Bhutanese embrace the Buddhist culture very close to their heart, and this is shown in their daily life. From the majestic dzongs, temples, and monasteries, to the beautiful works of arts, the worship of Buddhism is always presented. And for the locals, one of the most important Buddhist ceremonies is the Bhutan festivals, ‘Tshechu’.
These festivals have been celebrated for hundreds of years, and they are the most important religious ceremonies for Bhutanese. They are held annually in dzongs and monasteries to honour Guru Rinpoche, the “Lotus-Born Teacher”, the one who introduced Buddhism to the country. The highlight of Tshechus is the sacred mask dances, performed by both laity and monks. They are dressed in ornate costumes and will read out Buddhist scripts. More than that, Tshechus are also time for Bhutanese to relax and socialize, and to receive blessings. They come to these festivals to celebrate, to have fun and then stay all day at the monasteries or dzongs.
The most popular Tshechus are Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Paro Tshechu Festival, Punakha Tshechu Festival, Gangey Tshechu festival, and Bumthang Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival. In different areas, people have different ways to celebrate Tshechus, thus each Tshechu is a very unique ceremony. Not only the locals, thousands of travelers also visit Bhutan every year for the celebrations and the Tshechus will always leave an ever-lasting impression in their minds.
Tour duration – 8 days/ 7 nights.
Tour destination – Paro, Thimphu, Gangtey, and Punakha.
Tour overview – Welcome to Bhutan, the Kingdom of Himalayan. Bhutan is not only attractive for its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, but also the thrilling Thimphu festival is held from October 8 to October 10, 2019 in Thimphu – the capital of Bhutan. This is an important ceremony with Bhutanese, as they attend to honour Guru Rinpoche – who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Prepare to be astounded as the monks, laymen or gomchens with masks, dance and perform the Eight Aspects under which Guru Rinpoche manifested himself on various occasions. Bhutanese will wear their finest clothes for this special occasion. Not stopping at Thimphu, the trip continues to Punakha, Paro valley and Haa valley for you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes of Bhutan.
Day 01: Thimphu
The flight to Bhutan provides the most spectacular view of The Himalayas. As the plane approaches Paro, you will see the beautiful snow peaks of Himalaya range. The first gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. Our representative will meet you and drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan at 2320m, also the only capital in the world that does not use traffic lights.
On arrival in Thimphu, check in the hotel. After a brief rest we will head to the National Memorial Chorten, which was the idea of Bhutan’s Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who had wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his Majesty’s untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. You will see a lot of Bhutanese people circumambulating, reading mantras in murmuring and spinning their prayer wheels the chorten throughout the day.
Then we visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, a small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper from the bark of two tree species, the Daphne and Dhekap tree. You can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper. It is named Deh sho paper, was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
In the late afternoon, take a walk around to explore Thimphu town and soak in the atmosphere of this charming capital with crowded shops, bazaars and hospitality local in national dress.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu Festival.
Today we will join Thimphu festival, one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan. In the early morning hundreds of local people dressed in their finest clothes and jewellery who have walked from another region around to attend the festival. The monks, laymen or gomchens with masks, dances and religious music will perform the Eight Aspects under which Guru Rinpoche manifested himself on various occasions appear in a procession with the principal aspect of Guru Rinpoche shaded by a parasol. It is also an occasion for prayer and blessings.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu to Punakha
- Altitude in Punakha: 1300m
- Distance: 75km
- Estimated time: 2.30hrs
Today we will drive to Punakha. On the way we will stop for lunch and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges at Dochula pass, high on top of a mountain (3050 metres), overlooking the Himalayas with 108 chortens (stupas) known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” and Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed in the 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. The Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, commissioned the monument the Fourth King, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was victorious in the struggle to dislodge the rebels who were using Bhutan as a base to raid India.
Along the way, we will take a pleasant hike to across hillock fields to the Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility and built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley –“Divine Madman”.
Then we will visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. It is an imposing structure and was built in 1637 at the confluence of two rivers, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. It served as the capital and seat of government until the early 1950s. The dzong is still the winter residence of the monk body.
