Around the World in 28 Days
October 6 – November 2, 2018
28 days. 4 continents. 9 countries. 1 life-changing trip. Limited to 14 explorers.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Delhi & Agra, India
Lima & Machu Picchu, Peru
Your Trip Includes
All internal flights from Hong Kong to Lima, Peru (10 flights) • All meals • All hotels • Full-time escorts (BJ & Lauren) • All site entrance fees • 4 massages • 6 food tours • All tips to local guides • Donations to 4 non-profits • Laundry (in 4 cities) • Money for snacks and incidentals in each local currency • Carbon offsetting • Photo book of your trip • and more!
Itinerary at a Glance
October 6 Official start of the trip this evening in Hong Kong: we can help you arrange an earlier arrival, if you wish
October 7 Explore vibrant Hong Kong: city exploration and fantastic food tour
October 8-10 Experience stunning Siem Reap, Cambodia: tour Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and other important ancient sites
October 11-13 Be charmed by Bangkok, Thailand: enjoy Wats (temples), markets, food tour, and Thai massage!
October 14-16 Discover the Last Shangri-La, Bhutan: climb to iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery, visit a local farm, and tour historic dzongs
October 17-19 Taste the cultural riches of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal: visit sacred Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu sites, sample Newari and Tibetan cuisine; optional flight to see Mount Everest
October 20-22 Experience incredible India in Agra: experience the Taj Mahal at sunrise, visit other historic sites and a non-profit school
October 23-25 Travel back in time in Giza, Egypt: stay in a guesthouse directly in front of the pyramids and the Sphinx, marvel at the Egyptian museum
October 26-28 Be dazzled by Madrid, Spain: enjoy this metropolitan city, with its impeccable museums and an unforgettable food tour
October 29-November 2 Dive deep into Peru’s history in Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu: explore Lima’s historic sites and modern cuisine, fly to Cusco and take a train to breathtaking Machu Picchu; plenty of opportunity for trip extensions, to the Amazon Rainforest, Galapagos, or more!
Why is this the right trip for you?
For almost five years we have traveled non-stop, exploring the most interesting destinations, meeting the most amazing local guides, learning the most useful local tips, and helping wonderful people discover more about the planet they live on.
Developing an Around the World itinerary has always loomed large in the back of BJ’s mind, especially since his 1995 adventure around the globe. We wanted to take the concept of an Around the World trip and create one that is accessible to anyone keen on such a journey. Most Around the World vacations on the market cost between $80,000 and $130,000+ and usually take up to 75+ guests. That didn’t sit right with us; we think world travel is beneficial and necessary for growth, empowerment, and connection and should be made as accessible as possible.
Using creative planning, commercial flights (as opposed to private jets), and our huge virtual Rolodex of resources, we’ve created a brilliant, fully escorted, all-inclusive 28-day Around the World itinerary for a fantastic price of $21,450 per adventurer as the early early (!) bird price.
We’ve chosen these destinations carefully based on their range of authentic experiences, their important heritage sites, and also the ease of travel between them. We knew we wanted to cover the classic “bucket list” items: the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, the Pyramids. But we also wanted to address our guests’ more recent desire to experience Bhutan, often referred to as the Last Shangri-la. Food plays a big role in every city, and we can’t wait to eat our way through the modern culinary hotspots of Hong Kong, Madrid, and Lima.
This journey is very much in line with our mission, to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number, including our guests, our travel partners, and the local community. Included in your trip price are donations to 4 local non-profits, as well as carbon offsets for all of your flights.
We hope to travel Around the World with you!
EARLY early bird pricing now available! When you register before June 30, 2017, the price is $21,450 USD, a $500 savings from the regular early bird price.
The early bird cost of the trip is $21,950 per guest until October 6, 2017 (1 year before the trip). After October 6, the trip cost is $22,950.
Hong KongOctober 6-7
Neih hou & welcome to Hong Kong! Our tour will officially begin at dinner on October 6, but if you’d like to arrive early and get a jump on jet lag, we can help arrange that.
Situated on the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong’s location on the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea has made it one of the world’s most thriving and cosmopolitan cities. Once a British colony, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China in 1997. This arrangement allows the city to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech.
We’ll cross the harbor by ferry this morning on our way to Victoria Peak. Did you know the name Hong Kong means “Fragrant Harbour”? Our ferry crossing will allow amazing panoramic views of this incredible skyline. Then we’ll get a bird’s eye view from Victoria Peak, overlooking Victoria Harbor and the surrounding islands.
