Road Scholar : Home
The Best of the Mountain Kingdoms: Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan

Program Number: 21103RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/10/2014 - 9/28/2014; 9/14/2014 - 10/2/2014; 9/24/2014 - 10/12/2014; 10/12/2014 - 10/30/2014; 10/19/2014 - 11/6/2014; 4/5/2015 - 4/23/2015; 4/12/2015 - 4/30/2015; 5/3/2015 - 5/21/2015; 5/17/2015 - 6/4/2015; 5/31/2015 - 6/18/2015; 9/6/2015 - 9/24/2015; 9/20/2015 - 10/8/2015; 10/11/2015 - 10/29/2015; 10/25/2015 - 11/12/2015;
Duration: 18 nights
Location: Tibet/Nepal/Bhutan/Thailand
Price starting at: $7,095.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 48; 17 Breakfasts, 16 Lunches, 15 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Colorful prayer flags flutter in the breeze. Mountain peaks seem to pierce the heavens. And rugged but friendly people are ready to welcome you with a warm cup of butter tea. Journey amongst majestic mountains and experience the unique cultures of three lands of the Himalayas: Tibet, the “roof of the world”; Nepal, home to Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain; and Bhutan with its verdant valleys and “Gross National Happiness” philosophy.




Highlights

• Discover the sacred and beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples of the Kathmandu Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Absorb incredible views of the Himalayas, including many of the world’s tallest peaks.
• Journey to Tibetan grasslands where nomadic families raise yak, sheep and goats and enjoy a picnic lunch in a pastoral village.



Activity Particulars

Walking one or two miles most days with one longer hike. Elevations of up to 11,500 feet. Please keep in mind that altitude makes physical activity more difficult.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Beijing (China), 1 night; flight to Lhasa (Tibet), 4 nights; flight to Kathmandu (Nepal), coach to Dhulikhel, 1 night; coach to Kathmandu, 4 nights; flight to Paro (Bhutan), coach to Thimphu, 2 nights; coach to Punakha, 1 night; coach to Paro, 2 nights; flight to Bangkok (Thailand), 1 night; departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Beijing (China)
1 night
Flight to Lhasa (Tibet)
4 nights

Meet your Road Scholar group in Beijing for a program orientation that includes tips on staying comfortable at high altitude. Fly to Tibet, the “rooftop of the world,” and discover the Jokhang, the most important temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Journey to the grasslands outside Lhasa where nomadic families raise yaks, sheep and goats. Step inside Potala Palace, magnificent residence of the Dalai Lamas until 1959.



Flight to Kathmandu (Nepal)
Coach to Dhulikhel
1 night
Coach to Kathmandu
4 nights

Begin your exploration of the Himalayan country of Nepal by experiencing Dhulikhel, an ancient trading center. Venture to Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was the capital of Nepal’s great Malla Kingdom. In the Kathmandu Valley, discover Nepal’s capital city and its sacred temples. Explore Patan Durbar Square’s marvelous palaces and traditional crafts. Share dinner with a local family and discuss what life is like for women in Nepal.



Flight to Paro (Bhutan)
Coach to Thimphu
2 nights
Coach to Punakha
1 night
Coach to Paro
2 nights

In Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, take a morning walk to the iconic Memorial Chorten then visit the Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts. Take field trips to the magnificent Tashichho Dzong (a “dzong” is a fortress unique to this part of the world), home to both monks and the Bhutanese government, and Punakha Dzong, situated beautifully between rivers and hills. Hike through a lovely pine forest to find Paro Taktsang monastery, the famous “Tiger’s Nest.”



Flight to Bangkok (Thailand)
1 night
Overnight flight to the U.S.A.
1 night

Discover the iconic Wat Pho temple and its Reclining Buddha and the Grand Palace, home to the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782.




