Trip facts

Activity General Tour

Embark on an enchanting journey through the mystical lands of Bhutan and the captivating regions of Sikkim and Darjeeling. This 11-day tour begins in the bustling border town of Phuentsholing, meandering through the diverse and stunning landscapes of Bhutan, from the commercial hub of Thimphu to the serene and culturally rich valleys of Paro. Witness the intricate blend of traditional Bhutanese culture and rapidly evolving modernity. As the journey unfolds, delve into the heart of Sikkim and Darjeeling, where the blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage creates a mesmerizing experience. From sacred monasteries to breathtaking sunrise views over the Himalayas, this trip offers a comprehensive exploration of these three distinct regions, each with its unique charm and allure.

Day 01: Arrival in Phuentsholing
Upon arrival in Bagdogra, meet our representative and drive to the frontier town of Phuentsholing. After clearing immigration formalities, check in at the hotel. Phuentsholing is a flourishing commercial center situated in the foothills. Being a border town, Phuentsholing serves as a convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and an important link to visit the Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Assam. In the latter half of the day, visit Zangtopelri Lhakhang, located in the heart of the town. This site is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, with eight manifestations of the Guru portrayed on the ground floor. The second floor contains statues of eight Bodhisattvas, Avalokiteshvara, and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, while the top floor houses the main statue of Buddha Amitabha.

Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing (Altitude 300m).

Day 02: Phuentsholing – Thimphu (155 km, approx.4-hour drive)
In the morning, after breakfast, we drive to Thimphu. On the way, visit Kharbandi Goemba, a 20-minute drive from Phuentsholing town on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway. Founded by Royal Grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Choedon in 1967, the monastery features beautiful illustrations of Buddha on its walls, with statues of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It offers a magnificent view of the Indian plains and Phuentsholing town from its lawn.

In Thimphu, visit Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest statues of Shakyamuni at a height of 51.5 meters. Cast in bronze and gilded with gold, it overlooks the southern gate of the valley. Inside, 125,000 miniature statues are placed. The statue features a large prayer hall with Buddha seated upon it.

The National Memorial Chorten was constructed to dedicate world peace and in loving memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, “the father of modern Bhutan.” This landmark is an iconic monument where you can see a large crowd of people circumambulating and chanting mantras.

Later in the evening, take a leisurely walk around the clock tower and Thimphu’s main street.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu (Altitude 2,320m).

Day 03: In Thimphu
After breakfast, we have a full day to visit Thimphu local sights. Begin the day from visit to Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery, locally known as Zilukha Nunnery, is one of the largest nunneries in Bhutan. Built by Thangtong Gyelpo, the builder of iron chain bridges across Bhutan and Tibet, it features an interesting enclosed chorten in the main courtyard.

The Takin Sanctuary is home to the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, which resembles a goat and a yak and is found in high mountainous terrain. Legend has it that the Tibetan saint, Drukpa Kunley, known as the “Divine Madman,” created this unique animal.

The Textile Museum in Chubachu houses a cultural and heritage collection of antique textile artifacts. Different patterns from authentic Bhutanese weavers from various parts of the country are exhibited.

The National Institute for Zorig Chusum and Choki Art Institute is a training center for cultural and traditional arts and crafts. Here, students are trained in 13 different techniques for six years in traditional painting, woodcarving, and statue making.

In the latter half of the day, visit Simtokha Dzong, built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1629. It literally means “Atop a Demon.” The dzong is a replica of the Gyal Gyad Tshel Institute of Ralung (Tibet) and is perhaps the first dzong built in Bhutan, making it the oldest.

The Centenary Market in Thimphu, located beside the Wangchu River, commemorates the coronation of the fifth King. It is also the largest domestic weekend market for the sale of vegetables, fruits, meats, and farm products. Farmers from different parts of the country come here to sell their produce. A wooden cantilever bridge leads to stalls selling a collection of textiles, handicraft products, and clothing.

Jungshi Paper Factory is a small establishment manufacturing traditional Bhutanese handmade paper made from Daphne bark, known as Deh-sho. You can observe the entire process from the dyeing and sorting of pulps. Greeting cards and other products are available for purchase as souvenirs.

The Craft Market, built with bamboo to preserve an eco-friendly environment, offers hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and interesting items made from local materials.

