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.
Program No. 21103RJ
Length
19 days
Starts at
6,999
Special Offer
Flights start at
FREE
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19 days
18 nights
49 meals
17 B 17 L 15 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight

Activity note: Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Arrive Beijing, Hutongs of Old Beijing & The Summer Palace
Beijing
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing

Activity note: Early morning arrival in Beijing. The stopover in Beijing for one night is required to give you a chance to rest for your early morning flight to Lhasa tomorrow. The Tibet Group Entry Permit has been pre-arranged, and will be discussed at the Orientation today. Walking in Beijing today, up to ½ mile in the Hutong area and 1 mile in the Summer Palace on flat, paved terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, tea.

Morning: 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, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is also an opportunity to discuss altitude sickness and how to mitigate it as well as a chance to learn more about your program in Tibet. 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. Next check-in, 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 and meet a local family.

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, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an exquisite example of imperial garden design. Its pavilions, reception halls, and living quarters overlooking lily ponds, lakes, and arching bridges once comprised the summer retreat of Qing Emperors.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. Dinners in China and Tibet are served family style with various dishes placed in the center for sharing. Chopsticks and forks will be available and coffee, tea, water are included; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY
3
Flight to Tibet, Private Bus to Lhasa, Norbulingka
Lhasa
B,L,D
Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa

Activity note: Once landed in Tibet, the drive from the airport to the Lhasa program hotel is 40 miles. Walking at Norbulingka, up to 1 mile. 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: If the group flight to Lhasa is in the early morning, you will take a box breakfast with you to the airport. If the group flight to Lhasa is mid-morning, then you will have breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Depart for your flight to Lhasa, the ancient capital of Tibet. (Note that although Tibet uses ‘Beijing time,’ it is actually about 2 hours ‘later’ than Beijing. Your itinerary adjusts for this time difference.)

Lunch: If the group flight is early morning, you will have lunch upon arrival in Lhasa. If you have a mid-morning flight, 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. Later, depart for Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and which contains his residential quarters.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a family style meal with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY
4
Jokhang Temple, Bokhor Bazaar, Tibetan Medicine
Lhasa
B,L,D
Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa

Activity note: Walking up to ½ mile at Jokhang Temple mostly indoor; 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 restaurant at lunch to the Tibetan Medicine Hospital. Lecture will be on the third floor, stairs with railings. Will spend approx. 1½ hours there.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, tea.

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.

Dinner: At the hotel with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase

DAY
5
Tibetan Village, Nunnery Visit
Lhasa
B,L
Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa

Activity note: The drive to the countryside today is about 75 miles, approximately 1½ hours. The nunnery does not require much walking; approximately 20 steps up to gain access.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Before breakfast, meet in the hotel courtyard to learn Gorshay, an exuberant circle dance.

Morning: Board the private bus and head out into the countryside beyond Lhasa to grasslands where pastoral families raise yak, sheep, goats and horses. During grazing season, we visit pastoral families with local experienced staff members.

Lunch: At an outdoor spot enjoy a varied picnic buffet prepared by our hotel and which includes 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 firsthand about their daily life in rural Tibet. Following our visit, we 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 on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
6
Potala Palace, Thangka Painting, Sera Monastery
Lhasa
B,L,D
Tibet Dekang Hotel Lhasa

Activity note: Potala Palace has 458 steps up and down. Walking shoes and walking sticks may be helpful. Steps are uneven and few handrails are available. Sera Monastery is 2 miles away from city center and up to 1 mile of walking.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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 approximately 10 minutes drive from the hotel. Walking shoes are necessary and walking sticks might be helpful to climb 458 steps up the palace. Usually our 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: At Tibetan restaurant.

Afternoon: Learn about traditional Thangka painting (Tibetan religious scrolls) through a talk and demonstration by a Master. Afterwards, choose to return to the hotel or continue 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.

Evening: Enjoy a private Farewell Tibetan Dance and Singing party.

