Bhutan With Paro Festival 13 Days / 12 Nights
Bhutan Festival Tours
Hotels and guesthouses
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Trip Over View
Home to some of the most popular festivals, Drukpa people and the most magnificent dzongs/fort-monasteries, museums, the cities and towns built besides rivers in wide valleys - Western Bhutan makes you realize that you have come to the right and quite an extraordinary place. The main ethnic group in Western Bhutan is Ngalops, who are generally followers of the Kagyu tradition of Buddhism. Western Bhutan is comprised of beautiful Haa Valley, Paro Valley, Thimphu, Punakha Valley, Wangdue Phodrang and Phobjika Valley. There are stunning scenery with rice paddies and orchards flowing down magnificent mountains, the pristine rivers flowing through the main towns of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, and unique two-story houses with brightly painted window designs marks the uniqueness of western Bhutan. You will enjoy the stunning views of the mountains and the valleys as you cross the high passes of Cheli La (3988m, 13,084ft), Dochu La (3050m, 10,007ft), and Pele La (3300m, 10,825ft). Western Bhutan is bit famous among the tourists.
Central Bhutan is separated from Western Bhutan by the Black Mountains. Central Bhutan is made up of Trongsa at 2316m, Bumthang (Jakar at 2600m; Ura 4000m), and Zhemgang at 1900m. Central Bhutan was made accessible via road only since 1970s and had very less number of tourists comparing to Western Bhutan. There are broad valleys and sloping mountains in this region therefore making it ideal place for walking. Bhutan is famous for buckwheat, apple production, stone houses, festivals and old monasteries. Eastern and Central Bhutan shares quite a similar culture. Like the East, the main school of Buddhism in the central is also Nyingma. Central Bhutan may be less famous among the tourists but once you are there, it is worth your time. Visit Trongsa Dzong - one of the most picturesque examples of Bhutanese architecture and travel around Bumthang, the cultural heartland of Bhutan and home to the some of the kingdom’s most precious and ancient Buddhist sites.
This is the trip concurring with the most famous Paro Tshechu, the biggest of the tshechu in Bhutan. All through Bhutan, people celebrate colorful and religious festivals and at different times of the year and your travel to Bhutan are surely going to be so much better because of this great and lively festival. All of the districts, Dzongs and a large number of villages in the east, hold annual tshechus, which attract people from far and wide. For the Bhutanese, attendance at these religious festivals offers an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and to gain much merit. The Tsechu is a festival celebrated to pay tribute to Guru Padmasambava - "one born from a Lotus flower", popularly known as "Guru Rinpoche" or the “Precious Gem” and has greatly contributed to the flow of Tantirc Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan etc. During Tsechu, people gather from places to rejoice religious history and seek blessings and have social gathering. It is said that attending Tshechu and witnessing the mask dances at least once for every Bhutanese is a must in order to have blessings and abolish all their sins. In this festival, people dress in their finest clothes and most beautiful jewelry. People enjoy social gathering, picnics and large feasts and for three days, various mask dances are performed together with songs and dances and this one kind of dance tell stories of great saints restraining evils.
Day 01: Flight to Paro, Bhutan.
Day 02: Attend Paro Tsechu.
Day 03: Attend the festival in the morning and later hike to Taktsang Monastery. (B/L/D).
Day 04: Paro Festival and drive to Thimpu. (B/L/D).
Day 05-06: At Thimpu.
Day 07: Drive to Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 08: Drive to Bumthang (Jakar). (B/L/D).
Day 09: Full day in Bumthang Valley. (B/L/D).
Day 10: Ura Valley excursion.
Day 11: Drive to Trongsa.
Day 10: Drive to Paro.
Day 11: Departure.
Day 01: Flight to Paro, Bhutan
You can choose to fly either from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta or Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro airport immigration, produce your visa approval letter provided by us and get your passport stamped with authentic visa. Claim your baggage and walk through the customs and meet your guide outside the airport and get transferred to your hotel.
This afternoon, we will visit national museum, which is housed in an ancient watch tower. The museum’s collection range from books, paintings, textiles, crafts, arms, utensils, stuffed animals, insects, gallery of philatelic collection and a shrine with the tree that has four sides with statues representing the four school of Lamaism; Sakya, Gelug, Nyingma and Kagyu with emphasis on Drukpa Kagyu sub sect. Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Attend Paro Tsechu.
Today, we attend the second day of the Paro Tsechu. The Tsechu festival of Paro is probably the biggest and it is also the busiest period for tourism industry as a whole. The festival includes mask dances performed mainly by the monks and some lay people. There is a folk singing and dancing as well with nearby stalls that sell food, crafts and games. Later in the evening we visit a typical farm house and stroll around the town area. Overnight in a hotel at Paro.
Day 03: Attend the festival in the morning and later hike to Taktsang Monastery. (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we are driven to the festival ground. Enjoy the different plays performed to commemorate the life of Guru Rinponche. Appreciate the colors and various aspects of the festival. Later, for those keen to trek, we hike up to the famed Taktsang monastery also popularly known as Tiger's nest, perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The hike is about 2 hours to the teahouse but you have a choice of riding on the pony. After tea and snacks you may either opt to hike further uphill for about 45mins to get a closer look at Taktsang and the surrounding temples or just remain at the Tea house and enjoy the views.
The return trek to the road head is all downhill and takes about half the time. Depending on the available time, you may visit festival or other sites in Paro.
Those who do not wish to hike can attend the festival, mingle with the crowds and take self-guided walks.
Day 04: Paro Festival and drive to Thimpu. (B/L/D)
In the morning, we attend more of the festival and then drive to Thimpu (about 2 hours) for a late lunch. After some rest, we take a self-guided tour to King’s Memorial Chorten and visit other sights as time permits.
