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Encounter illustrious temple artistry of magnificent Hindu legends, bustling bazaars dressed in colourful textiles and unforgettable scenery of the world's mightiest peaks on our fourteen day itinerary through a trio of fascinating regions. Experience India's hill towns surrounded by luscious tea gardens, grand Buddhist architecture overlooking Bhutan's valley dwelling capital and Nepal's unparalleled landscapes that will leave an everlasting impression.
Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Delhi.
On arrival into Delhi you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the dramatic Red Fort, a Mughal stronghold famed for grand sandstone monuments. Pass vibrant spice bazaars en route to British-built New Delhi, admire the distinct Islamic architecture of Humayun's Tomb amongst landscaped gardens and the domineering pastel shikharas of Birla Mandir.
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Bagdogra, from here continue to the town of Darjeeling where you will spend the next three nights. Spaced across a mountainous ridge overlooking emerald tea plantations, this town proudly displays colonial architecture alongside Buddhist monasteries with a dramatic Himalayan backdrop.
Today enjoy a trip along the UNESCO recognised Himalayan Railway line. This dramatic alpine course boasts unfolding panoramic scenery dominated by the world's third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga. En route visit the Tibetan Refugee Centre to observe mesmerising woollen work spun before your eyes, then continue to the Mountaineering Museum for a fascinating insight into the first perilous British expeditions of Everest. Discover Himalayan bears, red pandas, Tibetan wolves and a growing population of endangered snow leopards at the Himalayan Zoological Park - considered one of India's best zoos.
From your vantage point of Tiger Hill, witness the breath-taking spectacle of daybreak illuminating the snow-coated Himalayan horizon. Following this unforgettable scene, enjoy a tour through the aromatic Happy Valley Tea Estate to observe the withering, rolling, fermenting and drying process of tea leaves. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon in Darjeeling relaxing or taking in a unique shopping experience along Mall Road.
This morning, fly to the charming town of Paro in Bhutan and onto the capital city of Thimphu. Sprawled along Thimphu Valley, the city's recent construction boom has created a juxtaposition of commercial zest alongside Buddhist monuments peppered with crimson-robed monks. Check-in to your hotel for the next three nights and enjoy an evening at leisure.
After breakfast, a full day city tour of Thumphu awaits. Witness visitors whirling large prayer wheels at the National Memorial Chorte in memory of Bhutan's third king, proceeded by a stroll through flurrying pilgrims and along changangkha temple's kora to admire views of the surrounding mountainscape. Later today inspect the intricate crafting process of traditional artistic pieces within 'the painting school', before gazing at one of the largest Buddhist statues in the world - the ginormous 50 metre Buddha Dordenma sat upon a three-story throne.
Today visit the charming town of Paro to experience one of Bhutan's highlights, a horseback ride up to the famed Tiger's Nest Monastery which clings to a granite peak 3,000 metres above sea level. Local lore alleges that it is here that Guru Padmasambaya arrived on the back of a tigress in the 8th century and then proceeded to meditate for three months. Return to Thumphu for your final night in Bhutan.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, from here travel to the hilltop settlement of Bandipur - a network of winding lanes, traditional Newari architecture and a welcoming community of farmers and traders. Spend your afternoon on a guided tour exploring the town's charming bazaar flanked by pagoda-style temples.
Enjoy a much needed rest this morning, before embarking on a leisurely hike around Bandipur, exploring secret caves along the hill trails and quaint villages untouched by modern civilisation.
Depart Bandipur this morning and head to Bhaktapur in Nepal. Having settled in, enjoy an afternoon tour of this UNESCO recognised city to spot Durbar Square's distinct Golden Gate, a portal boasting exquisite gilding of the Garuda fending off mythological serpents. Climb a stairway guarded by legendary stone guardians to peer at Nepal's tallest temple before returning to Bhaktapur for your evening meal.
Following breakfast head to Kathmandu, a metropolis of people-packed alleys, vibrant Newari craft markets and an ancient rhythm of worship enduring within the city's striking medieval temple.
A full day tour of Kathmandu commences after breakfast where you will visit the iconic Boudhanath to admire Asia's largest stupa beneath a canopy of coloured prayer flags. Continue to the UNESCO recognised Swayambhunath, an ancient complex displaying a fascinating jumble of Hindu and Buddhist iconography amongst an intoxicating aroma of incense. Take some time to explore Pashupatinath, Nepal's most important Hindu temple used to bless pilgrims and kings alike.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your scheduled flight back to the UK.
