in terms of economic growth but by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, and where the traditions of Buddhism are never overrun by the encroachment of the modern world. Enjoy a week in the truly mesmerising Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, explore vibrant Raj capital Kolkata and complete a fascinating holiday in the cool surroundings of famed hill station Darjeeling.
Tour Highlights And InclusionsIn the company of like-minded people, spend two fascinating days in Kolkata - capital of the Raj
Stay two nights in Kolkata's luxurious Oberoi Grand Hotel
See the sights of Kolkata, including the glorious Victoria Memorial and Saint Teresa's 'Mother House'
Take in the view from 'Buddha P oint', beneath the giant golden statue
Explore Thimphu on a guided tour
Travel over the Dochula Pass, with its 108 Buddhist 'chortens'
Discover ancient Bhutan capital Punakha, and hike to extraordinary fertility temple Chimi Lhakhang
Visit Pukhara's majestic Dzong fortress
Explore beautiful, riverside Paro's National Museum, which lifts the veil on the magical Kingdom of Bhutan
Hike to view Paro's famed cliff-side 'Tiger's Nest' monastery
Take tea with a family on a farmhouse visit
Witness the sunrise over towering Kanchenjunga and ride Darjeeling's 'Toy Train'
Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
11 nights' carefully chosen accommodation, on a half-board basis
One night on the aircraft
Return flights from London to India, flying into Kolkata and returning from Delhi
Flights from Kolkata to Paro, and from Bagdogra to Dehli
Air-conditioned travel and transfers throughout
Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced Tour Manager Single rooms are available for a supplement
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
Day OneFly overnight from the UK to Kolkata via Mumbai.
Day TwoArriving by mid afternoon, meet your Tour Manager and transfer to the luxurious Oberoi Grand Hotel, known as the 'The Grand Dame of Chowringhee'. Rest and relax before dinner, perhaps making use of the facilities, which include a magnificent outdoor swimming pool and a spa.
Day ThreeToday's guided tour introduces the city that, as Calcutta, was the headquarters of the British Raj. See the remnants of the Empire in Dalhousie Square, Howrah Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, the Indian Museum and the Victoria Memorial in the Maidan central park, and take in the flower market and the Mother House, home and final resting place of Saint Teresa.
Day FourAfter an early breakfast, fly to Paro, in the remarkable Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Upon arrival, meet your Bhutanese Tour Manager and make the scenic journey through the forested, mountainous landscape to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital, for a two-night stay.
Here you'll soon discover Bhutan's unique nature, whether in the wearing of the ubiquitous national dress, the colourful prayer flags fluttering on the hillsides, the countless temples and fortified buildings - dzongs - that dot the landscape, or even the capital's complete absence of traffic lights! Take in the surroundings, and join your guide for a sunset drive in Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park, where a 51-metre-high Golden Buddha gazes down on the city below.
Day FiveA fascinating day in Thimphu includes private visits to a weaving centre, a handicrafts emporium and the hilltop Zilukha Nunnery. You'll also visit the city's white-painted, golden-spired National Memorial Chorten, a shrine dedicated to World Peace, and the monumental Tashichho Dzong, the seat of government since 1968.
Day SixJourney over the 10,000-ft Dochula pass, which is dotted with 108 ceremonial Buddhist chortens, and from which the views of the Himalayan range on clear days are spectacular. Descending from the pass, make a short hike to the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, whose colourful history includes fertility rites and tales of the 'Divine Madman' to whom the shrine is dedicated.
This afternoon you'll reach former capital Punakha, set in a beautiful valley dominated by the striking Punakha Dzong. Built at the confluence of 'Mother' and 'Father' rivers, the site holds the preserved remains of Bhutan's founder, and is where the present king was married in 2011. Enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in the valley's stunning surroundings.
Day SevenJourney back through breathtaking Himalayan scenery, to spend two nights in the Paro Valley, dotted with temples, dzongs and elegant wooden houses. After lunch at your hotel, enjoy guided visits to the National Museum in the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower, to the equally fascinating Rinpung Dzong and to the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang monastery, built by a Tibetan king.
Day EightOne of the tour's most indelible memories will be today's hike to view the astonishing cliff-side Taktsang Lhakhang monastery, the 'Tiger's Nest' that clings impossibly to the sheer face some 900 metres above a forested valley. This is one of Bhutan's most iconic, sacred landmarks. Climb into the pine forest to be rewarded with a close up view of the monastery, built where Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, is said to have meditated during the 8th Century, having arrived on the back of a flying tigress. Descend back towards the valley, pausing to take traditional butter tea with a Bhutanese family in their farmstead.
Day NineToday is spent travelling through Bhutan's verdant, mountainous countryside, pausing for lunch and continuing south to colourful Phuntsholing, where the magnificent carved wooden Bhutan Gate marks the border between the kingdom and India.
Day 10Cross back into India, continuing through the Himalayan foothills to Darjeeling, where tea-plantations cover the slopes beneath stupendous vistas of some of the world's highest mountains. Check into your comfortable hotel for a two-night stay, and perhaps take a stroll before dinner on the traffic-free Chowrasta, the heart of the resort since Victorian times.
Day 11Enjoy a memorable day in the shadow of Earth's mightiest peaks, rising early to travel the 12 kilometres to Ghum, for the chance to take in the sunrise over the Himalayas from 'Tiger Hill' (weather permitting). Look out for the soaring peaks of Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga in the distance.
Following breakfast, board the 'Toy Train' and journey to Ghum's ancient monastery, before returning to Darjeeling for the afternoon. Perhaps visit the fascinating Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the final resting place of 'Sherpa Tenzing', or the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre, where you might buy handicrafts from crafts-folk, or simply take tea in an elegant garden - a Darjeeling 'must-do'.
Day 12Make the journey back to Bagdogra Airport, from where you'll fly to Delhi and transfer to a comfortable overnight hotel close to the airport.
Day 13Transfer to the airport for your return daytime flight, arriving back in the UK late this evening. Back to top
AccommodationDarjeeling & Bhutan Touring Hotels
You will be staying in a series of well-located hotels. In all cases, rooms have private bathrooms and air conditioning. In Bhutan the standard of accommodation is simpler, albeit clean and comfortable, and is in line with the standards of a European three-star hotel. In India we use four- and five-star hotels.Back to top
Hotel transfer timesThe transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Passports and visas for IndiaBritish citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. A visa is also required for entry to India. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. British CITIZENS and some other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $75 (US) per person. Other British passport holders, who are not British CITIZENS, must apply for a full visa which costs GBP112. You may also, at extra cost, use the services of CIBT, our recommended visa handling partner, who will handle the whole process for you. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.
Passports and visas for BhutanWe will take care of your visa application for entry to Bhutan and will require a colour, scanned copy of the photo page of your passport, which must be valid for six months after your departure from Bhutan. Please email this to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foreign Office Travel AdviceVisit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
On your flightOn-board meals will usually include dinner and breakfast on outbound flights, and lunch and a snack on the flight home. Drinks are complimentary.
Luggage allowanceYou are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 20kg.
Special requirementsIf you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
Disabled accessThe majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.
Travel vaccinationsRequirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.
Itinerary changesOccasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.
Road ConditionsIn developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling - although the scenery is usually worth it! Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.
Changes to your hotelsShould circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents. Back to top