Discover the colourful world of Nepal and distinctive, remote Bhutan.

Journey into the heart of Nepal and experience the colourful sights and culture of this enchanting region. Mingle with local villagers and craftspeople, visit tranquil temples and sacred Buddhist sites, travel the cobbled streets of tiny mountain towns, and search for unique wildlife. From the whirlwind of Kathmandu to the lush jungle of Chitwan National Park - with plenty of delightful hidden gems in between - take an unforgettable tour of Nepal, brimming with culture, history, and natural beauty. Bhutan is the little secret of Asia. Overshadowed and nestled between China and India, it is a relatively new travel spot, with many undiscovered secrets in its natural scenery and quiet townships. The land is dotted with red-clothed monks, ancient Buddhist temples, and friendly smiles. It is one calm country, where gross national happiness is more important than money, where chilies are used as a vegetable rather than for spice, and the thunder dragon, Druk, is emblazoned on the national flag, symbolising the people of Bhutan: loyal, patriotic and living with a total sense of belonging within the kingdom.


Start
Kathmandu, Nepal
Finish
Paro, Bhutan
Destinations
Bhutan, Nepal
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
HNKBC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Beginning in Kathmandu, there's time to discover the Nepali capital's staggeringly rich cultural and artistic heritage.

  • This is the perfect trip for those who want a cultural insight into Nepal without strenuous trekking, with plenty of inclusions, as well as free time and comfortable accommodation in each destination.

  • Whether it's flying, hiking, driving, or by canoe, this trip will let you experience Nepal's stunning natural beauty from all angles.

  • Witness world-class mountain scenery from a heavenly viewpoint, with a breathtaking, included Everest scenic flight.

  • Take a jeep safari with a local guide in Chitwan National Park, a beauty brimming with exotic birdlife and game - you may be lucky enough to spot rhinos or elusive leopards and tigers.

  • Get a hands-on overview of Nepal's diverse architecture, from the stately Newari dwellings in Bandipur to the hill-perched Buddhist Peace Pagoda in laid back Pokhara.

  • The happiest land on earth, Bhutan is a hidden paradise with no traffic lights, laws governing minimum forest coverage, and some amazing feats of archery.

  • Only a small number of visitors are allowed into Bhutan each year. It's pretty special.

  • The climb to Tigers Nest, while tough, is a richly rewarding and sobering experience.

  • Here's just some of what our past travellers have learned from their travels to Bhutan: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/bhutan-tour-learnings/

Is this trip right for you?

  • While on a map we aren't travelling particularly far, the reality of road travel in Nepal is that things always take longer than you expect. Some roads will be bumpy, dusty, or even unexpectedly blocked requiring reroutes and plenty of patience. We fly the farthest distances to make the most of our time together.

  • Hotels in some destinations may vary in standard and facilities, and on occasion, hot water may be limited. There will be times when the location of our accommodation will mean it is practical to eat at the hotel restaurant rather than heading out for optional meals.

  • You will have some up close and personal encounters with wildlife on this trip, including seeing the small fish eating gharial crocodiles while on the canoe trip on the Rapti river.

  • While there will be opportunities to spot many different kinds of wildlife, sightings cannot be guaranteed as this is a national park where animals are free to roam rather than a zoo or wildlife park.

  • You will see tour operators offering elephant riding activities and many tourists taking part in them during your time in Chitwan. Intrepid Travel has a strong elephant welfare policy and as such we discourage travellers from riding elephants in Nepal or anywhere around the world. See the Responsible Travel section of this information for more.

  • Despite Bhutan being a small country, you'll experience long travel days as most roads are single lane.

  • The trek to Tiger's Nest is quite vigorous but well worth the climb.

  • Bhutan is a high-altitude destination, so taking it easy for a day or two makes for a much more comfortable trip. Drinking tea and water and avoiding strenuous exercise will help you acclimatise after arriving.

  • Please be aware that hot water is limited in some places. Speaking of all things heated, the Bhutanese love chilli and the food can be a touch spicy.

  • Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. For this reason, we are generally not able to provide additional accommodation outside of our tour dates and advise all travellers to book flights out of Bhutan that correspond with the finish day of the tour. For helpful tips on booking your flight see https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/bhutan-flight-guide/. In the rare case that no flights are available and you need to depart later we are only able to book additional accommodation for you in conjunction with a special individual visa which can add around AUD1000 to the cost of your tour, to be paid at the time of booking.

  • All meals are included due to the nature of travelling in Bhutan. This means there may be limited choices on some days.

