Bengal to Bhutan Offbeat Adventure

Max Group 12

Private Room

Lifetime Deposit

15-Day 'Pilgrimage' From The Artistic To Mystic

Are you itching for an adventure that tickles all the senses, stretches every muscle, and fulfils your longest-held travel dreams? Then join us as we blend India’s technicolour streets with Bhutan’s whispering winds and silent monasteries to bring you the best of both worlds.

You’ll kick things off in Bengal and the eye-catching streets of Kolkata, chugging along on Asia’s oldest tram and wandering through artisan hideouts. Then it’s up to the north and Darjeeling to sip tea at a majestic colonial-style British tea estate and ride an ever-so-famous train – collecting travel tales that’ll make your friends green with envy – before venturing into Bhutan.

Here, you’ll see the iconic Tiger’s Nest cliffside monastery, melt away the day in traditional hot stone baths and take a breather in the crisp Himalayan air. Ever meditated in the shadow of a fortress-like dzong, or beneath a 300-year-old prayer flag? We thought not, but trust us, it’s as awesome as it sounds!

Two countries, one unforgettable journey and the chance to say, “I was there.” Let’s go!

Highlights

Explore the chaotic streets of Kolkata.

Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Cross the remote land border between India and Bhutan.

See the famous Tiger Nest Monastery.

Take a professionally lead meditation in monasteries in 2 countries.

Overnight in the remote Haa Valley, Bhutan

Trip Details

Trip Breakdown

Price

$8,818 AUD (per person – private supplement only)

  • $1,900 AUD deposit.
  • 2 week cooling off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Private Room for every guest every night.

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Dates

Starts: 18 October 2024, Kolkata, India

Ends: 1 November 2024, Paro, Bhutan

5 Spots Left!


Length

15 days / 14 nights


Arrival

Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata, India


Departure

Lhayuel Resort, Paro, Bhutan


Group Size

12


Included

  • Meals: 14 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners
  • 1 domestic flight – India
  • Bhutan Sustainable Development Daily Fees & Visa charge
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Private group road transport throughout
  • 14 nights boutique accommodation
  • 1 top-rated and English-speaking Tour Leader for each country
  • All listed activities and more!

Not Included

  • International Flights and travel insurance (necessary)
  • Indian Tourist Visa
  • Additional hotel nights & late checkouts
  • Drinks and other personal expenses
  • Tip kitty (See FAQs for more details).

Accommodation

Your Fencox accommodation means having a private room, all to yourself – every single time.


Day 1 – Hello  Bengal!

Your adventure begins the second you touchdown in Kolkata, once the crown jewel of the British Empire in India, and now your new home for the next few nights. A member of our local team will be waiting to scoop you up at the airport, delivering you at your hotel’s door for the easiest arrival you’ve ever experienced. 

There’s time to shake off the journey with a refreshing shower and spruce up before the evening rolls around when you’ll meet the rest of your Fencox family for the very first time. Your first taste of India comes tonight, with a drool-inducing local feast fit for royalty – the perfect setting to swap stories and spark friendships as you share your excitement for your upcoming journey. Welcome to India!

Accommodation: Elgin Fairlawn (or similar), Kolkata – India
Included: Dinner

Day 2 – Markets, Mayhem and Artists

Dive into your first action-packed day amongst the chaos of Kolkata, embracing the whirlwind like a seasoned pro! We’ll get things started at Kolkata’s Flower Market, the largest wholesale flower market in East India and an absolute riot of colour. Roses, marigolds and lotuses stretch as far as the eye can see, and as you wander, flower garlands symbolising peace and unity might just find their way around your neck – you’re a local now!

Then, it’s off to the potter’s quarter in Kumartoli, where the magic of Durga Puja comes to life. As you watch these skilled craftsmen shape gods and goddesses out of clay you’ll be totally entranced, and you’ll struggle to tear your eyes away.

After a short breather, you’ll meet back up with the group in the evening for a Bengali street food tour that’s guaranteed to raise your eyebrows and get your tastebuds dancing. Kati roll, anyone?

Accommodation: Elgin Fairlawn (or similar), Kolkata – India
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 – Colonial meets Bengali 

You can’t visit Kolkata without exploring its colonial past and learning about the British Rule here which lasted from the 1770s until the early 20th century. Of course, though, this is Fencox, so we’re taking you on a tour of the most iconic colonial buildings in the city to bring history to life. It’s the most fun history class you’ve ever taken!

Come evening, we’re mixing it up with a Bengali cooking class that’s on the menu for dinner. And hey, if you’re more ‘chaotic in the kitchen’ than ‘chef extraordinaire,’ no stress! After picking up the freshest ingredients from the market, you’ll be whipping up some authentic Bengali dishes in no time – even if you’re usually a kitchen nightmare! Oh, and of course you need to round off dinner with something sweet. 

