Pre-tour to Sikkim
Designed as a pre-tour to Hidden Lands of the Himalayas.
Discover Sikkim, a hidden pocket of north India bursting with lush scenery, rich history and vibrant culture. Be immersed in the unique blend of Buddhist and Hindu traditions, beautifully expressed in the monasteries and temples nestled in the foothills of one of the most spectacular mountain ranges on Earth. Witness one of the most ecologically diverse environments in the Himalayan region, passing through forests and jungles, crossing rivers and driving through glorious gardens.
**LIMITED NUMBERS – EARLY BOOKING RECOMMENDED**
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Thai Airways flights to Bangkok. Arrive in Bangkok and transfer by complimentary shuttle to airport hotel (included in tour price). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Depart Bangkok in the early morning on a Druk Air flight to Bagdogra, the main gateway to India’s northeast (flight included in tour price).
Upon arrival in Bagdogra, enjoy a scenic drive through hardwood sal forests and across the mighty Teesta river to Kalimpong, a former colonial hill station and Tibetan trade centre.
In the evening, join Alex and fellow travellers for a special welcome dinner.
Following a morning talk by Alex, visit Dr Graham’s Home Museum, an old educational institute to educate children of tea-estate workers created by Reverend Dr. John Anderson Graham, a Scottish missionary considered the founder of modern Kalimpong.
Then, drive up the Himalayan foothills to the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok, situated on a ridgeline with views of the sacred Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest mountain.
In the evening, enjoy a stroll along ‘’MG” (Mahatma Gandhi) Marg, the pedestrian-only main commercial boulevard of Gangtok.
Today, begin your exploration of Gangtok and uncover Buddhist Sikkim’s royal past. Explore the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a repository of ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture founded in the 1950s by the Dalai Lama and the Chogyal (King) of Sikkim. Explore the grounds and royal temple of the former Chogyal’s Palace.
After lunch, continue your exploration of Gangtok including the botanical gardens and a Hindu temple, a reminder that Nepalese Hindus are now the majority population in Sikkim.
After a morning talk by Alex, travel to one of the largest and most significant monasteries in Sikkim, Rumtek, perched on a hill overlooking Gangtok. After exploring the atmospheric surrounds of Old Rumtek, visit the new monastery, centre of exile of Tibet’s Karmapa sect, and the Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.
Today, depart Gangtok and drive through tea gardens and colourful villages en route to Phuentsholing on the Indo-Bhutanese border. Leave the bustle of India and enter the tranquillity of Bhutan and the town of Phuentsholing.
Journey from Phuentsholing and enjoy a spectacular drive through jungles and river valleys to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, an exciting blend of tradition and modernity. Stop on the outskirts of the city to visit the monumental new Buddha statue overlooking Thimphu.
Arrive at the hotel in Thimphu in the late afternoon.
Enjoy a morning at leisure before tour arrangements begin for the Hidden Lands of the Himalayas tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
26 December 2019
Due to local conditions, this tour is limited to no more than 15 tour members.
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a visa to visit India and Bhutan. Renaissance Tours will assist you to obtain your visas prior to departure.
Please contact Renaissance Tours for current airfares and flight reservations.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in comfortable 3- and 4-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Overnight accommodation in airport hotel on arrival in Bangkok
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including drinks with welcome and farewell dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Economy class flight from Bangkok to Bagdogra with Druk Air (20kg luggage allowance)
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Alex McKay
- Visas for India and Bhutan for Australian and New Zealand passport holders
- Bhutan government royalties and taxes (approx. USD 250 per day)
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares from Australia/New Zealand to Bangkok (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, minibar etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Bangkok – Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport****
Kalimpong – Mayfair Himalayan Hotel****
Gangtok – Elgin Norkhill Hotel****
Phuentsholing – Tashi Namgay Grand Hotel***
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.