Take a Buddhist pilgrimage tour to Nepal and Bhutan, two important destinations with a long history of Buddhist spiritualism. Step inside sacred spaces blessed by the holy presence of Lord Buddha and Guru Rinpoche (known as the second Buddha in the Himalayas). Explore ancient Buddhist monasteries and walk around sacred shrines and stupas, chanting the mantra ‘Om mani padme hum’ (Hail the jewel in the lotus).
In Nepal, you visit Lumbini, Lord Buddha’s birthplace; Boudhanath and Swoyambhunath– two ancient Buddhist shrines which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu. Your itinerary also includes visits to Asura Cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated and Kopan Monastery, an important Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Stroll around Patan – a medieval kingdom designed in the shape of a Buddhist ‘Dharma Chakra’ and home to ancient Buddhist viharas. This Nepal Bhutan package also lets you enjoy wildlife safari at Chitwan National Park.
Journey to Bhutan and explore the ancient lakhangs (Buddhist temples), dzongs and monasteries at Paro, Thimphu and Bumdra. Visit the meditation caves of Padmasambhava and other Buddhist saints. Interact with the monks and nuns living at the monasteries and seek blessings from the learned Buddhist teachers. Take a hike to Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery) and Bumdra monastery and enjoy awe-inspiring views of the Bhutanese countryside and the Himalayan mountains. Throughout your trip you will be guided by our experienced local guides.
If you want to skip some of the sacred Buddhist sites and only visit historical sites, then our Jewels of Bhutan and Nepal Tour might interest you. Already toured Nepal and only interested in visiting Bhutan? This short Bhutan Cultural Tour itinerary might interest you.
Best seasons for this trip are Spring, Autumn and early Winter. Daytime temperatures remain pleasant; neither too hot nor too hot; during these seasons. Though it may turn a bit chilly in the early hours and late evenings in Autumn and early Winter.
Nepal: In Kathmandu stay at the comfortable boutique hotel, Oasis Kathmandu Hotel, located in the heart of the city. It lies in a peaceful corner in Thamel, adjacent to the ‘Garden of Dreams’ (a landscaped Edwardian garden). Restaurants, hotels, shops and local markets lie close to the hotel.
You will be accommodated at Hotel Parkland in Chitwan. Surrounded by lush greenery, the hotel is only a stone’s throw away from Chitwan National Park.
In Lumbini your address is the grand Buddha Maya Garden Hotel. It lies inside the Lumbini Heritage Site, a few minutes’ walk from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and monasteries.
All these establishments offer air conditioned rooms with attached bathrooms, running hot and cold water, free wi-fi etc. Other amenities include restaurant, bar, coffee shop and a travel desk.
Bhutan: You stay at the splendid Tashi Namgyal Resort overlooking the Pa Chu River in Paro. The resort offers comfortable deluxe rooms, cottages and executive sites with attached bathrooms. Your address in Thimphu is the beautiful Namgay Heritage Hotel. This hotel offers luxurious deluxe rooms and premium suites. Amenities at both these establishments include free Wi-Fi, multi cuisine restaurant, bar, spa, fitness centre etc.
In Bumdra you will be staying at a luxury tented camp. The camp is equipped with heaters, toilet tent, spacious dining tent and tents with comfortable sleeping arrangement (soft mattress, blankets, pillows).
Nepal: Find high-end as well as mid-range and budget restaurants and eateries in Kathmandu. In Thamel itself, you will find a wide variety of specialty and multi-cuisine restaurants and eateries. Breakfast, welcome dinner and farewell dinner are complimentary.
In Chitwan and Lumbini you will have your meals at the hotels you will be staying at.
Bhutan:In Bhutan you will discover restaurants and eateries serving continental, Indian and Bhutanese fare. Bhutanese use a lot of chilies, cheese, meat, mushrooms, red rice and buck wheat in their dishes. All meals are included in the trip price.
Endless rows of mountains surrounding the valley of Kathmandu greet you as you fly into Kathmandu. Our representative will meet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel. After checking in, take some rest. Late in the afternoon or evening our travel consultant will brief you on your trip’s itinerary. Later attend a welcome dinner (complimentary) at an authentic Nepali restaurant . Overnight in Kathmandu.
Your sacred Buddhist Tour begins with a visit to Swoyambhunath, one of the oldest shrines in Kathmandu. Believed to have been built by Boddhisattva Manjushri the stupa is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. Located on a hill overlooking the whole of Kathmandu Valley, the origin of this temple is closely linked to the creation of Kathmandu Valley. According to a Buddhist legend, Kathmandu Valley was once a lake and it was drained by Boddhisattva Manjushri as he wanted to meditate at the spot where the Swoyambhunath stupa now stands.
