1 day. Dec. 29. Kathmandu (Nepal). Arrival.
Arrival in Kathmandu, accommodation in hotel.
Rest, meet the guide.
In the evening we will walk to Thamel district via Asan and Indrachuk, some of the oldest and traditional local centers of Kathmandu, located next to each other and mostly inhabited by the indigenous people, the Nevars. Tamel Walking Tour.
The main evening life area of the city. Bars and cafes offer live music, many stores sell handmade metalwork, and restaurants serve Nepali and international cuisine.
Nepali Ghar hotel
Day 2. Dec. 30. Kathmandu – Parping – Swayambhunath (Nepal).
After breakfast, we will drive to the suburb of Kathmandu to Parping (18 km from Kathmandu).
Parping is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Here inside the mountain is the Asura Cave, where Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) meditated on his way from India to Tibet and subdued the demonic forces threatening the people of Nepal. Many yogis, monks come here knowing the immense power of blessing of this place. After that, we will climb to the top of the hill where the monastery is located.
Further our way lies to one of the oldest Buddhist stupas in the world – Swayambhunath Stupa, located on a 77-meter hill.
Legend has it that the Swayambhunath stupa is over 2000 years old. There are several Tibetan monasteries of different schools and orientations around the stupa. Swayambhunath is also revered by Hindus, who have a small shrine near the stupa.
Return to the hotel.
Nepali Ghar hotel
Day 3. Dec. 31. Kathmandu. Bhaktapur – Nagarkot (Nepal). New Year’s Eve in the Himalayas. Celebration dinner.
We will celebrate the New Year in the mountains overlooking the snow-capped Himalayan peaks!
Today we will travel to Bhaktapur, a medieval city of craftsmen, one of the three city-states of the Malla dynasty. It looks exactly as it did centuries ago – the old palace square, the narrow, brick-paved streets, the artisans’ square.
We will stroll through the narrow streets and visit the potters’ square, where we will learn traditional methods of pottery making. We’ll also take the chance to stop by a woodcarvers’ workshop near Duttraya.
Not far from Bhaktapur is the oldest Hindu temple of Vishnu, Changu Narayan. Here, the avatars of Vishnu are depicted in the finest wooden carvings.
Next, we will be treated to a 2-hour hike to Telkot past local villages.
From Telkot, we will continue to Nagarkot, a popular mountain resort located at an altitude of 2175 meters above sea level. A perfect place for a little break from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and a great opportunity to greet the sunrise with a view of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks.
Rest and New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel.
Hotel Country villa
Day 4. Jan. 1. Panauti to Kathmandu (Nepal).
After a leisurely breakfast, we will head to the village of Panauti (a 1.5 hour walk one way), visiting a traditional village house. Lunch at the house with the family.
After lunch, return to Kathmandu. Overnight at a hotel near the Boddhnath Stupa.
Day 5. Jan. 2. Kathmandu – Patan – Boddhnath (Nepal).
Excursion to Patan, Sanskrit name Lalitpur, located in the southern part of Kathmandu, on the banks of the Baghmati River. One of the oldest cities in Nepal, founded in the 3rd century BC. Today it is a center of art and culture, a city of Masters and artisans.
Here we will visit the most important Buddhist sites. Golden Temple, Bodhi Temple (a miniature of the famous Temple and Stupa at Bodhgaya, the site of Buddha’s enlightenment), Tara Temple. Also, we will take you to sacred places that are hidden among residential areas and are not known to tourists.
Afterward, we will head to the second famous Stupa, Boddhnath. It is surrounded by many monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, whose gilded roofs can be seen from the dome of the stupa.
Free time near the Stupa. You will be mesmerized by the Tibetan stalls, here you can buy art objects, Tibetan singing bowls. Have a cup of coffee on one of the café terraces overlooking the Stupa.
Return to the hotel.
Day 6. Jan. 3. Flight to Paro. Transfer to Thimphu (Bhutan).
Arrival in Paro.
You will be met at Paro airport by your guide. The transfer to Thimphu town will take 1.5-2 hours.
Hotel Accommodation. Lunch. Vacation.
Today we will climb up to Asia’s tallest Buddha statue, Kunzang Phodrang, which offers a magnificent view of Thimphu. It commemorates the 60th anniversary of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The statue contains more than a hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, as the main statue, is made of bronze and covered with gold.
