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Darjeeling and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

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Adventures in vibrant India and spiritual Bhutan

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
20212022
16 days From £3,895 per person

2022 Tour code: CDJ22

About the tour

An incredible adventure packed with ancient traditions and treasures, explore colourful Kolkata before travelling into the Himalayan foothills and onwards to Bhutan - the sole surviving Himalayan Kingdom, shrouded in mystery and steeped in history.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Kolkata

We fly from London Heathrow to Kolkata via Dubai.

Day 2 - Kolkata

We land in Kolkata on Day 2 and transfer to our hotel for two nights on arrival.

Day 3 - Kolkata

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. Next up is the fascinating potter's colony, where artists sculpt idols of Hindu deities out of clay and straw before painting them in vibrant colours. Later, we take the circular railway to the memorial of James Prinsep, an English scholar who specialised in ancient Indian scripts and numismatics.

Day 4 - Siliguri

After some free time this morning, we travel by rail to New Jalpaiguri. On arrival, we transfer by Jeep to Siliguri, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where we stay for the night. 

Day 5 - Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Travelling by Jeep to Kurseong on Day 5, we enjoy lunch at the colonial-style Cochrane Place Hotel before climbing almost 7,000 feet into the Himalayas on an enthralling journey aboard the UNESCO-listed Toy Train, also known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. We board this steam-hauled, narrow-gauge train in the heart of the town, and for a while it runs directly through the bustling centre before climbing into the surrounding jungle-like forests of towering sal and oak trees. We arrive in Darjeeling for three nights late this afternoon, taking in the panoramic views of pastel-painted houses stacked almost on top of each other and set against a backdrop of the mighty Himalayan mountain range.

Day 6 - Tiger Hill Viewpoint and Ghum

We visit Tiger Hill viewpoint this morning, watching the sun rise from behind Kanchenjunga, India's highest mountain. The sun projects pink hues across the snow-capped peaks and, as the last remains of darkness vanishes, each jagged summit is bathed in golden light. Later, we travel on the steam-hauled Toy Train to Ghum, the highest hill station in the area. Here, we take a tour of the Darjeeling's Mountaineering Institute, the final resting place of Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa mountaineer who was one of the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Day 7 - Tea plantation and tasting

Darjeeling is famous for its tea plantations and we tour one on Day 7, admiring the dark green, tiered fields as we learn about how the tea bushes are planted and how the leaves require deft plucking techniques to maximise flavour before a tasting of this iconic drink overlooking the lush landscapes.

 

Day 8 - Chalsa and Bhutan

On Day 8, we drive to the town of Chalsa for lunch before visiting a tea garden in Grassmore. We cross the border into Bhutan, a country known for measuring happiness above GDP that's been largely undiscovered by the outside world and which was closed off to most visitors until 2018. Set deep in the Himalayas, more than half of the country is protected as a nature reserve and the fresh mountain air confirms the pollution here is minimal. We stop in Phuntsholing for the night.

Day 9 – Paro

Leaving Phuntsholing, we visit Kharbandi Gompa, a monastery boasting sprawling gardens of tropical plants before continuing to Paro by coach for a two-night stay. After checking into our hotel, we set out on a guided tour of this a historic town, home to many ancient sacred sites, before visiting a farmhouse for a traditional Bhutanese dinner.

Day 10 - Tiger's Nest monastery

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. Built into the opposite cliffside, we enjoy fantastic views of this red, gold and white pagoda-style building that dates back to the 17th century. Lunch is served at a local restaurant. On the way back to Paro, we explore Kyichu Lhakhang, a beautiful Buddhist temple.

Day 11 – Punakha

Today takes us to Rinpung Dzong, a fortress monastery and a fantastic example of Bhutanese architecture, as well as 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. This Himalayan town set within a lush valley is known for its riverside fortress, which dates back to the 17th century

Day 12 - Thimphu

Our first stop today is 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 our way to Thimphu for two nights. Here, we take an exploratory walk of the city centre before making our way to Thimphu's mighty 17th-century Tashichhoedzong, a striking fortress monastery and seat of the government of Bhutan since the 1960s.

Day 13 - Thimphu

On Day 13, we enjoy a full-day tour of Thimphu. Among the highlights, we see the Memorial Chorten, Buddha Point and Takin Preserve, a wildlife reserve that celebrates the Takin - the national animal of Bhutan and a member of the bovine family. We enjoy lunch at the Simply Bhutan Museum, followed by a local rice wine tasting and folk performance. Next up is the Zorig Chusum, where we meet local students learning different forms of traditional Bhutanese art, before we visit the Zilukha Nunnery. Here, we take part in a unique experience, joining the nuns for a tea tasting session. This evening, we get the chance to dress in traditional Bhutanese attire as we attend a cultural performance at our hotel.

Day 14 - Kolkata

We return to Paro for our flight to Kolkata. We take a guided tour of the city's historic Dalhousie Square, now known as BBD Bagh, and continue to Tagore's House, an 18th-century mansion once home to poet Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to be honoured with a Nobel Prize for his contribution to literature. Afterwards, we board a tram to South Park Street Cemetery, a tranquil burial ground for British colonists that's slowly being reclaimed by the jungle which surrounds it.

Day 15 - Journey home

On Day 15, we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London Heathrow via Dubai.

Day 16 - London

We arrive back in the UK on Day 16, here your tour concludes and you are free to make your way home.

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

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Flight upgrades
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Extend your holiday

Goa
Kerala
Mumbai
Shimla

Reviews

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Mrs P Davies

5 stars

Submitted 23 Apr 2018

Bhutan was amazing. Fabulous views especially of the Himalayas. Very interesting monasteries and monuments like the Golden Buddha.

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Darjeeling and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

Adventures in vibrant India and spiritual Bhutan

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