Changangkha Lhakhang, located on a small hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley below Motithang, features Chenrigzi with an 11-head and thousand-arms manifestation. Most Bhutanese visit this temple to seek blessings for a new child.

The National Library contains a collection of religious texts on Bhutan’s history, religious scriptures, traditional medical books, arts, and culturally integrated documentation.

Changlimithang Stadium is the national stadium of Bhutan, where you can glimpse an archery match and where national football tournaments are held.

The Folk Heritage Museum offers insight into an impressive collection of artifacts from rural households and the traditional Bhutanese way of life.

Tashichho Dzong is a towering fortress, nestled beside the Thimphu Chu, is a magnificent example of Bhutanese architecture. It houses the seat of the Chief Abbot, the throne room, and offices of the King, the Cabinet Secretariat, and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. Originally built in 1216 and rebuilt in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in the traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu (Altitude 2,320 m).

Day 04:Thimphu – Paro (57 kms, approx. 1.1/2-hour drive)
After a leisurely breakfast, drive back to Paro, retracing your route along the scenic highway. Along the way, visit Tachog Lhakhang, renowned for its 600-year-old iron bridge. Beside the bridge, the temple is a highlight for visitors. Later in the day, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower and converted into a museum in 1968. Its collection includes fine arts, paintings, textiles, jewelry, handicrafts, stamps, and galleries of stuffed animals and butterflies from Bhutan. The top floor of the museum features a chapel with a “tree” depicting the main figures of the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

We then descend to visit Rinpung Dzong, constructed in 1644 and known as the “fortress of the heap of jewels.” The courtyard is adorned with fine Bhutanese paintings depicting Buddha’s life, cosmic mandalas, and the narrative of Milarepa. The most famous Paro festival is held here, with the unfurling of a giant thangka on the last day. Then, walk down the trail through a wooden cantilever bridge to Paro town, where you may observe an archery tournament, Bhutan’s national game.

Dungtse Lhakhang, a small chorten across the Paro Chu from Paro Town, was built by Thangtong Gyelpo in 1421 to subdue an ogress. The uniqueness of this temple lies in its paintings, which depict the progressive stages of Tantric Buddhist philosophy, as well as the most significant deities and figures of the Drukpa Kagyu school.

Later in the afternoon, drive to the north end of the valley to visit Drukgyel Dzong. It was in ruins until 2000 but has since been reconstructed to its original form. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built it in 1646 to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders.

Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples, was constructed by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century. Among the 108 temples built during his reign, Kyichu is one of the 12 main temples. Located 5 km from Paro town, it houses the original 7th-century Jowo Jampa Statue, along with eight standing bodhisattvas and statues of Zhabdrung, Guru Rinpoche, and Chenrezig with 11 heads and 1,000 arms.

In the evening, explore the local market and town of Paro.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 05: In Paro
After breakfast, we drive to the trailhead to hike up to Taktshang Monastery (approximately a 5-hour round-trip walk). It is one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery, hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and was visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. It is now a place visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Spend the evening at leisure in the charming town of Paro.

Optional tour: Chelela Pass

After breakfast, embark on an optional tour to Chele La Pass. At an elevation of 3,988 meters, it is considered one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan, connecting Paro and Haa Valley. The pass is marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. Upon returning from Chele La Pass, take a short drive to visit Dzongdrakha Lhakhang, often renowned as the smaller replica of Taktsang Monastery. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche first landed here upon his arrival in Bhutan. During the annual festival at Dzongdrakha, the chorten of the past Buddha is opened, allowing visitors to receive blessings from the relic kept there. Later, visit the Bonday village with a mild walk, exploring traditional farmhouses and meeting local people. Spend the evening at leisure in the charming town of Paro.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 06: Paro to Chalsa via Phuentsholing (178 km, approx. 6.5-hour drive)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before embarking on the drive to Phuentsholing. Along the way, take a short break to visit Tachogang Lhakhang, a remarkable site known for its ancient iron bridge. This 600-year-old bridge leads to a temple dedicated to the 13th-century saint, Thangthong Gyalpo, renowned as the builder of iron bridges. This temple and its unique bridge are highlights for any visitor, offering a glimpse into Bhutan’s rich historical past. In the afternoon, continue your journey to Chalsa, a charming destination nestled amidst scenic landscapes in India.
Overnight at a hotel in Chalsa (Altitude 300m).

