Temples, monasteries and idyllic scenes surround as you uncover the mysteries and charms of Eastern India and little-seen Bhutan.
About the Tour
Have you ever wanted to watch the sunrise over one of the highest mountain peaks in the world? Does your travel bucket list include less popular destinations waiting to be discovered? This 14-day adventure through southeast India and Bhutan includes all of this and more. Enjoy time in places such as Kolkata, Siliguri and Darjeeling in India. In these cities, unforgettable experiences collide with amazing scenery to create memories that last a lifetime. Tour Mother Teresa’s house in Kolkata, ride aboard the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad in Kurseong and enjoy authentic Darjeeling tea at a tea plantation. As the tour moves into Bhutan, there is a noticeable change in atmosphere. This serene country is filled with protected lands, monasteries and temples. Lush surroundings are complemented by a rich culture that is mostly undiscovered by tourists. Here, enjoy a look at a giant golden Buddha in Thimphu, a visit to the Chimi Lhakhang fertility temple and a tour of an ancient fortress monastery, Rinpung Dzong. Complete with vistas of the Himalayas and memorable excursions in each location, this Indian adventure is simply incredible.
- Heritage rail excursion on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad
- Hotel accommodations for 13 nights
- 35 meals including 14 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 13 dinners
- 2 sightseeing tours of Kolkata, including colonial heritage sites
- Visit Tiger Hill and the Ghum Monastery
- Discover the Darjeeling Mountaineering Institute
- Visits to a Darjeeling tea plantation, and Bhutan's Kharabandi Gompa and Punakha Dzong
- Thimpu sightseeing tour
- Discover the traditional village of Grassmore
- Visit to Paro's Rinpung Dzong, the National Museum and Tiger's Nest Monastery
- Visit to the Chimi Lhakhang fertility temple
- Toyota Innova car transfers in Darjeeling
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 – Welcome to Kolkata
Arrive at Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport, and transfer independently to the 5-star Oberoi Grand Hotel. Your group and Tour Manager await your arrival, and after meeting them, settle into your comfortable accommodations for a two-night stay. Overnight Kolkata. (D)
Day 2 – Kolkata
Our explorations of this metropolis begin this morning as we set out on a guided tour. We visit Kolkata’s brilliantly hued flower market, where the streets are transformed by blooms of all shapes and sizes. Other highlights include Mother Teresa's house and the Victoria Memorial, an ornate white marble structure.
Continuing our sightseeing this afternoon, we visit the Railroad Museum in Howrah where we learn about the history of the Howrah Rail Station and some of the surrounding railways. There are also century-old steam engines, salon cars and coaches onsite. Later, we take the circular railroad train to Prinsep Ghat to visit the heritage railroad museum located here. Overnight Kolkata. (B, D)
Day 3 – Siliguri
Take the morning at leisure to enjoy the amazing contradictions of modern and historic architecture and the rich culture. This afternoon, we transfer to the station with time to meander through the Heritage Rail Museum before joining our train to New Jalpaiguri. The all-day rail journey takes us north to the foothills of the Himalayas, and on arrival, we are transferred by coach to Siliguri. Overnight Siliguri. (B, L, D)
Day 4 – The Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad
This morning, we press on with our expedition with a coach ride to Kurseong, where we enjoy lunch at the colonial-style Cochrane Place Hotel. Following, we board the UNESCO-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad for an enthralling journey 7,000 feet into the Himalayas. We board the narrow-gauge train in the heart of the town and follow an exciting route through the noisy center of town before climbing into the verdant forest and around mountainsides. Climbing higher, colorful Buddhist prayer flags hang across the streets like bunting and we take a brief pause at a hill station for lunch and then continue by train to Darjeeling. The first thing that comes into view is the town’s pastel-painted houses that are seemingly stacked upon one another. With the lush foothills as the backdrop, we approach the Hotel Windamere, our home for the next three nights. Overnight Darjeeling. (B, L, D)
Day 5 – Tiger Hill and the Mountaineering Institute
Our excursions begin early this morning as we head to the Tiger Hill viewpoint to watch the sun rise up from behind Kanchenjunga, India's highest mountain. Watch in amazement as the peak’s color changes with the sunlight, change from orange and red to pink.