Today we’ll also get a crash course in the phenomenal cuisine of Hong Kong with a local food tour. This walking tour will not only highlight foodie favorites but will give an insight into the Kowloon area of Hong Kong.
If you’re up for it (literally!), tonight we can watch the famous nightly laser show on the Victoria Harbor, “A Symphony of Lights.” It is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show, according to Guinness World Records.
Choum reap sor! We’ll depart early on the morning of the 8th to fly to the Siem Reap in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Here, the Khmer Empire created what was the world’s largest civilization in the 12th century. The most famous relic of this civilization–featured today on Cambodia’s flag–is Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. We’ll visit Angkor Wat as the sun rises behind its iconic peaks and afterward we’ll wander its bas-relief lined hallways.
However, Siem Reap is much more than Angkor Wat. This area is home to loads of gorgeous temples, many being slowly reclaimed by nature (including the picturesque Ta Prohm). We’ll explore Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Kingdom, along with its many temples and terraces. Bayon temple is a favorite of ours, featuring 172 large-scale smiling faces wherever you look.
We’ll explore temples our first full day October 9th, and we’ll enjoy the nightlife of Siem Reap that evening. You can sample local Khmer cuisine or enjoy one of the many international restaurants along Pub Street. Included on this portion of the journey is a heavenly 1-hour foot massage for your hard-working tootsies!
The next day you have a choice of exploring Siem Reap independently, to rest, shop, or wander leisurely (and perhaps go for round 2 on a foot massage!) The other option is to head a bit further out of town to Beng Mealea, a gorgeous sandstone temple complex that is mostly unrestored and being slowly reclaimed by the jungle. We’ll be accompanied by a well-established photography guide who will also take us into nearby villages to experience daily rural life.
Sawasdee kha! We’ll bid farewell to Cambodia and take a short flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Welcome to your home along the Chao Phraya River for the next 3 nights. Open your window shades–we’re staying directly across from Wat Arun, the iconic riverside temple in Bangkok! We’ll dive right into that famous, delicious Thai cuisine tonight on a food and cultural walking tour with a local guide.
On October 12 we’ll tour Bangkok’s best sites, including the stunning Grand Palace. This huge complex (2,351,000 ft²) began construction in 1782 when the capital of then-Siam was moved to Bangkok. Don’t miss the highly revered Emerald Buddha; this 26-inch statue has a golden wardrobe for each season, and the clothes are changed by the King himself. In addition to other sites, we’ll also explore the grounds of Wat Pho and marvel at its giant reclining Buddha (151 feet long).
Have you ever tried a Thai massage before? Included on this leg of the journey is a 90-minute traditional Thai massage. Somewhere between a shiatsu massage and passive yoga, this highly therapeutic (and fully-clothed) massage is not to be missed.
On October 13th, there is an option pre-dawn trip to the famous Khlong Toei market, Bangkok’s biggest fresh food and meat market and regarded as one of the most authentic markets in all of Bangkok. The rest of the day is yours for resting, shopping, or exploration. We can take you to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, if you like, which is the largest market in all of Thailand. Stocked to the gills with household goods, antiques, food, and clothing, this market boasts more than 15,000 booths over 27 acres.
Tonight we’ll enjoy one more food tour, this time being whisked around Bangkok by a tuk-tuk. So much good food, so little time!
Kuzuzangpo la! Although on many people’s radar (including yours!), the Kingdom of Bhutan still feels like a secret destination. Bhutan has never been colonized, and it retains a strong sense of identity and national pride to this day. In the 1970’s, this Buddhist nation developed a concept called “Gross National Happiness,” a way to chart development and progress in a more holistic way than the Gross Domestic Product.
We’ll arrive in Paro and enjoy a farm home visit and an outstanding home-cooked meal. The Bhutanese national dish, ema datsi, is a spicy chili and cheese concoction that you can sample if you dare! The next morning we’ll visit iconic Taksang monastery, or Tiger’s Nest, the holiest site in Bhutan This picturesque complex hugs a cliff wall 3,000 feet above the valley floor (for a total altitude of 10,240 feet). It’s a ~2 hour ascent, but we’ll take it slow and steady as we hike to the monastery, reveling in the fresh forested-mountain air around us. If you like, you can even ride a pony much of the way to the top!
