Travel to the “top of the world” in Nepal and Bhutan and meet the people of these distant lands, home to Buddhist monks and Hindu deities. 

Starting at: $5,697 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The final pathway up to Taktsang Monastery, or Tiger's Nest, in Bhutan   Duchula Pass Prayer Flags  View of the Himalayas from Nagarkot, Nepal  Durbur Square, Kathmandu, Nepal  Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal  The center of Kathmandu, Nepal  The Buddha's eyes, stupa in Nepal  Sculpture at the temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal  Frieze at the Golden Temple, Patan  Prayer Wheels in Patan, Nepal  Monk with prayer wheel  View of the Himalayas from Nagarkot, Nepal  Cliff-side Taktsang Monastery with prayer flags, Bhutan  Taktsang Monastery Prayer Wheel  Punakha Dzong, Bhutan  Punakha Monastery Buddhist Painting  Chorten Stupa, Bhutan  Punakha, Bhutan  Punakha Dzong  Buddhist Monastery Dzong, Thimphu

Himalayan Kingdoms

A Journey to Nepal & Bhutan

15 days from $5,697 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Travel to the “top of the world” in Nepal and Bhutan and meet the people of these distant lands, home to Buddhist monks and Hindu deities. 

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Enthralling and thought-provoking at the least, a journey to the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan can be spiritual and life-changing for some travelers. Travel to the “top of the world” where you’ll walk amid dzongs that are home to Buddhist monks and temples devoted to Hindu deities, feel the rarified atmosphere and ambiance of breathtaking mountains, and meet the people of these devout and distant lands.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Kathmandu, Nepal

Day 2 — Arrive Kathmandu

Reach the Nepalese capital tonight and transfer to your hotel.

Day 3 — Kathmandu

This morning meet your fellow travelers, Smithsonian Journeys expert, and tour director for a briefing about the journey ahead. Then get your first look at this landlocked Himalayan nation in Durbar Square, a jumble of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards, and streets. Next visit hilltop Swayambhunath, the iconic Buddhist temple dating to about 500 A.D. A 365-step climb brings you to the sacred World Heritage stupa, with its white dome, gilded spire, and all-seeing “eyes” of the Buddha. This afternoon travel through Kathmandu Valley to Patan, known for its rich culture and artistic tradition. On a walking tour through the World Heritage site of Patan Durbar Square, see some of the city’s many Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples. Late afternoon return to the hotel, where you enjoy a welcome dinner tonight. (B,D)

Day 4 — Kathmandu

Today see different aspects of Nepali life up close. First, travel through the beautiful Kathmandu Valley to hilltop Kopan Monastery, home to 360 monks and lamas. With majestic views of the valley below, the monastery and associated nunnery welcome seekers and visitors to study, meditate, and learn about the Mahayan Buddhism practiced here. After your visit enjoy a small group highlight as you share lunch with a local family in their home. Later visit Shechen Clinic and Hospice, a humanitarian project that provides sustainable medical services to local residents; then tour Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage sites. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Kathmandu and Nagarkot

Leaving Kathmandu today, stop at Nepal’s oldest and holiest Hindu shrine, ornate Pashupatinath Temple. Here see sadhus and sages who, in following the lifestyle of Lord Shiva, wear loincloths and cover themselves with ashes. You also may witness cremation ceremonies along the river banks; displaying appropriate respect to the mourners is requested of all visitors. Travel on to Bhaktapur, the least developed of the valley’s three cities. Virtually a living open-air museum with its unspoiled ancient square and warrens of medieval streets, Bhaktapur is known for its fine artisans and many temples. Enjoy time to explore then continue the scenic drive to Nagarkot, a hilltop village commanding a spectacular vista of Nepal’s major Himalayan peaks. (B,L)

Day 6 — Nagarkot

Early this morning you have an opportunity for an unforgettable experience: watching the sun rise over the fabled Himalaya from the hotel’s rooftop observatory. Later, embark on an easy walk around the village, where you have the chance to meet local people. The remainder of the day is at leisure amid the stunning Himalayan scenery. (B,D)

Day 7 — Nagarkot, Kathmandu, Thimphu, Bhutan

Enjoy another chance to see the sun rise over the peaks sacred in both Buddhism and Hinduism. Then return to Kathmandu for the flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival in the Dragon Kingdom, travel to the capital of Thimphu and your hotel, where you dine tonight. (B,D)

Day 8 — Thimphu

Today’s excursion begins at a local factory where paper is made by hand in the traditional way, followed by the Textile Museum, housing exquisite weavings from the 16th century to modern times. Later visit Tashichho Dzong, the historic fortress and monastery that today houses temples and government offices, including those of the king; then Memorial Chorten, one of Bhutan’s best-loved religious landmarks. Tonight attend a Bhutanese cultural performance then dine in the home of a local family. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Thimphu and Punakha

En route to Punakha today, visit Kunselphodrang, the recently built Buddha Point where the world’s largest sitting Buddha presides over the Thimphu valley. Then continue to Punakha via Dochula Pass (alt. 10,000 feet), which offers views of snow-topped Himalayan peaks and where you follow the sacred tradition of raising prayer flags in the name of peace and compassion. Eat lunch here then continue on your way, stopping to visit a local rice farming village. Next, an easy amble through rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, see the temple built by the “Divine Madman” in 1499, now a pilgrimage site for couples struggling with infertility. Late this afternoon reach Punakha, which sits at the confluence of the Mo Chu (“Mother”) and Pho Chu (“Father”) rivers in a sub-tropical valley. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Punakha

Embark this morning on an exhilarating rafting trip on the Mo Chu River. This afternoon visit Punakha Dzong, winter home of the central monastic community and one of the country’s most attractive fortress monasteries, set on a spit of land where the rivers meet. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Punakha, Thimphu ,Paro

Set out early to see more of Thimphu, including the National Library, with an immense collection of Buddhist manuscripts; and the Painting School, where students learn traditional Bhutanese arts. Late afternoon depart for Paro, nestled in the center of a valley dotted with rice paddies, wheat fields, and scattered settlements. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Paro

Begin your tour of this historic town at Ta-Dzong, the national museum showcasing Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage dating from at least 2000 B.C. to the present day. Built in 1648 as a watchtower, the cylindrical-shaped museum houses a fine collection of Bhutanese art and artifacts. Also visit Rinpung Dzong, a superb example of Bhutanese architecture. After lunch call on the sacred 7th-century pilgrimage temple of Kyichu Lhakhang, and the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, a 17th-century victory fortress. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Paro and Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Today embark on a highlight of any trip to Bhutan: a visit to Paro Taktsang, the sacred Tiger’s Nest monastery and temple complex perched on a cliff some 3,000 feet above the upper Paro Valley – itself at an altitude of 10,200 feet. Embark on the scenic uphill hike early this morning (rental horses are available to take visitors about two-thirds of the way). Those not wishing to climb all the way up can see excellent views of Tiger’s Nest from a waystation cafeteria. Late afternoon return to the hotel, where tonight you celebrate at a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Days 14 & 15 — Paro, Kathmandu, Nepal, Depart for the U.S.

Fly this morning to Kathmandu, where you have day rooms and opportunities for exploring on your own, before your mid-afternoon departure for the airport and overnight flights to the U.S. Arrive in the U.S. the next morning and connect with your flights home. (B,L)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)