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Plan an Awesome Trip to India, Bhutan and Nepal (6 Tips)

Plan an Awesome Trip to India, Bhutan and Nepal (6 Tips)

By Ruby ZhaoUpdated Jun. 14, 2022

India, Bhutan, and Nepal are located in the south of Asia. Because of their geographic proximity, they are usually visited together in one trip.

These three countries have many things in common such as being full of Hindu and Buddhist relics, but still are distinct to provide you a colorful travel feast of three courses.

  • Incredible India: diversity of religions, caste system influence, unique heritage sites like the Taj Mahal, wildlife, a museum of royal palaces...
  • Adventurous Nepal: religious Kathmandu Valley, wonderful mountain trekking/biking routes, great views of Mt. Everest...
  • Holy Bhutan: incredible religious sites, seclusion — even without traffic lights, prioritizing Gross National Happiness instead of GDP, charming trekking paths...

Take your time on a private journey to uncover the secrets of the Indian subcontinent.

1. How to organize an itinerary to India, Bhutan, and Nepal? 

Map of India, Bhutan and Nepal Map of India, Bhutan and Nepal

How Many Days to Stay: 2–3 Weeks

To get the essence of each destination without wearing yourself out, usually it takes 7–10 days in India, 4–7 days in Nepal, and 4–7 days in Bhutan.

A classic itinerary covering the main areas lasts around 2 weeks. A longer holiday time usually leads to a more leisurely travel pace and a deeper exploration.

For a holiday around 10–12 days, just India-Nepal or India-Bhutan are suggested.

Important note: To promote travel of “High Value Low Volume”, independent travel or semi-independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. All tours and activities must be organized by a travel agency.

A Typical South Asia Tour Itinerary: 14 Days

  • Day 1 - 6: Arrive in Delhi, explore Delhi, Agra ((Taj Mahal)) and Jaipur (Pink City)
  • Day 7 - 8: Flight from Delhi to Kathmandu, explore Kathmandu Valley
  • Day 9 - 13: Flight from Kathmandu to Paro, explore Thimphu, Punakha and Paro
  • Day 14: Depart Bhutan from Paro International Airport 
Discover the Splendid Civilization of South Asia

Where to Start the Tour: Usually from Delhi in India

Out of the three countries, India is easily the most well-connected to North America, Europe, and other parts of the world, and it is the most convenient to fly to.

It is usually more convenient and affordable to start your journey from Delhi in India. There are direct flights to Delhi from New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in the U.S., from London and Paris in Europe, and from Sydney in Australia. Flights from the U.S. will take around 14 to 17 hours and flights from Europe will take around 8. Contact us for advice on the best possible flight route from your city.

From Delhi, it takes about 1½ hours to reach Kathmandu in Nepal. Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA: KTM) in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal.

helicopter journey over Mount Everest starting from Katmandu Take an amazing helicopter journey over Mount Everest starting from Katmandu

From Kathmandu, it takes less than 1½ hours to reach Paro in Bhutan. Paro International Airport (IATA: PBH) is the only international airport in Bhutan. This air route is only operated by Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines) and Bhutan Airlines.

After finishing your travel in Bhutan, you can exit via Paro International Airport. From Paro there are flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc.

Flying from India to Bhutan and then finishing the tour in Kathmandu in Nepal is also reasonable or better. Kathmandu provides more international flights connections than Paro.

Possible Nepal extension: Kathmandu borders Tibet in China. You could extend your trip by 4–8 days by land or by flight to discover Tibet’s culture and landscapes if you have a long holiday.

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2. How much does an India, Nepal, and Bhutan tour cost?

A typical private 14-Day India, Nepal, and Bhutan Tour costs around US$4,500–4,900 per person based on 4-star hotels for a group of 2 people.

Special arrangements or experiences will make the price higher. For example, a special romantic dinner in a heritage palace hotel, a memorable overnight cruise in the backwaters of south India, an amazing helicopter journey over Mount Everest in Nepal, etc.

