This 14-days Bhutan Tour can coincide with the Paro festival or Tshechu, the most popular spring festival, which falls on April 7 – April 11, 2017.
The Tshechu is essentially an open-air performance where monks perform sacred mask dances or chhams, to the accompaniment of religious music, and district dancers perform traditional dances. It takes place within the cobbled stone courtyard of the magnificent Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress).
The festival concludes with the display of a giant Thangka or Thongdroel (tapestry) at 3 in the morning and is brought down just before sunrise.
The pageantry is a unique experience and quite unlike anything you have ever seen before. Locals, dressed in their best, attend the annual festival to gain merit. It is a festive time and people socialise and make merry. This is not an event organized for tourists; it is an event that has been happening for centuries.
This tour covers Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang.
- Tour Bumthang, the cultural heartland of Bhutan. Best place to gain insight into Himalayan Buddhism in Bhutan.
- Hike to Ura Valley from Serthangla pass to the clustered village of Ura. Explore and learn the culture of this village.
- Visit Phobjikha valley, the largest and the most significant wetland in the country. The valley is the winter habitat of the rare and endangered Black‐necked cranes.
- Attend the five-day Paro Tshechu, the most famous of spring festivals held every year at end of March or beginning of April month. Mingle with the locals and experience Bhutan’s enduring ancient traditions.
Day hike to the “Tiger’s Nest”. The monastery clings to a sheer cliff 900m above the valley floor. Enjoy its awesome architecture.
DAY 1~ ARRIVE PARO (2280m) & DRIVE TO THIMPHU: 65KM/APPROX 1HR
DAY 2~ THIMPHU (2320m)
DAY 3~ THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (1300m): 77KM/APPROX 3HR
DAY 4~ PUNAKHA – TRONGSA(2316m): 142KM/APPROX 5HR
DAY 5~ TRONGSA – BUMTHANG: 68KM/APPROX 2 ½HR
DAY 6~ BUMTHANG(2600m-4000m)
DAY 7~ BUMTHANG/JAKAR – TANG 28KM/APPROX 2HR
DAY 8~ BUMTHNAG URA
DAY 9~ BUMTHANG – PHOBJIKHA(2982m):155KM/APPROX 5 ½ HR
DAY 10~ PHOBJIKHA – THIMPHU: 130KM/APPROX 4 ½ HR
DAY 11~ HAA DAY EXCURSSION
DAY 12~ PARO FESTIVAL (7th April – 11th April, 2017)
DAY 13~ PARO TIGER’ S NEST
DAY 14~ PARO DEPERATURE
DAY 1~ PARO ARRIVAL (2280m) & DRIVE TO THIMPHU: APPROX 1HR/65KM
The flight into Paro valley is perhaps one of the most spectacular in the world. It takes you over the mighty and sacred Himalayas, offering amazing views of the world’s highest peaks.
As you descend into the terraced rice fields of Paro valley, you will see a landscape that is nothing like anywhere else in the world with traditional structures that blend beautifully into the rugged mountainous terrain.
Bhutan Bokar Tours & Treks will be at Paro airport to greet you and drive you to Thimphu.
The first stop will be to view the beautiful Tacho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. The drive to Thimphu takes about an hour and follows the course of the Paro Chu (river) and the Wang Chu rivers.
It is a scenic drive that offers beautiful views of villages by the riverside. In the evening stroll through the small but unique capital city of Thimphu and get to know the locals. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu. LD
DAY 2~ THIMPHU (2320m)
Today’s exploration of Thimphu begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, a Buddhist Stupa, dedicated to world peace and prosperity. It was built in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan. You will find Thimphu residents circumambulating the Stupa throughout the day praying for universal harmony and all sentient beings.
Your next stop is the National Library that holds thousands of ancient Buddhist texts and scriptures. It also has a small but growing collection of modern books.
You will also visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students train in Bhutan’s thirteen traditional arts and crafts and the Folk Heritage Museum, which will provide insight into a traditional Bhutanese farm house and Bhutan’s fast disappearing rural past.
After lunch, you will visit the 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress like temple perched on a ridge above Thimphu. Toward the northern end of Thimphu valley, is a preserve for the Takin, the kingdom’s national animal.
Drive further up from the preserve to Sangaygang for a bird’s eye view of Thimphu city. On the way down visit a nunnery temple and the Tashichhodzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” which is Bhutan’s seat of government. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo or the Chief Abbot. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu. BLD
The first stop is at Dochu La pass (3050m). From Dochula you can see the eastern Himalayan range on a clear day. Once you cross the pass, you wind down to the warmer valleys of Punakha and Wangdue.
En-route you will stop at Mitsina village and visit Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility and dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, the 15th century saint also known as the divine madman for his outrageous methods of teaching the dharma.
It is a 20-minute walk through rice fields to the temple were you get blessed by a wooden phallus. Overnight at hotel, Punakha. BLD
The Dzong was first built in 1637 by the founder of Bhutan and has been witness to defining moments of Bhutanese history. It is a fine example of Bhutan’s highly refined architectural skills.
Then you drive east to Trongsa passing over Pele La pass at 3390m. Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom and is historically the place were unification of the country started. The magnificent Trongsa Dzong comes to view 13 kms to destination, straddling a ridge overlooking the Mangdechu river. Overnight at hotel, Trongsa. BLD
DAY 5~ TRONGSA – BUMTHANG: APPROX 2 ½HR/68KM
In the morning after breakfast you will visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648. It was seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat.
Bhutan’s monarchs are invested as Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) prior to ascending the throne. Presently it serves as the headquarters of the district’s religious and civil administration.
