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21103
Tibet/Nepal/Bhutan/Thailand

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

Sacred temples, hidden monasteries, magnificent palaces and ancient cities — learn about these and other enduring cultural treasures from the people who call the Himalayas their home.
Rating (4.75)
Program No. 21103RJ
Length
19 days
Starts at
7,999
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
Tibet/Nepal/Bhutan/Thailand

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

Sacred temples, hidden monasteries, magnificent palaces and ancient cities — learn about these and other enduring cultural treasures from the people who call the Himalayas their home.
Length
19 days
Starts at
7,999
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
Length
19 days
Rating (4.75)
Starts at
7,999
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
Program No. 21103RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 4 - Dec 22, 2022
Starting at
7,999
Special Offer

OFFER EXTENDED: Enroll by Sept. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Apr 9 - Apr 27, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Apr 23 - May 11, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

May 7 - May 25, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Sep 10 - Sep 28, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Sep 17 - Oct 5, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 8 - Oct 26, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 15 - Nov 2, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 22 - Nov 9, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Dec 3 - Dec 21, 2023
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 4 - Dec 22, 2022
Starting at
8,899
Special Offer

OFFER EXTENDED: Enroll by Sept. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Apr 9 - Apr 27, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Apr 23 - May 11, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

May 7 - May 25, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Sep 10 - Sep 28, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Sep 17 - Oct 5, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 8 - Oct 26, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 15 - Nov 2, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Oct 22 - Nov 9, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

Dec 3 - Dec 21, 2023
Starting at
9,749
Special Offer

Enroll by Nov. 30, 2022 for free air from LAX or SFO! Ask about low-cost air from other cities!

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking 1-2 miles on varied terrain most days with one longer hike. Elevations up to 12,000 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Journey to Tibetan grasslands, a remote village in Bhutan and a tiny monastery tucked away in the midst of the incredible Himalayas.
  • Discover the sacred and beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples of the Kathmandu Valley.
  • Learn about Bhutan's Gross National Happiness philosophy.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Circle of Karma, A Novel
by Kunzang Choden
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.
To a Mountain in Tibet
by Colin Thubron
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.
The Folded Earth
by Anuradha Roy
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
by Eliot Pattison
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.
Altitude Illness: Prevention and Treatment, How to Stay Healthy at Altitude
by Stephen Bezruchka
Bezruchka, a mountaineer and M.D., includes case studies, frequently asked questions and simple methods of diagnosis and treatment in this indispensable pocket guide.
Bhutan, The Land of Serenity
by Matthieu Ricard
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.
The Soul of the Rhino
by Hemanta R. Mishra
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.
Lonely Planet Bangkok Encounter
by Lonely Planet Publications
With a section of not-to-be-missed highlights, pullout map, and a calendar of annual events.
Photographic Guide to Birds of the Himalayas
by Bikram Grewal
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.
Essential Tibetan Buddhism
by Robert Thurman
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.
Buddha's Orphans
by Samrat Upadhyay
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.
Himalaya Map
by Nelles
A colorful regional map of the Himalayas at a scale of 1:1,500,000, including Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Sikkim.
The Snow Leopard
by Peter Matthiessen
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.
My Journey to Lhasa
by Alexandra David-Neel
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.
Fortress Monasteries of the Himalayas
by Peter Harrison
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.
Radio Shangri-La
by Lisa Napoli
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
by Barbara Crossette
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.
Bangkok 8, A Novel
by John Burdett
Burdett explores the criminal underworld of Bangkok -- and mysterious deaths by snakebite.
The Blessings of Bhutan
by Russ and Blyth Carpenter
Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history.
What Makes You Not a Buddhist
by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
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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19 days
18 nights
47 meals
17 B 15 L 15 D
DAY
1
Depart for China
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Xi'an, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Xi'an
D
Grand Noble Hotel

Activity note: We stop in Xi'an for two nights, allowing us time to rest as we wait to receive our Tibet Group Entry Permit. The Tibet Group Entry Permit has been pre-arranged and will be discussed at the Orientation today.

Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines and emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. In Tibet, with an elevation of 12,000 feet, you might feel shortness of breath and a pounding of your heart. Headache, extreme tiredness, nausea, and loss of appetite are standard symptoms of altitude sickness. Please drink lots of water, rest, and avoid alcohol. If you continue to feel weak, faint, or have any symptoms that concern you, talk to your Group Leader. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. Family-style meal with complimentary 'Welcome to China' drink. Tea, water and soft drinks included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Tai Chi, Terra Cotta Warriors, Muslim Quarter
Xi'an
B,L,D
Grand Noble Hotel

Activity note: You are welcome to join the Group Leader for a Tai Chi session before breakfast. The drive to the Terra Cotta Warrior site is approximately 1 hour each way from Xi'an. Walking approximately 2 miles at the Terra Cotta Warriors site on flat, paved terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet offering dishes such as warm meats, eggs, cereals, fruit and Chinese dishes such as rice porridge and cooked vegetables. Coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: Early morning (optional) Tai Chi session with our Group Leader for those interested. We board our private motorcoach and head east of Xi'an to the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum. The huge tomb site of the Qin Emperor, containing an army of life-sized terra cotta figures and horses, was one of the most astounding archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. With our Group Leader and experienced local staff (Xi’an college graduates who have much experience with the terra cotta warrior site), we will explore sections of this vast site. Three huge pits are filled with the terra-cotta soldiers, cavalry, archers, their weapons, horses and chariots. It has been estimated that there are as many as 8,000 individual figures, but the total number is still unknown. Traces of paint suggest they were once brilliantly colored. Experimental digs in nearby areas have revealed other kinds of figures such as acrobats, dancers, and musicians, but further excavations are currently on hold due to the complex conditions at the site.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Buffet lunch with local Chinese dishes and some Western additions. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We transfer by motorcoach back to Xi'an to explore Xi’an’s Hui Muslim area by foot. Among the highlights are its beautiful Great Mosque (we do not enter), one of China's best preserved. Xi'an was a hub of the Silk Road in ancient times. Merchants, traders and students from Islamic lands were drawn there and settled down. Over generations, they became known as the Hui people, officially recognized as one of China’s ethnic minorities. There were thousands of mosques in China at one time, but most are now gone.

Dinner: At a local Muslim restaurant in the Hui Muslim area. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Pack and prepare for tomorrow's flight to Tibet.

DAY
4
Flight to Tibet, Lhasa, Norbulingka
Lhasa
B,D
Himalaya Hotel

Activity note: Although Tibet uses Beijing time, it is actually about 2 hours later than Beijing. Our itinerary adjusts for this difference. The motorcoach transfer from our hotel in Xi'an to the airport is approximately 1 hour. The flight from Xi'an to Lhasa is 3 hours. Once in Tibet, the drive from the airport to our Lhasa hotel is 40 miles. The motorcoach transfer from the hotel to Norbulingka is 15 minutes. Once there, walking up to ½ mile mainly on flat ground.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet offering dishes such as warm meats, eggs, cereals, fruit and Chinese dishes such as rice porridge and cooked vegetables. Coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Lhasa, the ancient capital of Tibet.

Lunch: In flight.

Afternoon: We will arrive at the “rooftop of the world” and transfer to our program hotel in Lhasa. We will be welcomed with a traditional Tibetan ceremony. Later, we depart by motorcoach for Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, which contains his residential quarters.

Dinner: At the hotel. Family-style meal. Tea, soft drinks and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Jokhang Temple, Bokhor Bazaar, Tibetan Medicine and Culture
Lhasa
B,L,D
Himalaya Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to ½ mile at Jokhang Temple, mostly indoors. 20-30 steps to the second floor by regular steps with railings (people may choose not to climb up). There are places to sit. Walking up to ¼ mile from lunch restaurant to the Tibetan Medicine Hospital where the lecture will be on the third floor. Stairs with railings.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: We explore the heart of Lhasa by motorcoach. First we visit 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 including tools, cloth, thangkas, jewelry and yak hides. It is considered one of the most exciting markets in the world. Afterwards we walk to lunch near the bazaar.

Lunch: At a restaurant overlooking the bazaar. Family-style meal featuring Tibetan and international cuisine. Tea, soft drinks and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we walk to the nearby traditional Tibetan Medicine Hospital for an introductory talk from a local doctor. The doctor will explain the precepts of Tibetan medicine and treatments, as we enjoy the hospital's colorful array of medical thangkas. After the lecture, we walk back to the hotel along interesting alleys, where local people live and run small businesses.

