Bhutan festivals (Tshechus), which have been celebrated for hundreds of years, are very important in their culture. The festivals are held to honour Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism to the Bhutanese. In Tshechus, there will be mask dance and other types of entertainment, keeping the atmosphere exciting. The mask dance performances are remarkable with the monks wearing colourful outfits and reading Buddhist scripts. Tshechus are the oral traditional way of Bhutanese to pass on the history, the values, and beliefs from generation to generation. Some Tshechus will also display a gigantic thangkha (embroidered painting) of Guru Rinpoche and some other Buddhist gods.
Tshechus are also the time for Bhutanese to relax and socialize, and also to receive blessings. People put on their finest clothes and also some jewelry. They come to these events to celebrate and to have fun and stay all day at the monasteries or Dzongs – where Tshechus are held. People have different ways of celebrating Tsechus in regard to their different areas, so no festival is the same. Thousands of tourists visit Bhutan every year for the celebrations and these festivals leave an ever-lasting impression in their minds.
The most popular festivals are Thimphu Festival, Paro Festival, Punakha Festival, and Bumthang Jamba Lhakhang Drup Festival. The Bhutan festival packages are seasonal, as they are only available when the festivals are held. Nevertheless, we believe the beautiful and exciting Tshechus will amaze you.
Tour duration – 8 days/ 7 nights.
Tour destination – Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha.
Tour overview – Paro festival is held at Paro Rinpung Dzong in Paro valley from April 4 to April 8, 2020. It is one of the most popular spiritual festivals in Bhutan in honour of Guru Rinpoche, commemoration of his great deeds. Before joining in the wonderful festival, you will visit Thimphu, the capital and Punakha, well known for its breathtaking nature and beautiful villages. During the festivals, there will be masked dance performed by monks, telling the famous tales of Bhutan. Bhutanese attend these festivals to celebrate and to receive prayers and blessings. Immerse yourself into the exciting and lively atmosphere of Paro festival for an unforgettable experience in Bhutan
Welcome to one of the most celebrated festivals in the kingdom of Bhutan!
Day 01: Thimphu sightseeing
- Altitude in Paro: 2,280m
- Altitude in Thimphu: 2,320m
- Distance: 55km
- Estimated travel time: 1.30hr
You will arrive at Paro International Airport. This is the only international airport in the country, and is surrounded with snowcapped mountains, which you can see from the plane. Our representative will meet you at the airport and then take you to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. It is the only capital in the world where you will not see any traffic lights. On the way, we will stop at the beautiful Tachogang Lhakhang Temple (Temple of The Hill of The Excellent Horse), erected by the legendary bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464).
After arriving in Thimphu, we will leave your luggage at the hotel to go and visit the National Memorial Chorten. The impressive building serves both as a monument for world’s peace and prosperity and as a memorial to the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928-1972).
Next, we will see the imposing Buddha Point (Buddha Dordenma Statue), which sits atop of a hill overlooking Thimphu. The site is renowned for its height, which is 51.5m, making it one of the tallest Buddha statues in the world. Inside, there are 125,000 miniature Buddha statues, gilded and made of bronze.
We will return to explore the dynamic life of Thimphu in the late afternoon and evening. You will find out a different side of the charming town, with bustling shops and bazaars, and finest pubs which will impress you with their offers of snacks and alcohols.
We will stay at a hotel in Thimphu for the first night.
Day 02: Discover Thimphu
The Folk Heritage Museum and the National Textile Museum will be our first stops for the day. They are the best place you can visit to learn more about the beautiful Bhutanese life and traditional weaving art. The heritage museum will take you back to the mid-19th century, its design replicates a rural house, built with rammed mud timber. Inside you will find many daily objects used by the locals, like the leopard-skin bags and Brokpa yak-hair ‘spider’ hats. Then you will get to see the art practicing of thagzo (weaving) at the National Textile Museum, which is very interesting as it is performed with different styles and on various materials.
We will then visit Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory to learn how the traditional Bhutanese paper Deh-sho is produced. Made from daphne and dhekap trees, Deh-sho paper is used by the monks for woodblock and manuscript books, and for writing prayer books.
If the trip is on a weekend, we can spend time walking around the farmer’s market. You will find in the market all kinds of vegetables, fruits, meats and rice that the local farmers have brought here from all over the country.
