About the Himalayan Countries
Nepal is the center of the Himalayas; eight of the world's ten tallest mountains are in Nepal. If you want to see Mount Everest or get some real altitude, Nepal is the place. Trekking in Nepal is superb, and the infrastructure of roads and domestic airports is the best in the Himalayas. Tourism is developed and competitive. All sorts of adventure and leisure activities are available at great prices.
Nepal is also home to high art, amazing architecture, culture and history. It is the most complex Himalayan country, and one with something to reward every visitor. Nepal was a political entity and religous and trade center when the Roman Empire stood. Two thousand years of high culture make fascinating sightseeing, and the tiny workshops of Nepal create wonderful handicrafts.
Go to the main Nepal page.
Bhutan sits astride the eastern flank of the Himalayas. Some of the range's most beattiful mountains, like sacred Mount Jholmohari, grace Bhutan. This remote, wild place was the last of the hermit kingdoms to open. Today it is barely so: high governmnent tarrifs on tourism and strict limits on the number of foreigners granted visas are designed to protect Bhutanese culture.
Bhutan is a truly amazing place. No coca cola signs, no plate glass, nothing "foreign". It's a trip to a wonderful, hospitable other-time. There are few fancy hotels here (and those few are very expensive), but deep, sincere hospitality and accommodations decorated fit for a palace. A deep warmth and timeless pervade everything.
Bhutan offers wonderful and relatively difficult trekking, from a few days to several weeks. The sightseeing, cultural and natural, is beyond belief. Buddhists and those interested in the subject will find their horizons expanded. And no one goes home the same.
Go to the main Bhutan page.
Tibet is the heart of Buddhist culture, slowly being ground down by Chinese occupation. If you yearn to visit Tibet, do it soon. This highest country of the world had a great outpouring of culture and scholarship from medieval times until the 1950s. That culture and its monuments are open to you. Lhasa is the heart of Tibet, and most sightseeing programs spend several days there. Great monasteries outside Lhasa, like Xigatse and Gyantse stand on the plateau like beacons. You can visit Everest North Base Camp, driving to Rongbuk Monastery and then taking a short trek. Tibet is also home to a great power point - Mount Kailash. The three-day kora (circumambulation) is an act of great merit.
Tibet excursions other than visits to Lhasa mean rough travel and basic accommodations. It's not always comfortable, but what an adventure!
Visa and travel policies have varied considerably in recent years. When there are anti-Chinese demonstrations, travel will be prohibited. For almost a year, Tibet was restricted to groups of five or more people, all from the same country. That restriction is not currently in force (since March 2013), but the rules can change anytime.
Go to the main Tibet page.
Everything said of India is true - it is a continent with all the variety and flavor that implies. If you have come a long way to the Himalayas, why not visit the Taj Mahal, sleep in a palace, and stand in an emperor's throne room?
Active adventures and trekking are in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh in the northwest. Dharma travelers can visit Dharamsala and perhaps even take an audience with the Dalai Lama. North India offers sights beyond compare: the Taj, Agra, the great Mosque at Delhi, the burning ghats in Varanasi, and much more. In the South, life is slower and spicier. Great beaches, temple decorations that outdo Walt Disney's imagination, and cool "hill stations" pave the way.
Go to the main India page.