Dinner: At the hotel. Family-style meal.

Evening: We join an informal discussion on Tibetan culture and religion with our local Tibetan guide.

DAY
6
Tibetan Village, Nunnery
Lhasa
B,L
Himalaya Hotel

Activity note: Before breakfast we have the opportunity to learn gorshay, an exuberant circle dance. The drive to the countryside today is approximately 75 miles/1½ hours. Approximately 20 steps to gain access to the nunnery.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: Before breakfast, we meet in the hotel courtyard to learn gorshay, an exuberant circle dance. After breakfast, we board our private motorcoach and head out into the grasslands beyond Lhasa where we meet a pastoral family raising herds such as yak, sheep, goats, and horses.

Lunch: Outdoor picnic. Buffet prepared by our hotel including soup, salads, rice, vegetables and other dishes. Dine at a portable table and chairs arranged for our al fresco lunch in the Tibetan countryside.

Afternoon: After lunch, we drive to a nearby herdsmen's village to learn about daily life in rural Tibet. We then take a short walk to a modest nunnery where we may encounter its residents chanting or studying scripture. The nuns are welcoming and enjoy sharing the precepts of their life and Tibetan Buddhism.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is at own arrangements to enjoy what we like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Potala Palace, Thangka Painting, Sera Monastery
Lhasa
B,L,D
Himalaya Hotel

Activity note: The palace has 458 steps up and down. Walking shoes are necessary; walking sticks might be helpful. Sera Monastery is 2 miles from the city center with up to 1 mile of walking. The climb up to Potala Palace is a one-way trip; the entrance is at the front and the exit is at the back. Our Group Leader will set a final meeting time and place. If some of our group decide to go halfway or walk around at the base of the palace on their own, they can meet the group at the designated meeting place.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: This morning we take a short motorcoach ride to explore the Potala Palace, seat of the Dalai Lama and one of the most awe-inspiring princely residences and palaces in the world. Our local Tibetan expert will lead those interested on the climb to the entrance and the Group Leader will take those who don't want to climb for a walk in the park at the base of the palace.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Lhasa cuisine served family-style. Tea, soft drinks and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, we depart by motorcoach to an artist’s studio to learn about painting traditional thangkas, or religious scrolls. We enjoy a talk and a demonstration given by a master of the craft. Afterwards, we may choose to return to the hotel or continue by motorcoach to the edge of town to Sera Monastery, one of Tibet's three great monasteries and famed for the debating style of its resident monks.

Dinner: At the hotel. Family-style meal.

Evening: At the hotel, we will enjoy a private farewell party featuring Tibetan dance and singing. Tomorrow morning we say goodbye to our Chinese Group Leader and fly to Nepal. There we meet our second Group Leader who will be with us for the remainder of the program.

DAY
8
Fly to Kathmandu, Transfer to Bhaktapur and Dhulikel
Dhulikhel
B,L,D
Dhulikhel Mountain Resort

Activity note: The motorcoach transfer from Lhasa to the airport is approximately 1 hour. The Group Leader will assist the group check in for the flight to Kathamandu. Once in Kathmandu, a private motorcoach will transfer us the 10 miles to Bhaktapur. The afternoon drive to Dhulikel Resort is approximately 20 miles from Bhaktapur.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We transfer to the airport for our flight to Kathmandu. En route to the airport our Group Leader will discuss our flight to Kathmandu and go over the steps to obtain a visa on arrival in Nepal. At the airport, we say farewell to our Chinese Group Leader. Our flight goes direct to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, we will be met in the main arrivals hall by our Nepalese Group Leader, holding a 'Road Scholar' sign. We board a private motorcoach and transfer to Bhaktapur for lunch at a local restaurant.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Plated and served meal. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We walk around Bhaktapur with our Group Leader and explore what was, until the late 15th century, the capital of Nepal. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich culture and temples as well as its wood, metal and stone artwork. We continue to Dhulikhel and check in to our hotel. Dhulikhel was once a main trading hub between Kathmandu, Tibet and India. Historically. Dhulikhel is a Newar settlement. The Newar is one of the major ethnic tribes in the Kathmandu valley, as well as one of the oldest, with a culture strongly based on religion and festivals. We have some time to rest at our hotel before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Himalayan Sunrise and Hike, Dhulikhel, School Visit
Dhulikhel
B,L,D
Dhulikhel Mountain Resort

Activity note: Our morning hike is 1½ hours over uneven terrain. Walking shoes are necessary; walking sticks might be helpful. The walk around Dhulikhel is less than ½ mile on paved roads with occasional uphill and downhill sections.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included.