Accommodations
Beijing: Comfortable city hotel. Lhasa: Modern hotel near the old center. Dhulikhel: Resort boasting spectacular views. Kathmandu: Five star hotel. Thimphu: Modern hotel. Punakha: Riverside hotel. Paro: Resort with magnificent views. Bangkok: Stylish boutique hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing
  Beijing, China 1 night
   Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
  Lhasa, Tibet 4 nights
   Dhulikel Mountain Resort
  Dhulikhel, Nepal 1 night
   Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
  Kathmandu, Nepal 4 nights
   Hotel Pedling
  Thimphu, Bhutan 2 nights
   Dragon's Nest Hotel
  Wangdi Phodrang (Phunaka), Bhutan 1 night
   Tashi Namgay Resort
  Paro, Bhutan 2 nights
   Majestic Grande Hotel
  Bangkok, Thailand, Thailand 1 night
 Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: About 30 minutes by coach to Beijing airport and close to central Beijing (about 20 minutes by taxi to Tiananmen Square)
  Contact info: No. 6 A east Beisanhuan Rd-chaoyang
Beijing,  100028 China
phone: +86 10 5922 3388
web: www.radissonblu.com/hotel-beijing
  Room amenities: Safe box, TV, private bathroom with hair dryer, 24 hours air conditioning, complimentary two bottles of mineral water in room each day.
  Facility amenities: Wifi access in lobby and in all rooms, ATM available in lobby; indoor swimming pool; Chinese Restaurant, Western Restaurant, bar, Business Center, Shopping, Beauty Salon.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: x Please contact RS Travel Services to make bookings.

 Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: This small, warm family-owned hotel is situated in old Lhasa within view of the Potala Palace.
  Contact info: No.2 Shengtai Road
Lhasa,  671003 Tibet
phone: +86 891 6307 555
  Room amenities: A/C, TV, hair dryer, laundry service.
  Facility amenities: currency exchange, shops, beauty salon, barber shop, coffee shop, business center, Wi-Fi is available in the hotel lobby with free cost.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Dhulikel Mountain Resort
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Established in 1981, Dhulikhel Mountain Resort pioneered the Resort concept in Nepal. The resort rests on 20 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and is back-dropped by the breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas. Designed with an ethnic theme, the beautifully refurbished cottages are made from red bricks with thatched roofs to reflect the traditional village architecture of the region. Located at an altitude of 1450m on the Arniko Highway (34km away) about a mere one hour drive from Kathmandu, you can find Dhulikhel Mountain Resort on the road to the Tibetan Border. The resorts proximity to nearby historical sites, rural villages, natural wilderness and one of Nepal’s finest rafting rivers makes it an ideal stop-off for hiking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking or just relaxing in the pristine environment.
  Contact info: Khawa
Dhulikel,   Nepal
phone: +97716226627
web: www.dhulikhelmountainresort.com/
  Room amenities: All rooms feature attached bathrooms with solar heated hot water, room heaters, electric mattress, tea and coffee making facilities and most with sitting rooms. Views of the Himalaya and surrounding hills are a feature of all our rooms.
  Facility amenities: •Foreign currency exchange •American Express, VISA and MasterCard are accepted •Mailing service •Wi Fi internet access •Doctors on call •Tourist information service •International and local phone calls •Safety deposit boxes •Luggage storage
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Contact info: PO Box 97 Tahachal
Kathmandu,   Nepal
phone: +977-1-4273999
web: www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/cp/1/en/hotel/KTMNP/welcome?start=1
  Room amenities: Cable / Satellite TV, Coffee/Tea Maker, Mini Bar, High-speed Internet Access, Wireless Data Connection, Electrical Adapters Available,Phone, Bathtub, Hairdryer, Private Bathroom, In Room Safe, Individually Controlled Air Conditioning
  Facility amenities: Health & Fitness Center (On-Site), Housekeeping & Laundry Services, Travel Services, Foreign Currency Exchange, Entertainment & Recreation, Sauna and Steam bath, Barbeque Grills, Outdoor Pool, Casino, Hotel Shops, Business Center
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Pedling
Type: Hotel
  Description: Hotel Pedling has over 33 rooms with en-suite bathroom & hot shower facility. All rooms have wi-fi high internet speed & other basic amenities. Located in the heart of the business and shopping areas of Thimphu, Hotel Pedling is one of Thimphu’s most popular hotels for international travelers- a superior first-class hotel built on “comfort and convenience” as its base. The popular landmark Swiss Bakery is next to the hotel. The hotel is ideally located and caters to both business and leisure travelers, with modern contemporary design incorporating tasteful local art to provide a healthy and comfortable living environment for hotel guests with the highest expectations and standards. A Buddhist Institute owns the hotel and all proceeds from the hotel go to meeting the daily expenses of over 400 monks at Gangtey Sang.
  Contact info: Post Box no. 978
Phendey Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan
Thimphu,   Bhutan
phone: +975-2-325714
web: www.hotelpedling.com
  Room amenities: LCD TV in all rooms Room heating Mini fridge and hair dryer in all rooms Intercom phone in the room
  Facility amenities: Facilities and Amenities - Business center: fax, internet & printing - Conference facilities - Foreign currency exchange - Front desk service: 24 hours - Laundry service - Luggage storage - Parking - Safe deposit boxes at reception - Taxi service on call - Car rental - Mail courier service - Ironing board and shoe shine on request - International Direct Dialing - WiFi internet access
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Dragon's Nest Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The hotel is situated on the hill opposite Wangdi Phodrang, overlooking the Puna Tsang River.
  Contact info: Wangdi
Wangdi Phodrang,   Bhutan
phone: +9752481367
  Room amenities: Twin-bedded rooms with TV, telephone, electric heater, private bathroom with hot water, bathtub and toilet. All rooms are non-smoking.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, Internet service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Tashi Namgay Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: Those who visit Bhutan via the beautiful valley of Paro would find it hard not to notice Tashi Namgay Resort. Located on a rocky hill overlooking the Drukair airport and the pa chu river below, the resort would be one of the first glimpses of Bhutan for visitors to our small and beautiful kingdom. The resort is set amidst five acres of lush foliage and sprawling green lawns and has 39 spacious rooms housed in 15 cottages and bungalows. Located outside Paro town, it offers a calm and peaceful environment that merges traditional Bhutanese and modern architecture in its own unique style that incorporates its concern for the environment as seen through the use of solar lights, wooden shingle roofing and mud walls. Tashi Namgyal resort is an ideal resort for vacationers looking for a calm and relaxing resort that offers an authentic Bhutanese ambiance along with all the comfort of a modern resort.
  Contact info: Post box no. 1238
Paro,   Bhutan
phone: +975-8272318
web: www.tnr.bt
  Room amenities: Intercom phone in the room Mini fridge and hair dryer in all rooms
  Facility amenities: Facilities and Amenities - - Business center: fax, internet & printing WiFi access in the rooms at the business center (nominal charges apply) - Conference facilities - Foreign currency exchange - Front desk service: 24 hours - Laundry service - Luggage storage - Room heating - Safe deposit boxes at reception - Taxi service on call - Car rental - Mail courier service - Ironing board and shoe shine on request - International Direct Dialing - Spa services
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Majestic Grande Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of Bangkok, the Majestic Grande combines contemporary décor and state-of-the-art technology with a warmth of hospitality which is uniquely Thai.
  Contact info: 12 Sukhumvit Soi 2
Bangkok,   Thailand
phone: +6622622999
web: www.majesticgrande.com
  Room amenities: High speed wireless internet access, satellite TV, in room safe that is large enough to hold a laptop computer, phone, hairdryer, DVD Player and stereo, full bathroom amenities with shaving mirror, tea/coffeemaking facilities, minibar, refrigerator, 220 V electricity.
  Facility amenities: Laundry and dry cleaning service, outdoor swimming pool, 24 hour room service, concierge, business center, restaurant, coffee shop, bar, fitness center, sauna and jacuzzi.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 2 in the evening at the Beijing hotel. This is a forced overnight because of your connecting flight to Lhasa. You will be staying at Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing that night.
  End of Program:
Day 19 in the evening after dinner at the program hotel in Bangkok. The group flight currently departs around midnight. You will be staying at Majestic Grande Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. NOTE: Your BHUTAN VISA is for Groups only, not for individuals. This means that deadlines for submitting required documentation cannot be extended. WHAT YOU NEED TO SUBMIT: 1) a COLOR copy of the picture page of your passport. DEADLINE: 8 weeks prior to the start of your program. SUBMISSIONS MUST BE BY EMAIL OR MAIL ONLY. Email: programinfo@roadscholar.org Subject: Passport Photo Page; Mail: PO box 6179, Brattleboro, VT 05302 NOTE: Some 'office' shops such as Fedex and Staples offer scanning/email service. PLEASE BE SURE TO ABIDE BY THESE DEADLINES AS YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO ENTER BHUTAN IF YOUR NAME IS NOT ON THE GROUP VISA.
  Parking availability:
Driving is not recommended in Asia.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Beijing
  Nearest airport:  Capital Airport
  Transportation to site: Arrive in Beijing from international flight. If you purchased International air from Road Scholar Travel Services and arrive the day your program begins, you will be met at the airport for included transfer to the hotel. Participants making their own international travel arrangements or arriving 1 or more nights earlier than program can take a taxi from the airport. Program materials include a sheet in English and Chinese with hotel information to show taxi drivers plus Beijing phone contact information. Taxi cost is about $25 US (170 Chinese yuan) per car. No tip is expected.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Bangkok, Thailand
  Transportation from site: Airport transfers are provided for those who booked air through RSTS. Taxis are readily available from the hotel to the aiport and cost is approximately $25-30 (subject to change). Program only can pre-purchase transfers via RSTS and cost will be approximately $50, subject to change.
Elevation Note: Highest elevation is 12,000 feet in Lhasa, Tibet. Bhutan ranges from 7,000-10,000 feet.