We’ll be spending the evening downtown. We’ll stroll the main streets, and at sunset we’ll join people heading to the Memorial Stupa, built in honor of the third King in 1974 by his mother. We will do a “kora” (circumambulation around the stupa) and recite mantras. The Stupa always feels like the whole town has gathered there. Both morning and evening people come here to pray or just to discuss the events of the day.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 7. Jan. 4. Thimphu (Bhutan).
In the morning we will head to Chagri-gompa. This monastery is located in the north of the Thimphu valley, half an hour’s drive from the city. It was founded in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is known for its retreat center. The main shrine of the monastery is an impressive statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.
A separate adventure is the hike to the monastery. Our journey will begin with a spectacular river crossing on a suspension bridge. The path we will follow has been traveled by thousands of pilgrims: it climbs gently uphill amidst a beautiful mixed forest. In the middle of the climb you will see a chorten (stupa), next to which you can rest under a canopy from the sun.
On the way back you will have a picnic on the banks of a glacial river.
In the evening, we will visit Tashicho-dzong, the city’s main monastery and royal secretariat. Tashicho Dzong is picturesquely located near Thimphu town on the banks of the Wang Chu River. It is an imposing, massive and very photogenic structure surrounded by neat lawns and idyllic gardens.
Day 8. Jan. 5. Thimphu – Punakha (Bhutan).
After breakfast, we will proceed to Punakha valley. On the way, we will pass through Dochu-La Pass, which is 3080 meters high. If you are lucky with the weather, you will see the chain of the highest Himalayan peaks. On the pass there is a complex of one large and one hundred and eighty small stupas, as well as a monastery. We will stop to enjoy the beautiful views and take pictures.
We will visit the famous Punakha dzong. It is a very picturesque place, especially on clear days, when the sun, reflecting off the water surface, illuminates the whitewashed walls of the ancient monastery. Punakha dzong was built in 1637 thanks to Ngawang Namgyal Shabdrung. Punakha was the capital of the kingdom until 1955, and is now the winter residence of the country’s supreme clergy.
Also today we will visit Chimi Lhakhang. This monastery is built in honor of Drukpa Kyunle, who is also known as the Divine Fool. Chimi-lhakang is believed to have miraculous powers – curing infertility. Many childless couples come to Chimi for a blessing.
We’re going to the farmhouse for lunch. A kind-hearted hostess will show you around the house and farm. Here you will be able to see the way of rural life. Walk to the river and waterfall, those who wish will be able to take hot stone baths on the river bank.
After the baths, we will be transferred to an old manor house where a Bhutanese nobleman once lived with his two wives and children. In the same estate are three Buddhist Temples, where relics brought from Tibet are preserved. Beautiful garden, restored but preserved former appearance of the manor house – will not leave you indifferent.
Day 9. Jan. 6. Punakha – Paro (Bhutan).
We will start the day with a Buddhist Prayer Service at the Temple, which is located here at the estate.
After the Puja, we will be transferred to Paro where we will visit Kichhu Lhakang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It was founded in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, through whom Buddhism spread in the Himalayas. According to legend, Songtsen Gampo, with the help of Kichu, exorcised a demoness who had settled in the Himalayas and was terrifying people.
Walk around the center, optional souvenir shops.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 10. Jan. 7. Paro. Paro Taksang (Bhutan).
Early check-out from the hotel. Hike to Paro Taktsang.
Paro Taktsang is located north of the city of Paro at a dizzying altitude of 3120 meters. To get to the monastery, we will do a 2-3 hour trekking through shady pine forests.
It seems incredible, but Taktsang Lhakang is located on sheer cliffs 900 meters above the Paro Valley. The name “taktsang” translates to “tigress’ nest” and there is an explanation for this. The monastery was built in 1692 in a cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the 7th century. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche came here riding a tigress and meditated for 3 years 3 months 3 days and 3 hours to defeat the demons living in the cave. Since then, the cave has been considered sacred, and many famous Buddhist practitioners have traveled quite a distance to be able to meditate in it.
Day 11. Jan. 8. Flight Paro – Kathmandu (Nepal).
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport. Flight from Paro to Kathmandu. Hotel Accommodation.
Free time near the Stupa.
In the evening, a farewell dinner at Dwarika’s Resort.
12 day. Jan. 9. Departure from Kathmandu.
Transfer to the airport. Departure from Kathmandu.