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 September 26 to September 28, 2020 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 in Thimphu, the trip continues to Punakha, Paro valley, and Gangtey valley for you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes 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 in Paro, one of the biggest cities in Bhutan. Take a look out of the plane window for the incredible view of the Himalayan snowcapped peaks from above. Our representative will welcome you at the airport, then we will drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital.
Thimphu, while being the capital, remains charming with the mix of ancient landmarks and modern restaurants and cafes in one city. The first destination we will visit is the National Memorial Chorten. The remarkable site was built as a monument for world peace and prosperity, and later serves as a memorial the Late Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928-1972).
After that, we will head to Buddha Point (Buddha Dordenma Statue), the tallest Buddha statue in Bhutan. Measured at a height of 51.5m, the large figure is seen sitting on a meditation hall, and overlooks the beautiful sight of Thimphu from a hill’s top. Placed inside the giant figure are 125,000 smaller Buddha statues.
The National Institute for Zorig Chusum, or otherwise called ‘the Arts and Crafts School’, the ‘Painting school’, is a perfect place to learn about the traditional arts of Bhutanese and see the skill demonstrations. The students are enrolled in different course, which teach a variety of traditional arts, from painting, clay arts to wood-carving, embroidery.
Later in the afternoon, we will take you around to see the dynamic life in Thimphu. The noises on the street on shops and bazaars, delicious smell from restaurants and music from nightclubs together create a lively picture of Thimphu to welcome anyone to the city.
The first night we will rest at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu Tshechu festival.
Thimphu Tshechu festival is held every year and is one of the most celebrated festivals in Bhutan. Thousands of people will come to participate in the festival, including those from outside of Bhutan. As all festival, Thimphu festival is a religious ceremony held in honour of Guru Rinpoche (or Padmasambhava), the great master who is believed to have introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas.
There will be many performances during Thimphu festival. The monks will wear colourful brocade attire to perform mask dances while chanting and reading out Buddhist scripts. Ancient stories about victories of Guru Rinpoche, driving out evil spirits and purifying the ground with his footsteps will also be told by the monks.
The most awaited event of the festival is the unfurling of the Guru Thongdrel, a giant thangkha (embroidered painting). The impressive Thongdrel is big enough to cover the face of an entire building. It is a very sacred scroll and will only be displayed before sunrise and brought down before the sun touches it. As the name Thongdrel means ‘liberation on light’, it is believed that one can cleanse their own sins just upon viewing the scroll.
Thimphu festival is held at Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of The Glorious Religion), first built in 1216 A.D. The imposing complex is one of the city’s most famous sites. Surrounding the massive building are lovely green lawns and exquisite gardens, which is a very pleasant sight to see.
We will stay for another night at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu to Gangtey
- Altitude in Gangtey: 2,900m
- Distance: 160km
- Estimated travel time: 6hrs
After joining the Thimphu Tshechu, we will travel to Gangtey and then to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. On the way, we will stop at Dochula Pass. At an altitude of 3,050m, this is a famous location to get the panoramic view of the Himalayas. The scene from the pass is breathtaking with chortens gracing in the hillside and the gorgeous backdrop of the snowcapped mountains.
In Gangtey, we will first see Gangtey Goemba, or Gangtey monastery. the monastery sits on top of a forested hill, overlooking the fertile landscape of Gangtey valley (or Phobjikha valley). It was built in 1613 to fulfill the prophecy of Pema Lingpa – the legendary 15th-century treasure finder. The picturesque Gangtey valley is also famous for being the winter home of the rare Black-necked Cranes.
We will spend night at the hotel in Gangtey
Day 04: Gangtey to Punakha
- Altitude in Punakha: 1,300m
- Distance: 87km
- Estimated travel time: 3hrs
Gangtey valley is one of the most scenic valleys in Bhutan, and there is no better way to discover it than the Gangtey Nature Trail. This is a pleasant hike which will take you to see the most charming spots of the valley. We will start from the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, then descend to beautiful flower meadows to Semchubara village. After a while we will pass through deep forest of blue pines before walking down to a viewpoint and finish the whole journey at Khewang Lhakhang (Khewang temple).
