Explore Sikkim and Bhutan, two of the most isolated Himalayan regions. Centuries-old Buddhist monasteries cling to mountain cliffs and rice paddies stair-step down steep hillsides. Your journey begins with an arrival transfer to Darjeeling, where we include a ride on the narrow-gauge mountain railway and sunrise over Kangchenjunga from Tiger Hill. Visit the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, and passing on to Rumtek, visit the Karmapa’s Monastery. Travel to Kalimpong, once an important trading post for these parts of the world.
From Kalimpong, our road then descends into the plains known as Duars, filled with lush tea gardens and some remote villages that are much isolated from the mainstream. Cross into Phuntsholing, Bhutan. Discover Bhutan’s captivating cultural mix, reflected in its beautiful shrines, temples, and handicrafts as you travel from south to western Bhutan; in the towns and villages of Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha valley. Explore the Dzongs, ancient fortresses that once protected the kingdom.
Day 1: Arrive in Bagdogra – Darjeeling
Day 2: Sightseeing tour in Darjeeling
Day 3: Darjeeling – Gangtok
Day 4: Gangtok Sightseeing
Day 5: Rumtek & Kalimpong
Day 6: Kalimpong – Chalsa(Dooars)
Day 7: Chalsa-Phuntsholing-Thimphu
Day 8: Thimphu-Punakha
Day 9: Punakha – Thimphu
Day 10: Thimphu – Paro
Day 11: Paro (Takstang trek)
Day 12: Departure
We can also suggest dates to coincide with local festivals in Bhutan or Sikkim.
- Colonial character in form of Churches and Tea gardens in Darjeeling.
- Historical and religious attractions in Gangtok (Sikkim)
- Scenic drives through tea estates
- Visit off-the-beaten villages from Chalsa
- Diversity of Environment and Culture
- Quaint and Pristine environ in Bhutan with a rich historical legacy in for of Dzong ( erstwhile Fortress converted into Administrative unit) and monasteries.
Detailed ItineraryExpand All
Arrive in Bagdogra – Darjeeling
Upon arrival at Bagdogra airport/NJP station, meet our representative and transfer to Darjeeling, which takes about 3+ hours. The journey passes through small towns, villages, and tea estates, as you climb up the hills. After high tea in the evening, take a stroll around Chowrastha Mall and into the Bazaar area. Overnight in Darjeeling.
Sightseeing tour in Darjeeling
Before dawn, you have an option to hire/share a cab to visit Tiger Hill for a sunrise view (extra). After breakfast, begin our sightseeing tour. Visit Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. Then visit the Tibetan Self-Help Center which boasts of high-quality Tibetan handicrafts and on the way back, visit a tea estate. In the afternoon, visit Dali Gompa monastery, and the rest of the time is free to stroll around the town or take a toy train joy ride until Ghoom(Optional).
Overnight in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling – Gangtok
Drive through the tea gardens and descend through sub-tropical Teesta valley and enter Sikkim at Rangpo. After permit formalities, continue to drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. (Total 4-5hr). In Gangtok, visit Namgyal Institute of Tibetology a repository of Tibetan works, iconography, and religious arts, and the nearby Deorali Dodrul Chorten surrounded by 108 prayer wheels. In the evening walk through the iconic MG Marg, a Pedestrian cobbled Boulevard lined on both sides with interesting neon-lit shops, and also visit the Lal Bazaar vegetable and food market. Overnight in Gangtok.
Visit a Flower Exhibition Center-wide arrays of orchids, some indigenous plants, and flowers on display. Drive to Enchey monastery affiliated to Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism and continue further uphill to reach view Points such as Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, and Tashi viewpoint which overlooks gorgeous view below. On the way back visit the Directorate of Hand-loom and Handicrafts which houses workshops for carpet weaving, Blackstrap loom, Bamboo craft, Painting school followed by a museum and handicraft sale emporium. The afternoon is free to rest or pursue your own interests. Overnight in Gangtok.