Tailor-make your unique South Asia trip with our 1:1 consultant.

Suggessted read: 7-Day Off the Beaten Path South India Tour >>>

Tour Costs in India and Nepal

Traveling in India and Nepal costs a little less than in other Asian countries. For example, a classic private 11-day India and Nepal Tour costs around US$2,400 (around US$220 per day) per person based on 4-star accommodation, including domestic flights and flights between India and Nepal.

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Tour Costs in Bhutan

The costs for domestic travel in Bhutan are determined by Tourism Council of Bhutan instead of by travel agencies. The costs differ according to hotel ratings, group sizes, and peak/off season. For example, it costs US$230–280 per person per day based on 3-star hotels for a group of 2 people. The meals, the hotels, the entrance fees, the driver, and the guide are compulsory inclusions in the package.  

The flight costs to and from Bhutan are usually higher than for most air routes in Asia because of limited airline competition (only Drukair and Bhutan Airlines). For example, it costs around US$350 each way per person between Delhi (India) and Paro (Bhutan) or between Kathmandu (Nepal) and Paro (Bhutan), US$100–200 higher than a comparable flight between Thailand and Vietnam.  

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3. What is the best time to visit India, Bhutan, and Nepal?

Taj Mahal Admiring Taj Mahal at sunrise time before large tourist groups flood in is marvelous.

Through all these three countries:

  • Best months for weather (cool/warm and dry), but most expensive: March, September to November
  • Good months for weather (dry and hot) with better deals: April, May
  • Rainy season (not good for trekking), but with good prices: June to August
  • Cold weather (not good for trekking) but good for ordinary visiting: December to February

Generally, India, Bhutan and Nepal can be visited year-round. But if you’re keen on trekking, for which Bhutan, Nepal, and north India are paradises, it is better avoid the rainy season (June to August) and the snowy season (December to February).

India Weather

Delhi - Average Temperature by Month
Month Minimum Maximum
January 8°C (47°F) 20°C (68°F) 
February 12°C (53°F) 23°C (74°F)
March 16°C (62°F) 29°C (85°F)
April 22°C (72°F) 35°C (96°F)
May 26°C (80°F) 39°C (102°F) 
June 28°C (83°F) 38°C (101°F)
July 27°C (82°F) 35°C (95°F)
August 26°C (80°F) 33°C (92°F)
September 25°C (77°F) 33°C (92°F) 
Octomer 19°C (67°F) 31°C (89°F)
November 13°C (56°F) 27°C (81°F)
December 9°C (48°F) 21°C (71°F)

October to February is when temperatures in India are the most comfortable.

It is still possible to visit India in the spring from March to May, although it is the hot season. During the hot season, temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F), but the heat can be avoided by arranging tours in the early morning or evening.

India's monsoon season is from June to August. The northmost areas of the country like the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) and Himalayan regions don't get as much rain as the center and south, but the rains can disrupt flights and delay travel plans.

Nepal Weather

Kathmandu - Average Temperature by Month
Month Minimum Maximum
January 3°C (38°F) 18(65°F)
February 5°C (42°F) 20 (69°F)
March 9°C (48°F) 24 (76°F)
April 12°C (55°F) 27 (81°F)
May 16°C (62°F) 28 (83°F)
June 20°C (68°F) 28 (83°F)
July 20°C (69°F) 27 (82°F)
August 20°C (68°F) 27 (82°F)
September 18°C (66°F) 27 (82°F)
Octomer 13°C (57°F) 26 (79°F)
November 8°C (47°F) 22 (73°F)
December 4°C (40°F) 19 (67°F)

The spring (from late February to April) and the autumn (from September to November) have the best and driest weather in the country.

It is also possible to visit Nepal in the winter (December to February), although temperatures are too cold for trekking.

It's best to avoid June to August if trekking is one of your big interests because of monsoon rains.