Equipment Requirements: Comfortable, broken-in light hiking boots. Cooler, drier air at high altitude contains less oxygen than at sea level.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart for China
(Wednesday, September 24)
   
 Depart From: Depart from home for China.

Day 2: Arrival Beijing / Orientation / Hutongs of ‘Old Beijing’ and the Summer Palace
(Thursday, September 25)

Note: This is a required overnight to give you a chance to rest and get your Tibet permit before your early morning fight into Lhasa.



   
 Arrive To: Early morning arrival to Beijing International Airport. Transfer to the airport hotel for breakfast and time to rest until orientation.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast, join your Group Leader for the program orientation. This is an opportunity to discuss about altitude sickness and how to mitigate it as well as your program in Tibet. Then check in and and rest and wash up for the day. For those interested in exploring the Hutongs of ‘Old Beijing’ and the Summer Palace, we will depart in the late morning and return in the late afternoon. Explore the Hutongs near Beihai Park by pedicab, and learn about their story, of the hutongs and meet a local family. Unfortunately, due to travel time and traffic, we are not able to arrange for you to join us for lunch.
 Lunch: Enjoy a family hosted lunch in a hutong home. For those participants who choose to stay at the hotel to rest and relax all day, lunch will be on your own.
 Afternoon: Explore the Summer Palace led by our local expert.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Flight to Tibet / Coach to Lhasa
(Friday, September 26)

Note: Lhasa is 12,000ft above sea level. At this level of elevation, you might feel shortness of breath and a pounding of your heart. Headache, extreme tiredness, nausea and loss of appetite are standard symptoms. Please drink lots of water and take rest. If you continue to feel week, faint, or have any symptoms that concern you, you need to talk to your Group Leader.



   
 Breakfast: Early breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for your flight to Lhasa, the ancient capital of Tibet.
 Lunch: A light lunch will be served in flight
 Afternoon: Arrive at the "rooftop of the world" and transfer to Lhasa to your program hotel, where you are welcomed by a Tibetan ceremony. (Note that although Tibet uses ‘Beijing time,’ it is actually about 2 hours ‘later’ than Beijing. Your itinerary adjusts for this time difference.)
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Jokhang Temple/ Bokhor Bazaar / Tibetan Medicine / Norbulingka
(Saturday, September 27)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the heart of Lhasa - Jokhang Temple, built in the 7th century. This is the most revered temple in Tibet, and the destination of pilgrims who journey by any means, even on foot, to worship here. Surrounding the temple, the Bokhor Bazaar offers an exciting array of Tibetan goods both old and new: Tools, cloth, thangkas, jewelry and yak hides.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch near the bazaar.
 Afternoon: Walk to the nearby traditional Tibetan Medicine Hospital for an introductory talk by Dr. Chiwang, who explains the precepts of Tibetan medicine and treatments. Enjoy the hospital's colorful array of medical thangkas. Depart for Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama which contains his residential quarters.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Tibetan Village/ Lhasa Museum
(Sunday, September 28)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel. Before breakfast, meet in the hotel courtyard to learn Gorshay, an exuberant circle dance.
 Morning: Travel to Nomadic grasslands beyond Lhasa where pastoral families raise yak, sheep, goats and horses. If it is grazing season, visit with nomadic families and then observe Tibetan rural life in a small village. Visit its primary school and meet with its dedicated director.
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic on a knoll beside the village.
 Afternoon: On the return to your hotel, stop at the Tibet Museum, home to a rich collection of cultural relics, antique thangkas, scriptures, costumes, and folk art. For those who would like to continue on to the hotel instead of visiting the museum, your coach will take you back.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
   
Accommodations: Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Potala Palace/ Thangka Painting / Drepong Monastery
(Monday, September 29)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the Potala Palace, seat of the Dalai Lama and one of the most awe-inspiring princely residences and palaces in the world. The palace is approxmately 10 minutes drive from the hotel to Potala Palace. Walking shoes are necessary and walking sticks might be helpful to climb 458 steps up the palace. Usually the local guide will lead those who want to climb and the group leader will take those who don't want to climb for a walk at the base of the palace, where there is a nice park. The visit is a one-way trip; the entrance is in the front and the exit is in the back. Usually participants need to decide at the base of the palace whether they want to climb up or not. The group leader will set a final meeting time and the meeting place. If some of the group want to go halfway or walk around at the base of the palace on their own, they can meet the group at the meeting place at the appointed time.
 Lunch: Lunch at Lhasa cuisine restaurant.
 Afternoon: Learn about traditional Thangka painting (Tibetan religious scrolls) through a talk and demonstration by a Master at Tibet University. Afterwards, choose to return to the hotel or continue to the outskirts of Lhasa to experience the magnificent Drepong Monastery, Tibet's largest.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Enjoy a private Farewell Tibetan Dance and Singing party.
   