Rumtek & Kalimpong
Drive for about an hour to Rumtek monastery on the opposite hilltop. This was the main seat of Karma Kagyu lineage in exile. The architecture itself is the replica of the original monastery in Tsurphu Tibet. After visiting this famous monastery, drive to Kalimpong (3hr), another hill town with good views, a bursting bazaar, and rich history. Visit Durpin Dara viewpoint, commanding a panoramic view of the whole town, Teesta river below, and the backdrop peaks. Favorable climate and conducive soil contribute to the growth of horticulture extensively, so we’ll visit some of the Flower nurseries. Remnants of the colonial era are still conspicuous in form of medieval Churches, homes, and schools such as over century-old Dr. Grahams Homes campus. After the visit drive to Deolo Hill, the highest point in Kalimpong with a panoramic view of Kalimpong town and neighboring hills. On the way back stroll through the charming bazaar. Overnight in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong - Chalsa(Dooars)
Descend from the hills into Dooars, flanked by lush green sub-tropical vegetation, and tea gardens – originally planted by the British. These lush green areas constitute the floodplains and foothills bordering Bhutan, Darjeeling, and the plains of Assam. It takes a little over 2hr to reach Chalsa. In the afternoon, explore the nearby tea gardens, off the beaten road villages, an open school under a tree, tea garden worker’s colony, and the small bazaar area. The option is available to visit the nearby National Park and Wild Life Sanctuary. (Entrance fees and safari fee extra). Overnight in Chalsa in a resort set with nice lawns and fruit trees.
After early breakfast, drive for about 2hrs through the plains to cross the border into Phuentsholing, Bhutan. After completing immigration formalities, drive up the hills to the capital Thimphu, which takes another 5+hrs. En-route, stop and visit the Rinchending monastery and other villages and towns along the way. Thimphu being the capital has a lot of monuments and attractions – some contemporary and some medieval. Upon arrival, you can choose to rest or relax after long hours of drive or instantly get a feel of the pulses of Thimphu by visiting Tashicho Dzong – the main government seat. Evening free to take a stroll around the town. Overnight in Thimphu.
Drive across spectacular Dochula pass (3100m) that separates Thimphu from Punakha valley. Take a brief stop at Dochula to experience the spellbinding view of snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas. Descend into sub-tropical and agrarian Punakha valley. Once there, visit astounding Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful Dzong, located at the confluence of the two rivers. Late in the afternoon embark on a short hike of 45 mins to visit Khamsum Chorten. The hike is a mixture of paddy fields and the village trail walk. The view of the meandering Punakha River, terraced rice field, and village below is simply spectacular.
Overnight in Punakha.
: Punakha - Thimphu
Visit Chhimi Lhakhang temple dedicated to saint Drukpa Kinley (15c) popularly known for his offbeat antics and jokes, and as a protagonist in most of the local folklores. Drive further to Wangdue and visit the remains of its Dzong and continue to Thimphu. Upon arrival in Thimphu, we can begin with a visit to Memorial Chorten, Buddha Statue, Takin Reserve, Zilukha Nunnery, Textile museum, and the weekend market as per your interest and time. Overnight in Thimphu.
Thimphu - Paro
After breakfast, visit the remaining attractions if you have missed the previous day and then drive to Paro. The drive to Paro takes about an hour. Paro is one of the serene and loveliest valleys in Bhutan. Upon arrival, cross the archaic wooden cantilever bridge to visit Rinpung Dzong erstwhile fortress converted into the office of district administration and monastic body now. Also, visit the nearby National Museum that houses some of the finest specimens of Bhutanese arts. Then we drive a short distance to visit some monasteries that define Paro such as Kichu & Dungtse Lhakang. Subsequently, walk into the village and visit a local farmhouse, strike in conversation with locales to gain insights into their daily life. Overnight in Paro
Paro (Takstang trek)
Transfer to the trailhead and hike to iconic Taktsang Monastery(Tiger’s Nest Monastery) one of the most sacred and pilgrimage sites for Himalayan Buddhists. One can marvel at its architecture and gravity-defying location precariously clinging to a vertical granite cliff. There is an option to hire a mule or pony for the uphill part but you should be able to walk downhill. If for some reason, you are unable to visit Taktsang, our Guide can arrange other suitable alternatives. Even after Taktsang, we may have time to visit some sights in Paro and to wander around the charming township of Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight. Depending on the Druk Air schedule, you can fly to Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, or Kathmandu.