DAY
7
Fly to Kathmandu, Transfer to Bhaktapur & Dhulikel
Dhulikhel
B,L,D
Dhulikel Mountain Resort

Activity note: Kathmandu is 2 hours and 45 minutes behind Lhasa (Beijing) time. Departing from Lhasa, the airport is 40 miles away; approximately a 1 hour drive. Once arrived in Kathmandu, a private bus will transfer our group 10 miiles to Bhaktapur. After lunch, the drive to Dhulikel is 20 miles past Bhaktapur.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Transfer to the airport for our flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, we will transfer to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur was 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: At a local restaurant, we will have a plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, continue 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 tribes 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.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet meal with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY
8
Sunrise Over the Himalayas, Dhulikhel Town, School Visit
Dhulikhel
B,L,D
Dhulikel Mountain Resort

Activity note: Morning hike is 1½ hours. Hike begins with a 10 minute uphill climb, then a mix between flat and a bumpy trail. Comfortable walking shoes, and if needed a walking stick will be helpful. The walk around Dhulikhel is less than ½ mile; paved roads with occasional uphill and downhill.

Breakfast: For those interested, wake up early to see the sunrise over the Himalayas. Enjoy the hotel buffet with water, coffee, and tea.

Morning: Enjoy a morning hike around Dhulikhel to get a view of the Himalayas. Afterwards, participate in a presentation on Nepalese Culture given by your group leader. Then, coach transfer to 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.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet meal with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: This afternoon, visit a local school and learn a little bit about the Nepalese educational system. (school visit time subject to change)

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

DAY
9
Durbar Square, Swoyambhunath Stupa, Tea with Students
Kathmandu
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; standing up to 2 hours indoors and out; mainly flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Check out of hotel and transfer to Kathmandu. Explore Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu Durbar Square). With its old temples and palaces, Durbar Square epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that the kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Highlights include Taleju Temple, built by King MahendraMalla in A.D. 1549; the Temple of KalBhairav, the god of destruction; Nautalle Durbar; Coronation Nasal Chowk; the GaddiBaithak; the statue of king PratapMallal the Big Drum; and the Jagannath Temple.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, coach transfer to Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist “stupa” — a place of meditation — established more than 2,500 years ago and also known as the Monkey Temple. Perched high on a hilltop, it commands a superb view of the entire Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunath is also known as Sengu and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, transfer to your hotel for check in. Then participate in a presentation on how the Himalayan Mountains help shape the people and culture of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, with the main focus on Nepal. In the late afternoon, early evening we will enjoy tea with university students to learn about college life in Nepal

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a buffet dinner with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase

DAY
10
Pashupatinath Temple & Boudhanath Stupa
Kathmandu
B,L
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Activity note: Walking is mainly on level ground. In Pashupatinath there may be smoke from cremations.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Water, tea, coffee included; bottled water available for additional cost.

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: At the hotel.

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. The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore on your own.

Dinner: Dinner on our own. The Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
11
Patan Square, Free Afternoon, Home Hosted Dinner
Kathmandu
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Activity note: Today there is a lot of walking, up to 3 miles; mostly on paved roads, but sometimes on uneven roads as well.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Coach transfer to Patan Square, a UNESCO world heritage site and a compression of marvelous monuments. Explore Patan Museum. Its 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.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a meal with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: The remainder of the afternoon is on your own for you to relax or explore more of the Kathmandu Valley.

Dinner: In a private home, join a family hosted dinner and enjoy a presentation on the role of women in Nepal.

DAY
12
Kathmandu, Fly to Paro, Drive to Thimphu
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Activity note: The flight to Paro, Bhutan is approximately 1½ hours and is purchased in advance by our local coordinator in Bhutan. Once in Bhutan, our group will depart by private motor coach from Paro to Thimphu, approximately 43 miles. The elevation over the next 3 days will be at 7,700ft.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Depart for your flight to Bhutan.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Paro. Meal served buffet style with water, coffee, and tea.