Day 05-06: At Thimpu
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing with a visit to the colorful weekend market where people from near and far come to sell or buy fresh produce. It is where the village folks jostle with the well-heeled resident of Thimpu for the best and cheapest vegetables and other food stuffs. Weekends also provide an opportunity to see the traditional game of archery played in the nearby grounds. During these two days in the capital, we visit the school of traditional arts and painting, indigenous hospital, heritage museum, textile museum, Tashicho Dzong, the nunnery at Zilukha, the handicrafts workshops and shops, handmade paper factory, gold and silver smiths, memorial chorten, Zangdopelri temple, mini zoo to see Takin and other sights as time and interest permit. We spend the evening taking self-guided walks and shopping around. Overnight at the Hotel River view.
Day 07: Drive to Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang
We continue our drive towards Wangdue Phodrang and Punakha which takes about 3 hours. As we leave Thimpu, the road climbs up to Dochula pass (Alt. 3010m), where we stop to get a spectacular panoramic view of the snowcapped mountain range of Bhutan (weather permitting!). Near the pass there are many chortens (pagoda or stupas) and hundreds of prayers flags fluttering about beautifully in the wind. After the pass the road drops through changing vegetation into the semitropical lowland of Punakha - Wangdue valley at around 1400m.
Punakha and Wangdue valleys being at a lower elevation are therefore warmer with a semi-tropical climate and vegetation such as cactuses, bananas and orange groves. Check in hotel and after lunch we visit Punakha Dzong – the former winter capital of Bhutan. The head abbot and monks of the central monastic body reside in Punakha Dzong during the winter months and in Thimpu during the summer. Time permitting, we drive to the village near the junction road between Punakha and Wangdue and take a pleasant 20 minute hike to Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to the Saint Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1529) also known as the “divine madman”. He is very popular, as he taught Buddhist teachings in the way that is unlike the stiffness of clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using songs and sexual humor.
Day 08: Drive to Bumthang (Jakar) (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast, we set off on the road to Jakar. The road from Punakha passes through the town of Wangdue Phodrang and from Chuzomsa begins to climb steadily for about 2 hours, crossing the Black Mountains at Pele la Pass (3420m). From here, on a clear day, we can see Mt. Jumolhari and other mountains across the valley. Following the pass, we are now in Mangde region and the people speak a different dialect here. We continue our drive to Trongsa, stopping en-route at Chendebji chorten and other places to stretch our legs, admire the landscape and take pictures. We have lunch at Trongsa and take a peek at the Trongsa Dzong, which is considered one of the largest and certainly the most impressive of all Dzongs in Bhutan. Trongsa Dzong is a rambling collection of buildings that trail down the ridge, with remarkable streets like corridors and wide stone stairs running down. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of the last century. The first two hereditary kings ruled the country from here and it is still a tradition that the crown prince first serves as the Trongsa Penlop before ascending to the throne.
From Trongsa, it is another 68km/ - 2 and ½ hours drive Jakar across Youtongla pass (3425m). After the pass, we descend into Chume, the first of the four Bumthang valleys. We stop at the roadside village of Zugney to see the weaving of Yathra (a deep colored wool textile, a pattern typical to these parts of the country). Dinner and overnight at Mountain Lodge or similar.
Day 09: Full day in Bumthang Valley (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we start the sightseeing tour with a drive to Jambay Ihakang, visit Chakar temple (iron castle) and continue to the Kurjey monastery complex. After visiting Kurjey, we start a gentle evel walk across the suspension bridge over Chamkhar Chu River to Tamshing Lhakang. We walk through the village to a smaller Kunchok sum temple and then continue the walk through the farmland to the Swiss farm area. At this point, our vehicle meets us and we transfer to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, we visit the new monastery of Namhai Nyingpo, traditional hospital, Jakar Dzong, Lamay Gompa and other sites as time permits. Overnight at Mountain Lodge or similar at Jakar.
Day 10: Ura Valley Excursion
We drive up to Ura and take a leisurely stroll in the small village. Ura has a beautiful Buddhist Monastery surrounded by typical Bhutanese farm houses which is worth seeing. We also see yaks grazing in the rich pasture land of the Ura valley. We have a picnic lunch at Ura and return to Bumthang in the evening.
Day 11: Drive to Trongsa
We retrace our drive back across Yotongla pass and descend into Trongsa which takes about 3 hours. In the afternoon, we have a more in-depth visit of the huge and historical Trongsa Dzong (fortress) site of the emergence of present Royal family of Bhutan. We also visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) which now houses the temple dedicated to Jigme Namgyel - father of the first King of Bhutan.
Day 12: Drive to Paro
Leaving Trongsa, we return west, stopping to visit the Chendebji Chorten - a large white monument said to conceal the remnants of an evil spirit vanquished here. Continuing across the spectacular Pelela pass (3,300m), we descend into the valleys of Punakha and Wangdi. After a further drive through blossoming hills and pine forests, we arrive at Dochula pass (3,100m) for another opportunity to get the panoramic view of the eastern Himalayan range including Bhutan’s highest peak Gangkar Phuensum. We continue the drive towards Paro via Thimpu.
Day 13: Departure
Transfer to the airport in time for flight to your next destination.
- Accommodation on twin sharing.
- All transfers and sightseeing as on itinerary.
- Three meals a day.
- English speaking local Tour Guide.
- Sightseeing admission fee.
- Bhutan visa fee.
- Airfare to and out of Bhutan (Separately quoted).
- Expenses of personal nature such as drinks, tip, laundry, phone etc.
- Extra expenses or loss due to nature and unforeseen events.
- Travel Insurance.