We also recommend you to try playing archery and dart, the two most loved sports of Bhutanese. Your guide and driver will be happy to teach you the basic if you are interested.
Later we will drive to Punakha, Bhutan’s old capital and spent the night at the hotel there.
Day 05: Punakha sightseeing
We will visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery after breakfast at the hotel. The stunning complex consists of a temple plus nunnery and a permanent higher learning and mediation temple for the nuns. The view from the nunnery is incredible as it stands on a ridge overlooking the staggering Punakha valley and Wangduephodrang valley.
We will next spend time at Punakha Dzong (Place of Great Happiness), considered as the most impressive dzong in the country. The ancient construction is the second oldest dzong in Bhutan, and has witnessed the most important moments of the kingdom throughout its history. Yet the dzong is not only attractive for its grand structure, but it also offers the captivating natural scenery as it stands at the convergence the 2 major rivers of the valley, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. The sight is extremely gorgeous on sunny days with sunlight reflecting off the water onto its white walls.
Close to the iconic dzong is Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge, which will also give us an incredible view of Punakha and Pho Chhu valley. The bridge is 160m long, making it the longest suspension bridge in the country.
We will hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten in the afternoon. The chorten is located on a crest above Punakha valley, which we will arrive after about 1 hour of walking. Upon reaching the chorten, we will be at one of Bhutan’s finest architectural examples, also the only one of its kind in the world.
After that we will return and stay for another night at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 06: Punakha to Paro
- Distance: 125km
- Estimated travel time: 4hrs
Today we will return to Paro, the starting point of your whole journey. On the way, we will visit Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) by hiking up for around 30 minutes and cross hillock fields.
There are several renowned dzongs in Paro, we will first see Paro Rinpung Dzong (Fortress on A Heap of Jewels). This construction is praised as a great example of Bhutanese architecture with giant buttressed walls that are visible from anywhere in the town. Inside you will find the wooden galleries lined with wonderful wall-paintings, which illustrate famous Buddhist lore.
The National Museum of Bhutan, or Ta Dzong, is an ideal place for you to have a deep insight about the country, from its culture, history, nature to the daily life. This museum used to be a watchtower to protect Paro Dzong from invasion. Its unusual circular design, which resembles a conch shell is another interesting point about this landmark.
Tonight we will rest at the hotel in Paro.
Day 07: Paro sightseeing
The first half of the day will be for our hike to the holy Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. This is probably one of the most attractive destinations in Bhutan, and also one of the most sacred ones. Clinging to a cliff at more than 3,000m, it will take approximately 5-6 hours to reach the site. The highest altitude of the hike will be at 3,120m, with a 600m of walking height. The monastery is a place that any visitors to Bhutan will need to visit to see the incredible construction.
Though the hike will be long, the sights along the hike will make it all worth it. Along the hike, you will have the remarkable sights of lush forests and great mountain ranges. We will also stop for refreshments on the way there.
Leaving the sacred monastery, we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples in the Himalayas erected by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. The marvelous temple was also visited by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. The sight of elderly pilgrims constantly shuffling around the temple and spinning its many prayer wheels makes this one of the most fascinating sites to explore in Paro valley.
Then we will travel to the north of Paro valley to explore the ramparts of Drukgyal Dzong. The dzong was built in the 17th century by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of medieval Bhutan. The site now serves as an evocative reminder of the great victories over the Tibetan armies. Seeing the ruins of the dzong will you feel like travelling back in the time of war and relived the memories of a glorious past.
In the late afternoon, we will join a local family for a special dinner in a traditional farm house. You will definitely enjoy your time with the most warmhearted people, chatting over delicious Bhutanese dishes.
Later you can try taking a traditional hot stone bath, which is probably the best way to relax after a day of hiking. Make sure to check out the nightclubs and bars in Paro during your last night in Paro, these clubs are where you will find great music and good food.
You will stay in Paro for the last night of the holiday.
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.|