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: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, and tea included; other beverages available for purchase

DAY
13
Thimphu, Political History, Cultures & Traditions
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Activity note: Morning walk to the Memorial Stupa is ¼ mile (15 minutes) from the hotel. Private bus transfer, 1 mile to National Institute for Traditional Arts and Culture and further 1.5 miles to National Textile Museum. Walking and standing up to 3 hours indoors and out. Evening independent exploration around town, around 1 mile of walking with occasional steps, curbs and sidewalks along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: As a country orientation, join a talk on Bhutan and its political history. 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: At a local restaurant enjoy a buffet style meal with water, tea, and coffee.

Afternoon: This afternoon's field trip to the National Textile Museum introduces different styles of Bhutanese weaving. The weaving styles of Bhutan are distinctly recognizable, and weaving is considered a national art form.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: In the evening explore Thimphu on your own.

DAY
14
Thimphu, Gross National Happiness, Thimphu Dzong
Thimphu
B,L,D
Hotel Pedling

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Join in a discussion on Gross National Happiness. The discussion will touch upon the work of the organization, quantifying GNH and other areas of study. 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: Lunch in town at a local restaurant. Meal served buffet or family style with water, coffee, and tea.

Afternoon: Take a field trip to the site of the world’s largest sitting Buddha that is nearing completion.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

DAY
15
Farmer’s Market, Archery, Drive to Paro, National Museum
Paro
B,L,D
Tashi Namgay Resort

Activity note: Our group will depart by private motor coach from Thimphu to Paro, approximately 43 miles.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: If on a weekend, explore the country’s biggest farmer’s market where farmers from the neighboring valleys come to sell their produce. Later witness a game of archery, Bhutan’s national game and learn about its significance in the Bhutanese society.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Paro, served buffet style with water, coffee, and tea.

Afternoon: Transfer to Paro. Drive to the National Museum, now housed in a new location next to the ancient watch tower, which visually introduces Bhutan’s history and culture. The museum provides a good introduction to the Kingdom’s rich culture and heritage. Later after checking into the hotel, get a debriefing about tomorrows hike. Note: The watch tower suffered partial damage from the earthquake in September, 2011 and remains closed while undergoing renovation; it is scheduled to be opened in 2018.

Dinner: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, and tea.

DAY
16
Paro, Tigers Nest Hike
Paro
B,L,D
Tashi Namgay Resort

Activity note: This is an all day hike involving steep climbs and drops, with an elevation gain of 1,900 ft. under 3 hours. The hike is strenuous and one must be physically fit to complete it. There is an option to hike half way, to a view point that has a tea house, for those that choose to not climb the entire way

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, and tea.

Morning: After breakfast start on a 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: Lunch at the tea house (half-way point to Tigers Nest), served buffet style with water, coffee, and tea.

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: Hotel buffet.

DAY
17
Paro, Fly to Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand
B,L,D
Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Hotel Bangkok

Activity note: The flight duration is 4½ hours and is purchased by our local coordinator in Bhutan. In Bangkok, walk to dinner is ½ mile from the hotel.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with water, coffee, and tea.

Morning: Transfer to the airport for our flight to Bangkok.

Lunch: Light lunch in flight.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Bangkok, check-in and relax until time for dinner

Dinner: In the evening, take a short walk from the hotel to Asiatique the Riverfront. Enjoy an exquisite Thai Set Dinner at a local Thai restaurant, serving superb Thai delicacies and service.

DAY
18
Bangkok, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Program Concludes
In Flight
B,L,D

Activity note: Private transfer from hotel to Wat Pho, approximately 5½ miles. Walking from Wat Pho to Grand Palace ½ mile. Evening departures home. The hotel is booked for the entire night for those leaving tomorrow. Check out time is at noon tomorrow.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with water, coffee and tea.

Morning: An early start will get us to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks early morning chanting ritual. Then continue to the Grand Palace 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. Last, discover the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.

Lunch: Lunch at a riverside restaurant with a spectacular view of the Grand Palace and Wat Arun.

Afternoon: Free time. Our Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Farewell Thai dinner at hotel with water, coffee, tea included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Late evening check out of our hotel and transfer to the Bangkok airport for our return flights home. The hotel is booked for the entire night, for those leaving the next day. 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 page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
19
Arrive North America
In Flight

Afternoon: Afternoon arrivals throughout the day.