Luckily, Bengali sweets are impossible to resist…

Accommodation: Elgin Fairlawn (or similar), Kolkata – India
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 – Darjeeling

Today’s motto: easy does it. It’s a travel day, folks! So, grab that book you’ve been dying to read and make sure it’s at the top of your carry-on – it’s about to get some serious action. After a breezy check-in at the airport, you’re Kolkata to Bagdogra-bound.

Back on solid ground, you’ll tackle the journey to Darjeeling, a drive that’ll have your nose glued to the window as you soak in the gorgeous, tea-loving landscapes of this region. A short lunch break offers a perfect pause before you carry on the journey towards your new Darjeeling digs, Summit Swiss. At this mountain chalet-style retreat, the views from the patio are so stunning you might just forget to blink.

Welcome to Darjeeling, the land of mind-bending views and even better brews!

Accommodation: Summit Swiss (or similar), Darjeeling – India
Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5 – Sunrise, Trains and Meditation

Launch your day in the wee hours, Jeep-bound to Tiger Hill. Sure, it’s a magnet for tourists, but catching the first light hitting Kanchenjunga’s summit is a Himalayan bucket-list activity if ever there was one! Post-sunrise, it’s all aboard the Himalayan Express towards Ghum. Again, it’s on every traveller’s list, but some things are popular for a reason–- so embrace it and enjoy the ride! 

Within Ghum Monastery’s timeless walls, you will be guided into a state of zen with a meditation session. It’s the perfect counter to Tiger Hill’s early morning buzz, a moment to breathe deep and embrace the calm. We’re carrying on with the peaceful vibe, with a stop at the Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda. If you time it right, you’ll catch a prayer session, marked by deep, resonant drumming. Can you feel the vibrations as you wander?

For tonight, we’ve planned… absolutely nothing! After such a full-on day, you’ll enjoy the downtime!

Accommodation: Summit Swiss (or similar), Darjeeling – India
Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 – Ging Tea Estate

Today, we’re swapping the rugged Himalayan landscapes for the rolling green terraces of the Ging Tea Estate. Wandering through the tea gardens under the crisp, mountain air, you’ll get a front-row view to the delicate art of tea plucking. It turns out, your morning cuppa is a labour of love and precision!

And then there’s lunch at the estate, which is an experience in itself. Dining with a backdrop of the estate’s private gardens and surrounded by echoes of British colonial elegance, you’ll feel a million miles away from the India you’ve come to know and love.

Accommodation: Summit Swiss (or similar), Darjeeling – India
Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7 – You’re Bhutan-Bound!

It’s Day seven already and as much as you’ve loved India, you’ll be bouncing out of bed this morning knowing that by this afternoon, you’ll be catching your first glimpse of Bhutan! Sure, you’re not one of the first tourists arriving when the country quietly opened to the world in 1974, but you’ll still be one of the very few who have ever ventured beyond her borders and into “The Land of Happiness” – protected by a high value, low volume policy, implemented decades before sustainability became a tourism buzzword!

Buckle up for today’s twisty-turny journey, where the roads are as windy as they are wondrous. As you roll into Phuentsholing, it’s time to leave your India crew with a warm embrace and meet your new Bhutan team with open arms. Get ready for an evening of new flavours and friendships at tonight’s welcome dinner, Bhutanese style!!

Accommodation: Hotel Druk (or similar), Phuentsholing – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 – Paro

Today’s 5-hour drive takes you to Paro, the journey punctuated by even more of those gasp-worthy mountain views you’ve come to expect from Bhutan. The first stop of the day involves wandering across a 900-year-old bridge to come face-to-face with Tacho Lhakhang Temple, a taste of the many glorious temples that dot the Bhutanese countryside.

After the long journey, you’ll pull into Paro, a town hugging the banks of the Paro Chhu (river) and bordered by mountains stretching into the sky. This is home to Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower turned National Museum of Bhutan, so it’d be rude not to stop by while you’re here!

Tonight’s dinner is at a local farmhouse and an introduction to local specialities like Ema Datshi and red rice. Surrounded by the warmth of wooden beams and the smiles of staff in their traditional dress, you won’t be able to stop grinning. Days like this are why you travel!

Accommodation: Lhayuel Resort (or similar), Paro – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9 – Tiger’s Nest

Today’s the day for Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most spellbinding sight, clinging to a cliff with what looks like sheer gravity-defying magic! Missing this? Not on our watch. Visiting the Tiger’s Nest is a rite of passage here, with every local making the pilgrimage at least once.