Bhutan Weather

Thimphu - Average Temperature by Month
Month Minimum Maximum
January -2°C (28°F) 15°C (59°F)
February 0°C (33°F) 17°C (62°F)
March 4°C (39°F) 19°C (67°F)
April 8°C (46°F) 22°C (72°F)
May 12°C (53°F) 25°C (77°F)
June 15°C (60°F) 27°C (80°F)
July 16°C (62°F) 27°C (81°F)
August 16°C (61°F) 27°C (81°F)
September 15°C (58°F) 26°C (79°F)
Octomer 9°C (48°F) 24°C (75°F)
November 3°C (38°F) 20°C (67°F)
December -1°C (31°F) 17°C (62°F)

The climate in Bhutan is similar to that in Nepal.

The country experiences its best weather from March to May and from September to November.

Bhutan experiences its monsoon season from June to August.

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4. What are the top places to visit in India, Bhutan, and Nepal?

Travel Highlights in India

  • Delhi: the first impression of India, see a world of difference between Old Delhi and New Delhi
  • Agra: The Taj Mahal
  • Jaipur: The Pink City, various magnificent palaces
India Map

For the first-time visitors, the golden triangle route (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) cannot be missed.

You can land in India's grand capital of Delhi for a representative first impression of India by visiting India's largest mosque and taking a rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Old Delhi's bustling bazaar.

After Delhi, journey to the Mughal city of Agra, which is home to the magnificent Taj Mahal. Admiring this love-inspired monument at sunrise time before large tourist groups flood in is marvelous.

Basking in the fascinating colors of the 'Pink City' of Jaipur and staying overnight in a graceful heritage palace hotel will never disappoint you.

For a deeper exploration, extending your tour by 2 days to Varanasi (the spiritual capital of India) or 5–7 days in Rajasthan (for magnificent palaces and striking desert scenery) is worthy of your time. 

Suggested read14-Day Classic Rajasthan Tour >>>

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Travel Highlights in Bhutan

  • Paro: Taktshang Goemba Hike (also called Tiger's Nest Monastery)
  • Thimphu: a secret place hidden in the Himalayas, it holds the offices of the royals
  • Punakha: former capital of Bhutan, getaway for most mountain hiking routes
Bhutan Map Bhutan Map

Most people visiting Bhutan will explore Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro.

Paro, where the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery is located, is a small and quaint city full of sacred sites and historical buildings. Taking a 5-hour trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery is rewarding for its holy atmosphere and breathtaking panoramic views. It is visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Thimphu, the capital, is the largest city in Bhutan. It is famous as it has both modern technology and ancient customs. Thimphu is a great starting point when visiting Bhutan as there you can access an ATM to stock up on currency and also explore some of the city's religious and cultural sites.

Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, will provide you with incredible views of the Himalayas and an abundance of religious sites.

Travel Highlights in Nepal

  • Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, Nepal’s cultural center
  • Nagarkot: a panoramic Himalayan view including Mount Everest
  • Pokhara: adventure (trekking, boating, mountain biking, etc.)
Nepal Map Napal Map

In Nepal, the best place to visit is Kathmandu Valley, which mainly covers three areas, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan. They are around 30 minutes’ driving from each other.

Kathmandu Valley is Nepal’s heart. It holds the best of Nepali cultural treasures — splendid temple architecture, magnificent royal palaces, and holy pilgrimage sites. Kathmandu has some of Nepal's most beautiful temples including Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath.

Kathmandu is also the starting point for the famous 1-hour Mount Everest Flight for admiring the south side of Mountain Everest and other peaks like Shisha Pangma. Definitely a flight of a lifetime opportunity!  

To enjoy a panoramic Himalayan view including Mount Everest when the sun rises, an overnight stay in Nagarkot should be on your list. The best time for a breathtaking view is the dry season — from mid-October to early April. It is about 1 hour by car from Kathmandu.

If you’re keen on adventure (trekking, boating, mountain biking, etc.), Pokhara, located near the Annapurna mountain chain, could be an ideal place for you. It is around 30 minutes by flight or 5½ hours by car from Kathmandu.

