The Experience

Trek to picturesque Tiger’s Nest monastery, observe Buddhist monks debating and share tea with a local family in their home, as you unveil the mysteries of two remote and intriguing Himalayan nations.

Day 1: Arrive Bangkok, Thailand | Your Sojourn Begins Arrive in beautiful Bangkok, where you are met and transferred to your airport hotel. Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel

Day 2: Paro, Bhutan/Thimphu | Welcome to Bhutan Fly to Paro, where you are met and receive a tashi khadda (traditional welcome), including the gift of a white scarf, conveying good will. Drive to Thimphu, the world’s smallest capital city, to settle into your hotel. Relax, enjoy lunch and afterward explore the city. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument to world peace and prosperity. The finely executed wall paintings and delicately constructed statues within the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Travel to Tashichhodzong, home to Bhutan’s royal government. Join fellow guests for a welcome dinner. Taj Tashi | Meals: B L D

Day 3: Thimphu | Fine Weavers at Work Explore the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums for an in-depth look into Bhutanese culture. See examples of weaving techniques from different areas of Bhutan as well as styles of traditional dress and textiles. A small group of weavers usually works their looms inside the shop, giving you the chance to see weaving firsthand. Later, visit the National Library to view its extensive collection of Buddhist literature. Taj Tashi | Meals: B L

Day 4: Punakha | The Divine Madman Drive over the 10,500-foot-high Dochula Pass in the stunning Himalaya, observing many colorful prayer flags along the way. The elevation drops when you arrive in sub-tropical Punakha. Stop at the 17th-century Punakha Dzong; damaged over the centuries by catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been restored in recent years by the present monarch. Continue to the Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the Temple of the Divine Madman. It was named after a beloved saint and teacher from Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, which you also have time to see. Stretching along a hilltop, it overlooks the confluence of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers and is in the process of being restored. Return to Thimphu for dinner. Taj Tashi | Meals: B L D

Day 5: Paro | Monasteries, Rivers and Relics Travel overland to Paro, home to Bhutan’s oldest and most important temples. En route, visit Chuzom, located where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. To some Bhutanese, such a confluence is symbolic of the union of the mother and father. When you reach Paro, attend a special archery match, Bhutan’s national sport. After lunch, explore the National Museum, housing a collection of relics, religious thankga (scroll) paintings and a natural history collection. Continue to the 17th-century Rinpung Dzong, a majestic Buddhist monastery and fortress built beside a mountain river. Learn about the lifestyle of local farmers this evening when you have dinner in a traditional farmhouse. Zhiwa Ling Hotel | Meals: B L D

Day 6: Paro | Ascent to the Tiger’s Nest Hike about two miles to the picturesque Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery that clings to a cliff 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Spend the day among the monks at this sacred pilgrimage site, where the great tantric mystic Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava) is believed to have flown on the back of the tiger to bring the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. Late this afternoon, drive through the Paro Valley to visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang, built by a Tibetan emperor in the seventh century and one of Bhutan’s most sacred shrines. Zhiwa Ling Hotel | Meals: B L D

Day 7: Kathmandu, Nepal | World’s Oldest Shrine Fly over the Himalaya to Kathmandu, observing the world’s highest glacial peaks, including Mount Everest, as you go. Upon arrival, transfer to your historic hotel, itself an experience in Nepali culture and heritage. Intricate carved wood and terra cotta grace every inch of it. This afternoon, explore the city of Kathmandu, an inspiration to many writers, artists and poets over the years. It boasts a unique symbiosis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantrism, influences in evidence throughout the city. During the 14th century, artisans constructed temples, monasteries and elaborate courtyards in Kathmandu that today contribute to a fascinating architectural history. Ride in a rickshaw to visit Durbar Square and Teleju Temple, with its gilded roofs. Stop at the house of the Living Goddess (Kumari). Walk through the bazaar and labyrinthine streets of the old city and explore Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple), the oldest shrine in the world. The four sides of this ancient structure are painted with the compassionate eyes of Buddha; between them, a mystical third eye symbolizes true wisdom. For dinner, receive a lesson in Nepalese cuisine at the home of a local resident, and enjoy the results. Dwarika’s Hotel | Meals: B L D