Accommodations: Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Lhasa, Tibet / fly to Kathmandu / Transfer Dhulikel
(Tuesday, September 30)

Note: Kathmandu is 2 hours and 45 minutes behind Lhasa (Beijing) time.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to Dhulikhel and check into your hotel. Dhulikhel was once a main trading hub between Kathmandu, Tibet and India. Historically Dhulikhel is a Newar settlement, one of the major ethnic tribe in the Kathmandu valley. Newars are also the oldest and the most traditional of Nepal's ethnic groups and have a culture strongly based on religion, celebrated with a calendar of festivals.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Discover the old town of Dhulikhel, where you can lose yourself to time in the tangle of cobbled laneways, ancient houses with sagging wooden frame works, intricate carvings, hidden temples and thriving market squares.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Dhulikel Mountain Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Sunrise over the Himalayas / Bhaktapur / Drive to Kathmandu / Cultural Immersion
(Wednesday, October 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel. For those interested, wake up early to see the sunrise over the Himalayas.
 Morning: Enjoy a morning hike around Dhulikhel to get a view of the Himalayas. Then check out of hotel and transfer to Kathmandu, with a stop at Bhaktapur, once the capital of Nepal during the Malla Kingdom until the second half of the 15th century. It was listed as a UNSECO world heritage site for its rich culture and temples, its wood metal and stone artwork.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Continue to Kathmandu and check into hotel. In the late afternoon, join in a presentation on how the Himalayan Mountains help shape the people and culture of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, with main focus on Nepal.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner with university students to learn about college life in Nepal.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Pushupathinath and Boudhanath
(Thursday, October 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, coach to Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world. During Shivaratri, an annual pilgrimage, thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva from all the Hindu communities of the world, pay their homage here.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore Boudhanath the largest Buddhist Stupa in the world, situated just beyond the Pashupatinath temple. It is built on a flat surface of various levels of terraces and painted in pastel colors and adorned with prayer flags, and set in a Mandala design. Altogether 108 Buddha images and 147 insets of prayer wheels adorn the base of the huge circular edifice. The settlement of Boudhanath has the largest community of Tibetans – twelve thousand in all.
 Dinner: Dinner at or near the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Newar Art / Patan Square / Patan Museum / Free afternoon
(Friday, October 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Begin the morning with a presentation on Newar Art. Then continue to Patan Square, a UNESCO world heritage site and a compression of marvelous monuments.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, explore Patan Museum. It exhibits cover a long span of Nepal's cultural history and some rare objects are among its treasures. Their meaning and context within the living traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are explained in extensive labels. Most of the objects are cast bronzes and gilt copper repousse work, traditional crafts for which Patan is famous. The reminder of the afternoon is on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own this evening.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11: Swoyambhunath Stupa / Kathmandu Durbar Square / Home hosted dinner
(Saturday, October 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about Swoyambhunath Stupa, the most recognizable symbol of Nepal with the painted eyes of Buddha watching all who ascend its steps. Also a UNESCO world heritage site, it is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and is the source of the valley's mythical beginning.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Spend the afternoon exploring Kathmandu Durbar Square. Then rest of the afternoon on your own.
 Dinner: Join a family hosted dinner with a presentation on the role of women in Nepal.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Kathmandu / Fly to Paro / Drive to Thimphu
(Sunday, October 5)

Note: This flight is purchased by our local coordinator in Bhutan.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for your flight to Bhutan.
 Lunch: Lunch in Paro, Bhutan upon arrival.
 Afternoon: After lunch transfer to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. After checking in, join the site coordinator for a country orientation on "Introduction to Bhutan."
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Pedling
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Thimphu / Cultures and Traditions / Free time / Gross National Happiness
(Monday, October 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Begin the day as many locals do with a morning walk (15 minutes from the hotel) to the National Memorial Stupa, built in 1974 in memory of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This place is popular among the pious, young and old alike, who make it part of their daily ritual to visit. Continue to the National Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts, also known as the painting school, where 13 different forms of Bhutanese traditional Arts and Crafts are being taught to young and enthusiastic students. It is the trained students who keep these age-old Bhutanese traditions alive. They are responsible for passing on the valuable ancient knowledge and skills to the next generation of Bhutanese.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon for you to explore Thimphu on your own. In the late afternoon, join in a discussion on Gross National Happiness.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Pedling
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Thimphu / Thimphu Dzong / Drive to Punakha
(Tuesday, October 7)

