A Summary of Month One – From North Korea to Bhutan

Our bags were packed and we had sold everything that doesn’t hold a sentimental value to us. Any material belongings, we gave to friends and donated to charity.

We were ready and excited to start the adventure of a lifetime – to visit every country in the world.

A Summary of Month One – From North Korea to Bhutan

Our bags were packed and we had sold everything that doesn’t hold a sentimental value to us. Any material belongings, we gave to friends and donated to charity.

We were ready and excited to start the adventure of a lifetime – to visit every country in the world.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

We may earn affiliate commissions from websites we link to, at no cost to you. Click here for details.

From North Korea to Bhutan in China
From North Korea to Bhutan – Here we are in Xian, China

The drive to the airport was carefree; we were about to embark on an epic journey to go everywhere!

As we approached the check-in for our first flight from Melbourne to Beijing, we were notified that it had been delayed by five hours. Not ideal, but that’s how it goes. Things don’t always run as smoothly as we’d like.

We know that a positive attitude is essential for this entire trip and we’re going to encounter many occasions where things don’t go to plan. This is just the first of many to come.

Our first month took us from North Korea to Bhutan.

From North Korea to Bhutan – Inside North Korea

Our first stop, Beijing was really a gateway for our trip to North Korea. Our five-day organised tour with Young Pioneer Tours took us into North Korea on an overnight train from Beijing to Pyongyang.

We were pleased to meet the other travellers in our group, many different nationalities who had stories and things to share on the journey to DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea).

I guess it takes a different type of traveller to be interested in visiting this part of the world. 

Our trip in North Korea was so eye-opening and certainly busted at least 7 myths about North Korea that we’d heard prior to entering.

Should you visit North Korea - The Leaders

We packed so much into our trip in such a short time. We visited all the main sights, including the DMZ, the Kumsusan Palace, and the small towns of Kaesong and Sariwon City.

We rode the deepest metro in the world in Pyongyang and we had a chance to shop and spend the local currency in a local department store.

Our strict pre-planned itinerary saw us visiting the big bronze statues of past leaders, watching a circus, and riding roller-coasters inside a fun park.

We ate many traditional Korean meals like hot pot, duck BBQ, bibimbap, and lots of kimchi! In fact, these are some of the 10 Most Popular Dishes in North Korea

We drank local beer in the park, surrounded by locals, and enjoyed the soju, the Korean whisky on many occasions.

Our highlight, however, was the celebration of passed Kim il Sung’s birthday which involved mass dancing across the city. This is something that has to be seen to be believed.

Thousands of North Koreans wearing local dresses and dancing to the sound of a blaring stereo. We found this whole experience so different and unique, we caught some of our experiences in this country on film.

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We felt compelled to write this post – Should you visit North Korea? Is it Unethical? We had many questions about the secretive life inside this country and our local Korean guides who were with us at all times seemed to answer them.

Some of the tougher questions we asked them like “ do you have a prison system for people who break the law?’’ was answered without actually answering the question. Their response was “if you break the law, you’re just held in a room and pay a fine and then you are set free after a few days”. Hmmmmmm.

This trip reminded us that travel is the best education and travelling to North Korea can give you an insider’s view of how things are in the country.

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Finding enlightenment in Tibet 

Tibet may not be recognised as a country (it’s been annexed by China), but in our hearts, it holds a special status, hence why we decided to travel here as part of our adventure to #visiteverycountry.

We arrived at Lhasa and relaxed on the first day to adjust to the high altitude, 3600m above sea level. We had bought some Chinese medicine for acclimatization in a small pharmacy in Xian, China the day before.

The picture of the Himalayas and some green plants on the cover looked legitimate, and in bits of sign language and our google translate app on our phones while talking to the pharmacist, we were convinced we had the goods to avoid getting altitude sickness upon arrival.

“Remember to take photos with your eyes”, was the first thing our guide said to us. We left the hotel and walked towards the old town of Lhasa near Barkhor Square. This area has redefined spirituality and devotion.

We were instantly drawn into the crowds of pilgrims, praying, chanting, and shuffling in a clockwise direction around the Buddhist Jokhang Temple.

From North Korea to Bhutan - tibet
From North Korea to Bhutan – We fell in love with Lhasa in Tibet

The sky was clear blue and many colours so vivid upon the backdrop of snowy peaks in the distance. The endless humming of locals chanting, rolling rosary beads in one hand, and spinning prayer wheels in the other sounded peacefully hypnotic.

The only nuisance seemed to be the Chinese military guards stationed around the town, marching between the peaceful pilgrims and armed with guns. The reason for their presence here seems pointless.

Potala Palace was next, and we were mesmerised by its sheer size and the treasures held within its walls.