A visa is required for entry into India. British Citizen Passport Holders will need to obtain an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for travel to India. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £96 per person. The Travel Visa Company can only apply for this 30 days before your proposed travel date and takes around 10 working days to issue. It is only valid for a 30 day single entry stay from the date of arrival. When calling the Travel Visa Company they will advise you of any changes to the fees or the procedure, they will also advise you of all information they will require in order to apply for the visa. Please inform them if you plan to take one of our India Extensions as you will be required to have a multi entry visa. Alternatively you can visit The Indian Visa Application Centre in London: 142-148 Goswell Road, London, EC1B 7DU.
British passport holders do not need to obtain a visa for Nepal prior to departure. A Nepalese visa can be purchased on arrival into Kathmandu; you will need to download a form from the Nepal Embassy website and present this completed form on arrival at immigration together with a passport sized photograph (we recommend taking a couple spare) and payment (currently USD $25). When applying for the visa on arrival you will need to ensure you apply for a multiple entry visa. We recommend you check the following website before travelling for all the most up to date advice, requirements and any changes www.nepembassy.org.uk/visa.
British passport holders do need to obtain a visa for Bhutan prior to travel. We have included this in the cost of your tour and will apply for this on your behalf but for us to do this it is essential that you supply us with a colour photocopy of the photo page of your passport you will be travelling on at least 60 days before you leave the UK. You can either scan or email this to us or put a copy in the post. It is essential that you travel on the passport that you have provided us a copy of and that your passport has at least 6 months validity after your trip ends. We strongly advise you to check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding required passport validity.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight to Delhi International Airport is with Jet Airways(9W), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 4. Please note that all flight times and numbers listed above are provided for guidance only and are subject to change. Final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure.
Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage, however weight restrictions will be finalised on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure. Checked baggage allowance may vary. Please refer to the bottom right of your E-ticket receipt for the correct baggage allowance. For example, if it shows '20k' this means your allowance is 20kg; or '1PC' means One Piece not exceeding 23kg. For handling purposes the maximum weight of any single piece of baggage must not exceed 32kg. Hand Luggage: One piece of hand luggage with maximum total dimensions not exceeding a total of 115cm in size and 7kg in weight. Please refer to the Airline's website for further details and the most up-to-date information.
If you wish to arrange Airport car parking or accommodation at preferential rates, we recommend you book this in advance with Holiday Extras on 0871 360 2000, quoting HX313.
On your arrival at Delhi Airport, please collect your luggage and proceed to the exit in the Customs Hall. You will be met by a representative of Champawati Tours who will be holding a sign displaying: 'Mercury Holidays'.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot, and includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The tour also includes a full day hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan. Whilst a horse ride to the top is included, they can only take you so far and towards the end of the trek, to get to the very top of the Monastery, there are around 800 steps that must be walked on foot. You will also need to descend the entire way from the monastery as horses cannot take passengers down as the path is steep and uneven. It is important that you make us aware of any health issues before you travel. Please note that it may not be recommended for you to participate in the Tiger's Nest Monastery excursion if you are not in good physical health.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10, and the maximum will be 35. If in the unlikely event there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date then you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour, meaning that you will be met on arrival in each country by your local English speaking guide.
The currency in India is the Rupee or Rs. The Rupee is a closed currency and officially you are not allowed to take any cash out of India. The currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR) and the currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN). In India and Nepal US Dollars and UK sterling are both often accepted should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you. The Bhutanese Ngultrum is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee and Indian currency is accepted all over Bhutan. You will be able to exchange cash (but not traveller's cheques) at the foreign exchange desk at Paro Airport and Bank of Bhutan branches in major towns such as Paro and Thimphu. Credit cards have limited acceptability in Bhutan, particularly in local shops and for smaller payments. There are ATMs in Thimphu and Paro but they generally only accept local cards, therefore, it is important that you take sufficient cash to exchange with you.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £400 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour, depending on how much of a bargain hunter you are!
Selling or buying of tobacco and tobacco products is banned in Bhutan. However, bringing in products for personal consumption is allowed. If bringing in tobacco products to Bhutan you may need to pay a tobacco tax upon arrival. Any tobacco products will be subject to a total of 200% tax on the value of the product.
Tipping is not compulsory and is at your discretion. For India should you wish to tip, this will be collected by your guide at the end of this part of the tour for your convenience. It is asked that if you do not tip in the local currency, please do not give coins as these are difficult to exchange. For Nepal, should you wish to tip, we recommend to tip both your driver and guide approximately £3.00 ($5.00) per person per day in total. Should you wish to tip in Bhutan, we recommend to tip your guide approx. USD $5 per person per day and your driver approx. USD $3 per person per day.
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Weather can vary quite considerably throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.
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