Note: There is a short hike this afternoon to the temple. The hike is along the edge of rice patty fields, but a relatively easy hike.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Take a field trip to the Tashicho Dzong or fortress, the administrative headquarters of the government of Bhutan. While the northern half of the fortress houses monks, the southern half houses the office of the King, the Prime Minister's office, the Ministry of Finance, the Home Ministry, and the Office of Gross National Happiness Commission. In the face of increased globalization, there has been a growing need for Bhutan to preserve its culture, including its national language, Dzongkha. The center of these preservations attempts is here at the fortress.
 Lunch: Early lunch in town.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Wangdi Phodrang via Lobesa. In Lobesa, take a walk through rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang (temple of the divine madman) located on a small hilltop. This temple is famous for its fertility blessings. It is dedicated to the great 15th century Yogi, Lam Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as the “Divine Madman” in the west. He preached in the way that is unlike the stiffness of clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. A popular pilgrimage spot for the Bhutanese, the temple is frequently visited by childless couples and parents who have difficulty raising children.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Dragon's Nest Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Punakha Dzong / drive to Paro
(Wednesday, October 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Participate in a field trip to the Punakha Dzong, the winter residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. This Dzong is one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the country and a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. It is situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (Male and Female Rivers respectively). This Dzong/fortress had served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than three hundred years until 1955 when Thimphu became the capital.
 Lunch: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Paro. Upon arrival check into hotel and get a debriefing about tomorrows hike.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Tashi Namgay Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Paro / Tigers Nest Hike
(Thursday, October 9)

Note: This is an all day hike to the temple and back with a 2000 feet increase in elevation.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast start on strenuous but a rewarding hike to view the spectacular and famous Taktsang monastery (Tiger's Nest). The trail to the monastery climbs through a beautiful pine forest; many of the trees are festooned with Spanish moss. Walk past an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Continue at a leisurely pace and those who choose can stop mid-way at the cafeteria for rest and refreshment.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch along the way.
 Afternoon: Continue the hike further up until the imposing Taktsang monastery is seemingly within reach. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months. Over the centuries, numerous Buddhist Masters have meditated here as well. It is considered one of the most sacred places for Buddhists.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Tashi Namgay Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Paro / Fly to Bangkok
(Friday, October 10)

Note: This flight is purchased by our local coordinator in Bhutan.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for your flight to Bangkok.
 Lunch: Light lunch on flight.
 Afternoon: Upon arrival in Bangkok, check into hotel and time to relax.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Majestic Grande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Bangkok / Grand Palace / Wat Pho / Farewell Dinner
(Saturday, October 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the icons of Bangkok, the Grand Palace and Wat Po and the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782, it has been the home of the Thai King for the last 150 years and serves as the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Wat Po is home of the reclining Buddha and the birthplace of traditional Thai massage.
 Lunch: Lunch at a riverside restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free time in Bangkok for you to explore on your own.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Late evening check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 19: Arrival Home
(Sunday, October 12)
   
 Arrive To: Arrive back home.