In the afternoon, we will stop at Changangkha Lhakhang, a popular temple in Thimphu. It is common for parents to come here and choose auspicious names for their newborns or to receive blessings for their kids. The temple sits on a ridge above the town, and you can also see the shrine of the tshomen (mermaid) in the courtyard. The back kora (pilgrim path) with beautiful black-and-gold prayer wheels is also a great sight to see.
The next destination – the National Institute for Zorig Chusum will definitely amaze you. It is commonly called the Arts and Crafts School, or Painting school. This is where the traditional arts of Bhutan are taught and practiced by young students. You will get to see the students sharpening their skills with great discipline under the instructions of their masters, from painting (thangkas – painted religious pictures, walls, and statues), to wood-carving (masks, statues), clay arts.
Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of The Glorious Religion) is one of the most iconic sites in Thimphu, and also the last stop for today. The grand dzong was built in 1216 A.D, and later moved to Thimphu after the city was chosen as Bhutan’s new capital. It sits next to the banks of Wang Chhu river and is surrounded with picturesque gardens. At 5pm, there is a flag changing ritual in the courtyard, make sure you will catch the interesting sight when visiting the place!
We will stay for another night at the hotel in the capital.
Day 03: Thimphu to Punakha
- Altitude in Punakha : 1300m
- Distance: 75km
- Estimated travel time: 3hrs
From Thimphu, we will drive to the former capital Punakha. The historic town was the capital from 1637 to 1907, and is also known for its wonderful nature.
We will stop at Dochula pass to capture the panoramic view of the Himalayan mountains. Located at 3,050m, the pass is praised as one of the most picturesque mountain passes one will ever see. The sight of the 108 chortens gracing along the hillside and the mighty snowcapped mountains in the distance is breathtaking and for sure will be one of your most favourite memories of Bhutan.
Then we will visit the striking Punakha Dzong, or ‘Place of Great Happiness’. The grand complex was founded at the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, which converge in this valley. On sunny days, the building becomes even more beautiful as the sunlight reflects off the water onto its giant buttressed walls.
From the remarkable dzong, we will travel to Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge, the longest of its kind in Bhutan with a length of 160m. The bridge offers the amazing sight of Punakha Dzong and the fertile Pho Chhu valley.
Afterwards, we will take on an easy hike to reach Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten (1,500m), which stands proudly on a ridge above the valley. The trail from the suspension bridge will ascend 200m up the hill, and we will finish it in about an hour. The chorten was designed on the principals delineate within the Holy Scriptures, and the purpose was to provide spiritual protection, peace and harmony. The whole site consists of the four-story, pagoda-style chorten, and various smaller pagodas surrounding it, some of which contain prayer wheels.
Tonight we will stay at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 04: Punakha to Paro
- Distance: 125km
- Estimated travel time: 4hrs
Today we will drive back to Paro. One the way, we will hike to visit Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) at an altitude of 1,500m. it is an easy hike and will ascend about 20m, taking us to cross hillock fields. The whole walk will be only for 30 minutes.
We will next stop at Simtokha Dzong. ‘Simtokha’ literally means ‘Atop a demon’, and the site is believed to guard a demon that had vanished into the rock nearby. The dzong was the first to be founded by the Zhabdrung, the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state. The building houses the bed chamber of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel, two of the most important figures in Bhutanese history. Moreover, inside the dzong’s Utse (central tower) is a giant statue of Yeshay Gonpo (Mahakala), the chief protective deity of Bhutan. There are more statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures that you may see once we are at the site.
We will stay overnight at the hotel in Paro
Day 05: Paro Tshechu festival
Paro Tshechu festival is the highlight of our trip. It is one of the most popular religious festivals in the kingdom, with thousands of people participating every year, both locals and visitors. The ceremony is held in honour of Guru Rinpoche (or Padmasambhava), the great master who had introduced Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. There is no better way to experience the ancient living culture of the country like joining in this great festival.
People will start gathering at Paro Rinpung Dzong in the early morning, wearing their finest clothes and jewelry. There will be masked dances performed by the monks clad in colourful attires, telling the ancient story about victories of Guru Rinpoche, driving out evil spirits and purifying the ground with his footsteps. Throughout the days of the festival, there will be different performance taking place. People attend the festival believe they will receive prayers and blessings, and this is also an opportunity for the entire community to come together and socialize.