Cost is based on the number of participants. For details contact us.
- Accommodations in listed hotels or similar.
- Only breakfast and dinner in Darjeeling and Sikkim and all meals in Bhutan.
- All Private transfers by best quality vehicle.
- All sightseeing with entrance fees.
- English speaking local guide and driver from start till finish.
- Bhutan visa, taxes, and permits
- Flights (priced based on the sectors)
- Indian Visa.
- Bar/Beverages, Laundry, Telphone, optional tips, and other personal expenses.
- Travel Medical Insurance.
TID 8682 Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan Tour – Extension to West Sikkim. (Nov 23 – Dec 06, 2014)
Dear Anand, We arrived 3 hours ago in Vienna, because after finishing your tour we travelled 13 days across West Bengal. Your guides and drivers were very professional. We can recommend these gentlemen for further tours. That we had problems with hiking and didn’t see all major monuments is not their mistake. Nevertheless we are satisfied. Our rooms in the hotels in Pelling, Yokson and Thimphu were top, the rooms in Phuentsholing and Kalimpong were OK, the room in Paro had a little problem and from the Elgin in Darjeeling we are very disappointed. The hotel in Gangtok was very basic and not the standard for “western” tourists. In course of January 2015 you can read my statements at tripadvisor. kind regards
Gerhard HNov 23 - Dec 06, 2014
TID 571: Darjeeling Sikkim & Bhutan (Sept. 19-Sept. 30, 2012)
We just returned from our trip and are going through our mail. I want to let you know that Bhutan was the highlight of our 14 week trip. We thought it would be good but it was actually great/fascinating. Thanks for organizing it.
Jay R & Elise RSept. 19-30, 2012
Stephen Freeman x 03 – 09 Mar/01 Apr, 2011
Dear Sonam, Now that we have returned home after our trip to Bhutan and India following our memorable week touring in Sikhim and Darjeeling with you, I would like to thank you and your team at Windhorse Travel for putting it together to meet our needs, and for the wonderful tour that you executed for us. From the greeting at Badgdora upon our arrival to our departure across the border into Bhutan, you went out of your way to find out our personal interests and then tailored the tour to ensure we got the very most out the vacation, for which we are truly grateful.
I would recommend Windhorse Travel to anybody truly interested in an unforgettable vacation in some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world. Now we aare saving up to take in another vacation to Bhutan and India in a couple of years time to see the parts of the countries that we didn’t cover on this vacation.
Stephen and Eva FreemanMarch 09-April1,2011
Stephen Freeman Family 09 March – 01 April, 2011
Dear Ugen, Now that we have returned home after a memorable 3 weeks in Sikhim, Bhutan and India I would like to thank you and your entire team at Windhorse Tours for putting it together to meet our needs, and for the wonderful tour that you executed for us. From the greeting upon our arrival to our departure, your staff went out of their way to find out our personal interests and then customized the tours to ensure we got the very most out the vacation.
In particular I want to thank the tour guides in each location who are all outstanding individuals who have left lasting memories of the lands we visited, and were each one exceptional:- Sonam Tsering Bhutia in Drajeeling and Sikhim; Leki Dorji in Bhutan and Mukesh in India. Could you please thank Mr. Gupta from your Delhi office, to who came out late at night to meet my wife and I at the airport, and then our daughter a week later, got her safely to her hotel and then ensured that she caught her early morning flight to Paro next morning.