Itinerary

Welcome to Nepal. On arrival in Kathmandu, you’ll be met at the airport by our representative and transferred to your hotel. After you settle in there will be a group briefing with your tour leader in the late afternoon. They’ll discuss the trip details and co-ordinate any last-minute arrangements. The evening is free to explore the streets of Kathmandu, whose mixture of ancient architecture and modern development, and rich artistic and cultural heritage means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats, and sacred cows. Your leader will usually organise an optional dinner at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • Kathmandu - Rickshaw Night Explorer Urban Adventure - USD68
  • Kathmandu - In Focus: Cook in Kathmandu Urban Adventure - USD93
  • Kathmandu - Kathmandu Living Urban Adventure - USD66
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Weather permitting, take a Mount Everest scenic flight this morning. This amazing experience will take you over Sagamartha National Park, through a crescendo of the highest peaks in the world, climaxing by getting up close to Mount Everest. Later in the morning, you will explore Kathmandu on an organised sightseeing tour. You will visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you can observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. You will also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here you will see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. The rest of your afternoon in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration. Perhaps head out into Durbar Square, in front of the old royal palace and home to numerous beautiful temples, and browse the stalls of merchant's wares.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kathmandu - Everest Scenic Flight
  • Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple
  • Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will have an early departure from the hotel for your transfer to the domestic terminal at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. From here you will fly to Pokhara, with a flight time of about 30 minutes. There are often spectacular views of the main Himalayan chain to the north on this flight. On arrival, you will take a boat ride across the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal. Visit the Peace Pagoda, where spectacular views of the mountains await. You can see the Annapurnas from here, and the famous fishtail peak, Machhapuchhare, and back across to Pokhara. You will also visit the fascinating International Mountain Museum to learn some amazing tales of past climbing expeditions – some ending in triumph, some ending in tragedy.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pokhara - Phewa Tal Lake boat trip
  • Pokhara - Peace Pagoda
  • Pokhara - International Mountain Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day for further exploration in the peaceful surroundings of Pokhara. Your leader can advise you of sightseeing opportunities. It is worth taking a boat for a row out on the lake, especially if the weather's fine. The lakeside area has great shopping opportunities and internet cafes. Pokhara has an interesting old area as well as an elaborate Hindu temple and a Buddhist monastery.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning you will drive to beautiful Bandipur (approximately 2 hours). You will fully explore this incredible settlement and take the many opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture of Nepal as it once was. Enjoy the spectacular views, the incredibly maintained architecture and nice walking trails. This traditional Nepalese settlement is a natural treasure and one of the country's true hidden gems.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a day of free time to further explore Bandipur. The surrounding hills are ideal for hiking along trails that will take you through tribal villages, verdant forests, 'power places', and hilltop shrines that once doubled as fortresses. As you explore the area you may feel as though you're stepping back in time; though development increases, the aura of this place has been beautifully preserved. As tourism in Nepal developed along the main roads and airports, for over 30 years there simply was no road linking Bandipur to the main infrastructure, leaving it almost untouched by touristic influence. The village is saddled on a high ridge above Dumre, 700 metres beyond the Marsyangdi River Valley, making for an exceptional view of the Himalayan panorama.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, you will be picked up and driven to Chitwan National Park (approximately 4 hours). After arriving and settling in, you will be introduced to the camp staff and resident naturalists who will discuss the program. There is some flexibility, and activities may vary depending on the time of the year, and on wildlife movements. A late-afternoon safari will take you through forests and across grasslands to observe the varied and exciting wildlife in the park. In the early evening, the local Tharu dance troupe may perform a cultural program. You will then enjoy dinner and afterward, you will be free to relax in the bar and discuss the day’s sightings or listen to the exotic sounds of the jungle at night.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chitwan - Canoe safari, bird watching walk or jeep safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embark on an early-morning excursion. This could include either another safari to different parts of the park (in search of the great Indian rhino, deer, and exotic birdlife) or joining one of the other activities available in the park. Tiger sightings are rare these days, but these magnificent animals do inhabit the park. After breakfast, you will leave the lodge and go on a dugout canoe adventure on the Rapti River. This is an exciting trip with chances to view marsh mugger crocodiles and various birds that inhabit the riverbanks. A program will be organised for the rest of the day and may include further excursions by jeep or a visit to one of the nearby villages.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chitwan - Canoe safari, bird watching walk or jeep safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
If you are an avid wildlife lover, there is an optional early-morning birdwatching safari available today – a worthwhile addition to your trip. After breakfast fly to Kathmandu and drive to Bhaktapur - once the capital of Nepal and the Great Malla Kingdom during the 15th century. Its rich heritage, inspiring temples, and artisanal history played a big part in Bhaktapur being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy an evening of exploration on your own, soak up the lovely atmosphere in one of the local cafes, or simply relax in your hotel.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend the day exploring Bhaktapur’s famous temples, starting at Durbar Square, which is reputed to be the most beautiful piece of art in Nepal. Durbar Square is home to the majestic Lion Gate and Golden Gate. You will also visit the Pashupati Temple, a replica of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. This will be an enlightening morning of discovery and enrichment, as you delve into all Bhaktapur has to offer. In the afternoon, drive to Kathmandu (approximately 2 hours). The evening will then be free, however, the group leader will usually organise an optional evening meal at another of Kathmandu’s great restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bhaktapur - Leader-led walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip officially comes to an end after breakfast today. Your tour leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements.
Optional Activities
  • Kathmandu - In Focus: Handmade Kathmandu - USD93
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning board a short flight to Bhutan. Please note that you will be unescorted on this flight. Ask to sit on the left-hand side of the plane for the best views of the Himalayas. After arrival at Paro Airport and sailing through immigration and customs formalities, you will be greeted by your guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. Drive for two hours alongside mountains, rivers, and fields of red rice to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. After lunch, we may visit Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory, Bhutan’s famous traditional incense maker, and the colorful Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre. Once everyone has arrived, we'll have a joining meeting and dinner before we wander and explore the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimphu - Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre
  • Thimphu - Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. Travel outside the tour dates on independent visas is not permitted, and additional nights of accommodation cannot be booked.
Today begins with a pleasant walk that meanders gently up the valley through paddy fields, pristine woodlands, and a Tibetan village, a trail that continues uphill (1 hour) to the Cheri Dorji Dhen monastery – built in 1620 by Shabdrung, the first ruler of Bhutan. Enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to Thimpu for an afternoon of sightseeing. Begin by visiting the National Memorial Chorten – many Thimphu residents consider this to be the heart and soul of Thimphu and gather here every day to pray and walk clockwise around the chorten. Afterward, visit Drubthob Nunnery, the Choki Traditional Art School, and the incredible National Textile Museum. If you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping, the National Handicrafts Emporium offers high-quality traditional goods and a small family-run enterprise that manufactures paper and paper products using traditional methods.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Village walk & picnic lunch
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimphu - Drubthob Nunnery
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, drive to Punakha – the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Stop at Dochu-La pass for a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, the majestic Gangkhar Puensum. Continue the journey before taking another break. Enjoy a short walk to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in 1499 by lama Drukpa Kunley. With its three towers, and wonderful location at the confluence of two rivers, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Bhutan’s 21 Dzongs. Arrive in Punakha for a good night’s rest before another day of exploration tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Punakha Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Head down to the convergence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers, two of the main rivers of Bhutan, and admire breathtaking views of the majestic Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in the country, as well as the cantilever bridge that spans across the river. Afterward, you might like to join your leader for an optional hike to Khamsum Yulley Monastery – an elaborately decorated chorten, built to ward off evil spirits and bring peace and harmony to all living things. As with many monasteries in Bhutan, your leader will need to hunt around for the caretaker with the keys to have a look inside!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning head back over the Dochu-La and continue to Thimphu (approximately 4 hours) The roads in Bhutan are narrow, and while the distances don’t appear to be very far, due to the nature of the roads and the many valleys they pass through, travelling can take some time – so this is a good chance to relax and refresh. After lunch in Thimpu, continue by vehicle into the Paro Valley. This evening, experience Bhutanese hospitality and a taste of tradition with a home-cooked meal at the rustic Tshering Farm House. Soak up the friendly atmosphere and try your hand at Bhutan's national sport, archery, with an introductory lesson.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After an early breakfast followed by a short drive, prepare for your hike to the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) – a magnificent monastery, clinging on a rock cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. After approximately 1 hour ascending the mountainside, reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple and the ideal place to enjoy lunch. For those interested, it’s possible to get a closer view by hiking another 45 minutes to 1 hour (each direction) to reach the small chorten directly across from the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking any further can relax at the teahouse and enjoy the view.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s hike is quite challenging and good quality, comfortable shoes are required. Please remember to drink lots of water and wear layers as it gets quite cold as you ascend. Don't forget a sunhat! You will also be at 3120 metres above sea level so remember to take your time as altitude can have an impact.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before a departure transfer to Paro airport for your flight out of Bhutan.
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
In order to confirm your Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer, please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.

