Himalayan Kingdoms - Sikkim & Bhutan


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Take an incredible journey through Sikkim and Bhutan. Sikkim sits in the shadow of the world's highest mountains. Bhutan's rich Buddhist culture permeates everyday life.

Places Visited

Australia - Kolkata (2N) - Siliguri (1N) - Darjeeling (2N) - Pelling (2N) - Gantonk (2N) - Kalimpong (2N) - Gorumara (1N) - Phuentsholing (1N) - Thimphu (2N) - Punakha (2N) - Bumthang (2N) - Paro (2N) - Kolkata (1N) - Australia

Day 1: Australia to Kolkata
Fly with Singapore Airlines to Kolkata for a two-night stay.
Day 1: Australia to Kolkata
Day 2: Discover Kolkata
Enjoy the morning at leisure. This afternoon visit the Victoria Memorial, drive past Fort William and visit Kalighat Temple. (B,L,D)
Day 2: Discover Kolkata
Day 3: Travel to Siliguri
Rise early for a tour of east India's largest flower market, Howrah Bridge, Kumartuli and a Jain temple. Later, transfer to the railway station to board your train to New Jalpaiguri and upon arrival stay overnight in nearby Siliguri. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Travel to Siliguri
Day 4: Journey to Darjeeling
Leave Siliguri and continue by road through the hills and tea plantations to Darjeeling. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Journey to Darjeeling
Day 5: Discover Darjeeling
Rise early this morning for a jeep ride to Tiger Hill and visit Ghoom Monastery, constructed in 1875. Later, head to the railway station to board the UNESCO World Heritage listed Toy Train for a ride around the hillside. This afternoon tour one of the many tea plantations in the area and visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which was created to promote and encourage the science and art of mountaineering in the Himalaya. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Discover Darjeeling
Day 6: Travel to Sikkim
Drive north to Pelling and cross into the state of Sikkim. En route, explore the Pemayangtse Monastery. Perched at an altitude of 2,084 metres, it is one Sikkim's oldest monasteries. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Travel to Sikkim
Day 7: Explore Pelling
Visit Khecheopalri Lake, one of the most sacred lakes in Sikkim for both Buddhists and Hindus, and Kanchenjunga Falls. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Explore Pelling
Days 8-9: Around Gangtok
Drive to Gangtok, visiting the sacred Tashiding Monastery route. (B,L,D) Tomorrow, visit the Enchey Monastery, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and Do Drul Chorten. (B,L,D)
Days 8-9: Around Gangtok
Day 10: Drive to Kalimpong
Visit the Old Rumtek Monastery and Dharma Chakra Centre before continuing to Kalimpong, located deep in the Himalaya. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Drive to Kalimpong
Day 11: Kalimpong at leisure
Take a break from driving and enjoy the day at leisure to explore the quaint town of Kalimpong. You may wish to visit the local monastery to hear the monks chanting or stroll through the local markets. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Kalimpong at leisure
Day 12: Jeep safari at Gorumara Wildlife Sanctuary
This morning travel to the Gorumara Wildlife Sanctuary where you might be lucky enough to spot a one horned rhino on your afternoon jeep safari. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Jeep safari at Gorumara Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 13: Journey to mystical Bhutan
Drive to the Bhutan border. After clearing customs and immigration you will meet your Bhutanese guide and continue to Phuentsholing, the gateway to Bhutan for overland travellers. Visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple built in the centre of the town. (B,L,D)
Day 13: Journey to mystical Bhutan
Day 14: Phuentsholing to Thimphu
Leave Phuentsholing and drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Visit Kharbandi Gompa, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery built in 1967 en route. (B,L,D)
Day 14: Phuentsholing to Thimphu
Day 15: Explore Thimphu
Enjoy a tour of Thimphu; visit the National Library and the Institute for Zorig Chusum (painting school). You will also visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum and National Textile Museum. Tour Thimphu Zoo, the National Memorial Chorten, Trashi Chhoe Dzong and drive to Buddha Point. (B,L,D)
Day 15: Explore Thimphu
Day 16: Punakha Dzong
Travel to Punakha via Dochu La. Upon arrival, tour the Punakha Dzong and the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. (B,L,D)
Day 16: Punakha Dzong
Day 17: Trongsa Dzong to Bumthang
Drive all day to Trongsa, stopping en route at Wangdue Paodrang to visit a local market. Ascend to Pele La, marked by prayer flags, and stop at the small village of Chendebji for lunch. Pass through Trongsa, visiting Trongsa Dzong. Cross the Chumey Valley and arrive into Bumthang. (B,L,D)
Day 17: Trongsa Dzong to Bumthang
Day 18: Bumthang
Discover Kurje Lhakhang Monastery. Explore Bhutan's oldest monastery, Jambey Lhakhang Temple, built in the 7th century. Visit the Tamshing Lakhang Monastery, which has some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan. Return to Bumthang and tour the hilltop Jakar Dzong. (B,L,D)
Day 18: Bumthang
Day 19: Scenic drive to Punakha
Drive to Punakha along the scenic mountain highway (approximately seven hours). (B,L,D)
Day 19: Scenic drive to Punakha
Day 20: Journey to Paro
Hike to Chimi Lhakhang, known as the 'Temple of Fertility', before continuing to Paro (approximately four hours). En route, visit the Simtokha Dzong, once a place of tantric teaching. Upon arrival in Paro, visit Ta Dzong and walk down a hillside trail to Rinpung Dzong. (B,L,D)
Day 20: Journey to Paro
Day 21: Tiger's Nest Monastery
This morning, hike to Taktsang Monastery, known as the 'Tiger's Nest'. The monastery is perched on the side of a cliff, 900 metres above the Paro valley floor. The moderate hike will take you past the cafeteria located halfway up the trail where you will have lunch. Return to Paro in the afternoon, visiting Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan, en route. (B,L,D)
Day 21: Tiger's Nest Monastery
Day 22: Fly to Kolkata
Drive to Paro airport and fly back to Kolkata. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 22: Fly to Kolkata
Day 23: Depart Kolkata
The morning is at your leisure. After a late check-out, you will be transferred to Kolkata airport to board your overnight flight to Australia. (B,L,D)
Day 23: Depart Kolkata
Day 24: Arrive Australia
Arrive home today.