Your next stop is Boudhanath, the largest stupa in Nepal and an important centre of Tibetan Buddhism. The large white dome of the stupa stands on a giant mandala. It is believed that the remains of the Kasyapa Buddha (previous incarnation of Lord Buddha) are buried beneath the stupa. Monasteries, restaurants, souvenir shops surround this magnificent stupa. Complete a kora around this sacred stupa turning the prayer wheels with the other pilgrims. Light a butter lamp and offer prayers to the Buddhist deities.
End the day’s tour with a visit to the beautiful Kopan Monastery. Located on the northern rim of the city, this is an important Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The meditation courses offered by the monastery are quite popular among tourists. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Wake up early and take a drive to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Located south-west of Kathmandu Valley, it takes roughly around eight hours drive to reach the sacred town of Lumbini from the capital. After leaving Kathmandu, follow a zigzag road down to Trishuli River. Enjoy mesmerizing sights of mountains, terraced fields and traditional villages. Once you reach Lumbini, head to your hotel and take rest. If you feel up to it, you can do some sightseeing in the late afternoon. Several Buddhist monasteries and decorative stupas built by Buddhist countries dot Lumbini’s sacred grounds. You can visit these monasteries and spend some quiet time meditating. Overnight in Lumbini.
Wake up early and visit Maya Devi Temple, the actual site where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to the infant Gautama Buddha. After offering prayers head to another holy site, the Puskarini Pond. It is believed that Lord Buddha was given his ritual bath after his birth at this pond. Other significant sights include the Ashoka Pillar(a sandstone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka to commemorate his visit to Lumbini in 249 BCE and mark the birthplace of Lord Buddha) and the Sacred Garden. Later on depart Lumbini and drive to Chitwan for wildlife safari. From Lumbini it takes a little over four hours by vehicle to reach Chitwan. Overnight in Chitwan.
Follow your guide to Chitwan National Park. Take a jeep safari and explore the national park. Later on enjoy elephant ride, canoe ride and visit the Elephant Breeding Centre. The park is home to several endangered species, like the one-horned rhinoceros and Royal Bengal Tiger, Black stork etc. Late in the afternoon take a stroll around a traditional Tharu Village and observe the Tharu tribals’ lifestyle. In the evening you will be entertained by a Tharu cultural troupe. There will be traditional singing and dancing followed by dinner. Overnight in Chitwan.
Drive overland from Chitwan to Kathmandu. The ride back to the capital city is filled with delightful sights of lush jungles, verdant hills, glacial rivers and picturesque villages. After arriving in Kathmandu head back to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Take rest or stroll around Thamel or the local market (Ason). Have an early night as you will be flying to Bhutan tomorrow. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Today you will be flying to Bhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. Watch the snow-covered spires of the Himalayan range unfold from your seat during the flight to Paro from Kathmandu. Upon your arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met by your guide who will drive to your hotel and help you check in. After lunch, you begin your spiritual tour with a visit to the ancient Paro or Rinpung Dzong (Fortress of the Heap of Jewels). The traditional fortress houses many religious relics including priceless paintings depicting Buddhist stories.
Afterwards walk downhill and cross the wooden bridge till you reach the road. Board the vehicle which will be waiting for you and head to Kichu Lakhang, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. According to local lore the temple was built by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo to subdue a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism in this corner of the Himalayas. It is said that the temple was constructed overnight. Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche is believed to have visited this temple during the eighth century. After exploring the temple head back to your hotel and take rest. Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast drive to the trailhead located at Sang Choekor Buddhist University. After the day’s supplies have been loaded on the ponies, you take the uphill trail to Bumdra Monastery. Walk past a forested ridge to a meadow filled with colourful prayer flags. From here you can enjoy amazing views of Paro and Do Chhu valley. Walk another hour or two to reach the sacred temple of Chhoe Tse Lakhang. From here, an arduous hike past ancient ruins, prayer flags and verdant forest brings you to an open meadow which is your campsite. Located at an elevation of 3800 meters, you can savour awe-inspiring views of the Himalayan mountains and surrounding valleys from the campsite. The campsite lies below Bumdra Monastery. Overnight in Bumdra.