Leaving Lhasa, our journey over the next few days took us high into the Himalayas range. We crossed high passes, turquoise lakes and winding roads as the days got colder, the wind grew stronger the air became thinner and small movements would leave us breathless.

We were all anxious to reach the undisputed highlight of the trip, the Everest base camp or Chomolungma as it is known to local Tibetans.

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Staring up at Mount Everest is a surreal feeling

Seeing Mt Everest reveal its peak through the clouds was an experience that we won’t easily forget. There’s something about nature in its purest form that draws instant emotion.

We were lucky to visit a small monastery (the highest one in the world) and be welcomed into the humble living area by two monks, who shared stories about their simple yet happy lives with us.

Our night was spent at a simple guesthouse nearby, and admittedly, it was a very tough night’s sleep for all.

The cold temperature and the altitude of 5400m were an uncomfortable combination, warranting terrible headaches for us all. The reward for this was a silent and crystal clear morning, with incredible views again of Mount Everest. It doesn’t get much better than that.

We started our descent from the highest passes of Tibet by driving most of the day to rest for the evening in a town very close to the Nepalese border. Our guide helped us transfer over the border to Nepal the next morning, leaving us with wonderful memories of Tibet.

From North Korea to Bhutan – Returning to Nepal

We were happy to be returning to Nepal. We were welcomed by smiling locals, lush green countryside, roads still as terrible as we remember, and simple, yet wholesome food. It felt like a warm hug. We spent the next eleven hours bumping around in our jeep transfer to travel 150km to Kathmandu. We made it eventually.

The following morning, we left the bustling city of Kathmandu by local bus to travel to Chitwan National Park.

We woke up to warm mornings surrounded by tropical green plants and vegetable crops everywhere. What a stark contrast to the cold days we’d recently spent in Tibet, where there were no trees or plants in sight.

Our time in Chitwan was relaxing. We saw wildlife and had some downtime. It was nice to reflect on all we’d seen and done over the past few weeks.

From North Korea to Bhutan Nepal
From North Korea to Bhutan – Exploring the national park in Nepal

We returned to Kathmandu and spent the next four days eating great food, drinking good coffee, and using the good wifi connection whilst we started making plans for our travels for the next few weeks.

We also managed an awesome day trip to see the nearby ancient kingdoms of Patan and Bhaktapur, an excellent day for sure.

Happiness is a place on earth. It’s called Bhutan

The flight over the Himalayas from Kathmandu to Paro was enough to put a huge smile on our faces. It was amazing. We touched down at the airport and instantly felt calm.

It has been an eventful month from North Korea to Bhutan, but now we are here.

The airport was almost empty. There were no lines at immigration, and already, the men and women looked smart in the traditional local dress of Bhutan.

We met our local guide and driver from Bamba Travel, jumped into our brand-new SUV, and our private tour of Bhutan began.

Bhutan is green, clean, and peaceful. There are road signs everywhere that have positive slogans written to encourage drivers to be careful and always think of others and safety.

The speed limit is capped at 40km p/h for safety, as the roads are quite windy, and nobody really seems to be in a hurry here.

From North Korea to Bhutan - finally in Bhutan
From North Korea to Bhutan – Finally in Bhutan

The next four days were spent seeing the sights on this private tour, accompanied only by our guide and driver, two young Bhutanese guys. They were fantastic.

The country’s nature and beauty are its big drawcards, and we felt enlightened learning about Buddhism here.

A highlight for us was hiking two hours to Tiger’s Monastery and exploring the beautiful temples inside. The views were incredible and passing by thousands of colourful prayer flags along the way only enriched the experience.

A special mention has to be made for the food in Bhutan too, as it was delicious.

We left Bhutan with warm hearts, huge smiles, and a promise to ourselves to return to this gorgeous country again one day.

If you ask us, “Is Bhutan worth the money?” We definitely agree that yes, it is.

What a fascinating destination.

Travel Tips for Asia

We have many travel guides and tips for Asia— a fascinating continent!

Delicious cuisine can be enjoyed across Asia, and our food map of Asia will inspire your food journey.

These top 5 best street foods in Asia are unmissable! We explain Central Asian food, including seven popular foods in this region.

Our Southeast Asia packing list will be helpful if you’re travelling here.

Furthermore, if you plan to travel long-term (or at least until the money runs out), these 21 cheapest countries to visit will help you make your hard-earned dollars stretch a bit further.

Not surprisingly, our top 10 best countries for food lovers include a few Asian countries.

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Asia. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual Asian countries, or consider a regional eSIM for Asia (which covers 18 countries).

If your travels in Asia are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text eSIM. The Global eSIM has been a game-changer; we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Asia.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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Travel Planning Resources

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