This two-week tour of Bhutan and Nepal introduces you to the fascinating cultures and beautiful landscapes of two different countries. Start in Kathmandu, shopping in the vibrant bazaar, then explore the countryside around Pokhara. You'll take in striking views of the snow-capped Himalayas while flying to Bhutan. Then enjoy several days of exploring Bhutan's quiet mountain trails and impressive fortresses, ending with a hike to the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery.

Highlights

  • Visit Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion
  • Tour the cultural highlights and the colorful bazaar of Kathmandu
  • Enjoy magnificent views of the Himalayas while flying from Nepal to Bhutan
  • Visit a waterfall and explore adjacent caves
  • Hike to the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Discover Kathmandu: Bazaar Walk & Kathmandu Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 2 Visit the Monkey Temple and Pashupatinath Kathmandu
Day 3 Explore Patan & Sunset at Namobuddha Monastery Namobuddha
Day 4 Sightsee in Bhaktapur Bhaktapur
Day 5 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara  Pokhara
Day 6 See the Peace Pagoda, Waterfall & Caves Pokhara
Day 7 Drive to Kande & Trek to Australian Camp Australian Camp
Day 8 Trek to Annapurna Eco Village Astam
Day 9 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 10 Transfer to Bhutan & Drive to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 11 Explore the Countryside in Punakha Punakha
Day 12 Visit Punakha Dzong & Drive to Paro Paro
Day 13 Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery Paro
Day 14 Depart Bhutan  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Discover Kathmandu: Bazaar Walk & Kathmandu Durbar Square

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
 A view of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

Welcome to Nepal! As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalayas, and the terraced fields below. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time for a walking tour of the city's vibrant bazaar to see seemingly endless lines of tiny stalls selling fruit and vegetables, spices, fabric, brass kitchenware, and more. Explore the secret alleys and courtyards of old Kathmandu, dotted with Buddhist stupas (shrines) and Hindu temples. Visit nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square, a storied center of royal and religious power, and the Hanuman Dhoka Palace.

Day 2: Visit the Monkey Temple & Pashupatinath

Exploring the temples of Kathmandu

After breakfast, you'll embark on a full day of sightseeing to get to know the incredible Kathmandu Valley. First you will visit the Swoyambhunath Temple. Also known as the Monkey Temple for the many resident monkeys that scamper around its small shrines, the temple is perched on a hilltop overlooking the valley and is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. From here you will proceed to Patan, also known as Lalitpur. Patan is one of the three ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley, and the Patan Durbar Square showcases stunningly preserved temples and palace complexes.

Finally, you'll go to Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the three main gods in Hinduism. Situated on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, Pashupatinath is the main cremation site for Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley. It is such an important pilgrimage site that a constant stream of people are always coming and going from Nepal and India.

Day 3: Explore Patan & Sunset at Namobuddha Monastery

Colorful prayer flags

Proceed this morning to Boudhanath, one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. It features four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal directions, keeping watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity. Continuing the exploration of Buddhism in Kathmandu, you'll drive up over the rim of the Kathmandu Valley to the stunning hilltop shrine of Namobuddha. You'll stay the night in a charming hilltop village resort with spectacular views of the Himalayan Range at sunset.

Day 4: Sightsee in Bhaktapur

A traditional building in Bhaktapur, Nepal

This morning you can get up early to catch a stunning sunrise over the Himalayas. After breakfast, you'll travel to Bhaktapur, one of the three ancient cities within the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as Bhadgaun, meaning the "city of devotees," and is a center of medieval art and architecture. Bhaktapur is also a hub of traditional Nepalese wood carving. You will visit the Durbar Square (palace square) and the Taleju Temple, the best example of pagoda architecture in Nepal. It rises up majestically on five terraces.

Day 5: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara 

Snow-capped Himalayas

After breakfast this morning, you'll board a half-hour flight to Pokhara, enjoying views of the Himalayas from the plane windows. Visit Pokhara’s traditional bazaar, a bright and colorful place where you can buy textiles, spices, even gold! And you'll see one of Pokhara’s most important shrines, located in the middle of the bazaar. Known locally as the Bindhyabasini Mandir, this white dome-like structure dominates a spacious stone-paved courtyard. It is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, people flock here to offer sacrifices, giving the bazaar a particularly festive feel.