Later in the day, we board the steam-hauled Toy Train to climb the highest hill in the region to Ghoom. Here, we disembark and visit the town’s ornately painted Buddhist monastery. We return to Darjeeling this afternoon and continue the day’s adventures with a visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which is the final resting place of Tensing Norgay, the first person to climb Mt. Everest’s highest peak. Overnight Darjeeling. (B, D)
Day 6 – Darjeeling Tea Plantation
For centuries, Darjeeling has long been an epicenter for black tea production, and today, we see the production first-hand on our guided tour of one of the town’s authentic tea plantations. Take in the slights of sloping hills covered in lush tea plants and learn about the methods that transform these plants into one of the world’s most beloved drinks. We continue to the town’s charming bazaar, where we enjoy a tasting. Overnight Darjeeling. (B, D)
Day 7 – To Bhutan
We say goodbye to India today as we cross into Bhutan. We begin by driving to the border town of Chalsa, and we stop here for an authentic Indian lunch. Following our meal, we continue to Grassmore Village, leaving India and entering Bhutan. Located deep in the Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan is a country of immense beauty, with more than half of the country protected as a nature preserve. We cross through the beautiful Gate to Bhutan as we enter Phuentsholing. Colorful, traditional architecture sides aside more modern buildings as we drive through the city en route to our conveniently located hotel. Overnight Phuentsholing. (B, L, D)
Day 8 – Kharbandi Gompa / Paro
Kharbandi Gompa is one of the most revered Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan and our destination for today. The monastery is surrounded by peaceful gardens and offers panoramic views over the Great Indian Plains, the mighty Himalayan Mountains and the cities of Phuentsholing and Jaigoan. We continue to Paro, a town centered in the emerald valley at the base of Mt. Jomolhari. We spend two nights here at the tranquil Tiger’s Nest Resort. Overnight Paro. (B, L, D)
Day 9 – The Tiger’s Nest
This morning, an optional hike takes us up the mountainside to a viewpoint that overlooks the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. One of Bhutan’s most iconic sights, the monastery is a small collection of Bhutanese-style buildings that cling to the cliffside. The white buildings contrast with the dark stone of the mountainside and lush green trees and create an amazing vision. Descending, we continue to a local farmhouse for lunch. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to take in the incredible beauty of the region. We are treated to traditional Bhutanese entertainment with dinner tonight. Overnight Paro. (B, L, D)
Day 10 – Rinpung Dzong
Moving deeper into the Paro Valley, we visit the mesmerizing Rinpung Dzong. This fortress-monastery is a beautiful example of traditional architecture, with its buttressed walls reaching out of the hillside and ornate wood carvings. While here, we also visit the National Museum, which is housed in the former watchtower of Rinpung Dzong and dates back to 1649. Built in the shape of a conch shell, the round building houses artifacts relating to the history and religions of the Bhutanese people. Learn about their gods, gaze upon bronze statues, marvel at artifacts from the Stone Age and see the country’s most beloved treasures. Our journey continues as we set out on an alluring mountain route over Dochula Pass. Along the way, we soak in unrivaled panoramas of the Himalayan Mountains and look upon 108 temples that are scattered amongst the hillside. We visit a memorial honoring those Bhutanese who have lost their lives in Chinese conflicts before arriving at our hotel in Punakha.Overnight Punakha. (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Chimi Lhakhang Temple and Punakha Dzong
Today we visit a temple and monastery dedicated to fertility, Chimi Lhakhang. Here, we learn about the “Divine Madman” and the fertility rites of the tantric tradition. Later, We move on to the Punakha Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in the country, en-route to Thimphu. In Thimphu, we take an exploratory walk that highlights the local culture, including the markets. Overnight Thimphu. (B, L, D)
Day 12 – Thimphu
We begin our day with a tour of Thimphu. Points of interest along the way include Memorial Stupa, which was built for the monarchy; the Folk Heritage Museum, where the typical Bhutanese lifestyle is presented; Buddha Point, where an enormous Golden Buddha stands proudly on a hillside; and Thimphu's 17th-century Dzong. The dzong is a striking fortress, with its vivid white walls and golden rooftops. Take the rest of the day at leisure to explore this interesting city, which offers a fantastic contrast between modern life and ancient tradition. Overnight Thimphu. (B, L, D)
Day 13 – Return to Kolkata
We return to Paro by coach, and upon arrival, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kolkata. In Kolkata, we explore even more of the city with a guided tour. Enjoy a look at Dalhousie Square, an area created as the center of the British East India Company's trading post, as well as Jain Temple and South Park Street Cemetery. The tour concludes at the 18th-century Tagore's House, a stunning mansion that was once home to one of India’s most beloved poets. Overnight Kolkata. (B, D)
Day 14 – Tour Conclusion
Our tour concludes after breakfast this morning. Depart for the international airport for your return flight home at your leisure. (B)
Oberoi Grand Hotel, Kolkata
The 5-Star Oberoi Grand Hotel is a Kolkata institution located near the heart of the city. The luxury hotel is housed in a distinctive neo-classical colonial building and features classic decor throughout the hotel and in the well-appointed rooms. Guests of the hotel enjoy access to an incredible spa that is complete with a fitness center and a pool, two restaurants and a bar.
