Embark on a hiking adventure in the Himalayas with these five beautiful trekking routes in Asia. Whether you want a challenging mountain trek in Bhutan or a scenic walk to the summer home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, Tibet, hiking in any part of the Himalayas will surely offer you a view of the most famous landmark in the area – Mount Everest!
1 .A 10-day mountain trek near the highest peak in India in Sikkim
The dense forests, valleys, and snow-capped peaks have attracted many tourists to this region in eastern India. And the warm welcome of the locals is what makes tourists want to stay in Sikkim forever. The scenery in Sikkim is so pristine and peaceful that tourists need a special permit, the Sikkim Inner Line Permit, which must be accompanied by an Indian visa and is valid for 15 days. This is a reasonable amount of time to explore all the hiking trails in the forest and on the mountain – something that makes Sikkim very attractive to hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. During your stay here, you can admire the beautiful view of nearby Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world, as well as explore ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries, rhododendron groves, and sacred lakes hidden in the valley.
Hiking in the Himalayas | Places to Visit in Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery: Located outside the capital city of Gangtok in Sikkim, the Rumtek Monastery is a religious landmark with colorful wall paintings, sculptures, and architecture, and a spectacular view of the Himalayas. It takes about 1.5 hours to travel from Gangtok to Rumtek Monastery.
Tsongmo Lake: Considered a sacred place in Sikkim, Tsongmo Lake is located outside the Nathu La Nathang Valley Nature Reserve. Tourists with the Sikkim Inner Line Permit can ride on a bottom boat on the lake during the warm months, while the lake freezes over in the winter. However, regardless of the weather, the surface of this lake always has a story to tell. Buddhist monks have studied the reflection on the surface of the lake and believe that the changing colors of the lake reveal future events.
Yumthang Valley: A trip to Yumthang Valley and the nearby Yumthang Valley Nature Reserve will surely not disappoint you with endless views of the flora and fauna at an altitude of over 3,350 meters.
Goecha La Pass & Goecha La Trek: Hike through the mystical mountain slopes from Yuksom to Rathong Glacier in Khangchendzonga National Park. As one of the famous mountain trekking routes in Sikkim, the Goecha La Trek stretches for over 90 kilometers, reaching an altitude of nearly 4,800 meters and taking 10 days to complete. October is considered an excellent time to enjoy clear landscapes and beautiful weather in Sikkim, and many adventurers spend a few extra days camping at Rathong Glacier.
Khangchendzonga National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this diverse biological park includes over 19 mountain peaks, including Mount Kangchenjunga, the highest mountain in India and the third highest in the world. Visit the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area to see the pristine forests and glacial rivers. Tourists have seen snow leopards, Asian black bears, and red pandas here.
2 .Visit the home of the Dalai Lama and study Tibetan Buddhism in DHARAMSHALA, India
Meaning “spiritual dwelling” and famous as a backpacker’s paradise, Dharamshala is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in Tibetan culture and learn about Buddhism. Dharamshala is renowned for the town where the Dalai Lama chose to seek refuge in 1959, and the town was once a British military outpost. Today, the atmosphere in Dharamshala is quite relaxed, attracting backpackers and hikers from all over the world.
Hiking in the Himalayas | Sightseeing in Dharamshala
McLeod Ganj: known as “Little Lhasa” due to its large population of Tibetan citizens, McLeod Ganj is a small community located less than 16 km from Dharamshala. This town is a popular stopover for backpackers and those interested in studying Buddhism, and is also the residence of the Dalai Lama.
Tsuglagkhang Complex Temple of the Dalai Lama: a monastery located just outside the home of the Dalai Lama, the Tsuglagkhang Complex is the largest Tibetan temple outside of Tibet. Visitors here can witness the serious religious research work of Tibetan monks and admire colorful wall paintings, Buddha statues, and intricate thangka paintings (paintings on silk or cotton fabric). Stop for lunch at Namgyal Café, a vegetarian pizza restaurant and also a job training center for young Tibetans.
Tibetan Museum: immerse yourself in the painful history of Tibet through the photos and historical artifacts in this museum.
Kangra Valley: explore the Masrur Temples, known as the Pyramids of the Himalayas, to admire the ancient archaeological structures and begin a trek through the area, which is said to have the largest number of indigenous villages in Himachal Pradesh.
Norbulingka Institute: learn more about traditional Tibetan art forms, and watch local craftsmen create wooden furniture, metal statues, and delicate thangka paintings.