Perched above the Trongsa Dzong is the ancient watchtower, which has now been restored from ground up and converted into a state of the art museum presenting the historical and religious heritage of the fortress.
After lunch you will drive to Bumthang going over Yotong La pass, (3425 m). Here you will get the first glimpse of the Black mountains and Himalayan peaks such as Jumolhari.
Once over the pass, the journey proceeds through hilly forests into a broad valley. Along the way you will stop at a Yathra textile weaving hand loom centre. The yathra weave are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang. You can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight at hotel, Bumthang. BLD
DAY 6~ BUMTHANG(2600m-4000m)
Explore Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Bumthang loosely means the valley of 100,000 spirits.
The visit to sacred places and monuments will include Jambay Lhakhang, built in 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo followed by Kurjey Lhakhang, which consists of three temples surrounded by 108 chortens (stupa) symbolically representing the joints of the human body.
A short hike across the suspension bridge will lead you to Tamshing Lhakhang built in 1501 and known for its ancient religious paintings of One Thousand Buddhas and Twenty One Taras (female form of Bodhisattavas). After lunch visit Jakar Dzong, known as the ‘Castle of the White Bird’. Overnight at hotel, Bumthang. BLD
DAY 7~ BUMTHANG/JAKAR – TANG APPROX 2HR/28KM
Today you will drive to Ugyen Choling traveling further into the remote eastern side of Bhutan to the Tang valley.
You will stop at Mebar Tsho (Lake of Burning Fire), a sacred lake for the Bhutanese who believe that Terton (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from the lake.
From the road head it is a one-hour hike over a suspension footbridge through farm fields and cluster villages, up a “hill” to the mystical Ugyen Choling built in 17th century. Overnight stay at Hotel, Bumthang. BLD
Today you will drive to Ura village, which is 40 km from Chamkhar valley. You will crossing Ura La, (3590m) before descending to Ura, which is unique village with clustered houses and cobblestone pathways.
In the past 25years Ura has transformed into a prosperous village community. The women in the village cover their head with a white cloth piece to protect themselves from the harsh cold wind and sun. They also have sheepskin on their back, which is used as a cushion and to protect their garments from the loads they carry. Evening, drive back to Chamkhar, Bumthang. Overnight stay at Hotel, Bumthang. BLD
DAY 9~ BUMTHANG – PHOBJIKHA(2982m): APPROX 5 ½ HR/155KM
Today you drive to the glacier valley of Phobjikha is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country, because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that roost here in winter. The valley also has a very interesting Nyingmapa monastery that dates back to the 17th century.
On the way we will stop at Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Katmandu’s Swayambhunath stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.
After lunch we will continue drive to Phobjika valley. We can do short walk leading downhill from mani stone wall just north of Gangtey Goenpa to the Khewa Lhakhang. The trail descends to Semchubara village and keeps straight at the Chortens into the edge of the forest, before descending to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang. From here you can cross over the metal bridge to the community school. Overnight at hotel, Gangtey. BLD
Enroute stop at Wangdue to briefly visit the Wangdue Dzong, which is being restored, and then hike to the nearby village of Rinchengang where the clustered settlement is made of mud and stone.
Stop at Dochu La pass for lunch and visit the Druk Wanggyal Lhakhang.
Continue drive to Thimphu, In the evening freely stroll through Thimphu and catch its sights and sounds. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu. BLD
DAY 11~ HAA DAY EXCURSION
A day excursion to Haa valley perhaps with picnic lunch. You will drive over Chele La, the highest road pass, (3822 meters) and pass through forests of blue pines, fir, and oak. On a clear day you can see mountain Jomolhari 7314 meters, other snow capped from the pass. Explore nearby mountains dotted with the colourful prayer flags and blanketed with dwarf rhododendrons.
After a lunch, you will drive further down and arrive at Haa Valley which is sacred by the existence of Meri Puensum, three small mountains symbolizing Rigsum Geonpo: Jampelyang (manjushri), Chana Dorji (vajrapani) and Chenrizi (avaloketeshvara). This 30 minute walk will take you to the remote village. You will also visit Lhakhang Karpo “White Tenple” and Lhakhang Nagpo “Black Temple”. Evening, drive back to Paro. Overnight at hotel, Paro. BLD
DAY 12~ PARO FESTIVAL (7th April – 11th April, 2017)
Paro Tshechu is the most popular festival in Bhutan with its unique unfurling of the Thangka or Thongdrol ceremony. The traditional dances are performed by district dancers and mask dances by monks & lay monks.
The local people attend the festival to gain merit. It is a festive time and people come dressed-up in their finest colourful costumes to socialize and make merry. Overnight stay at Hotel, Paro. BLD
DAY 13~ PARO: Hike to Taktshang ‘Tiger’s Nest’
In the morning you drive to one end of Paro valley. You will hike to Taktshang or “Tiger’s Nest” one of the holiest Buddhists sites in the Himalayan region. The monastery clings to a sheer rock face, almost 900 metres above the valley floor.
The uphill hike from the road point takes around 3 hours at a moderate pace. The trail passes through beautiful pine forests adorned with Spanish moss as you go further up. Stop for rest and light refreshments at the Taktshang cafeteria.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tigress and meditated for three months.
Later visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. Then drive north to Drugyel Dzong, which kept at bay invasions from the north.
In the afternoon drive to the Ta-Dzong (watch tower), which now serves as the national museum. The museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. A short walk downhill takes you to the imposing Rinpung Dzong which serves as the district’s administrative and religious centre. Walk further down and cross a traditional bridge into Paro town. Overnight at hotel, Paro. BLD