I would recommend Windhorse Toursto anybody truly interested in an unforgettable vacation in some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world. Now we aare saving up to take in another vacation to Bhutan and India in a couple of years time to see the parts of the countries that we didn’t cover on this vacation. Kind Regards, Steve, Eve & Katherine F
Steve, Eve & Katherine FMarch 9 -April1,2011
Sikkim Bhutan Custom Trip Mar 21- April 03, 2010
Our guide in Sikkim and Darjeeling was also very good. We gained a lot of information about the country. The driver was very adept at handling the car in a difficult driving situation. He was very patient and a safe driver. The only problem we had was on arrival from Dubai into Delhi. There was no one to meet us at the airport. I was able to reach the agent on his cell and he apologized and had us take a taxi to the Ashok Country Resort. The hotel was fair. He did come early the next morning to take us to the Druk flight. The Norkhill Hotel was very good but its sister hotel the Elgin was fair.
Overall, however, we had an enjoyable and informative time.
We are on our way back home having completed the arrangements with you. Just wanted you to know that the Bhutan portion of our trip was teriffic!
Our tour guide, Tshewang Rinchen was outstanding. His years of experience professionalism, knowledge, pleasant personality and timeliness were just great. He took real good care of us and was always there prior to meals and tour times ready to go. We learned a lot and thouroughly enjoyed the experience. Our driver was also excellent.
Very patient in his driving and extremely polite with us. The hotels all worked out ok. In terms of service the Taj Tashi and the Punatsangchhu Cottages were both excellent. The Tenzling Hotel was good. The Druk Hotel in Phuentsholing, however, had problems. We were the only customers. There was noise of construction, toilet didn’t work properly, hot water required special effort to get them to turn on the flow from the main water heater. The next morning it was off again. The staff wasn’t very friendly especially as compared to the other hotels where they tried hard to smile and be helpful. Regards.
Haig BMarch,25 2010
TID 155 India and Bhutan Tour (25 Sep -17Oct. 2008)
Hi Ugen, Thank you for everything you have done to organise our trip, it truly was a trip of a life time in every aspects and was of top quality, and i am missing bhutan already. I will be traveling with windhorse in the future. i have already started saving to hopfully do a trek in bhutan.
Thank you again for everything you have done.
Tegan & Gillian ESep 25-17Oct, 2008
We would like to thank you for organizing a very interesting and trouble-free trip. All the guides and drivers were excellent – we submitted a report on those in Bhutan but the others were excellent as well.
There were were two occasions when problems could have occured that I would draw to your attention, not as criticisms, but to avoid problems in future tours.
Apparently one needs a visa-type document to enter Sikkim. Fortunately we had brought a spare set of passport pictures with us so, with them, our guide was able to obtain this document when we entered Sikkim in about 15 minutes. A copy of this is attached. If you are otganizing future tours, I think it would be adfvisable to suggest that participants have a spare set of passport picturs with them. Or possibly this permit could be secured in advance.
When we arrived in Bangkok in the early morning on the trip home, we had been without sleep for more than 24 hours, We wanted to check in to our hotel tight away. Fortunately the hotel was not busy so we were able to do so (at extra cost)
For future tours, I suggest that you offer clients this opportunity in advance. We would have been most unhappy if we had had to wait in the lobby until mid afternoon when rooms normally are ready.
Again I want to say that we think your company is really good – the suggestions are intended to make you even better.
Ku zu zangpo la ! I am not sure if you received my earlier email, therefore I am re-sending.
In business, too often people are quick to criticize and omit to give credit when due.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to you and everyone involved in making my recent visit to Darjeeling and Bhutan a wonderful one. All arrangements were seamless, leaving us to fully enjoy it’s beauty and it’s people. I am eager to develop all the photos taken to cherish my memories. I’ve told everyone here at home that my pictures or stories will not do justice. Dawa was most kind, courteous and helpful and your representatives located in Thimphu insured our holiday in Bhutan met our expectations.
I must commend Lal on his excellent driving skills. I held much confidence in his abilities and command of the road conditions in Bhutan. Also, Choki was an excellent guide for our group. He is very knowledgeable and personable with a great sense of humor. He insured our accommodations were up to par and our needs were met. We were a very inquisitive group and Choki answered all our questions; he had much patience with a group of 7 women!
Again, kadriche for organizing a wonderful and beautiful trip to Darjeeling and Bhutan.
Sincerely and best regards,