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Bangkok, Thailand A Stroll Through Chinatown
One of the best ways to experience the true flavor of a city is to walk its streets. Discover Bangkok’s Chinatown, one of the most densely populated, richly ethnic neighborhoods in the city. Walk at your own pace through narrow lanes, peer into the doorways of apothecary shops with their medical herbs and natural cures. Take the opportunity to watch fresh Chinese delicacies being prepared and served while the aromatic fragrance of spice and herbs saturates the air. Pay special attention to the “funeral shops,” where they sell paper models of worldly items that ensure the deceased will have the complete comforts of home on the journey to the afterward. Wonder at the intricate architecture of ancient Chinese Temples, perhaps even donating some coins to the temple “burial society,” a charity devoted to recovering the bodies of unfortunate road accident victims.
  Suan Pakkad Palace
Suan Pakkad was built by Prince and Princess Chumbhot of Nakhon Sawan, who moved five traditional Thai houses from Chiang Mai in 1952. The cabbage garden was turned into one of Bangkok’s finest landscaped gardens and is calm in a uniquely Eastern way. The princess was one of the country’s most dedicated art collectors, and the house has been turned into a museum displaying objects such as perfume bottles, betel nut boxes and musical instruments. Antiques including an exquisite Buddha head from Ayutthaya, Khmer statues and European prints of old Siam. Located Prayatahi Road.
  Vimanmek Palace
The Palace is a magnificent, golden, teakwood residence of King Chulalongkorn that houses numerous exhibits, including antiques furniture, glassware, porcelain and many other items of historic interest. Located on Ratchavithee Road.
  Wat Pho
The temple was originally built in the 16th century and covers twenty acres. One of its pavilions houses a 150-feet long reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also home to Thailand’s most famous school of massage. (See listing). Respectful dress required: Shorts, flipflops and bare shoulders are not permitted inside the temple complex and you should be prepared to take off shoes to enter temples. Open daily 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission fee of 20 baht. For additional information, visit www.watpho.com
  Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School
In the eastern end of the Wat Pho complex is the country’s most famous school of massage. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is a good idea to start your exploration of Wat Pho here before the line becomes too long. A 60-minute, full body massage costs approximately 300 baht ($8 U.S.) and is done fully dressed. A set of cotton clothing is provided for the 60-minute herbal massage that costs 400 baht ($10 U.S.). For additional information, visit www.watpho.com
  Wat Phra Kaeo
Home of the Emerald Buddha and located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew is the most sacred and the most beautiful of Thailand’s temples. Open daily 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Admission 200 baht ($5 U.S.). The dress code is very strict: No shorts, no bare shoulders, no slippers or sandals. For additional information, visit thailandforvisitors.com/north/chiangrai/prakeo/index.html
  Kathmandu Thamel
Thamel is a concentration of narrow streets are lined with small shops selling everything from food and provisions to clothes, walking gear, cakes, pastries, music, DVDs, handicrafts, travel agents and budget hotels.
  Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, or Basantapur Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the old royal palace of the Kathmandu Kingdom. It is one of three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Durbar square is surrounded with spectacular architecture and vividly showcases the skills of the Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. The royal palace was originally situated at Dattaraya square and was only later moved to the Durbar square location.
  Swayambhunath
Swayambhunath stupa st atop a conical hill 2km west of Thamel and a great place to to see the Kathmandu valley as well as the temple conplex which is crowded with pilgrims and monkeys. It is an icon of Kathmandu and Nepal.
  The National Museum
Opened daily except Thursday from 10:30am-3pm, Monday closes at 2pm. cost is Rs100 and camer is Rs50. Leave bags in lockets at the entrance. Great introduction of the intertwining of religion, art, myth and history in Nepal.
  Lhasa Biking
Bicycle rentals are available at some hotels. Your Group leader will tell you how and where you can rent a bike. Cost is about 50 cents per hour with a deposit of about $40 US. NOTE: If you're having discomfort at high altitude it is important to not overdo your physical activity, and cycling is not recommended in that case.
  Bokhor Bazaar and Jokhang Temple
Beyond the main circle of the Bokhor Bazaar are labyrinthine alleys and lanes worth exploring. Behind Jokhang Temple there is a small Muslim section as well as old residential dwellings.
  Lhasa River
Walk along the Lhasa River, where you may encounter children swimming, women washing, and others crossing the river in small yak-hide dinghies.
  Thimphu Textile Museum
The Textile Museum, Norzin Lam, has a display of exquisite Bhutanese textiles from the 1600s to the present day.
  Takin Preserve
The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
  Post Office
When in Thimphu, make sure you go to the local post office. The local post office has a large collection of stamps which are kept for sale. The special feature of the post office is that you can get a postage stamp made with your own photo inscribed on it and these stamps can be used for postage purposes as well. The cost is very nominal which include the value of stamp as well.
  The National Folk Heritage Museum
The Heritage Museum is ocated behind the National Library. A traditional house that showcases rural life. Exhibits and cultural shows are held in the museum compound. Open: Mon-Fri 10:30AM to 4:30PM, Sa 10:30Am to 1PM and Su 11:30AM to 3:30PM. Entrance: 150nu
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Altitude Illness: Prevention and Treatment, How to Stay Healthy at Altitude


Author: Stephen Bezruchka


Description: Bezruchka, a mountaineer and M.D., includes case studies, frequently asked questions and simple methods of diagnosis and treatment in this indispensable pocket guide.



Bangkok 8, A Novel


Author: John Burdett


Description: Burdett explores the criminal underworld of Bangkok -- and mysterious deaths by snakebite.