Our last day in Bhutan, we’ll tour the sites in Paro and Thimphu–the only national capital city in the world without a single stoplight! Visit the impressive dzong fortresses and the colorful Buddhist temples; Bhutan’s Vajrayana Buddhism looks much different than the Theravada Buddhism of Cambodia and Thailand. Tonight we’ll enjoy a special private cultural show, including a masked dance & local music.
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal, home to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. In fact, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to see Mount Everest during our flight from Bhutan to Kathmandu!
Although Nepal is famous for its Himalayan peaks and trekking, the Kathmandu Valley (4600 feet altitude) is incredibly rich in culture and history and is a destination unto itself. Nepal is very dear to both of our hearts and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Although the majority of Nepal is Hindu, there is a very visible Buddhist minority, and our guest house is just a few hundred meters from one of the largest and most revered stupas in Tibetan Buddhism: Boudhanath. Here you can witness and participate in kora, or the circling around the stupa as a meditative act. This Tibetan Buddhist enclave is a serene home base, perfect for exploration and reflection.
Over the next couple days, we’ll explore other Hindu and Buddhist temples around the Kathmandu Valley, including Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath. We’ll take a short drive (~45 minutes) to Bhaktapur, one of the three ancient kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley. Here we’ll enjoy a traditional home-cooked Newari meal with a local family, always one of the highlights of our Nepal tours. During other meals, you’ll get to sample traditional Tibetan fare as well as Nepal’s homegrown favorite, dal bhat.
It’s been awhile since you’ve had a massage, right? Included in your stay in Kathmandu is one 60-minute massage at a local Tibetan clinic.
Option: Some guests may wish to take a sightseeing flight to see Mount Everest (if we didn’t get a clear view on our Bhutan to Nepal flight. These flights are around $220 USD and are not included in this trip package.
- 100 of the Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites (#1)
- Conde Nast Traveler: The Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- World’s Leading Tourist Attraction (2012)
- TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice: World’s Most Beloved Landmarks (#5)
- New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2017 (Agra)
- Lonely Planet’s top 10 sights in the world (#5)
Namaskar! We’ll take a short flight to India’s bustling capital Delhi and be on our way by private vehicle to Agra (~4.5 hour drive). We’ll rest in a comfortable 5-star hotel in Agra where you’ll be our guest for a relaxing, nourishing Ayurvedic massage during your stay.
Our first full day in Agra we’ll explore some fantastic sites, including the expansive Agra Fort. It was here that the man who commissioned the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, lived his last days under house arrest. We’ll visit Gurudwara Guru Ka Taal, a Sikh place of community and worship, and you’ll get insight into one of the world’s youngest religions. We’ll also have the opportunity to visit a non-profit school for underserved children (one of the recipients of this tour’s donations). You’ll learn more about daily life in India, with all its beauty and its challenges.
Finally, it’s time to see the crown jewel of India: the Taj Mahal. We’ll depart for the Taj Mahal early in the morning and you’ll be among the first people to behold the beautiful white marble at sunrise. We’ll have an expertly guided tour of the Taj Mahal, and then you’ll have time to explore independently. Take your time to really inspect the semi-precious stone inlay in this hardy Makrana white marble; rest your eyes on the geometric patterns and the soft calligraphy that decorates the facade. It took over 20,000 workers and artisans over 20 years to create this masterpiece, a mausoleum dedicated to a beloved wife, a timeless testament to love.
After a leisurely lunch, we’ll drive back to Delhi and stay at a very comfortable hotel near the airport. If we have time tonight, we can take a trip to Dilli Haat, an open-air handicraft market that represents artisans from all over the entire country.
Assalam Alaikum and welcome to the land of the Pharaohs! We’ll be met by our expert team that will guide us through immigration and customs, and we’ll head to our home base for the next three nights–a guesthouse that looks directly upon the Giza Pyramid complex and the Sphinx. These structures are an unbelievable 4,500 years old; the Great Pyramid is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and is the only one still in existence. Tonight from the comfort of our own roof (or room!) we can watch the ancient and the modern combine for the nightly laser show, a quirky but endearing experience.
Our first day will be spent with an expert guide and Egyptologist, exploring the sites of Giza, including Saqqara, Memphis, and Dahshur. These were all very important ancient sites in Egypt, the “playground” where the construction of pyramids was perfected. We’ll visit the Step Pyramid, the first freestanding stone building in history and the first pyramid ever built. Around Saqqara, we’ll explore the tombs as our guide explains their significance and deciphers the stories told in the beautiful hieroglyphics lining its walls.
