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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Tea, temples and Tibetan culture in the Eastern Himalayas

By Chloe Holcroft
India Travel Expert for Alfred&

Venture into the world’s highest mountain range and come face-to-face with its colossal, ice-capped peaks. Explore pristine hill stations, visit ancient Buddhist temples and hike amid dramatic pine ridges on this 11-day adventure through one of India’s most revered regions. Combine it with Bengali culinary experiences, local tea tastings and Kolkatan culture for an experience that will stay with you long after you leave.

 

Places

Length
11 days
Best months to go
September to April
Guide price range
£3,200 - £3,300pp
including international flights

Top Experiences
Itinerary Highlights

Kolkata

The Rajbari Bawali: A passion project of 10 years in the making

A 300-year old, regal haveli built by an army officer who was gifted a huge portion of land by the Mughal Emperor...

Darjeeling

A walk through Darjeeling

I started this off-beat walking tour to showcase Darjeeling’s extraordinary diversity...

Gangtok

A lesson in holistic Himalayan cooking

We focus mainly on Tibetan and northern Indian food such as momo dumplings and the noodle soups you find in Sikkim...

Day by day
Itinerary in detail

1

Arrival in Kolkata

On arrival in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy in this charming port city, set on the banks of the Hooghly River. Once the capital of the Raj, the city is now an intriguing concoction of colonial-era streets and cosmopolitan buildings, with churches, synagogues and Victorian houses meeting a vibrant art, food and culture scene. Wander its opulent streets at leisure or opt for a market walk and cooking lesson to learn the art of Bengali cuisine with a local family. Overnight at The Rajbari Bawali (or similar).

Things to do:

2

Kolkata

Continue exploring Kolkata independently today or take a guided tour to Dalhousie Square, the city’s European quarter, built by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you’re looking to dig a little deeper, opt for an adda experience – an informal chat with a local family in a Kolkatan house, complete with traditional Baul music and dinner with your host. Overnight at The Rajbari Bawali (or similar).

Things to do:

3

Kolkata & Darjeeling

Transfer to the airport this morning for a connecting flight to Bagdogra. From here you’ll be driven to Darjeeling – a former British summer escape now world-famous for its tea; the region produces 25 percent of India’s supply. It’s also the home of the UNESCO-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, with olde-worlde buildings, schools and churches set against a backdrop of snowy mountain peaks. The rest of the day is free to enjoy in these picturesque surroundings. Overnight at The Elgin Hotel (or similar).

Things to do:

4

Darjeeling

This morning set off with a local guide on a ‘Walk in Peace’ experience passing rural farms, pine ridges and tea plantations, as well as tucked-away Tibetan villages rarely visited by tourists. You’ll enjoy a traditional Tibetan lunch in one of the villages, hearing about the stories behind each dish before returning across the meadows in the afternoon. Alternatively, opt for a cultural tour to learn more about the various people that have shaped Darjeeling over the centuries. Overnight at The Elgin Hotel (or similar).

Things to do:

5

Darjeeling & Gangtok

After breakfast, travel to the city of Gangtok, capital of the Sikkim state. This vibrant mountain settlement is known as the ‘land of the monasteries’ thanks to its slew of impressive sites. Highlights include Do Drul Chorten, an elaborate gold-topped stupa, and the Chogyal Palace, a former royal residence. Spend the day exploring its hilly streets or unwind at your hotel, taking in views over Mount Kanchenjunga – the third-highest peak in the world at 8,586 metres above sea level – and the verdant valleys below. Overnight at The Elgin Nor-Khill (or similar).

Things to do:

6

Gangtok

Enjoy a free morning in Gangtok today before embarking on a unique culinary experience this afternoon. You’ll travel to the Bamboo Retreat in the nearby village of Rumtek to learn about Sikkim cuisine from a local chef, choosing from a variety of dishes to make before enjoying the fruits of your labour. Overnight at The Elgin Nor-Khill (or similar).

Things to do:

7

Gangtok & Pelling

Head to the hill station of Pelling this morning to see another side to Sikkim. Here views over the snow-capped Kanchejnunga peak meet historic ruins and monasteries, with lakes, waterfalls and woodlands criss-crossing the surrounding area. Unmissable is the Pemayangtse Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the state, home to beautifully preserved ancient scripture and Tibetan paintings. Overnight at The Elgin Mount Pandim (or similar).

Things to do:

8

Pelling

Enjoy a full day in Pelling today; opt for a half-day city tour to see its key sites with an insider guide or wander its peaceful streets independently. Alternatively, choose an optional experience with a local family for a traditional Sikkimese lunch, starting with tea and regional snacks such as khabje (a type of biscuit) and tongba (a millet-based drink). Overnight at The Elgin Mount Pandim (or similar).

Things to do:

9

Pelling & Kalimpong

Travel to Kalimpong today – another hill station peeping through the clouds and tucked between the valleys, located east of Darjeeling. You’ll find several monasteries here, including the Bhutanese-style Thongsa Gompa and the Durpin Monastery, which was blessed by the Dalai Lama himself in the 1970s. The town is also known for its horticulture, with colourful orchids, gladioli and cacti among its diverse flora. Spend the afternoon exploring independently, or venture outside the town for an optional cooking class in a rural farmhouse. Overnight at The Elgin Silver Oaks (or similar).

Things to do:

10

Kalimpong & Kolkata

Bid farewell to the mountains this morning as you make your way back to Kolkata. You’ll be driven to Bagdogra airport for a connecting flight to the city. The rest of the day is free to enjoy as you wish, with various add-on tours available to make the most of your final day in the region. Overnight at The Oberoi Grand (or similar).

Things to do:

11

Kolkata & Departure

Your tour ends today. You’ll be transferred to Kolkata airport for your flight home or onward travel.

Another stop?

Extensions

Extensions

Holiday Budget
Guide price information

Low Season

01 Jan - 31 Mar, 01 Oct - 31 Dec

£3,200

High Season

01 Apr - 30 Sep

£3,300

Alfred & Chloe Holcroft

A seasoned traveller, Chloe Holcroft loves India for its distinctive regional cuisine, contrasting cultures and British-tinged history. Chloe has travelled from the Himalayan heights of Pelling to Cochin on the southern coast and has further plans to explore this mammoth country. Chloe counts one of her travel highlights in India as sipping loose-leaf tea at Glenburn Tea Estate while watching the clouds part to reveal views of the Himalayas.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656