In the evening we will take a stroll exploring Punakha village, located right on the bank of river.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 04: Punakha to Paro
Before returning to Paro, we take a hike to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. After crossing a suspension bridge, it is a pleasant hike through beautiful fields of rice and pine trees. It takes about an hour from the road point to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes downhill.
Then we head to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang, a temple plus nunnery perched on a ridge overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, comprises a double storied temple, a chorten resembling Nepal’s boudhanath stupa and a nunnery complex.
Afterwards we drive to Paro, on the way we visit the Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The dzong houses statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and others.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 05: Paro sightseeing
In the morning you can start your culture tour of Paro valley by visiting the National Museum of Bhutan (Ta Dzong), originally built as watchtower around 1649. It is on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend Paro Rinpung Dzong and Paro valley during times of war, in an unusual circular construction resembling a conch shell. This dzong was converted into the National museum of Bhutan in 1968. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Afterwards we visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, meaning the fortress of The Heap of Jewels, is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal between 1642 and 1646. This dzong now houses monk body and administrative offices of Paro and is symbolic as the religious and secular center of all affairs of the valley. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
Then we visit the Sangay Handmade Bowl and Cup Factory, nearby Paro Rinpung Dzong. You will see demonstration of traditional wood turning skills by local artisans who make traditional wooden bowls and cups. It calls Shagzo – the art of wood turning, one of thirteen traditional Bhutanese arts. You can try your hand as well if you wish.
Next we head to the Dungtse Lhakhang, built in 1421 by famous Tibetan lama, Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464). This temple is remarkable primarily because it is in the form of a Chorten, one of the very few which exist in Bhutan, is conceived as a mandala, with the different storeys (three floors) corresponding to the different levels of initiation, leading progressively upwards towards the heart of the mandala
Then we walk down to the hill and cross the cantilever bridge towards Paro Town. We will take an explorative stroll around main streets and market at Paro town.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 06: Paro sightseeing.
Today after breakfast we take a hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. It is one of the most holy sites in Bhutan, clings to a cliff more than 3000 metres above sea level and 900 metres above The Paro valley floor. The legend says that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) arrived here on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. Subsequently, he meditated here for three months. Every Bhutanese person is expected to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. You will have lunch at Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery.
Then we head to the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in The Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. This temples marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the 8th century the temple was visited by Guru Padmasambhava.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 07: Haa valley excursion
In the morning we drive to Haa valley to visit the Lhakhang Karpo – the White Temple, built by the Tibetan saint and king, Songtsen Gampo and located in the tiny village of Dumchoe with its sparkling white wall is situated at the foothills of the three towering mountains venerated. Then we head to the Lhakhang Nagpo – the Black Temple that the legend says that King Songtsen Gampo released a black and a white pigeon to select sites to build the temples. The white pigeon landed on the foothills of the mountain Chenrizi of the towering Rigsum. The black pigeon landed on a little north of the white pigeon, indicating the preordained site of the present day Lhakhang Nagpo. The temple was named Nagpo (black) as it was built on the site where the black pigeon landed.
Afterwards we drive back to Paro, on the way we will stop and take a walk to visit Juneydrak Hermitage. We will start the walk from the main bridge from Haa town, follow the stream past a main wall to a two legged archway chorten and cross rhododendron forest to get the hermitage. If there is no one meditating inside the temple at that time, you can go inside and take a look at the footprint of Machen Labdrom (1055-1132) on the Cliffside retreat. After the walk, our journey continue to drive to Chele La pass at about 3800 metres where you will have a great view of the Himalaya range on a clear day and visit the Kila Gompa.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 08: Depart Paro
After early breakfast at the hotel, your guide will accompany you to the airport for flight to your onward destination. 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.||Laundry/beverages/telephone calls and any personal expenses.|
|3 star categories hotel/resort twin sharing room.||Travel insurance.|
|Accommodation in the best 3 star hotels/resorts in Bhutan.||Airfares.|
|All meals in day.||Airport taxes if any.|
|Bottled water on the trip.||Excess baggage charge.|
|A sustainable development fee.||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 English speaking guide.|