Most of us couldn’t even point out Nepal and Bhutan on a map. But these compact little countries that sit high in the Himalayas (and run along India’s northern border) are voted tops with travelers for their incredible historical sights and extravagant natural beauty. Best of all, given these countries’ remote location, there are still relatively few tourists!
And there’s a LOT to see. Brand g has a new land tour for 2018 – the Nepal and Bhutan Exploration – that will take you to extraordinary sights like these (and much more):
- Pashupatinath Temple – The largest temple complex in Nepal, built in the 5th century, it contains nearly 500 It stretches along both sides of the Bagmati river, and is considered one of the most important religious sites in all of Asia. Hindu cremations are performed here, and are fascinating rituals – but they’re not for the faint of heart!
- Kathmandu Durbar (“Royal Palace”) Square – one of three Royal Palace squares, it’s surrounded by the spectacular architecture of the palace and its temples. It also holds the Kumari Chok, a gilded cage in which a live girl – chosen to become the human incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess – is worshipped by the Nepalese. (Don’t worry, they let her out; it’s purely ceremonial.)
- Boudhanath – With countless monasteries surrounding it, it’s one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Nepal and indeed, in all of Asia. On each side of the stupa are a pair of the all-seeing eyes of Buddha, which could seem creepy but are meant to symbolize awareness. Light a butter lamp and send a prayer anywhere you wish.
- Swayambhunath – also known as the “Monkey Temple”, it’s one of the holiest sites in Nepal. And because it sits atop a hill, it offers stunning views of Kathmandu below. For centuries, getting up to the stupa required a long climb up exceedingly steep stone steps. But there is now a road leading to the top, so if you don’t want a calves power workout, you can drive up to it.
- Everest – If you want a heart-in-mouth moment, enjoy Brand g’s one-hour flight over the Himalayas, which seem to literally pierce the sky. You’ll see Mt. Everest – the highest mountain on earth – up close and personal, in a way almost no one except those insane trekkers ever do. An extraordinary experience.
- Motithang Preserve – A wildlife reserve for the Takin (a goat and antelope hybrid which is the national animal of Bhutan). Originally a zoo, Bhutan felt that keeping the animals penned up was not in keeping with their environmental and religious views, so they released the takins into the wild – and they refused to leave. Thus, a preserve was created, and these gentle, oddball animals roam freely here.
- Paro Taktsang – Also known as the “Tiger’s Nest”, this 17th century monastic retreat in Bhutan clings to the side of a Himalayan mountain nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. The cultural icon of Bhutan, it features absolutely breathtaking views of the mountains and emerald green valleys below.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you do it with Brand g or on your own, if you’re hankering for a new travel experience, the Himalayas are hot and ready.