It makes a lot of sense to use a reputable tour operator to organize a trekking holiday in the Himalayas. It is safer to trek in a group with an experienced guide and support crew. Suggested itinerary: hire a jeep or an Enfield motorbike and drive out to ancient Hemis, Lamayuru, and Thikse monasteries, taking a side trip to the turquoise lake of Pangong Tso bordering Tibet; afterward, do a five-day homestay trek through the Markha Valley.
When to travel
The Himalayas cover a vast area but in general, the best months to visit are late October until early May, depending on the exact location and altitude of the trek. An exception is Ladakh, where tourist facilities are only open between May and September.
Tibet – the roof of the world
The high Tibetan plateau is the rooftop of Asia, hidden from the Indian subcontinent behind the ramparts of the Great Himalaya. Despite Chinese-led modernization, Tibet's great monasteries still hum with murmured mantras and the flicker of yak butter lamps. Sublime landscapes, ranging from rolling grasslands to high-altitude turquoise lakes, a vibrant Buddhist culture and the friendly and resilient Tibetan people are the highlights here, as are the views of Everest's North Face – miles better than anything you'll see in Nepal.
Ladakh – India's little Tibet
Hidden over high passes in an arid, largely treeless rain shadow, Ladakh is classic Trans Himalayan scenery: huge khaki-colored valleys and harsh rock walls brought alive by the occasional splash of irrigated green. Traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture remains intact here, with spectacularly located monasteries that burst into life during medieval masked dance festivals that have changed little in 500 years. For travelers, there's a bit of everything – epic treks, sparkling high-altitude mountain lakes and a well-developed backpacker infrastructure based around the capital, Leh.
Bhutan – the last Shangri-la
As the last surviving great Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan has an otherworldly air that seems rooted in another age. Traditional dress is the norm everywhere, old-growth forest carpets 75% of the countryside and remote Himalayan peoples like the Layaps and Brokpas live a life largely untouched by the modern age. Simply put, Bhutan is like nowhere on earth. The catch? The fixed minimum daily rate of US$250 per person is mandatory, although this does include transport, meals, guide, and accommodation.
Nepal – a trekker's paradise
The best way to experience the mountains is on foot, and Himalayan treks just don't get any more spectacular or convenient than in Nepal. Follow mountain paths past lines of spinning prayer wheels and charming stone Sherpa or Tamang villages to the foot of jaw-dropping 8000m peaks like Annapurna or Everest, safe in the knowledge that at the end of the day you’re guaranteed a cozy bed and hot dinner. There are few better ways to spend a couple of weeks of your life, at a cost of as little as US$25 per day. Add on a visit to the medieval cities of the Kathmandu Valley, once a Himalayan artistic powerhouse.