So… how to get there? If you’re itching for an adventure, strap on those hiking boots and tackle the 5-hour hike. Or if you’re keen to cut the walking down to half that time, there’s always the option to be led on horseback for some of the way!  Yes, it’s a grueller, and no matter how worthy the views are, the steep and uneven path won’t be for everyone, so if you don’t fancy dropping all that sweat, no problem! Jump in for a drive that promises eye-popping views without the huffing and puffing.

Whichever way you choose, the day ends with a splash of indulgence: a hot stone bath that’ll melt away every ounce of tension in your body. Ahhh…

Accommodation: Lhayuel Resort (or similar), Paro – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 – Haa Valley

Wow, day 10 already! Today we’re whisking you off to Haa, a hidden valley gem that only 15,000 lucky souls get to call home. When it comes to bragging rights, Haa might just take the crown for Bhutan’s most hypnotising spot. And the cherry on top? You’re bedding down here tonight! 

Today’s agenda is chock-full with checking out Haa’s Haa-mazing sights (we couldn’t resist!). From the divine Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) to the mystical Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple), you’ll never want the exploration to end. As the night sky draws in, you’re in for a treat – a blanket of stars so dense, you might feel like you’re floating in space rather than standing on Earth. 

Dinner tonight is at a local homestay, where your table will brim full with local delights setting you up for sweet dreams back at the hotel, all while buzzing with excitement for what’s in store for tomorrow.

Accommodation: Lhayul Resort (or similar), Paro – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 – Thimphu

You’ll want to linger in Haa a bit longer, and you’re staying in Hotel Lhayul for good reason – because it’s in the heart of the village – so get up at dawn to catch the sunrise, snagging the chance for an early walk through ancient lanes.  Then after breakfast, drop by the local market for a friendly haggle or two. Next up, you’re off to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, with a four-hour drive that’ll pass by in the blink of an eye. Don’t be fooled by the word “capital” – its size and relaxed pace make it feel like a small town.

In Thimphu, make your way to the King’s Memorial Chorten. Half-memorial, half-monument to peace, this modern landmark’s significance is timeless, constantly surrounded by devotees and pulsating with spiritual energy so strong you can almost feel it! Then, as evening draws in, why not head out to the local crafts bazaar? It’s a snapshot of local life too genuine to overlook, and a fabulous opportunity to snag some totally unique, handcrafted souvenirs.

Accommodation: Hotel Changangkha (or similar), Thimphu – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Day 12 – Monks, Nuns and Meditation

Today’s dive into Thimphu is royal, spiritual, and quintessentially Bhutanese. Home to the royal family, Thimphu is brimming with sights, and while we can’t list everything (there’s so much!) a standout is the Painting School, also called the Institute for Zorig Chusum. Here, students dedicate a whopping six years to mastering the kingdom’s 13 traditional arts, so it’s safe to say Bhutan takes its art scene very seriously indeed.

After lunch, pop by Pangri Zampa, a 16th-century monastery where monks delve into astrology and Buddhist philosophy, and to chat with the nuns about their lives and spirituality at Zilukha Nunnery. This is a rare opportunity and these moments, deep in conversation, that you’ll carry fondly with you, long after leaving Bhutan.

Slip into bed tonight in a state of peace, after a private Fencox Family meditation in a truly fitting location!

Accommodation: Hotel Changangkha (or similar), Thimphu – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Day 13 – Punakha

Post-breakfast, you’re off to Punakha, cruising over the Dochula Pass at 3080 m. Along the way, prayer flags flutter in the wind against the stunning backdrop of the eastern Himalayas. It’s a three-hour drive, but what a drive it is!

Punakha Dzong is one of the oldest, and most fairytale-like monasteries in the country, so making a stop here is pretty much essential. Crossing its ornate bridge, you’ll feel like you’re passing into a Nirvanic world. 

After the drive, stretching your legs is a must, and what better way than a stroll to Chimi Lhakhang, the renowned Temple of Fertility? Surrounded by paddy fields, this is a place of hope and blessings, where the pressures of everyday life feel like a distant memory. 

Accommodation: Hotel River Valley Punakha (or similar), Punakha – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 – Paro

It’s Day 14 already, so let’s finish off with a bang at Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang.  Then it’s time to check in again at the oh-so-lovely Hotel Lhayuel. Drink in those irresistible Bhutanese hillside views, drenched in the oranges, pinks and reds of the setting sun, one last time. Yep – that time is unfortunately here: it’s your final sleep of the trip! 

Tonight, you’ll come together one last time: not as a group of strangers, like you started the trip, but as an adventurous family of travellers. Enjoy your final Bhutanese feast and raise your glasses in a toast – not just to the memories made on this trip, but also to the future reunions and adventures yet to come.

Accommodation: Lhayuel Resort (or similar), Paro – Bhutan
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 15 – Farewell Friends!

