A Life-changing experience; Nepal Tibet & Bhutan Tour
8 Dec 2019 Asia Experiences
Soaring beside the curtain in the Himalayas
A life-changing experience, a unique dose of cultural bliss balanced perfectly with breathtaking sceneries; the views of the snow-capped giants and the warm hospitality of locals, all these and so much more Ling and I (Connie) witnessed in a well-devised tour with Asia Experiences.
The Buildup and arrival
We’ve talked about traveling to all these countries many different times before. The time couldn’t have been better this time around and all that was left was creating an itinerary with all the delights of the Himalayas. The first one we made exceeded a month and we were not sure about half the stuff there. Finally, we searched the internet for a while trying to make the plans work. We came across Asia Experiences and after going through some reviews we chose to contact it them.
The decision to select Asia Experiences was a wise one as they aided us smoothly during the preparation. We definitely asked too many obvious questions and they were fantastic with quick and helpful responses. The packing was done and after rechecking our documents we were up and on our way over to Nepal. We were exhausted from our long flight from New York and landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
The visa process was fine and we had all the documents in a separate bag as Netra had suggested beforehand. The drive was quick through the lively traffic and we had our first glance of the valley. We had a relaxing rest at the Baber Mahal Hotel and just called it a day.
Visiting the historic streets and monuments of enchanting Kathmandu Valley
Our first actual tour day of this journey started with positive energy and hearty breakfast at our hotel. We met with our Nepalese guide and went deep into the cultural repository of Nepal. The city of Bhaktapur was a beautiful place to start it all. Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the tall temple of Nyatapol was truly both full of stories, culture, architecture, and devotion in them. The walls and windows here reflected the brilliant artwork of the local craftsman from centuries.
We’ve had researched some local snacks and treats of Bhaktapur and our guide just knew the best places around to find them. Next, we took a short and beautiful drive to Changunarayan and enjoyed a quick hike to the temple. The stone sculptures and woodworks here were unbelievable and I can remember taking fantastic pictures. Next we drove to Nagarkot and we had a perfect sunset to end our day.
A leap further to the hidden delights near the valley, Namobuddha, Panauti, and Dhulikhel
Nagarkot treated us with one of the best sunrise views of the Himalayas. We got up early and each moment on this hill village was worth it. The views of green valleys and hills with rice fields attached and close settlements all topped off with snow-capped mountains above was breathtaking.
Our tour continued with a leap further to the hidden sites near the valley, Namobuddha, Panauti, and Dhulikhel. After a magnificent time in Nagarkot, we had some beautiful sites to cover on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley. After an hour or so of a hill highway drive, we shared some adventurous turns with Jivan- our very talented driver. The grand monastery of Namobuddha was our first stop and incredibly peaceful. Diving deep into the past we visited the locals at Panauti next (a UNESCO town). The farmlands and small-town squares here showcased more of the local culture and art. This continued to Dhulikhel with the added bonus of scenic hills too where we stopped for lunch with a view.
After returning to Kathmandu, we were back to the Hotel Baber Mahal and enjoyed the dinner there. Day 4 was mostly in the streets and destinations of the UNESCO world heritage sites. The Pashupatinath temple, Boudhanath Stupa and Patan Durbar Square were some of my favorites. Each site offered us a blend of history, culture, and religion and our guide Dipak made sure we had it all. After trying some more local snacks and tons of pictures to remember, we were back at our hotel.
An unforeseen delay to Tibet, Asia Experience has our back
Day 05 marked our flight to Tibet. Our Tibet travel visa arrived the same day to Tibet, Thanks to Netra we were up and ready for the flight. Unfortunately, the flight was postponed by the airline until the next day due to some airport traffic reason.
Lhasa, a treasure chest talked by many recognized by few
After landing in Lhasa on day 06, we went to the hotel and started the tour of the beautiful city. The Jokhang Temple here was lively and we could feel the spirituality and calmness surrounding this historic Temple. The Barkhor square / street area looked beautiful like a movie set. In the evening we returned to the Hotel. As a city in very high elevation, I was half-worried about altitude sickness. We took our time to acclimate along with some herbal supplements and it did not affect our stay in Lhasa.