Day 8: Kathmandu | Historic Durbar Square Explore Patan, known for its fine bronze, silver and copper works, and home to hundreds of Buddhist monuments. Visit Durbar Square, a historic plaza filled with spectacular architecture, as well as the Royal Baths, the Golden Temple and the Krishna Mandir. Tour the Patan Museum, with its collection of metalwork sculptures, many of which depict Buddhist and Hindu deities. This afternoon, head out to the village of Bungamati, with stops at the Rato Machhendranath Temple and the Lokeshwar Shrine. Dwarika’s Hotel | Meals: B L

Day 9: Chitwan National Park | Elephant-Back Safari Fly to Bharatpur, enjoying majestic Himalaya mountain views en route. Once you arrive, drive to your lodge near Chitwan National Park for refreshments and lunch. Afterward, embark on an elephant-back safari to the Gundreni Forest, where you may spot one-horned rhinoceroses, deer, wild boars, monkeys, leopards, sloth bears and perhaps, the elusive royal Bengal tiger. Return to the lodge and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea. This evening, listen to a briefing given by one of the resident park naturalists on the history and wildlife of the park, followed by dinner. Barahi Jungle Lodge | Meals: B L D

Day 10: Chitwan National Park | Tranquil River Canoeing Embark on a full day of wildlife viewing and hiking with experienced naturalists, as well as elephant safaris to remote regions of the park. Go on a nature walk with trained guides who help you identify some of the park’s over 500 species of birds, such as the long-tailed paradise flycatcher and the richly-hued white-throated kingfisher. Later, canoe down the tranquil Narayani River, spotting wildlife as you glide along. Conclude a relaxing day in the wild by watching the sunset at the river’s edge before returning to your luxurious lodge for dinner. Barahi Jungle Lodge | Meals: B L D

Day 11: Chitwan/Kathmandu | Nepalese Food and Folk Dance After a morning of wildlife activities, sighting species as diverse as honey badgers and Indian pangolins, drive back to Bharatpur and board a flight to Kathmandu. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight, enjoy a dinner of authentic Nepalese cuisine, complimented by an elaborate and delightful performance from skilled Nepali folk dancers. Dwarika’s Hotel | Meals: B L D

Day 12: Kathmandu | Temples and Trade Routes Today, witness a debate among monks (part of their training) at the Kopan Monastery. Visit Boudhanath, home to what is possibly the world’s largest Buddhist shrine. Along with the compassionate eyes of Buddha painted on its walls, gazing in the four cardinal directions to keep watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity, this shrine is resplendent with hundreds of colorful prayer flags. Continue to the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, one of the most significant temples devoted to Lord Shiva in the world. Situated on the lush, green bank of the Bagmati River, it is built in the pagoda style with a gilded roof and richly carved silver doors. The stories of its origin are the stuff of many legends. Visitors may view the temple from the east bank of the river. After a traditional Nepali lunch, visit the royal city of Bhaktapur, a showcase of medieval Nepalese town life and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Positioned along what was once a trade route between Tibet and India, this city became a center of wealth and prosperity. This evening, gather with your fellow guests to toast the end of your amazing journey. Dwarika’s Hotel | Meals: B D

Day 13: Depart Kathmandu After a hearty breakfast and a moment to reflect on your wonderful sojourn among the majestic landscapes, mystical temples and marvelous peoples of Bhutan and Nepal, transfer to the airport to depart or continue on a post-journey extension to Lhasa. Meals: B

Lhasa Post-Tour Extension 4 days, priced from $1,695; internal air priced from $500. Available on the Apr 5, Apr 21, Sep 1, Sep 13, Oct 6, Oct 13, Oct 20 and Nov 10 departures.

DAY 1: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa with your Tour Director. St. Regis Lhasa Resort

DAY 2: Explore Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lama. Visit the Jokhang Temple to join monks as they circumambulate the temple. St. Regis Lhasa Resort | Meals: B

DAY 3: Spend the day at two of Tibet’s great monasteries, Drepung and Sera. St. Regis Lhasa Resort | Meals: B

DAY 4: Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Meals: B

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