|15 Day Sikkim and Bhutan Highlights
A delightful journey into the Himalayas, combining the mysteries and breathtaking vistas of Bhutan with the lesser known but equally stunning scenery of India's state of Sikkim. The latter is the second-smallest state in India, wedged between Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal. It offers an astounding range of pristine natural beauty, dazzling waterfalls, and virgin forests, but also colorful Buddhist monasteries and quaint villages. The third-highest peak in the world (Kanchenjunga) lies in Sikkim.
Start your trip in Delhi and continue to fly to Gangtok, Sikkim's beautiful capital, also known as "Land of Monasteries". Visit the Enchey Monastery and the intriguing Namgyal Institute of Tibetology with its rare collection of Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts. Your next stop is Darjeeling, one of the most famous cities in India, and best-known around the world for growing tea. It is lovely and peaceful, and the air is wonderfully fresh. Your private guide will join you for a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a classic steam-powered locomotive train that runs on a narrow-gauge track, nicknamed the Toy Train. Yes, it's a bit touristy, but the journey through the rolling hills and the view of the Himalayas is a delightful adventure. Darjeeling's natural grandeur is, perhaps, savored best from Tiger Hill. Join your private guide before the break of dawn to see the sun rise over the Himalayas, a view that slowly reveals the snow-capped mountains of Everest, Kanchenjunga and other peaks emerging with the rising sun.
It is now possible to drive into Bhutan, and Phuentsholing is the border point from where to enter the country by road. As Bhutan's second largest city, it shares its border with the Indian town of Jaigaon, turning both places into brisk centers for cross-border trading. Your one overnight in town allows you to see a place with modern buildings quite unlike elsewhere in Bhutan.
Once you reach Thimpu you know "you have arrived". Colorful paintings with rich and intricate detail on the walls make Bhutan's capital, one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Locals have a wonderfully charming traditional outlook, but there is also a cosmopolitan flair in the air. A lovely mix. Accompany your private guide to see Thimpu's most iconic landmark: the Buddha Dordenma Statue, the largest Buddha statue in the world, measuring 177 feet and visit the Changangkha Lhakhang. This is the oldest temple in Thimpu, built in the 12th century, hovering over a ridge near Motihang. By the way, you can purchase some of the world's most beautiful postage stamps, all collector's items, at face value from the general post office.
On the drive to Punakha, up the Dochula Pass (10,130ft) we stop briefly to take in the view and admire the chortens (hemispherical religious structures also known as stupas), Mani walls, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country, offering a great opportunity to go for a hike up through rice fields along the banks of the Mo Chu river, followed by a drive towards Khurutang, passing Punthsho Pelri Palace and other winter homes of the royal family.
Your last stop in Bhutan is Paro, and an excursion to the spectacular Taktsang monastery. The building literally clings to the edge of a sheer rock that plunges 3,000 feet into the valley below. Almost everything about Paro is spiritual. In many places, the only sound you will hear is the wind and the faint chime of the prayer bells.
Kensington Tours creates private trips from the world's finest ingredients. Tailor-made with care by your personal Destination Expert, your personalized trip is always a one-of-a-kind experience made just for you. Expert local guidance and 24/7 service come standard.