Bhutan, The Land of Serenity


Author: Matthieu Ricard


Description: A Buddhist monk, photographer, and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, Ricard, draws on his time in Bhutan over the last 25 years for this intimate portrait. With illuminating chapters on the remarkable Khyentse Rinpoche, sacred art, architecture, dancing monks and ceremonies.



Buddha's Orphans


Author: Samrat Upadhyay


Description: This novel by Samrat Upadhyay (Arresting God in Kathmandu) sets Nepal’s political upheaval as a backdrop to the love story of Raja, an orphan boy, and Nilu, a daughter of privilege. Their story transports readers across generations and explores family connections.



Essential Tibetan Buddhism


Author: Robert Thurman


Description: The foremost Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Thurman has chosen well from that tradition's sacred literature and helpfully includes suggested further reading, explanatory notes and a directory of sacred sites.



Fortress Monasteries of the Himalayas


Author: Peter Harrison


Description: This slim book recreates the dramatic and colorful fortifications of Tibet, Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan, recounting their history through foreign incursions, religious conflicts and civil wars to the Tibetan uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama from Potala Palace in 1959.



Himalaya Map


Author: Nelles


Description: A colorful regional map of the Himalayas at a scale of 1:1,500,000, including Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Sikkim.



Lonely Planet Bangkok Encounter


Author: Lonely Planet Publications


Description: With a section of not-to-be-missed highlights, pullout map, and a calendar of annual events.



My Journey to Lhasa


Author: Alexandra David-Neel


Description: Dressed as a humble pilgrim and traveling under the cover of night, the indomitable 55-year-old David-Neel and her young companion climbed mountains and tricked soldiers to ultimately reach Tibet's forbidden capital. Originally published in 1923, her account stands as a riveting portrait of early 20th-century Tibet.



Photographic Guide to Birds of the Himalayas


Author: Bikram Grewal


Description: A pocket guide to 250 birds found from the foothills up to high elevations ranging from the Hindu Kush and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in the Eastern Himalayas. With brief descriptive information, maps and 260 full-color illustrations.



Radio Shangri-La


Author: Lisa Napoli


Description: Napoli's memoir of her time working on a fledgling Bhutanese radion station. She writes with frankness and clarity about the contradictions, poverty and reality of much mythologized Bhutan.



So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas


Author: Barbara Crossette


Description: Asia correspondent for the New York Times, Crossette portrays Bhutan and neighboring Ladakh and Sikkim as strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world.



The Blessings of Bhutan


Author: Russ and Blyth Carpenter


Description: Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history.



The Circle of Karma, A Novel


Author: Kunzang Choden


Description: The first novel by a Bhutanese woman, this lyrical coming-of-age story explores the rituals of daily life in Bhutan. When Tsomo's mother suddenly dies, the young girl must travel alone across Bhutan and into India.



The Folded Earth


Author: Anuradha Roy


Description: Tiger man Jim Corbett, Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru all make a cameo appearance in Anuradha Roy's second novel, marvelously populated with a host of characters and beautifully set in Ranikhet, a hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the author makes her home part of the year.



The Skull Mantra


Author: Eliot Pattison


Description: The first in Pattison's series of superb political thrillers set in Tibet. When a headless corpse turns up on a Tibetan mountainside, veteran police inspector Shan Tao Yun is released from prison to investigate the crime, and he quickly uncovers a conspiracy involving American mining interests, corrupt Party officials and Tibetan sorcerers.



The Snow Leopard


Author: Peter Matthiessen


Description: The most perceptive, acutely observed and personal of all his books, Matthiessen's account of a five-week journey through Nepal with naturalist George Schaller combines their quest for the elusive cat with a moving introduction to Buddhism and the people and culture of the Himalayas.



The Soul of the Rhino


Author: Hemanta R. Mishra


Description: Mishra writes of his long career in conservation and particularly his work with the endangered Asian rhino at Royal Chitwan, in this absorbing memoir, marvelously subtitled A Nepali Adventure With Kings and Elephant Drivers, Billionaires and Bureaucrats, Shamans and Scientists.



To a Mountain in Tibet


Author: Colin Thubron


Description: The intrepid, soulful Colin Thubron journeys from Nepal to Kailas, the revered mountain, "source of the universe, created from cosmic waters and the mind of Brahma" in his most revealing book yet. A New York Times Notable Book and Longitude favorite of 2011.



What Makes You Not a Buddhist


Author: Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse


Description: Born in Bhutan in 1961, a Tibetan lama and filmmaker (Travellers and Magicians), Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche gives a decidedly modern take on dharma, happiness, suffering and enlightenment in this engaging primer.





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