We’ll head back to our neighborhood and explore the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Valley temple, and the tombs of Idu & Qar. Fancy a climb into the center of the Great Pyramid? Let’s go!
The next day we’ll enjoy the new Egyptian Museum at Giza, having recently been relocated from its old location in Cairo. The pieces in this museum are jaw-droppingly mesmerizing and at times downright otherworldly. Cast your eyes upon the funerary mask of Tutankhamun, behold the mesmerizing wooden statue of Ka-Aper, and venture into the mummy room if you wish!
The rest of the day is your to rest or to spend more time at the Giza Pyramids, as the entrance is located directly across a small street from our guest house. Or perhaps you want to unwind on the rooftop terrace and just gaze out upon the ancient pyramids….the choice is yours!
Buenas días!Welcome to Spain’s capital, home of delicious tapas and even more delicious artwork! Our days in Madrid will be relaxed and you will have the opportunity to branch off based on your preferred interests.
For the art lovers, we recommend exploration the “Golden Triangle of Art” along Paseo Prado: the Museo del Prado (considered to be among the greatest museums of art, with the best collection of artworks by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, Hieronymus Bosch, José de Ribera, and Patinir); the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum; and the Reina Sofía Museum (Pablo Picasso’s powerful piece Guernica, along with works by Dalí and Miró).
For the food-lovers (aren’t we all?), we’ve included a famous Madrid food tour, and there are plenty of tapas & wine venues to wet your whistle along the way. Did you know that Madrid is home to the oldest continuously operated restaurants in the world? Sobrino de Botín, founded in 1725, was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, and it is said that Francisco de Goya worked there before he attended art school. Madrid also has amazing nightlife for those of you wanting to burn the midnight oil!
If you’ve already visited Madrid or just in the mood for something different, we can send you on a day tour of nearby Toledo, a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Essentially, you let us know what you want to experience in Madrid, and we can make it happen. In addition, you get a BONUS hour in Madrid, as Spain turns their clocks back one hour on October 28th!
PeruOctober 29 - November 2
PeruOctober 29 - November 2
Bienvenidos a Peru! The morning of October 29, we take a non-stop daytime flight to Lima, Peru. The flight is 11.5 hours (although, timezone-wise, Lima is 6 hours earlier than Madrid). We’ll take it easy upon arrival and we’ll relax in our hotel in the stylish seaside Lima neighborhood of Miraflores.
The next day we’ll tour Historic Central Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The colonial cathedrals and palaces are absolutely lavish. The Convento de San Francisco is known not only for its Baroque architecture but for its maze of catacombs discovered only in the 1940’s.
We’ll also get acquainted with Peruvian cuisine with a local food tour, as Lima is considered a modern culinary hotspot. In fact, Peru has been named the World’s Leading Culinary Destination every year from 2012 to 2016!
On October 31st, we’ll take a morning flight to Cusco (1.25 hours), take a scenic drive to Ollantaytambo and board a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly Aguas Calientes, names after the town’s hot springs). Our two-hour train ride is a scenic introduction to the Andes mountains, as we ride along the beautiful Urubamba river for much of the time. Tonight we stay in the quaint town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, readying ourselves for a sunrise trip to Machu Picchu.
Peru has been inhabited since 9,000 BC and has had complex societies since 3000 BC. The Incas were an immensely powerful state in the 15th century; the crown in the Incan empire was, of course, Machu Picchu. On the morning of November 1, we’ll have a special private guided tour of Machu Picchu, along with independent exploration time. Sunrise is a palpably special time at these ruins, as the morning fog parts to reveal what had been hidden for hundreds of years. The structures themselves are impressive, but they are closely rivaled by the stunning Andean mountain landscape that kept them a secret for centuries.
In the afternoon we’ll take the train back to Cusco. There is a certain charm to Cusco that we can’t get enough of. This Unesco World Heritage Site was the stunning capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th century, and it is South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The blend of the ancient Incan foundations, topped with the ornate relics of the Spanish invasion and colonization, make this city a marvel at every turn. It’s no wonder that the Constitution of Peru designated Cusco as the country’s Historical Capital!