5. Do I need visas to enter India, Nepal and Bhutan?

Tashichho Gzong in Punakha Admire the Tashichho Gzong in Punakha in Bhutan.

Travelers from most countries require a visa to explore the beauty of these three nations.

If you’re from Europe, America or Oceania, the most convenient ways are:

  • India: e-tourist visa
  • Nepal: tourist visa on arrival
  • Bhutan: visas are only available through a travel agency

India Tourist E-Visas

Visa applications must be made online at the government's official website, no less than four days and no more than 30 days before the date of travel (for a one-month double entry visa).

The e-visa application process has five main steps:

  • Fill out the e-Visa application form online, upload your passport photo, and a PDF of your passport ID page.
  • Use a credit card or debit card (both charge 2.5% of the e-Visa fee), or pay via PayPal (charges 3.5% of the applicable e-Visa fee), to pay the e-Visa processing fee online. The cost is around US$25, US$40 or US$80, depending your nationality, plus a bank fee.
  • Receive an Application ID and Electronic Travel Authorization via e-mail within 3 to 5 working days.
  • Use your Application ID and passport number to check your visa status. Make sure it shows “Granted” before your travel.
  • Print your Electronic Travel Authorization before flying to India and present it at the Immigration Check Post to receive an e-Visa stamp on your passport.

Suggested read: How to Apply for a Visa for India >>>

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Nepal’s Tourist Visa on Arrival

It is offered at the Kathmandu airport.

There are three steps to get the visa:

  • Fill in an arrival card at the airport. You can also fill out a short form online to make your visa processing at the airport even faster. Filling out the form online, you must enter within 15 days from the date the receipt is issued.
  • Make the payment: The cost is around US$30, US$50, or US$125 for a duration of 15 days, 30 days, or 90 days respectively. Cash is the only payment method accepted and USD is preferred. ATMs and a currency exchange facility are available nearby if your currency is not accepted.
  • Get your visa: provide all the documents including the arrival card, passport-sized photo, passport, and payment receipt. You will get your visa shortly afterward.

Suggested read: How to apply for a Visa for Nepal >>>

Bhutan Visas

Unlike most countries in the world, a Bhutan visa is not granted by consulates or embassies. It is issued by the immigration department in Thimphu.

Tell your 1:1 travel advisor all of your Bhutan ideas/needs, confirm your booking, and leave all the rest, including visas, to be taken care of by us.

A Bhutan visa usually costs US$40 per person and is not refundable.

Your travel advisor will email you a visa clearance letter issued by the Tourism Council of Bhutan, which must be presented at the immigration desk upon arrival at the airport. The official visa is then stamped on your passport.

Suggested read: Guide to applying for a Bhutan Visa >>>

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6. Is it safe to visit India, Nepal, and Bhutan?

Traveling in South Asia, especially with a guide in a private car, is quite safe. However, make sure to pay attention to the following safety measures while you are traveling to make sure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

India

The biggest complaint that travelers have in India is being stared at. This may be uncomfortable for you but often happens out of sheer curiosity. To minimize staring, you’re suggested dressing conservatively especially when visiting crowded areas or famous monuments.

Poverty and beggars are both common in India. You might need to be prepared to see more poverty than you’re used to. It is not recommended to give money to beggars as begging has become a lucrative industry in India and it is best not to encourage it.

Nepal

Nepal is an extremely poor country and often struggles with basic necessities. It is normal for the country to experience power outages and you might encounter this when visiting there. Along with this, Nepal also has spotty and slow internet access.

It is extremely important to be careful when trekking in Nepal. Only go trekking with a knowledgeable guide, who knows the signs of altitude sickness well. Tell your guide if you are feeling dizzy or short of breath.

Bhutan

Smoking tobacco is prohibited in Bhutan and cigarettes are often not allowed in public places. If you are a smoker, you will need to ask your guide where you can legally smoke on your tour.

For any other information not mentioned above, feel free to contact us to ask about it.

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