DAY 01 (11 Dec): ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU DAY 02 (12 Dec): THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING DAY 03 (13 Dec): THIMPHU – PUNAKHA ATTEND DRUK WANGYEL FESTIVAL DAY 04 (14 Dec): PUNAKHA SIGHTSEEING DAY 05 (15 Dec): PUNAKHA – PARO DAY 06 (16 Dec): HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST DAY 07 (17 Dec): DEPART PARO The Druk Wangyal Festival was established in 2011 in commemoration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Armed Forces’ victory over Indian insurgent forces residing in southern Bhutan in 2003. The Tsechu takes place every December 13th at the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Festival Ground located at Dochula Pass around 22km from the capital city Thimphu. Dochula Pass is located at an altitude of 3,116m, and is one of the most scenic locations in the entire kingdom, offering a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range The tsechu’s folk and mask dances are performed in honor of His Majesty the Fourth King and the Royal Bhutan Army’s 2003 conflict with Assamese insurgents in southern Bhutan. Along with religious dances dedicated to the epic Himalayan poet and Buddhist adept, Milarepa, the festival’s highlight is the three-part Dance of the Heroes, where a troop of dancers reenact the soldiers’ farewell, combat, and eventual homecoming before crowds of richly dressed onlookers.
DAY 01 (11 Dec): ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02 (12 Dec): THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
DAY 03 (13 Dec): THIMPHU – PUNAKHA ATTEND DRUK WANGYEL FESTIVAL
DAY 04 (14 Dec): PUNAKHA SIGHTSEEING
DAY 05 (15 Dec): PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 06 (16 Dec): HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST
DAY 07 (17 Dec): DEPART PARO
The Druk Wangyal Festival was established in 2011 in commemoration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Armed Forces’ victory over Indian insurgent forces residing in southern Bhutan in 2003. The Tsechu takes place every December 13th at the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Festival Ground located at Dochula Pass around 22km from the capital city Thimphu. Dochula Pass is located at an altitude of 3,116m, and is one of the most scenic locations in the entire kingdom, offering a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range
The tsechu’s folk and mask dances are performed in honor of His Majesty the Fourth King and the Royal Bhutan Army’s 2003 conflict with Assamese insurgents in southern Bhutan. Along with religious dances dedicated to the epic Himalayan poet and Buddhist adept, Milarepa, the festival’s highlight is the three-part Dance of the Heroes, where a troop of dancers reenact the soldiers’ farewell, combat, and eventual homecoming before crowds of richly dressed onlookers.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.
Arrive at Paro and drive to Thimphu. Upon arrival, drive to capital city Thimphu, Check in hotel and visit Memorial Stupa built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan‘s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Later visit Trashi chhodzong fortress of the glorious religion” Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Over night at hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
After breakfast visit the world’s tallest sitting Buddha statue at Buddha point which is 169 feet tall and it’s the best place for photographers. Visit Painting School the Institute offers you a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Next visit Folk heritage Museum or Simply Museum provides glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese life. The artifacts which are kept inside the house remind the visitors about how the rural Bhutanese live today. Then visit National Post Office where you can make stampswith your own photos. Afternoon visit,Sangay Gang thebest place for photographers. On the way back we will visit the small zoo dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Visit the Traditional paper making factory, Jungshi Paper.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Leave Thimphu early after Breakfast up to Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) to attend the spectacular Druk Wangyal Festival (45 Minutes drive, 22 km). Set amidst this breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan mountains, the Druk Wangyal Tsechu is an experience unlike any other and truely exemplifies Bhutanese cultural traditions. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang was built over a period of four years (2004-2008) under the vision and patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo. The Lhakhang honors the courageous service of the Fourth King, who personally led the troops against the insurgents, as well as the regular Armed Forces of the country. The Druk Wangyal Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan
Afterwards drive towards the Royal Botanical Park at Lamperi, which is situated at an altitude range of 2,100m to 3,800m. The park (47 square kilometers), serves as the biological corridor connecting to the Jigme Dorji National Park and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
Continue on to Punakha where you will have the remainder of the day at leisure. Stroll around Punakha town in the evening. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’, Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
After lunch enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Drive to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro visit the National Museum and the Ringpung Dzong Visit Kyichu temple, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which was built in 7th century, and in the evening stroll around the main street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles or have a relaxing stay in the hotel. Over night at hotel in Paro.
DAY 06: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. According to legend, the great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.
Over night at your hotel in Paro
DAY 06: PARO
Depart Paro for your onward journey.
Some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan
The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest stops. There may be delays in transfer time due road conditions, road repair/widening works, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Please note that at the moment there are numerous areas where road conditions are not very good due to road widening/repair works and you may experience rough and bumpy drives.
WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:
• Passport (with at least 6 months’ validity from the date of your exit from Bhutan)
• Print out copy of the visa & International air tickets.
• Temperatures will fluctuate greatly depending on elevation and time of day. You should be prepared for a minimum temperature of 04 degrees and a maximum of 30 degrees. You have to plan for layered clothing to be prepared for such a wide-ranging temperature fluctuations.
• Drink only bottled water, sodas, beer, etc.
• Stay away from any cold salad! These are normally rinsed in tap water before or after being sliced and are a major cause of traveler’s gastro-intestinal distress.
• All tipping is optional and by no means mandatory, however if you feel that your staff and drivers have performed at a good or excellent level, it is a great way to let them know you appreciate their efforts.
A few reminders:
• Accept or offer items with the right hand or, more politely, with both hands. Using both hands to give or receive signifies that you honor the offering and the recipient or giver.
• When you visit Buddhist shrines or temples, it is appropriate and a sign of respect to walk around the building in a clockwise direction (so that the structure is to your right side). This is also true for mani walls (walls built of stone tablets with Buddhist mantras carved on them) and Chorten (small Buddhist shrines.)
• Your guide will give you additional tips along the way, when in doubt, check in with them. You will be travelling into areas that have had relatively few foreign visitors. Your positive attitude and interaction is needed and welcomed to maximize this adventure.
What should I bring with me for the trip?
• Good walking shoes
• Sunscreen (highest possible)
• Headgear for sunny days
• Bug/Insect repellent
• Cotton clothing for summer days, light woolen clothes for evenings. Heavy woolens for winter.
• Shorts for hiking and walking around town are fine. Out of respect, please don’t wear shorts in public buildings or monasteries. Have a pair of long pants or longer skirt for these locations.