Wake up early to catch the sunrise. It is indeed a heavenly sight as the first rays of the sun touch the mountains and the hillsides tinting them in hues of golden, yellow, orange and red. Visit the monastery (Cave of a Thousand Prayers) and offer prayers. Head down and follow the trail to Taktsang Monastery. Walk past a dense forest filled with pine and rhododendron trees till you spy the golden roofs of Taktsang Monastery. Descend down and visit the monastery. One of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Bhutan, Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest hangs precariously on a steep rock face. It is believed that Padmasambhava flew from Tibet on the back of a tigress to meditate at the spot where the monastery now stands. After offering prayers, hike down to the highway. Board the vehicle that will be waiting for you and head to your hotel. Overnight in Paro.
You drive to Thimphu after an early breakfast. Upon reaching the capital commence your tour with a visit to King’s Memorial Chorten which was built for world peace and prosperity. Next head to Tashichho Dzong. This magnificent traditional fortress houses a monastery and government offices. Also visit Changangkha Lakhang, an ancient Buddhist Temple located on a ridge top. The temple is frequented by new parents with their infants with the hope of receiving auspicious names for their newly born babies from the monks residing at the lakhang. Changangkha Lakhang was built in the 12th century at a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo who arrived from Tibet to spread the Drukpa Kagyu teachings of Buddhism in Bhutan. Later head to the hilltop shrine of Buddha Dordenma at Kuenselpodrang. The Buddha Dordenma is a giant metal statue that stands at a height of 51 metres. At the base of the statue is a chapel. 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha are placed inside the statue. From here one can enjoy a 360 degree of Thimphu valley. Overnight in Thimphu.
From Thimphu you will be transferred to Paro International Airport well on time to catch your flight to Kathmandu. You will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. After checking in and getting refreshed meet your guide. Together you head to Patan, one of the three medieval kingdoms in the valley. The kingdom was designed in the shape of a Buddhist ‘Dharma Chakra’ in the olden days. Also known as Lalitpur or the ‘City of Artisans’, Patan has a large Buddhist population. Viharas and ancient Buddhist shrines dot this ancient city.
Your guide will take you to Patan Durbar Square, a palace square built by the Malla Kings which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square is filled with palaces, Buddhist shrines and Hindu temples. Hiranya Varna Mahavihar or Golden Temple (one of the most ancient Buddhist shrines in Nepal), Mahaboudha Temple. Mahaboudha Temple which dates back to the 16th century, is a miniature representation of the Mahabouddha Temple in Bodhgaya (the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment). The temple is built using tiles engraved with the images of Buddha.
After Patan tour, you take a drive to Pharping, a small town that lies south on the outskirts Kathmandu valley. Follow your guide to one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Kathmandu, the ‘Asura Cave’. It is here that Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava meditated and achieved the state of ‘Mahamudra’. Later drive back to your hotel. Celebrate the completion of your tour with a complimentary farewell dinner. Head to an authentic Nepali restaurant and enjoy a traditional feast and a cultural show. Overnight in Kathmandu.
You will be driven to the international airport three hours before your flight’s scheduled departure. If you want to visit more places in the Himalayas, do let us know. We have a range of interesting itineraries.
Lunch and Dinner in Kathmandu, Lumbin not included in Package Cost Full Board Meal provided in Chitwan and Bhutan
Click this tab for a detailed Trip Note containing essential information about this trip, including gear and equipment lists and practical information.Essential Trip Information
I chose this trip because number one I love travelling and Bhutan was on my bucket list of ‘must-visit’ destinations; and number two because Buddha’s teachings has left a huge impact in my life. Being a Buddhist I am naturally drawn towards Buddhist pilgrimage centres. While browsing, I came across this trip and booked it right away (online). The team at Third Rock Adventures were very helpful and friendly. They helped me purchase a local sim which I used to call up my family while I was on the road. The visit to Lumbini was special. The place is so peaceful and serene. Though this was a kind of pilgrimage tour, a side trip to Chitwan National Park infused an adventure feel to it. The hike to Bumdra monastery and Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan was amazing. This was truly an inspiring trip. Thank you and thumbs up to the whole team for making this an incredible journey!
I consider it luck and blessing that i was able to embark on this spiritual journey to Nepal and Bhutan following the footsteps of Buddha. As soon as i saw the itinerary in third rock adventures website, i immediately knew that this trip was made for me. I must congratulate the team at TRA for understanding all my needs and requirements and executing everything to perfection. I really enjoyed the trip and am very thankful for the opportunity.
The most important is Lumbini the birthplace of Lord Buddha. In Kathmandu – Boudhanath stupa, Swoyambhunath, Namo Buddha, viharas and Buddhist temples in Patan and Asura Cave. One can also find ancient monasteries and meditation caves used by Padmasambhava in Mustang and Dolpo.