3 .View Mount Everest from your hotel room in NAGARKOT, Nepal
While hiking in the Himalayas is a great experience in Nagarkot, many tourists choose to admire the view of Mount Everest from their hotel rooms! Located just a few kilometers northeast of Kathmandu, Nagarkot is one of the places with the most comprehensive views of the Himalayas. The mountain range is famous in Nepal and is the first thing tourists see every morning, where birds nest. Sunset is also a great time of day to admire the beautiful view of eight (out of 13) mountain ranges viewed from Nagarkot. Tourists can also admire the dense forests of the Kathmandu Valley and Shivapuri National Park. The best time of year to see the Himalayas from Nagarkot is from March to April and from October to December.
Advice for tourists: tourists must pay a small fee of 339 Rupees (in 2019) to enter Nagarkot. Tourists will see a barrier where this fee is paid.
Hiking in the Himalayas | Sightseeing in Nagarkot
Nagarkot Viewing Tower: visit this tower to admire the stunning scenery of what many tourists call the most spectacular mountain range in the world. The hike to this tower at an altitude of nearly 2,130 meters takes about an hour, but tourists can also rent transportation at the foot of the mountain.
Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail: a hiking trail for families that takes about three hours to complete, the Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail is located just east of Nagarkot. Tourists can start in the village of Kartike and pass through the Tamang Village Hiking Trail before reaching the Nagarkot Natural Hiking Trail and the Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail.
4. Relax at the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Lhasa, Tibet
Located in the west of Tibet, near the northeast of Mount Everest, Lhasa is not only a wonderful place to admire the Himalayas, but also the center of Tibetan Buddhism. Visit the Old Town, also known as Bakuo or Barkhor Square, to reach Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. To the west of the town, historians will be pleased with a tour of the Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lama.
Potala Palace: originally built as a fortress for two princesses of King Songtsen, the Potala Palace was the residence of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century. The palace now has their tombs. The palace itself is also considered a walking path. A tour of the palace covers all 14 floors and many stairs.
The Potala Palace has over 1,000 rooms and displays many rare artifacts, including handwritten golden scriptures of the Buddha, unique offerings from Chinese emperors, and many ancient religious sculptures. This landmark is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and shares many green spaces with the Zongjiao Lukang Park.
Jokhang Temple (Tsuglagkhang): located in the center of Barkhor Square, Jokhang Temple is considered the most sacred religious landmark in Tibet. Here, there are rare Buddha statues that were given to King Songtsan Gampo in the 7th century after Christ by his two future princesses. Statues of the king and the two princesses are also displayed in this temple.
Norbulingka Summer Palace: tours of the Norbulingka Summer Palace can be combined with tours of the Potala Palace, as these landmarks are less than a kilometer apart. Norbulingka was built in 1755 as a summer palace for the seventh Dalai Lama. This complex has botanical gardens and a small zoo.
Barkhor Square & Street Market: the circular path around Jokhang Temple is the oldest street in Tibet and still retains its ancient charm. Here, you can find authentic Tibetan handicrafts, stalls, and monks who both pilgrimage and spin prayer wheels, as they did centuries ago.
5. Conquer the Snowman Trek in Taktshang, Bhutan in 30 days
Don’t overlook Bhutan when planning a trek through the Himalayas. As the only Diamond Thunderbolt Buddhist country in the world, Bhutan is considered the last remaining Buddhist kingdom. For maintaining a harmonious community with an incomparable natural landscape, Bhutan is often called the “Last Shangri-La.” Bhutan is most loved for its national parks, dzongs (fortresses) and ancient monasteries, as well as its annual Buddhist festivals.
Taktshang Monastery or Paro Taktsang: the most visited monument in Bhutan, Taktshang Monastery was built in 1692 outside the town of Paro, on a cliff over 3,000 meters above sea level. Legend has it that this temple was built to tame the tiger demon, and that Padmasambhava (the Lotus Born) flew here on the back of a female tiger. Padmasambhava built this temple around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave, where he meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours of the 8th century. He is known to have meditated in 13 tiger caves, but the Paro Taktsang cave is the most popular.
Advice for travelers: Many Himalayan trekkers choose to hike to the four main temples and explore the hiking trails around them, but travelers can also rent a horse for $10 to travel half the distance up the mountain. However, trekkers must walk the entire downhill stretch.
Tashichho Dzong: located in the north of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, Tashichho Dzong is a fortress, Buddhist monastery, and was once the residence of the head of the Bhutanese civilian government and several other agencies, and is considered the summer capital of Bhutan. The architecture of the fortress is a part of the attraction of this two-story building, highlighted by three-story towers at each corner. The towers on the corners all have golden roofs and the central tower has a spectacular view of the surrounding scenery.
Himalayan Trekking in Bhutan: there are many hiking trails that run throughout Bhutan, so no matter where you rest, travelers can easily find a hiking trail near them. However, professional Himalayan trekkers can explore the Snowman Trekking Trail. Those who complete the 13-mountain-long challenge can be proud, as more people have conquered Mount Everest than have completed this one-month journey through Bhutan!