Day 07:Chalsa – Gangtok (127 km, approx. 4-hour drive)
Start your day with an invigorating jeep safari in Gorumara National Park (note: the park is closed from June to August). After this early morning adventure and a hearty breakfast, set off for Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. As you drive alongside the meandering Teesta River, you’ll pass through numerous quaint villages, each offering a unique glimpse of local life. Gangtok, nestled amidst the Himalayas, boasts stunning views of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak. In the evening, explore MG Road, the bustling heart of Gangtok. This vibrant street is lined with a diverse array of shops, restaurants, and hotels, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or to simply sit and soak up the lively atmosphere.
Overnight stay in Gangtok (Altitude: 1650m).

Day 08: Exploring Gangtok
Enjoy a nourishing breakfast before embarking on a day of exploration in Gangtok. Your sightseeing adventure begins with:

Rumtek Monastery: This is Sikkim’s largest monastery, showcasing the finest Tibetan architecture. Located about 24km from Gangtok, at an elevation of 5,000 ft, Rumtek is not just a spiritual center but also an architectural marvel.

Ban Jhakri Falls: Approximately 11km from Gangtok, this natural waterfall cascades from a height of nearly 40 feet, creating a spectacular display of nature’s power.

Do Drul Chorten: Constructed in 1945 by Trulshi Rinpoche, a prominent figure in the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, this stupa is known for its golden shikhara and 108 prayer wheels. It’s considered one of Sikkim’s most important religious sites.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology: Housing an extensive collection of Tibetan works and rare manuscripts, this institute is a treasure trove for those interested in Mahayana Buddhism. (Note: Closed on Sundays)

Directorate of Handloom and Handicrafts Centre: Established in 1957, this center is dedicated to preserving Sikkim’s unique arts and crafts. (Note: Closed on Sundays)

Flower Exhibition Centre: Located near MG Marg, this center displays a wide variety of flowers from across Sikkim, offering a feast for the eyes.

After a day filled with cultural and natural wonders, retreat to your hotel for the night.
Overnight in Gangtok (Altitude: 1650m).

Day 09: Gangtok to Darjeeling (98km, approx. 5-hour drive)
Begin your day with breakfast and then embark on a scenic 5-hour drive to Darjeeling. The route runs parallel to the majestic Teesta River, weaving through lush green hills.

Upon arrival in Darjeeling, known as the ‘Queen of Hills’, immerse yourself in the beauty of this charming town. Nestled among rolling mountains with the glittering Mount Kanchenjunga overhead, Darjeeling is celebrated for its world-renowned tea and the UNESCO World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

In the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll around Chowrasta, the historic town square. Dating back to the 18th century, Chowrasta has been a popular gathering spot for both locals and visitors, offering a glimpse into the heart of Darjeeling’s vibrant culture.

Conclude your day with an overnight stay in Darjeeling, basking in the serenity of this beautiful hill station.
Overnight in Darjeeling (Altitude: 2000m).

Day 10: Exploring Darjeeling
Begin your day early with a captivating drive to Tiger Hill, where you’ll experience a stunning sunrise at an altitude of 2,590m. Located 13km from Darjeeling, near the town of Ghoom, this spot offers breathtaking views of the early morning light gracing the Himalayan peaks.

After breakfast, your exploration continues with a visit to Ghoom Monastery, Batasia Loop, War Memorial, Peace Pagoda, and the Japanese Temple. These cultural landmarks provide a deep insight into the region’s heritage and history.

Note that the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute are closed on Thursdays, and the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre is closed on Sundays. You can, however, visit the Happy Valley Tea Estate, open for tourists from Tuesday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., where the famed Darjeeling tea is cultivated.

Optional experience: Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) Toy Train Joy Ride
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a 2-hour round trip from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back, covering 14kms. It’s a unique opportunity to absorb the picturesque Himalayan scenery along the hill slopes.

Overnight stay in Darjeeling (Altitude 2000m)

Day 11: Departure from Darjeeling to Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri (78km, approx. 3-hour drive)
Post breakfast, you will check out from the hotel in Darjeeling. Our representative will assist you with the transfer to either Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, marking the end of your journey. This concludes your memorable tour, as you proceed towards your next destination or back home.