Nepal and Bhutan are two countries that are on the list of all vacationers wanting to experience something new. Protected by the high Himalayan range, these countries were inaccessible in the past. Explorers called these countries the 'forbidden kingdoms', as outsiders were not allowed inside these countries. Nepal and Bhutan became hot destinations for adventurers and holidaymakers after these countries introduced tourism.
Landlocked and small in size but surrounded by some of the tallest mountains and beautiful nature, Nepal and Bhutan are top destinations for trekkers, mountaineers, bikers, travel photographers and filmmakers. These countries are ideal destinations for those in search of exotic cultures and spiritualism.
Nepal and Bhutan lie almost next to each other and one can travel to these countries with ease. Connected by air and land transport, Nepal-Bhutan travel packages are some of the best-selling multi-country holiday packages in South Asia.
Though one can take a cultural tour to Nepal and Bhutan throughout the year, the best seasons to visit these two countries are spring (March-May), autumn (September -November) and early winter (December). As both these countries lie under the shadows of the Himalayan range, there is not much difference in the climate and weather pattern.
Autumn is the most preferred season for trekking to these Himalayan destinations. The weather is stable and temperatures remain moderate. The sky is crystal clear offering unobstructed views of snowy Himalayan peaks.
You can time your Nepal and Bhutan tour during the festive seasons. Colorful festivals like Holi, Bisket Jatra, and Mahashivaratri are observed in Nepal. Nepalese celebrate their two biggest festivals Dashain and Tihar in Autumn.
Festivals in Bhutan are held almost every month. Usually celebrated in monasteries, Bhutanese festivals give you an insight into how Buddhism is a major influence in the lives of the Bhutanese people.
Masked dances as well as skits are performed by the monks. People from all walks of life take part in these celebrations as these festivals are supposed to usher in blessings and positive vibes from the Buddhist deities. Tshechu, which is held in all major cities and towns is a fine example of a colorful and vibrant religious festival.
Apart from the Tshechus, other festivals that give you a glimpse of Bhutan's rich cultural heritage are the Nomad Festival, Black-Necked Crane Festival, Matsutake Festival, Haa Summer Festival, and Jomolhari Mountain Festival.
In Nepal, one can go for multi-adventure holidays or select a hardcore trekking and climbing holiday. The Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, and Annapurna Circuit are some of the most popular high-altitude treks in the world. Every year one or more of these treks makes it to the Top 10 list of 'must-visit' destinations. Nepal is also home to 8 of the fourteen highest peaks in the world (8000m+) as well as several 7000 and 6000-meter peaks. It wins hands down the title of 'mountaineering capital in the world'. Climbing Mount Everest is one of the elite mountaineering adventures offered by Nepal.
The Himalayan Mountain range stretches from Nepal's east and west. There are more than 2000 mountains of varying height. Under these small hills and towering peaks are Nepal's popular trekking trails where every season (spring and autumn) thousands of trekkers and hikers from all over the world take to the trails. Yes, trekking is the most popular activity in the country. There's a mountain or a hill for all ages and all levels of fitness. Whether you are an 8-year-old kid, a fit and elderly person, or an adult in robust health there's a walking trail for each one of you.
Some other adventure activities one must try out in Nepal are rafting, paragliding, skydiving, helicopter tours, mountain biking, wildlife safari, motorbike tours, day hiking, canyoning, bungy jumping, ultra-light flights, zip flying, kayaking, etc.
Nepal is home to 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Out of these 8 are cultural and religious sites, while two are natural sites. The cultural heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley offer a rich and intoxicating cultural experience. Boudhanath, Swoyambhunath, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Changu Narayan Temple, and Pashupatinath are some of the most visited cultural sites in Nepal. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha is also an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
There are also scores of sacred Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country. Halesi, Muktinath, Manakamana, Pharping, Kathmandu, Janakpur, Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Upper Mustang are some of the popular pilgrimage destinations in Nepal.
Bhutan is one of the greenest countries in the world. 70 percent of the country's total land surface is covered by forests making it an ideal destination for nature and wildlife tours, trekking, and mountain biking. The trekking and biking trails wind through pristine blue pine and rhododendron forests.
Some of the major treks in Bhutan are the Druk Path Trek, Jumolhari Trek, Snowman Trek, Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek, Laya Gasa Trek, Bumthang Owl Trek, and Nabji Khorpu Trek. Popular biking trails snakes past the cities of Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Haa Valley, and Paro. The off-road trails go through paddy fields, traditional farms and villages, secluded monasteries, rivers and mountain passes.
Cultural tours around the cities of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Phobjika Valley are also quite popular among tourists. From short 4-day tours to long and leisurely 20-day tours, there are a variety of tour packages on offer.
Visits to the traditional castles, fortresses (dzongs), monasteries and Buddhist temples make for an enlightening experience. Punakha Dzong, Taschichho Dzong, Ringpung Dzong, Jambay Lakhang, Chimmi Lakhang, Kichu Lakhang, Gangtey Gompa, Druk Wangyal Chortens, etc. are some of the most visited cultural sites in Bhutan. The hike to the cliffside monastery of Taktsang or Tiger's Nest in Paro is an activity one should not miss out on.
One can also visit rural Bhutan and stay with a local family at their farm. This will give you an insight into the Bhutanese way of life and culture – how they live, what they eat, and how they dress.
Archery is a common sport and Bhutanese men chill out with a game of archery (dha) or darts (khuru). A stay with a local family will surely let you experience these traditional games. Do not forget to enjoy a traditional hot stone bath while in Bhutan. Traditional hot stone bath involves taking bath in a tub of water warmed with hot stones and infused with medicinal herbs. Excursions to local bazaars and markets also give you a chance to interact with the locals and buy local handicrafts.
A short holiday of 4 or 5 days will be enough to visit Nepal and Bhutan. But if you want to travel extensively and enjoy a richer experience there are longer tours of 14 and 15 days. While the short tours introduce you to the cultural highlights of these two Himalayan nations the longer tours give you a far more immersive experience.
Nepal and Bhutan can be a part of your unforgettable Himalayan holiday itinerary. Tour Nepal and Bhutan by selecting any of our Nepal-Bhutan tour packages and experience these two magical destinations. Find out more about our Nepal and Bhutan trips.
From festivals to weather conditions, there are many factors to consider when planning a trip to Nepal and Bhutan. Let us help you choose...
I am Werner Berger and my "claim to fame" is probably best defined as being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person in the world to have climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest.
Little did I know my life was to change forever on my first trek into the Himalaya in 1992 at age 55. It was the beginning and just a matter time before I realized I could combine my leadership and climbing skills to create a program in which people could explore their own possibilities.
So, in 2010, I began leading Transformational Life Experiences, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp and other high places.
One of the earliest keys to success is to find a company with the right mix of professionalism, support, and, of course, experience. I have used Naba Amgai and his teams on all my Nepal trekking adventures.
Naba's caring and climber support, is second to none. In my estimation, Third Rock Adventures is one of the very best in the business, in or outside of Nepal. They know the mountains. So you can relax, enjoy and transform.
- Werner Berger