We’ll share one final dinner together and reflect on our epic Around the World trip. We may have started in Hong Kong as strangers, but we close in Cusco as a family, bonded by our wonderment at this amazing world we live in.
Your Around the World journey officially finishes after breakfast on November 2nd and your trip includes a flight back to Lima from Cusco. But, wait, there is so much more to see! We intentionally ended the tour in Cusco as its’ a great launching pad for more adventure (including staying in Cusco itself). You can also easily head to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest at Puerto Maldonado (a direct flight from Cusco), visit Lake Titicaca, or even head to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. We can help you with any of these trip extensions & more, and your included flight from Cusco to Lima can instead be applied to a trip extension.
Please click on the yellow boxes to expand them.
Price, Inclusions & Payment Plan
EXTRA early bird! When you register before June 30, 2017, the price is $21,450 USD, a $500 savings from the original early bird price.
The early bird cost of the trip is $21,950 per guest until October 6, 2017 (1 year before the trip). Thereafter, the trip cost is $22,950.
If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $1890 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you may be responsible for the single supplement.
A $3000 deposit holds your space. The second installment of $6000 is due January 31, 2018, the third installment of $6000 is due April 30, 2018 and the balance is due June 30, 2018. We will email you invoices via PayPal before each due date.
- All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
- All accommodation
- All transportation from the start of the trip in Hong Kong to the trip’s conclusion in Lima
- All sites entrance fees
- All local guide fees and tips
- Carbon offsetting for trip
- Donation to four local non-profits
- Four massages
- Six food tours
Laundry in Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi, and Cairo
- Souvenir photo book of journey and online to access to all of our trip photos
Price does not include:
- International airfare to Hong Kong or from Lima (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
- Travel insurance (required)
- Visa fees (except Bhutan) for a total of ~$145
- There is a minimum of 4 guests that must register in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.
- If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 4 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
About the Food
What if I don’t like the local food?
Do I have to eat ‘weird’ things?
What about my food allergies?
Let’s face it–you gotta eat. However, culinary experiences while traveling are more than just a necessity; they’re another avenue to learn and appreciate your environment. In fact, American Culinary Traveler found that the percentage of U.S. leisure travelers who seek to learn about unique dining experiences on their travels rose from 40% in 2006 to 51% in 2013.
A 2012 World Tourism Organization report found that over 88% of survey respondents consider a destination’s cuisine to be an important part of that destination’s identity. It looks like we travel to EAT! This is why we’ve built in so many local food tours on this trip: it’s an efficient, fun way to not only try a little bit of everything on the local menu, but it allows an insight into the culture and history or an area, as well.
Now to answer your questions:
If you’re not a big fan of a certain region’s cuisine, you’ll always be able to find a more familiar substitute (usually in the form of Italian food/pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and ubiquitous french fries). Even if you are loving the food in an area, you might still crave familiar comfort food and that is A-OK. We’ve had some of the best Italian food in the world in Southeast Asia!
If you are interested in this trip, we’ll have a conversation that will include any food allergies or sensitivities. Generally speaking, all but the most severe allergies or austere preferences will not pose a problem.
And the biggie: do you have to eat weird things? There are two answers to this question: 1) Of course not! and 2) What do you consider weird? One of the things you’ll learn on this Around the World adventure is that cultural “norms” vary widely, especially in the kitchen. And besides, I know several people who would make a strong case that lima beans are weird (and they are, of course, wrong 😉 ).
We don’t seek out bizarre foods “Fear Factor” style, but if an ingredient is a part of the actual local diet, we’ll often give it a try. If you are feeling adventurous, there are plenty of unique local specialties to try, from interesting fruits (mangosteen, rambutan, and the infamous durian) to insects and critters (tarantulas, frogs, and grasshoppers) to regional meat favorites (guinea pig, snake, and alpaca).
Food on this tour is designed to be FUN and you’ll never feel pressured or judged for anything you choose to eat or not eat. But we’re happy to be providing an opportunity to try the best cuisine of each region! Just imagine….dim sum in Hong Kong, fresh ceviche along the ocean in Lima, pad thai on a Bangkok street, Tibetan dumplings in Kathmandu, kebabs in Egypt, tapas in Madrid, fragrant curries in India…. Oh my!
About the Flights
Air travel has made Around the World adventures much more pleasant & efficient than the infamous 80-day trip posited by Jules Verne.