Morning: For those interested, waking up early rewards us with an incredible view of sunrise over the Himalayas. After breakfast, we take a short hike in the hills around Dhulikhel to traditional Brahmin and Tamang villages. We enjoy stunning views of the Panchkhal Valley landscape and the Himalayas to the north. The Tamang villagers still closely follow their traditional lifestyles and beliefs. When we return to the hotel, our Group Leader delivers a presentation on Nepalese culture. After the presentation we transfer by motorcoach to the old town of Dhulikhel. Here, we explore the cobblestone alleys, taking in the wood carvings, temples and markets.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: This afternoon we walk to a local school and learn a little bit about the Nepalese educational system (subject to school holiday and exam schedules).

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Durbar Square, Swoyambhunath Stupa, Tea with Students
Kathmandu
B,L,D
The Soaltee Kathmandu

Activity note: The motorcoach transfer to Kathmandu is approximately 20 miles/45 minutes. In Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, walking up to 1 mile on mainly flat surfaces; standing up to 2 hours indoors and out. At Swoyambhunath Stupa there are around 130 steps.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We check out of the hotel and transfer by motorcoach to Kathmandu. Here we explore Durbar Square. Highlights of the Square include the Taleju Temple, built by King Mahendra Malla in A.D. 1549; the Temple of KalBhairav, the god of destruction; Nautalle Durbar; Nasal Chowk; the Gaddi Baithak; the statue of King Pratap Mallal and the Jagannath Temple.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Plated and served meal. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After check-in at our hotel in Kathmandu, we travel by motorcoach to Swayambhunath (also known as the Monkey Temple). This is the oldest Buddhist stupa – a place of meditation – established more than 2,500 years ago and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perched high on a hilltop, it commands a superb view of the entire Kathmandu Valley. Back at the hotel, we will be joined by a local expert for a presentation on contemporary issues in Nepal.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY
11
Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Free Time
Kathmandu
B,L
The Soaltee Kathmandu

Activity note: Walking is mainly on level ground. In Pashupatinath there may be smoke from cremations. For those participants intending to organise their own Mount Everest scenic flight, before breakfast this morning is the time to take this flight. This optional flight is not included in the program. Please refer to the Free Time section in your First Information Packet.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included.

Morning: We ride by motorcoach to Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world. During Shivaratri, an annual pilgrimage, thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva from Hindu communities all around the world pay their homage here.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: This afternoon we explore Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world. Situated just beyond the Pashupatinath temple, it houses 108 Buddha images and 147 prayer wheel insets. The settlement of Boudhanath is home to a large community of Tibetans. We will have the remainder of the afternoon free to explore.

Dinner: At own arrangements. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Patan Square, Free Afternoon
Kathmandu
B,L,D
The Soaltee Kathmandu

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles, mostly on paved roads with some uneven sections.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We ride by motorcoach to Patan Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of marvelous monuments. The Patan Museum showcases Nepal’s long cultural history and rare objects, most in bronze and copper, still important within the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of the area.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Plated and served meal. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Family-hosted meal. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Evening: During dinner, we will learn about the role of women in Nepal through a local expert's presentation on women's issues. We return to the hotel after dinner for an evening at leisure.

DAY
13
Fly to Paro, Drive to Thimphu
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Activity note: The flight to Paro takes approximately 1 hour. Flight times are based on seasonal schedules and departure times are subject to change. Visas and flights to and from Bhutan are pre-arranged and the schedule and travel documents will be given out in Nepal. Once in Bhutan, the motorcoach transfer from Paro to Thimphu is approximately 43 miles/1½ hours. The elevation over the next 3 days will be around 7,700 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We have a late-morning departure to the airport to board our flight to Bhutan.

Lunch: At the airport. Light lunch of sandwiches, muffins, fruit, juice, and water.

Afternoon: We transfer by motorcoach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. After checking in, we have a brief Bhutan program orientation with our Group Leader.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Bhutanese Culture and Traditions, Political History
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Activity note: Walking approximately 3 miles today.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included.