Tour prices are per person, twin share

2016

2017

2018

Additional Price Information:

Above prices include airline fuel surcharge and tipping. Subject to change.
Single Hotel Room Option from $2,180
Land Only (Kolkata to Kolkata) 23 days from $8,230 per person (includes tipping)
Adelaide and Canberra passengers may require stopovers in Singapore at an additional cost.
Darwin passengers may require one night pre-tour accomodation in Kolkata and a stopover in Singapore at an additional cost.
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 1300 318 203. Limited seats denotes 5 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel. Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visa in the price of our tour for Australian passport holders. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call Australia – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 61, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in India and you will find high quality coverage. India has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and India is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size, and services used during the trip.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be fun and entertaining, especially in local markets all over India where souvenirs can be purchased for next to nothing. However all passengers must realise that the authenticity and value of goods is always questionable.
If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Some shopping is made up of copied brand items and reproduced antiques.
 
In keeping with most people’s interest whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities in local shops and government factories. This may vary depending on local conditions, and should never interfere with your itinerary’s included sightseeing.
 
Each region has its own specialty; a traditional handicraft perfected by the locals over centuries, a climate that encourages rich spices to grow, or a type of wood, stone or precious jewel in abundance nearby. Textiles are a popular souvenir, including silk brocades from Varanasi in the north or Kanchipuram in the south, tie-dyed cottons from all over Rajasthan, saris, hand woven Tibetan carpets from Darjeeling or Dharamshala, or the woollen shawls pashminas of Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
There is also the heavy and elaborate silverwork of Rajasthan, “spring picked” tea from the hill stations, and the spices, wooden carvings or facemasks of Kerala.
 
If you prefer set prices, head to the government-run shops, usually called “cottage industries” or “emporium” which sells quality but reasonably priced goods. The more up market tourist shops will also have fixed prices. Markets, street stalls, and local shops can be noisy, crowded, and confronting, but this remains one of the most rewarding experiences of travelling in India. If your itinerary includes some free time and you would like to go shopping, ask either your National Escort/Guide or the hotel staff for advice on how to best get there. They should be able to tell you if you need a taxi or a rickshaw, how much you should pay for the journey and provide you verbal or written directions to give to the driver. Remember to take a hotel business card with you to find your way back!

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is served in the hotel and includes a combination of western and local dishes. As traditional in this region, lunch and dinner are served in a banquet style, so you can try the variety of specialty dishes. The amount of food served is more than ample for the whole group.
 
We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people so dishes are not too spicy or unusual in their taste. One of the great myths about India is that the food is of poor quality and always hot and spicy. This is definitely not the case! In fact, North Indian dishes whilst often very rich and indeed spicy don’t contain as much chilli as South Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is predominately vegetarian; however more meat (chicken and lamb) dishes are available in the North. On our group tours, we use a variety of local and hotel restaurants, which provide variety in both the dishes and methods of cooking. If you like Indian food from home, you will have no problems with the real Indian food as it is similar, only more flavoursome. You’ll love it; though don’t expect to lose weight on your holiday, Indians love to eat and eat big. In tourist centres, some restaurants and hotels may also serve western dishes to provide variety. You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.
 
Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into India, so is not stocked except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice, fruit juices, or lassies (yoghurt based sweet or salty drinks) from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks.
 
Tea is very popular and Indians simply love visiting the many street stalls which brew chai (also known as masala), a sweet, spiced tea brewed with boiling milk. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals – you can usually request the chai or masala style tea as well.
Packed meals: On some days, your National Escort/Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 1300 318 203 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.


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Why Book This Tour?

This tour is suitable for those who are looking to get more off the beaten track and have an extended period of time available to travel. This tour is rather active and involves some walking, outdoor activities and times at high altitude. This tour involves a day train journey.

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