Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan

FROM £ 3290

This trip visits the hidden gems of North East India and Bhutan. Tea plantations dominate the landscape; Darjeeling gives fantastic views of the huge Kangchenjunga, 8586m, the third highest mountain in the world. In Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, we visit the important Buddhist centre for Tibetology. Later on, the trip takes us to the small mountain town of Kalimpong and the famous Rumtek Monastery.

After spending time in Kalimpong, a drive to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan where we explore the quaint Bhutanese towns and remote Dzongs. We walk to the famous Taksang Tiger’s Nest Monastery, clinging to the side of a cliff above Paro. Then a visit to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan and Punakha Dzong. This is the ancient seat of government dating from the 17th Century and architecturally one of the most impressive sights in the country.

Some of the trips are timed to visit the annual masked dance festivals in Bhutan.

It is the client’s responsibility to acquire an Indian visa before departure.

Route Map

Trips Date Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Incl. Flights starts from 
No dates available
  • Arrival

    Arrive in Delhi and transfer to our hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Old Delhi.

    • Flight to Bagdogra and drive to Darjeeling (2100m)

      After breakfast we transfer to the domestic airport and board our flight to Bagdogra. We leave the heat of the Indian plains behind and drive into the foothills of Himalaya to the hill station of Darjeeling, built during the British Raj (4-5 hour drive). Darjeeling is known for its excellent tea, which is considered the ‘champagne of teas’. With a little luck and good weather we can catch a glimpse on the horizon of the great snow-capped mountains of the Himalaya including the third highest mountain on earth, Kangchenjunga (8586m).

      • Darjeeling

        Today we explore Darjeeling on foot, by car and by train. Darjeeling was made famous in the colonial period, when the British used to come here to escape the heat of Calcutta. We will visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, founded by Tenzing Norgay, where there is an interesting museum dedicated to the early Everest climbs. If the railway is operating we take the famous steam ‘Toy Train’ to Ghoom Monastery, situated about eight kilometers south of Darjeeling. There will also be time to wander round the bazaar and perhaps visit a tea tasting shop or the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, where there are handicrafts for sale.

        • Sunrise at Tiger Hill. Drive to Pelling.

          If the weather is clear there is an optional early rise for the short drive to Tiger Hill to see the spectacular sunrise on Mount Everest (8848m) and Kanchenjunga (8586m). After breakfast we leave for Pelling. We drive through beautiful countryside and tea estates to the Teesta River. We then climb back up through forested hillsides to Pemayangste monastery, arriving late afternoon (6 hour drive). This is one of the oldest monasteries in the area and is set in a wonderful place surrounded by trees. We stay tonight at Pelling, where on a clear day we get wonderful sunset and sunrise views of Kanchenjunga.

          • Tashiding Monastery and Gangtok

            We continue towards Gangtok, passing wild orchids and many cardamom and rice fields. Along the way making a diversion to Tashiding monastery. Founded in 1641 this gompa belongs to the Nyingmapa sect and is situated on the summit of a cone shaped mountain. It is surrounded by prayer flags and numerous white chortens plus hundreds of wonderfully carved prayer stones. We return to the main road and continue on to the bustling town of Gangtok, the capital of the Indian state of Sikkim, which was a separate Kingdom until 1975.

            • Gangtok, visit Rumtek monastery

              We spend today exploring Gangtok and its surroundings on foot. There are pleasant walks around the town. Watching the sunrise over Kanchenjunga seems to be everyone’s favourite though. Hanuman Tok, a hill with a small temple is another good viewpoint, Enchey monastery is a 19th century Buddhist located a little away from the crowded town center. There is an option to drive up to the Rumtek Monastery, situated on a hillside across from Gangtok. The monastery is built in the traditional Tibetan style even though it has been renovated. It is the centre of controversy at the moment with various monks vying for power and it is therefore heavily guarded by the Indian police and army. It has impressive Tibetan architecture, wall paintings and woodcarvings.

              • Kalimpong

                We leave Sikkim and head towards Kalimpong, (4-5 hour drive) which is nestled in the last foothills of the Himalaya in West Bengal. Situated on a former trade route to Tibet, it was the gateway to Sikkim and Bhutan and beautiful houses reflect the comfortable lifestyle of a hundred years ago. The climate here is ideal for orchids, cacti and gladioli. We hike to the highest point on Deolo Hill (1700m) through pine and rhododendron forest for marvellous panoramic views of the town and the rivers Teesta and Rangit as well as the distant snowy mountains of the Himalayas. We descend past a small monastery and Dr Graham's School, which was formerly an orphanage and school for children of the tea estates workers.

                • Phuntsholing

                  We leave India and enter Bhutan today. The 7 hour drive through the plains of West Bengal and its vast tea plantations reaches the Indian border at the town of Jaigaon. After completing immigration formalities we enter Bhutan, ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. One of the least visited places on earth, where the economy is measured in GNH (Gross National Happiness), we spend the next few days exploring this fascinating country. Phuntsholing is a bustling border town and if there is time we can visit the Karbandi monastery with scenes depicted from the life of Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche

                  • Thimphu (2,400m)

                    Drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. A particularly beautiful drive leads us deeper into Bhutan. It’s a long drive of about 7 hours as we wind our way up into the hills to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Set on the Wang Chu River, it seems more like a small town than a capital city and is full of colourful markets.

                    • Thimpu

                      We have a full day in Thimpu. There is much to see and do – including a visit to the Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the last king and one of the most impressive buildings in the country, the Tashi Cho Dzong, which houses the seat of government.

                      • Punakha (1200m)

                        Today we head across the Doche La Pass to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. (4- 5 hour drive) The dzong at Punakha was built in the 17th century and is strategically located at the confluence of the rivers Pho Chu, regarded as male and Mo Chu, a female. The first Shabdrung of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyel built the dzong in 1637 and it is a magnificent, huge imposing edifice.

                        • Visit Wangdiphodrang and drive to Paro

                          A short (45 min) drive takes us to the typical Bhutanese village of Wangdiphodrang which has a lively market and a wonderful old Dzong. We then drive back to Thimpu and on to Paro (4-5 hours) with its wide rice paddies, forested hillsides and traditionally built farmhouses in one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan,

                          • Hike to Taksang (‘Tiger's Nest Monastery’)

                            .Today we spend the day in and around Paro. We begin with a hike to the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery, which clings to steep cliffs and is accessible only on foot. It is believed that Guru Padmasambahava reached this place in the 8th century on the back of a tiger and meditated here for three months. A monastery was built here in 1684. In the afternoon we visit Rinpung Dzong, "fortress of precious stones". It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on a hill overlooking the city. Later we visit the National Museum, Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower now containing art relics, Thangkha paintings, natural history and an interesting collection of Bhutanese stamps

                            • Fly from Paro to Delhi

                              An early transfer to the airport for the spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Delhi. There should be some time in the afternoon for last minute exploration of Delhi and its colorful bazaars.

                              • Depart Delhi

                                Depart Delhi and arrive in the UK.

                                What is included in the price?

                                • Accommodation (2 Nights: Delhi, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Punakha, Paro; 1 Night: Pelling,Kalimpong, Phuntsholing)
                                • Meals (In India (B/D: Breakfast and Dinner). In Bhutan:(B/L/D:Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner))
                                • Guide (English speaking local Leader)
                                • Transfers (All transfers and Sightseeing as per the itinerary)
                                • Domestic Flights (Paro-Delhi Flight)

                                What is not included in the price?

                                • Indian Visa Charges
                                • Insurances
                                • Tips for the local staff

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