Morning: We are joined at the hotel by an ex-parliamentarian for a talk about Bhutan and its political history. The lecture also gives us an introduction to Bhutan. As many locals do, we then partake of a morning walk. Fifteen minutes from the hotel is the National Memorial Stupa, built in 1974 in memory of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This is a popular spot among the pious, young and old alike, who make it part of their daily ritual to visit. We continue by motorcoach to the National Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts. En route, we enjoy a presentation by the Group Leader about this school, where thirteen different forms of Bhutanese traditional Arts and Crafts are taught to young and enthusiastic students. It is the trained students who keep these age-old traditions alive, passing on the valuable ancient knowledge and skills to the next generation of Bhutanese.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We transfer by motorcoach to the National Textile Museum. A brief documentary introduces us to textile weaving in Bhutan. The museum displays will walk us through different styles of Bhutanese weaving. The weaving styles of Bhutan are distinctly recognizable, and weaving is considered a national art form. We return to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Gross National Happiness, Tashichho Dzong
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach for short drives (under an hour); minimal walking.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a senior official from the Office of Gross National Happiness Commission for a discussion on Gross National Happiness. The discussion will touch upon the work of the organization, quantifying Gross National Happiness, and other areas of study. We then take a field trip by motorcoach to the Tashichho 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 preservation attempts is here at the Dzong.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, drive to the site of one of the world’s largest sitting Buddhas. It sits on a ridge overlooking the capital city. Once in front of the giant Buddha, a local expert will discuss the origin and details of the project. We return to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Archery, Farmers' Market, National Museum in Paro
Paro
B,L,D
Tashi Namgay Resort

Activity note: The drive from Thimphu to Paro is approximately 43 miles/1½ hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: We travel by motorcoach to explore the country’s biggest farmers' market, where farmers from the neighboring valleys come to sell their produce. Later, we watch a game of archery, Bhutan’s national game, and hear about its role and significance in the Bhutanese society from our Group Leader.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We transfer by motorcoach to Paro and visit the National Museum. Now housed in an ancient watch tower, the museum gives us greater understanding of Bhutan’s history and culture. After checking in to the hotel, we receive a briefing from our Group Leader about tomorrow’s hike to the Tiger's Nest monastery.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
17
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery Hike
Paro
B,L,D
Tashi Namgay Resort

Activity note: This is a full-day hike involving steep climbs and drops, with an elevation gain of 1,900 feet in under 3 hours. The hike is strenuous and one must be physically fit to complete it. It is approximately 4 miles/5-7 hours round-trip. There is the option to hike halfway, to a view point that has a café, for those that choose not to climb the entire way.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included.

Morning: After an early breakfast, we start on our strenuous, but rewarding, hike to view the spectacular and famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through a beautiful pine forest, where many of the trees are festooned with lichens. We walk past an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We hike at a leisurely pace and those who choose to can stop mid-way at a tea house for rest and refreshment, while waiting for the rest of the group to return.

Lunch: At a tea house halfway to the Tiger’s Nest. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included. For any participants that choose to not climb today, lunch will be at the program hotel.

Afternoon: We continue our hike until the imposing Taktsang Monastery is seemingly within reach. Built in the 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. After our long hike, we return to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
18
Fly to Bangkok, Forced Overnight
Bangkok
B,L,D
Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport

Activity note: Flights from Bhutan to Thailand may be morning or afternoon depending on the variable seasonal schedule. The flight duration is 3-4 hours and flight schedules are subject to change. We have an overnight stop in Bangkok at an airport hotel prior to departing for North America. There is no programming content in Bangkok.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet. Coffee, tea and water included.

Morning: We transfer to Paro airport by motorcoach for our flight to Bangkok.

Lunch: Light lunch on the flight.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Bangkok, we check in to our airport hotel. This is a forced overnight stay in Bangkok before our flights home tomorrow. There is no programming in Bangkok. We come together for our Farewell Dinner this evening.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner at the hotel with a complimentary 'Farewell to Asia' drink. Buffet sampling Thai, Chinese and Western cuisines. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
19
In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out at 12:00noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel. Buffet.

Morning: Our program concludes with departures to the airport. Hotel check-out is 12:00 noon. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook or Instagram page to share photos of your program at facebook.com/rsadventures or instagram.com/rsadventures! Best wishes for all your journeys!






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