The Potala Palace was definitely our favorite destination and we spent some time in the gardens, courtyard, majestic rooms and prayer halls of this beautiful Palace. Photos were not allowed inside and we got some amazing ones where it was permitted. Norbulingka Palace, a historic and religious summer palace and grounds of the Dalai Lamas past. Our guide was really cheerful and happily gave us the best possible way to enjoy each moment here.
Behold the pristine lake of Yamdrok and majestic scenery all around
Each day in Lhasa was packed with some of the best landscape views one can imagine but nothing ever came close to what we were going to see this day outside Lhasa. Around 4 hours drive from the city, the views got immensely beautiful. We had some spoilers with the flight from Kathmandu, but the beauty from the road is immeasurable.
It just got better once we were in the Yamdrok lake premises. The clear water of this long lake reflecting the view of hills and mountains was alluring. Following the holy stories and religious significance of the lake as mentioned by our guide, we were still awestruck with the beauty alone of the lake. We spent some memorable time here. The Tibetan portion of the tour was immensely beautiful and fulfilling with the best guide and transportation
A Spiritual break, joining the gurus of Yoga and cleansing our souls in Kathmandu
Flying back to Kathmandu, a special and divine day was waiting for us. We had a whole day and diet planned constituting different yoga sessions here. Excited and ready, we took our yoga gears and headed towards the Himalayan Yoga Academy. The Yoga exercises and Asanas followed with meditation, and a massage introduced us to a different segment of the tour. Answering our queries the guru had some great teachings in store to share and we had a great day here. We returned back to our hotel and prepared for the Bhutan flight the next day.
Entering the ‘Land of Happiness’: Bhutan a brilliant surprise
Bhutan was a surprise for both of us and we’ve heard so much about this beautiful nation. After boarding the flight from TIA, we enjoyed some fantastic views of the Himalayas landing at Paro airport. The fresh breeze and calm nature welcomed us here and a jolly guide to escort us to our hotel. We headed towards Thimphu and the curved hilly roads offered us with majestic views of nature. Thimphu was so elegant and friendly
. We visited some of the local art and handicraft shops here and returned to the Taj Tashi Hotel for rest.
After Thimphu, we had a tour of the historic Punakha city. An hour or so on the road and we were in the picturesque Dochula Pass midway to Punakha. The Chorten here were beautiful and so was the view of different snow-capped mountains. We drove for another 45 mins and then took a short hike through the rice fields to visit a fertility temple. We continued to Punakha Dzong and explored the fortress-palace here. The river and views surrounding the Dzong were surreal. Here we learned about the special architecture and traditions of Bhutan. Our guide prepared a special surprise lunch on the river. Heading back to Thimphu, we enjoyed some more slices of local life along the way.
Being there and living the moment at Taktsang Monastery, Paro
The first picture to appear when I searched online for Bhutan was the majestic Taktsang Monastery or also known as the Tiger’s Nest. With a quick drive to Paro valley, we were ready to spend the day hiking up to experience it for ourselves. Thanks to our fantastic guide, the route we took blessed us with some magical views. On the face of a ginormous cliff was this beautiful monastery
It was one of the most challenging hikes for us given the altitude with maximum height at 10,000 ft. The trail was well managed and the hike was worth every step. We looked at each other with such a sense of accomplishment. We spent some time admiring the scenery, the valley, and the monastery. After a long day of hiking, we stayed at Uma Paro hotel with the best of the views, food, and hospitality.
Lifelong memories and more amazing stories to take back from this amazing tour
We felt fully immersed in every place we visited and our guides provided a profound experience that will stay with us forever. We made many friends on this trip. This part of the world has so many unique things to experience that one has to be here to get it. We are delighted with our decision to do this tour and tremendously thankful to the Team of Asia Experience for making it happen. Remembering all the moments we made and people we met in this amazing tour of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, I know for sure that we will be back for even more.