It’s that bittersweet moment, Fencox family  — your journey through the awesome lands of Bengal and Bhutan has reached its final chapter. Over one last breakfast, be sure to swap numbers with each other and promise to keep in touch. A member of our team will drop you off at the airport with plenty of time before your flight, and then, it’s time to head home! One thing’s for sure, though – we can’t wait to welcome you back with open arms on another unforgettable adventure. So, where to next?

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map

Frequently Asked Questions


Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is a significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.65 USD.

A deposit of $1,900 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

Level 1 or Easy

You’ll need a general level of fitness for this trip. If you can walk 2 – 3 hours at an easy pace on undulating and uneven ground, you’ll be fine. From time to time, you must be ok with using a squat toilet – we do our best to accommodate what you’re used to (all hotel rooms have sit-down toilets) but when you’re on the road, sometimes it’s the only choice available. You’ll also need to be able to negotiate over-the-bath showers and be able to occasionally sit on the floor.

NB: The Tiger’s Nest trek is rated for Level 2 fitness (moderate) – this is a 5-hour walk that includes uneven ground, mismatched stairs and some steep sections. We’ve arranged an alternative activity for anyone who’d prefer not to do the trek. All other activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it but it will be impossible to enjoy your trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour for a full afternoon. Unfortunately, this tour cannot accommodate people requiring walking aids.

Fencox was created because we had so many enquiries from men and women who had heard about our amazing Patch Adventures trips for women-only and wanted the opportunity to travel solo in the same way, only in a mixed group.

Fencox caters to both men and women who are solo travellers, have a genuine sense of adventure, are aged 55+, and are physically active and young at heart. Your fellow travel mates on a Fencox trip are inquisitive about the world and love exploring new travel destinations. Fencox travel mates love meeting new people, enjoy a good chat, and are happy to share a table with fellow travel mates for dinner.

If you’re travelling solo but don’t want to feel alone, this is your opportunity to share your travel experiences with other like-minded people. And best of all …. you’ll never pay a single supplement because everyone is guaranteed their own room!

There are several airlines that offer nonstop and one-stop flights between Kolkata and Australia or New Zealand. Bhutan has one international airport – that’s in Paro where the trip ends. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operate flights to several destinations, including Kolkata, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Singapore. NB: Flights only operate in daytime hours.

Being tour operators (not travel agents), we are not licensed to sell flights. We recommend contacting your trusted local travel agent to book flights if you’re in need of assistance.

One handbag up to 7 kgs and 115 cms (L+W+H),

Checked luggage – 20 kg. Excess baggage available (can be arranged before the flight or at the airport) – a guide will assist.

https://www.goindigo.in/add-on-services/excess-baggage.html)

Private airport transfers are included. We recommend arriving the day before the trip starts to allow some time to recover from your flights.

India: Australian and New Zealand passport holders can apply for a 30-day E-Tourist Visa no earlier than 30 days before arrival. Cost approximately $40 AUD. We’ll give you more details closer to the application time.

Bhutan: The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) charged by the Bhutanese Government is already included in the trip cost. Also included is the tourist visa. Should you choose to stay in Bhutan longer than the itinerary’s length, the current SDF charge is $100 USD per extra night (after the trip ends), as well as a $25 USD visa extension fee (one-off charge).

In October, Kolkata generally has very high temperatures with maximum daytime temperatures around 33°C, minimum nighttime temperatures around 24°C and high monthly rainfall. In Darjeeling, the weather in October is mildly cool, humid but cool.

October is one of the best months to visit Bhutan. Visibility is sparkling clear, allowing for sublime views of the mountains. The weather is warm and sunny, and there is lush scenery all around. The temperature ranges from 8°C at night time to 23°C during the day.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf. Your trip covers 2 countries with individual currencies, so we ask your contribution be:
  • India tip kitty given to your guide on Day 1
    • 2,200 Indian Rupee (equivalent to $40 AUD) at exchange rate $1AUD: 55 rupee)
  • Bhutan tip kitty given to your guide on day 7
    • 1,300 Bhutanese (equivalent to $15 USD) at exchange rate $1USD: 83BTN).
Each kitty will be managed by your guide and distributed along the way at restaurants for included meals, hotel staff, drivers and service providers.
What is not covered in the tip kitties are a customary tip for your lead guide in India and lead guide in Bhutan. For this, we recommend the following:
  • Indian Guide: 3,500 – 4,000 Indian Rupee ($60 to $70 AUD equivalent)
  • Bhutanese Guide: 4,600 – 5260 Bhutanese Ngultrum ($55 to $62 USD equivalent)
NB: The Bhutanese currency comparison is listed as USD because AUD is not a currency easily exchangeable in Bhutan.

Have more questions? Check out our FAQ page!