We will be taking commercial flights for each leg of this trip, with the majority of them being quick, non-stop flights on trustworthy and comfortable regional airlines. Two of our legs have brief layovers (Hong Kong to Siem Reap has a brief layover in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam; India to Egypt has a quick layover in Dubai).
What about upgrading?
There is no need to upgrade on these short regional flights, but if you are interested in upgrading to Business or First Class on the Madrid to Lima leg, please let us know and we can discuss your options.
Flight times, including layovers:
- Hong Kong to Siem reap (via Ho Chi Minh City): 5:50 hours flight including layover (total of 3:20 hours flight time)
- Siem Reap to Bangkok: 60 minutes
- Bangkok to Bhutan: 4 hours
- Bhutan to Kathmandu: 60 minutes
- Kathmandu to Delhi: 90 minutes
- Delhi to Cairo (via Dubai ): 9 hours in total (7:15hrs flight time)
- Cairo to Madrid: 5:20hrs.
- Madrid to Lima: 11.5 hours
- Lima to Cusco: 75 minutes
Your flight from Cusco (Machu Picchu) back to Lima is included in the trip price, even if you choose to extend your stay in Cusco. If you choose to travel elsewhere from Cusco, we can apply your Cusco to Lima airfare toward other onward travel.
About Jet Lag
We’re traveling around the whole world–am I going to feel jet lag every time we move to a new location?
The most challenging portion of this trip in regards to jet lag will be your initial flight to Hong Kong (which is why, if you are able, you may choose to arrive a day early). We can provide tips and ideas on how to reduce jet lag as much as possible.
However, the rest of your trip will include much more gentle time changes that will not be difficult. Our next big leap in time is gaining 6 hours when we fly from Spain to Peru toward the end of the trip; however, this east-to-west flight, paired with it being a daytime flight, should make this as easy of a transition as possible.
Time differences between our destinations
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, the solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London (0° longitude).
- Hong Kong (GMT+8)
- Siem reap (GMT+7) (one hour earlier than Hong Kong)
- Bangkok (GMT+7) (same time as Siem Reap)
- Bhutan (GMT+6) (one hour earlier than Bangkok)
- Kathmandu (GMT+5:45) (15 minutes earlier than Bhutan)
- India (GMT+5:30) (15 minutes earlier than Kathmandu)
- Giza (GMT+2) (3.5 hours earlier than India)
- Madrid (GMT+1) (one hour earlier than Egypt)
- Peru (GMT-5) (6 hours earlier than Madrid; Peru is the same time as Eastern Standard Time and one hour earlier than Eastern Daylight Time)
About the Weather (Temperature & Rainfall)
Why is the trip in October?
It was a very intentional choice! When BJ made a grid of all of these great locations and charted the best times to visit according to temperature and rainy season, October was the magic month when all the stars aligned.
Below is a table of the average highs and lows, for each location during October (in Fahrenheit and Celsius). We’ve also included the historical record highs and lows to give you an idea of the most extreme conditions ever seen in that area during October.
Although there are some not insignificant differences between the highest average highs and the lowest averages lows, packing layers for this trip will make it easy to enjoy any weather we encounter. The lowest low is just one night in Cusco (42°F), with Madrid coming in at 52°F. The lows for the rest of the trip fall between 60 and 76°F. The average highs run between 67 and 91°F.
We know Longfellow said “Into each life some rain must fall,” but we try to minimize that prospect. We don’t expect any rain in Bhutan, Nepal, India, or Egypt. It is possible to catch a drizzle in Hong Kong, Madrid & Peru, and it is likely we may see some showers in Siem Reap and Bangkok. Nothing a handy travel umbrella or light shell jacket can’t handle!
This table is best viewed on a laptop, computer, or tablet.
