The Indian subcontinent is a region of superlatives. While it is the one of the most densely-populated areas it also encompasses the world’s tallest mountain range, the snow-capped Himalayas, besides dense jungles ruled by majestic tigers, tropical beaches where you swap shoes for flip-flops and lush waterways to glide along. There’s also magnificent architecture, raucously-colourful cities and serene temples and monasteries where you can reconnect with your spiritual side.
Accommodation options range from humble home stays to sumptuously-furnished palace hotels, once the preserve of maharajahs. As for cuisine, the richly-spiced dishes served up everywhere from street food stalls to fine-dining restaurants are a world away from the Friday night curries you get from your local takeaway. Each area has its own delicacies, specialities and food styles to savour – and leave you wanting more.
History, culture, wildlife, natural spectacles, man-made splendours, vibrant festivals, exhilarating adventures, shopping and unashamed luxury – India is perhaps the most diverse country on earth with the multitude of experiences it offers visitors. One thing is certain: it won’t disappoint.
For first-time visitors, India’s famous Golden Triangle is a must, visiting Delhi’s impressive Red Fort and sampling street fare in local markets, seeing the architectural wonders of India’s Pink City, Jaipur, and the sad beauty of the Taj Mahal.
Go on safari to spot tigers roaming wild in national parks such as Ranthambor and add a beach stay in Goa or tropical Kerala state, laced by waterways. See some of the country’s most ornate temples in southern India, or head north to find the hilly tea plantations or Assam state and Darjeeling, and the sacred city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges, which attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists each year.
For many people, a visit to Nepal is all about trekking to the Everest Base Camp or in the foothills of the Himalayas. However, while it is a trekkers’ paradise and has some of the most stunning hiking trails in the world, the mountainous country also possesses much more for visitors to discover.
Nepal’s rich culture and history can be explored in capital Kathmandu and other towns as well as in villages, with the calendar regularly punctuated by colourful festivals. The country has steamy jungles, fertile valleys, pine forests and fast-flowing rivers, and the Chitwan National Park offers the opportunity to see rhinos, leopards and elephants plus, if you’re really lucky, elusive Bengal tigers.
This tiny and remote mountain Buddhist kingdom is a throwback to the past that’s as far from the madding modern world as it is possible to get. Gaze in awe at sights such as the Taktsang Monastery, known as the Tiger’s Nest and perched against a sheer rocky cliff 3,120 metres – more than 10,000 feet – above the Paro Valley.
A guided holiday in Bhutan can also take in some of its other monasteries, shrines and fortresses, all set in a landscape of thick forests and high mountain passes.