Due to group visa requirements, all travellers are required to leave Bhutan on the same day.

Meals

16 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (15 nights), Jungle resort (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Kathmandu - Everest Scenic Flight
  • Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple
  • Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa
  • Pokhara - Phewa Tal Lake boat trip
  • Pokhara - Peace Pagoda
  • Pokhara - International Mountain Museum
  • Chitwan - Canoe safari, bird watching walk or jeep safari
  • Bhaktapur - Leader-led walking tour
  • Thimphu - Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre
  • Thimphu - Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Village walk & picnic lunch
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimphu - Drubthob Nunnery
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
  • Punakha Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
  • Paro - Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Entry to Bhutan is very strict and travellers can only enter Bhutan on a group visa as part of a tour. All travellers must arrive on Day 12 and depart on Day 18 to be eligible for a group visa. At the time of booking, please provide your booking agent with a clear uncut scanned colour copy of the two pages of the personal details section of your passport. Bhutan Immigration is extremely strict. If one passport scan fails to meet their requirements the whole group’s visa will be rejected, thus delaying the process significantly.
2. Complimentary airport arrival and departure transfers are included. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
3. Please be aware that Bhutan's airlines are renowned for last-minute changes to flight timetables into and out of Bhutan. Please allow a minimum of 24 hours transit time before and after your flights out of Bhutan. Timetables are available on the Druk Airlines and Air Bhutan websites.
4. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
5. This trip includes domestic and international flights as indicated on the trip map. The luggage allowance for domestic flights is 15kg for check-in luggage and 5kg for carry on. The international flight between Nepal and Bhutan has a luggage allowance of 20kg for check-in luggage and 5kg for carry on.

Essential trip information

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