Duration: 9 Days, 8 Nights
Location: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang
Paro Tsechu is another popular festival and also a major tourist attraction from around the world. The highlight of this tshechu is that the monks of the Paro Dzong display a giant applique thangkha, the Guru Throngdel, in the early morning inside the dzong on the final day. So plan your visit to Bhutan to coincide with this festival held in March/April. This tour gives you a real appreciation of both the Buddhist faith and the Bhutanese way of life but also included in the package are other places of interest.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
On arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel in Paro for three nights. Afterwards, visit the Kichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest 7th century temples in Bhutan. The evening is at leisure to relax – so why not stroll in the Paro town?
Day 2: Hike to Paro Taktshang
Today you will take a short hike to Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 m above the Paro valley and takes about a 2-hour climb on a well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century. Afterwards, there may also be time to visit the ruined Drugyal Dzong (fortress), built in 1649 to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders.Overnight in Paro.
Day 3: Paro Tshechu (Festival)
Paro Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan and is held in honour of Guru Rimpoche, one who was born from a lotus flower and spread the tantric form of Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. Monks and laymen perform masked dances and dramas dressed in elaborate silk brocade costumes, dancers depict the triumph of good over evil and the power of compassion to the haunting sounds of trumpets, cymbals and flutes that resounds the air. Devotees dressed in traditional finery and jewellery flock to the Paro Dzong to celebrate the festival and seek divine blessing during these holy days. The main highlight of this festival is the display of a large and beautifully appliquéd ‘Thangka’ scroll known as the ‘Guru Thongdel’ at the start of dawn on the final day. It is believed that by seeing the mere sight of the Thongdel, one gain merits in life. Overnight in Paro.
Day 4: Sightseeing in Thimphu
We depart Paro this morning and drive a distance of 65km for about one hour journey to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Today we explore a fascinating full day tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,300m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, drive up to the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) offering a panoramic view overlooking the Thimphu valley and the Mini Zoo for Takin (national animal of Bhutan). After lunch, visit the Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artefacts used in rural households and the Painting School to discover a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Continue to the Tashichhodzong, which houses some ministries, the office and throne room of His Majesty the King and the Central Monk Body and then head to the Centenary Farmer’s Market on the banks of the Wangchhu River selling farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 5: Hike to Tango Monastery, Thimphu
This morning drive to the end of the road before climbing into the beautiful pine forest, where an incredible Tango Monastery/Tango Buddhist College stands to the farthest north of Thimphu, which is about 14-km away. The Buddhist College is an institution for the higher studies of Buddhist philosophy, metaphysics, poetry and mathematics. The present day monastery was built in 1689 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa and was later renovated in 1977 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck. Enjoy the spectacular views of the valleys and mountains from this spot. Then we head back to Thimphu and en route visit the Pangri Zampa Monastery. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 6: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, today you’ll travel to Punakha for a distance of 77km for about 3 hours journey via Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,050m. Punakha, at an altitude of 1,300m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. Later, visit the Punakha Dzong (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong), built in 1637 which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. Now the dzong serves as the administrative centre of Punakha district and the central monastic body. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 7: Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang
Today’s tour includes a hike to the fascinating temple (Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten) built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. It is majestically located on a ridge with stunning views of the country side. There is no temple in Bhutan built as elaborately as this, which took 9 years to build it. A 30-minute drive from the Punakha Dzong takes us to the base of the hill and then cross a suspension bridge and walk through rice fields before climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees for about 1-hour from the car park. Afterwards, we drive a 13-km journey to Wangdue Phodrang at an altitude of 1,300 m and en route stop off at the Chimi Lhakhang, which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – Japanese and several American couples visited this temple and were blessed miraculously with children. Lunch at Wangdue Phodrang and then visit the ruined site of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong by fire in late June 2012, which is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu Rivers. Overnight in Punakha or Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 8: Wangdue Phodrang – Paro
This morning we drive a distance of 123km for about 4hours journey to Paro for a final overnight stay. En route stop off at Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,050m. On a clear day, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalaya ranges and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. The rest of the day is yours to relax or go for shopping to buy souvenir items for your loved ones back home.
Day 9: End of Tour
Early morning transfer to Paro Airport for your onward journey accompanied by our guide. Goodbye and Good luck!