We will stay for another night at the hotel in Paro
Day 06: Paro Tshechu festival
Around 3 am, we will go to Paro Rinpung Dzong. Today is the last day of the big festival, and it will take place outside of the dzong.
This is probably the most awaited event of the Tshechu festival. The monks will unveil a gigantic silk Thangka (embroided painting), the Guru Throngdel. The size of the Thongdrel is impressively large that it covers the face of an entire building. It is a very sacred scroll, which will only be displayed a few hours before sunrise and brought down before the sun touches it. It is believed that one can cleanse their own sins just upon viewing the Thongdrel.
After the festival, we can spend time exploring Paro Rinpung Dzong (Fortress of The Heap of Jewels), a great example of Bhutanese architecture. In 1644, the extraordinary construction was built on the foundation of a monastery erected by Guru Rinpoche. The edifice sits on a steep hillside, which provides stunning views of the valley.
We will have a lunchbreak and then head to visit the town of Paro. It is one of the best towns is Bhutan to discover on foot, representing both the ancient and modern sides of Bhutan. You will see many colorfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants as we walk along the main street, which was only completed in 1985.
We will return and stay at the hotel for another night.
Day 07: Paro sightseeing.
We will spend the first half of the day hiking to the sacred Taktsang Monastery, also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest monastery’. The striking monastery is located on a cliff of more than 3,000m, so it will take us 5-6 hours to get there. The highest altitude of the hike will be at 3,120m, with a 600m of walking height. Every Bhutanese is expected to complete the pilgrimage to the Tiger’s Nest at least once in their life. It is said that a trip to Bhutan would not be considered as completed if you have not been to this holy site.
Due to the hike’s difficulty, we will have stops for refreshments as well as enjoy the pristine nature along the trail. The incredible views of ancient forests and snowcapped Himalayan mountains on the way to the monastery will become part of your unforgettable experience in Bhutan.
Next, we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, which is one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas. Legends say that the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo established these structures in just 1 day to pin down the demon tigress, which tried stopping the introduction of Buddhism in the Himalayas. The ancient temple was also visited by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. It is also one of the most outstanding temples in the kingdom.
We will join a Bhutanese family for special dinner after the visit to Kyichu Lhakhang. It is a very nice experience to spend time chatting with the family members and enjoying delicious dishes. Bhutanese are known for their friendliness towards travelers to the country.
If interested, you can try out archery and dart, which your guide and driver will happily teach you. They are the most popular sports in Bhutan, played in almost every family.
Besides that, Paro has some trendy bars and pubs, you can check them out and find yourself tasty snacks and local alcohols. Enjoy your last night in Bhutan!
We will stay overnight at the hotel in Paro
Day 08: Depart Paro
After breakfast at the hotel, your guide will take you to the airport for flight to your onward destination. It is time to say ‘Tashi Delek’ (goodbye and good luck) and hope to see you again!
- Single traveler: US$ 2,070 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$ 2,000 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 1,790 per person
OFF PEAK SEASON
- Single traveler: US$ 1,720 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$ 1,650 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 1,440 per person
- If you are planning to travel Bhutan with a group of 4 people and more, please feel free to contact us to get the cost for your group.
|The cost includes||The cost excludes|
|Bhutan visa fee (US$ 40 per person).||Laundry/beverages/telephone calls and any personal expenses.|
|3 star categories hotel twin sharing room or double sharing room.||Travel insurance.|
|Accommodation in the best 3 star hotels in Bhutan.||Airfares.|
|All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in day.||Airport taxes if any.|
|Bottled water, tea, and coffee on the trip.||Excess baggage charge.|
|A sustainable development fee of $65 per night.||Tips to guides and drivers.|
|Museum fees and other special entry fees.||Services not mentioned.|
|Internal transportation with experienced driver throughout the trip.|
|Sightseeing as per itinerary with qualified and licensed English speaking guide.|
|Gho or Kira (traditional and national dress of Bhutan) for your use during your stay in Bhutan.|
|Bhutanese sim cards.|
|Archery and dart.|