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Darjeeling and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

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Explore vibrant India and mysterious Bhutan

16 days From £3,895 per person
Flexible Booking

Book your 2021 holiday before 31st October and you can transfer your holiday for free - no questions asked. T&C's apply

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2021 Tour code: CDJ21

About the tour

Spend a fortnight in the lap of the Himalayas, exploring Darjeeling, famed for its tea, and the surrounding hill stations. Travel to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, whose Happiness Index is high and pollution rate low. Discover the tranquillity of monasteries, and experience the sunrise over the snowcapped peaks of some of the highest mountains in the world.

Discover the metropolis of Kolkata that was once a favourite with the British, and which retains some of its colonial heritage to this day.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-3 - London to Kolkata

We depart from London Heathrow and fly to Kolkata via Dubai. On arrival on Day 2, we transfer to the Oberoi Grand Hotel for a 2 night stay.

On Day 3, we explore this magnificent metropolis on a guided tour. We begin by exploring the city's flower market, the largest in India, where hundreds of vendors gather every morning with wreaths and bouquets of seasonal flowers. We move on to see Mother's House, the orphanage set up by Mother Teresa, whose philanthropic activities put the city on the global map, before heading towards Victoria Memorial. We explore the fascinating potter's colony, where artists sculpt idols of Hindu deities out of clay and straw before painting them with vibrant colours. Later we take the circular railway train to see the memorial of James Prinsep, an English scholar who specialised in ancient Indian scripts and numismatics.

Kolkata
Days 4-5 - Siliguri and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

This afternoon we join our train for the journey to New Jalpaiguri. On arrival, we transfer by Jeep to Siliguri in the foothills of the Himalayas, where we stay for the night. On Day 5, we travel by Jeep to Kurseong, enjoying lunch at the colonial-style Cochrane Place Hotel, before climbing almost 7,000 feet into the Himalayas as we enjoy an enthralling journey on the UNESCO-listed Toy Train (subject to operation). We board the narrow-gauge train in the heart of the town; for a while the train runs directly through the bustling town centre before climbing into the forests of towering sal and oak trees. We arrive in Darjeeling late afternoon, taking in the panoramic views of pastel-painted houses stacked almost on top of each other against a backdrop of the mighty Himalayan ranges.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Day 6 - Tiger Hill and the Mountaineering Institute

We visit Tiger Hill viewpoint this morning, watching the sun rise from behind Kanchenjunga, India's highest mountain. The sun adds pink hues to the snow-capped peaks, which then slowly turn orange. As the last bit of darkness vanishes, the peaks are bathed in golden light. Later we travel on the steam-hauled Toy Train to Ghum (subject to operation), the highest hill station in the area. In the afternoon, we take a tour of the Darjeeling's Mountaineering Institute, which is the final resting place of Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa mountaineer who was one of the first 2 people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Darjeeling Mountains
Days 7-8 - Darjeeling tea plantation, Chalsa, and Bhutan

Darjeeling is famous for its tea plantations and we tour one on Day 7. Tea bushes are planted on the slopes of mountains to avoid water stagnation, and the leaves need deft plucking. On Day 8, we drive to the town of Chalsa, enjoying lunch before visiting Grassmore village. Later we leave India and enter Bhutan. Perhaps best known for its 'happiness index', Bhutan is largely undiscovered by the outside world. Set deep in the Himalayas, more than half of the country is protected as a nature reserve and the fresh mountain air confirms that pollution here is minimal. We stop in Phuntsholing for the night.

Darjeeling tea plantation
Days 9-11 - Paro, The Tiger’s Nest, and Punakha

Today, we visit Kharbandi Gompa, a monastery boasting sprawling gardens of tropical plants and surrounded by mountains. We then continue to Paro by coach, where we stay for 2 nights at the Tiger's Nest Resort. We explore Paro, a historic town with many ancient sacred sites, before visiting a farmhouse for a traditional dinner.

On Day 10, we take in one of Bhutan's most iconic landmarks, climbing to a viewpoint that overlooks the stunning Tiger's Nest monastery. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant afterwards. On the way back to Paro, we explore Kyichu Lhakhang, a beautiful Buddhist temple.

On Day 11, we discover the mesmerising Rinpung Dzong, a fortress monastery and a fantastic example of Bhutanese architecture, and the National Museum, housed in a former watchtower of Rinpung Dzong. Later, we drive via Dochula Pass, home to 108 memorial chortens or stupas, to Punakha, where we spend the night.

Tigers Nest Monastery
Days 12-13 - Punakha Dzong and Thimpu

We visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple and monastery dedicated to the fertility rites of the tantric tradition. Later we continue to Punakha Dzong, or the Palace of Great Happiness, on the way to Thimphu for 2 nights. On arrival, we take an exploratory walk of the city centre, before heading towards Thimphu's mighty 17th-century Tashichhoedzong, a striking fortress monastery and seat of the government of Bhutan since the 1960s.

On Day 13, we enjoy a full-day tour of Thimphu. Among the highlights we see are the Memorial Chorten, Buddha Point, and Takin Preserve, a wildlife reserve that celebrates Takin, the national animal of Bhutan and a member of the bovine family. We have lunch at the Simply Bhutan Museum, an interactive museum where we also indulge in local rice wine tasting and witness local women sing while working. In the afternoon we visit Zorig Chusum to see students learning different forms of traditional Bhutanese art, before proceeding to Zilukha Nunnery. Here we interact with the resident nuns and join them for a tea session. In the evening we dress up in traditional Bhutanese attire and indulge in a cultural performance at the hotel.

Punakha Dzong
Days 14-16 - Kolkata and London

We transfer to Paro for our flight to Kolkata. On arrival, we take a tour of the city's historic centre Dalhousie Square, now known as BBD Bagh. We see Tagore's House, an 18th-century mansion that was once home to poet Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to be honoured with a Nobel Prize for his contribution to literature, before taking a tram to South Park Street Cemetery.

On Day 15, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Dubai. Here we board our flight to London Heathrow, where our holiday concludes on Day 16.

Kolkata

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Mayfair, Darjeeling

Hotel Mayfair, Darjeeling

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The Oberoi Grand Hotel, Kolkata

The Oberoi Grand Hotel, Kolkata

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Tiger Nest Resort

Tiger Nest Resort, Paro

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Lhaki Hotel, Phuentsholing

Lhaki Hotel, Phuentsholing

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RKPO Green Resort

RKPO Green Resort, Bhutan

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Sinclairs Hotel, Siliguri

Sinclairs Hotel, Siliguri

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Druk Hotel, Thimphu

Druk Hotel, Thimphu

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Train

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

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Goa
Kerala
Mumbai
Shimla
Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2020/21

Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2020/21

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Darjeeling and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

Explore vibrant India and mysterious Bhutan

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Helen Laverack
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Luke Simpson
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Lynne Broadley
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