9 DAYS - PARO FESTIVAL
Paro Tshechu is a popular festival in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes. Tshechus are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tshechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. A highlight of the Paro Tsechu is the unfurling of the “thongdroel” – a silk Thangka so large it covers the face of an entire building and is considered a sacred blessing. ‘Thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll, and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing. This holy scroll “confers liberation by the mere sight of it” (the meaning of the word ‘thongdroel’ in Bhutanese). This tour also takes advantage of the beautiful spring time growth with stunning hikes through the countryside to a Rhododendron forest in Phobjikha, the sacred sites of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
9 DAYS - PARO TSECHU (8 NIGHTS/9 DAYS)
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
If the weather is clear, enjoy fantastic views of the eastern Himalayas. Your guide will receive you at Paro airport exit doors and help you check in to your hotel.
Sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan's historical, cultural and religious past. Next drive to 7th C Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 temples said to have been constructed in a single day by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. The temple is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa and houses a great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni.
Overnight at hotel in Paro (2300m)
DAY 2: PARO (FESTIVAL)
Morning visit grounds of Paro dzong to enjoy the festival. Paro Tsechu is a symbolic Buddhist festival where local people gather to show their faith and receive blessings. Colorful masked dances are performed by both monks and lay men. Mingle with local people who come out in elaborate festive attire.
Evening at leisure in town.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
DAY 3: PARO - THIMPHU (Drive - 1hr)
Early morning drive to Paro dzong to witness the thongdroel - a large religious painting of Guru Rinpoche unfurled at the festival grounds. Continue enjoying more of the festival in the morning before returning to rest at the hotel.
After lunch, drive to the capital Thimphu following the Pachhu and Wangchhu rivers. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchog Lhakhang - hereditary place of worship for Bhutan's iron bridge builder.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu (2400m)
DAY 4: THIMPHU
Begin your day with a drive to the viewpoint at the Big Buddha Statue - a gigantic statue of the Budhha Dordenma. There is a beautiful walking trail from here through the forests above Thimphu valley. Other places of interest are the National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha monastery (12C), Folk Heritage Museum, School of Arts and Crafts, and the Royal Textile Museum.
If your visit coincides with the weekend, visit the weekend Centenary Farmers Market.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu
DAY 5: THIMPHU - PHOBJIKHA / GANGTEY (Drive - 5 hrs)
Drive from Thimphu to Phobjikha over Dochula pass (3,100m) which is marked by 108 little chortens and an abundance of prayer flags. On a clear day, enjoy breath-taking views of snow covered mountains including the highest unclimbed mountain - Gangkar Puensum (7740m). Drive on the the village of Lobesa and take a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang - the temple of fertility dedicated to the Lam Drukpa Kinley (also known as the Divine Madman because of his unorthodox Buddhist teachings).
After lunch, continue our drive to Phobjikha where we visit Gangtey monastery.
Overnight at hotel or lodge in Phobjikha/Gangtey (3000m)
DAY 6: PHOBJIKHA/GANGTEY - PUNAKHA (Drive - 2.5 hrs)
After breakfast visit Phobjikha sanctuary to see black necked cranes (winter months)- or walk around the beautiful valley before driving back to Punakha - the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha dzong built in 1637 by the Shabdrung. The dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mochhu and Phochhu (Mother and Father rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and the monk body. The three-story main temple of the Punakha dzong is a breathtaking sample of traditional architecture. It is at this dzong in 1907 that Bhutan's first king was crowned.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha (1300m)
DAY 7: PUNAKHA - PARO (Drive - 3.5hrs)
In the morning, walk to Khamsum Yulley Namgay Chorten built in Nyingma tradition and enjoy great views of meandering Punatrangchhu river. Walk across Bhutan's longest suspension footbridge.
After lunch, drive to Paro stopping for a short break at the Royal Botanical garden.
Overnight at hotel in Paro
DAY 8: PARO (hike to Tiger's Nest)
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of aprroximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we arrange a horse for transfer up to the cafeteria). The view of the monsatery built on a sheer cliff face is a spectacular sight. Evening at leisure in Paro.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
DAY 9: DEPART PARO
After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.
INCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGE
Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
All private excursions and transfers in air-conditioned vehicle.
Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
Accommodation in government approved hotels & guesthouses.
All meals in Bhutan.
All entrance fees and permits.
NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGE
Airfare to and from Bhutan
Bar expenses & other expenses of personal nature such as tipping
Expenses for additional activities such as biking, rafting , ponies etc