Sinclairs Hotel, Siliguri
Located in the heart of Siliguri, this luxury hotel offers an idyllic retreat amidst the hustle and bustle that surrounds. Lush greenery surrounds the campus, and the outdoor pool adds a wonderful ambiance. Onsite amenities include a garden, an onsite spa, a fitness center, a restaurant and a bar. The rooms include complimentary wireless Internet, satellite TV, safe and minibar.
Hotel Windamere, Darjeeling
A heritage hotel overlooking world-famous tea plantations and soaring mountain peaks from its position on Observatory Hill, the Windamere is a gorgeous hotel in Darjeeling. The hotel originally opened as a boarding house for British workers in the early 19th century; however, it has been carefully restored to become a destination in and of itself. The hotel includes many flourishes reflecting its history, as well as modern amenities including a popular restaurant and a spa.
Lhaki Hotel, Phuentsholing
Located just across the Indian border in the small town of Phuentsholing, the Lhaki Hotel offers comfortable accommodations at the gateway to Bhutan. There is complimentary wireless Internet all throughout the property, an onsite bar, a spa, fitness facilities and a restaurant. Each room is air conditioned and includes a flat-screen television.
Tiger’s Nest Resort, Paro
The Tiger’s Nest Resort boasts one of the most tranquil locations in all of Bhutan, overlooking the famous Taktsang Monastery. Traditional Bhutanese decor adorns the rooms and common spaces, and there is an expansive open patio overlooking the lush Paro Valley. Within the hotel there is a bar and a restaurant that serves traditional Bhutanese cuisine prepared using fruits and vegetables from the farms that surround the hotel. There is also a fabulous spa onsite. The rooms in the resort boast beautiful wood floors, flat-screen TVs and telephones.
RKPO Green Resort, Punakha
Intricate wood carvings and a vibrantly painted exterior greet guests of the RKPO Green Resort. This hotel has features traditional decor and authentic cultural experiences, including Bhutanese dancing and bonfires. At the Green Resort, amenities include a spa, a boutique and a restaurant that serves delicious local cuisine. The hotel’s bar opens up to a well-manicured garden and patio area, from which guests can enjoy views of the idyllic scenery. All of the guest rooms feature understated decor that fuses contemporary and traditional designs, as well as en suite bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs.
Druk Hotel, Thimphu
The Druk Hotel is a 4-star luxury hotel with an ideal situation in the center of Thimphu. Guests of this hotel are within close proximity to all the major attractions of the city, yet enjoy a quiet retreat within the walls of this beautiful establishment. The hotel features a spa and health club that offers a variety of treatments, as well as a restaurant and comfortable guest rooms with flat-screen televisions and en suite bathrooms with soaking bathtubs.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Affectionately known as the “Toy Train,” the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a marvel of 19th-century engineering. This train follows ultra-narrow 2-foot gauge tracks on a 54-mile journey into the Himalayan Mountains. On the route, the tiny wheels navigate six zigzag reverses and three loops, as well as over 150 crossings over Hill Cart Road. The UNESCO World Heritage train travels between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri and stops at India’s highest railroad station at Ghum, which stands at a staggering elevation of 7,218 feet. During the innovative route, travelers marvel at breathtaking views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range, as well as the region’s famous tea fields, plunging waterfalls and cloud-topped valleys.
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