|Location||Average High||Average Low||Record High||Record Low|
|Hong Kong||82°F (28°C)||74°F (24°C)||94°F (34° C)||56°F (13.5°C)|
|Siem Reap||89 (31.5)||76 (24.5)||93 (34)||63 (17)|
|Bangkok||91 (33)||76 (24.5)||100 (38)||65 (18)|
|Paro/Thimphu, Bhutan||73 (22)||59 (15)||79 (27)||26 (-3)|
|Kathmandu||80 (27)||56 (14.5)||92 (33)||42 (5.5)|
|Delhi/Agra||91 (33)||67 (19.5)||102 (40)||49 (9.5)|
|Giza/Cairo||85 (29)||63 (17.5)||106 (41)||54 (12)|
|Madrid||67 (19.5)||52 (11)||86 (30)||32 (0)|
|Lima||69 (20)||60 (15.5)||79 (26)||55 (13)|
|Machu Picchu||70 (21)||59 (15)||87 (30.5)||42 (5.5)|
|Cusco||70 (21)||42 (5.5)||84 (29)||32 (0)|
It’s nice to know who your traveling companions are, but even more important to know your trip organizers. After all, they are the ones who carefully craft your voyage based on firsthand experience, and are largely responsible for the trip’s success and your enjoyment. That’s why we think it’s important for you to understand that RetreaTours is at heart a two-person operation, created with love and skill by husband-and-wife team BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon.
While we are supported in every destination by a hand-selected team of awesome locals, we are the ones who put our heart and soul into making these experiences come alive for you from the trip’s inception to completion. If you’d like to get to know us personally a bit better, please take a click over here. If you’re more interested in the origins and the “abouts” of the company, click over here.
Our Mission: We create itineraries that are authentic, accessible, and affecting. We craft each trip to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number, including our guests, our partners, and the local community.
A 28-day journey takes a lot of stamina, but we’ve designed this trip specifically so that you can opt to have a rest day in each city (and of course, ALL activities are optional).
It will be a rare case that you will have to stand on your feet for extended periods of time. Even during our day tours of Angkor Wat and the Pyramids, you’ll have time to recharge in a vehicle as we travel from site to site. And even the Taj Mahal has benches for a quick rest! However, as a guideline, you’ll want to feel comfortable walking for 2-3 miles unassisted, over the course of the day. Again, it will most likely not happen that we will ever walk a straight 2 miles, but that is a safe guideline to follow if you are wondering about your fitness levels.
Many of these sites include stairs, and will a few of our guesthouses without elevators (don’t worry we’ll make sure your luggage gets upstairs). As a guideline, please feel comfortable climbing 3-4 flights of stairs at a time (but at your own pace).
Many of these ancient sites, like Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, will have stone staircases hundreds of years old, and they will not always have consistent heights or handrails. The key here is to feel comfortable going at your own pace.
If you intend on attending all offerings on the itinerary, you will be participating in 5-8 hours of activity each day (although that activity may just be a food tour where we are sitting in cafes and sampling the local fare; activity does not mean difficult physical activity, just that we are out of our accommodation and exploring).
The most physically demanding of the sites we explore will be Machu Picchu. We are not hiking the Inca Trail there, but we still have to walk uphill from the official entrance to the site itself (count on a ~15-minute walk up an incline or stairs). The more adventurous can climb about 90 minutes from Machu Picchu Pueblo. How much you explore of the rest of the site (and how many stairs you conquer) is up to you.
You may wish to bring an umbrella/parasol for our days exploring Angkor Wat, Agra, the Pyramids, and even city day tours, as being out in the sun can certainly cause fatigue. We’ll make sure there is always water available for you to refresh and recharge.
Can I arrive late / leave early / skip a destination?
What if I have already been to one destination? Can I arrive early or late? Can I depart early or late? Can I skip a location?
We’re delighted to be able to offer custom experiences on this trip, and we will work with you to create the perfect journey for you based on your desires.
If you want to arrive early or depart late, we can help you decide on pre- and post-trip arrangements. If you wish to join us after Hong Kong or depart before Peru, let’s talk: we can arrange to “pick you up” or “drop you off” somewhere else along the tour.
If you’ve already spent time in one of our destinations, we can help craft an alternate itinerary for that leg of the trip. Been to Kathmandu with us before? Perhaps you can take a hike among the Annapurna Range outside Pokhara, Nepal. Love Madrid but “been there, done that?” Why not take a side trip to Granada or Sevilla, instead?
You let us know what would make this trip perfect for you and let’s start planning!
Passport & Visa Requirements
Your passport will need to be valid until at least May 2019 (6 months from the end of the scheduled trip). In addition, you’ll need 15 blank pages in your passport to accommodate your visas and stamps and still allow for the 2 blank pages required upon arrival in Peru.
This information is for U.S. citizens only; please check your country’s own official government website for details or the official country links below.
You will be responsible for paying most of your visas on this trip, although many of them are easily received upon arrival in the country. You will have ~$145 in visa fees you are responsible for along the way (we purchase your Bhutan visa on your behalf).