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Day 6: See the Peace Pagoda, Waterfall & Caves

Beautiful Phewa Lake

Enjoy a leisurely boat ride across the spectacular Phewa Lake, with a short stop at the Barahi Temple, located on a small island in the center. On reaching the far side of the lake, you'll begin to climb through the forest to the steps leading to the World Peace Pagoda. This Buddhist stupa is one of many Peace Pagodas worldwide, built in an attempt to unite people from all over the world and promote world peace. The Peace Pagoda at Pokhara was built by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji Order. There are four Buddha statues, each from a different country to provide unity between nations — Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Japan. 

Later, you'll visit Devi’s Fall, an impressive waterfall marking the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. Beside the waterfall is Gupteswor Cave. You'll tour the cave with your guide before transferring back to Pokhara.

Day 7: Drive to Kande & Trek to Australian Camp

Mountain scenery in the Annapurna Mountain Range

Enjoy a scenic drive to Kande, the starting point for a short trek to the Australian Camp. The uphill trail offers magnificent views of the Annapurna Mountain Range. After a few hours of hiking, you'll have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Day 8: Trek to Annapurna Eco-Village

Morning in the mountains

After breakfast in the Australian Camp, follow the ridge to the stunning ridgetop village of Astam, which translates as "sunset village." The village is beautiful and superbly located with stunning views of Machhapuchhare (Fishtail Mountain), surrounded by the peaks of the Annapurna section of the Himalayan Range. You'll eventually arrive at Annapurna Eco-Village, an eco-friendly guesthouse set on a family-run farm with incredible mountain views. Enjoy a laid-back afternoon and overnight here before returning to civilization the next day.

Day 9: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu

Fly back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is yours to relax or head out for some more exploration of the colorful city. Go on a Vespa tour, sample Nepalese cuisine on a food tour, shop for locally produced art and textiles, or do some more cultural sightseeing around the city's historic district. Then enjoy one last evening in Nepal before tomorrow's flight to Bhutan.

Day 10: Transfer to Bhutan & Drive to Thimphu

Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu, in the foothills of the Himalayas

The spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Paro is a great introduction to Bhutan's beauty. From the plane, you will have breathtaking views of Mount Everest and many more Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Jomolhari. You'll transfer from Paro to the capital city of Thimphu, which has many attractions for visitors. During a guided tour today, you will visit several of the city's cultural sites, monuments, and temples. You'll attend a crafts workshop and explore the Textiles Museum.

Check out the archery ground at the National Stadium, where you can try Bhutan's national sport for yourself, and stop by the Takin Preserve to see the Bhutan takin, a quirky-looking animal that's related to the goat and the antelope. It's the national animal of Bhutan. Or step into the School of Astrology, a popular stop for Bhutanese parents in search of auspicious names and blessings for their newborns. Pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir at the Bhutan Postal Museum, which traces the development of the Bhutanese postal system — and prints your photo on a Bhutanese stamp.

Day 11: Explore the Countryside in Punakha

The fertility temple of Chimi Lhakhang

Start the three-hour drive to Punakha. As soon as you leave Thimphu, you will be surrounded by forest. The road climbs gently to the Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,050 meters); from here, you can enjoy spectacular mountain views to the north. Later, you'll take a short and easy hike to Chimi Lhakhang. This famous fertility temple is is a pilgrimage spot for people from all over Bhutan who wish to have children. Then continue on to Punakha, where you'll spend the night.

Day 12: Visit Punakha Dzong & Drive to Paro

Dramatic landscapes in the Paro Valley

After breakfast, you will visit the Punakha Dzong, situated at the confluence of two rivers and said to be one of the most beautiful fortresses in Bhutan. This is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leadership and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. It's a fine example of Bhutan’s rich art and architectural tradition. You'll drive back to Paro through the beautiful countryside, stopping at a few villages along the way to try local snacks and browse handicrafts. 

Day 13: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery

The Tiger's Nest Monastery

Enjoy a hike today to the legendary Taktsang Goenba (Tiger's Nest Monastery). A steep climb will bring you face-to-face with this spectacular monastery. You may also hike beyond Taktsang to more remote monasteries further uphill, such as Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshemo, to get away from tourist crowds and enjoy fantastic views. Return to the Paro Valley, where you will stop to check out Bhutan’s oldest temple, Khyichu Lhakhang, dating back to the 7th century. Enjoy one last dinner in Bhutan before the trip comes to a close.

Day 14: Depart Bhutan

Flying over the Himalayas

The trip has come to a close. You'll head to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Bhutan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bhutan? Check out these other 14-day Bhutan itineraries, with trekking adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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