The only visa you will need to apply for beforehand if your Indian visa, 4 to 30 days before the India portion of the trip. We will advise you on how to apply for the Indian e-Tourist Visa on Arrival.
You will need passport photos to obtain some of these visas; we’ll advise you closer to the trip how many to bring.
About Vaccinations & Malaria
There are no required vaccines on this trip. However, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date on their routine vaccinations.
Please consult the CDC’s recommendations (or your nation’s equivalent) and confer with your physician or local travel doctor.
Here are links to CDC recommendations for:
We are also big fans of the Scottish NHS site’s recommendations (click here).
There is no vaccine for malaria, zika, or other mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue. We encourage the prevention of mosquito bites as the best solution, through the use of insect repellent and wearing long sleeves/pants at dusk and dawn. We are traveling during every country’s relatively dry season, so we do not expect mosquitos to be a problem. However, you must consult with your physician or local travel doctor to do what feels best for you.
Here are links to the Scottish NHS’s malaria maps of each country. We find them to be an excellent visual resource:
You’ll find that our trip locations are all in the “low to no risk” sections.
About the Hotels
We will be staying at 4 to 5-star hotels throughout this trip, except for two places: Egypt and Nepal. In Nepal, we’ll be staying at a very comfortable guesthouse in the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist area of Kathmandu. Proceeds from this lovely garden-side guesthouse benefit the children’s home next door, in addition to other social welfare projects sponsored by Rokpa. In Egypt, we’ll be staying at a small family-owned accommodation, converted into a guesthouse from their multi-generational familial home. We will be staying directly in front of the Sphinx and the Pyramids!
All hotels will have hot water, wifi, and attached bathrooms with western-style toilets. All hotels in the warmer climates will have air-conditioning.
The wifi may not be as fast as you are used to at home, but it will be enough to check emails, do basic browsing, and even use voice-over-internet calling. In some locations, the wifi may not be very strong in your room, but will be accessible in the lobby or hotel restaurant.
We will provide you a list of our hotel names and contact information before the start of the trip.
About Carbon Offsetting
The jet set life can take a toll on the environment (well, even daily life at home takes its toll!) Each flight we take emits CO2 into the atmosphere, but luckily there are ways to mitigate that effect.
We have chosen to partner with Carbonfund.org, whose motto is “Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.”™ In a nutshell, we tell Carbonfund.org how many miles we are each flying (including to Hong Kong and from Lima) and they figure out how many pounds of CO2 that air travel creates.
Then, they take our donation and fund projects around the world to offset that amount of carbon, from the Truck Stop Electrification Project which reduces tailpipe emissions from freight trucks, to supporting wind power and hydroelectric facilities and reforestation projects around the world. You can read more about their current projects here.
Carbonfund.org has a great FAQ if you’re looking for more information.
We chose Carbonfund.org because of their Third-party Quality Assurance Protocol.
About the Altitude
Most of our locations are at or around sea level; Madrid (2200 feet / 670 m) and Kathmandu (4600 feet / 1400 m) are an exception, although they should not pose any difficulty.
Your first encounter with altitude will be in Bhutan. Paro and Thimphu rest at 7350 feet / 2250 m and 7700 feet / 2350 m respectively. (For comparison, Santa Fe, NM is 7200 feet / 2200 m and Mexico City is 7400 feet / 2250 m). A hike to Tiger’s Nest monastery will take you to 10,250 feet / 3,120 m, but you are encouraged to take it slow and walk at your own pace.
While Lima, Peru is at sea level, the inland portion of our Peru leg is markedly higher. Machu Picchu wouldn’t have quite the same appeal on a beach! Our hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo is at 6700 feet (2050 m), while the ruins themselves are at 7800 feet (2375 m).
Cusco poses the highest overnight stay, at 11,150 feet (3400 m). We’ll be arriving in Cusco in the afternoon and the only planned activity is a farewell dinner, so expect to take it easy that evening. If you plan on extending your stay in Cusco, we’d recommend taking it slowly your first day or two.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician. Certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.
*All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease.
Packing List & Luggage Suggestion
About Travel Insurance
We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind for very little cost. When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for emergency medical evacuation/repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances covered by your policy.
We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company (we can advise you on what past services past guests have used).
We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure.
Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All photos here have been taken by BJ or Lauren during their travels.
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