Hiking or TrekkingTours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan
Climbing or Peak TrekkingTours in Nepal
Cycling or Mountain BikingTours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan
Sightseeing or FestivalTours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan
A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Buddhist Saint Padmasambhava, popularly known as 'Guru Rimpoche', the saint who was responsible for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Tshechu draws hundreds of Bhutanese people in a spirit of reverence, blessing, festivity and celebration. The Tshechu comes to life with colour, music, dance and drama as villagers and townspeople gather to witness the masked dances, sword dances and other sacred rituals. These events, most of which are performed by monks in colourful and elaborate costumes bring blessings to the onlookers, as well as instructing them about the Buddhist Dharma.
The Paro Tsechu Festival is a wonderful time to visit Bhutan, experience its ancient culture, and get enthralled in the celebrations. The festival comes alive with vibrant colours, music, dances and drama as people gather to enjoy the masked dances, and other sacred rituals.
The first day of the Paro Tsechu Festival usually has rituals held inside the courtyard of the Paro Dzong. The celebrations of Paro Tsechu Festival, on rest of the days, take place outside in an open ground. On the final day, the festivities conclude with the display of a giant Thongdrol (religious picture) of Guru Rinpoche before dawn and blessings being provided.
This tour is designed to start either in Kathmandu or in Bhutan Click here to see the Nepal extension
Day-1: Paro The flight into Paro is spectacular on a clear day as magnificent views of the world's highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land.
After lunch we will do some sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum which houses religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan's historical, cultural, and religious past. We will then visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa Overnight Paro.
Day-2: Paro (3rd Day of the Tsechu) Today we will enjoy the highlight of this 5 day festival, joining the festivities on the third day. Dressed in traditional finery, devotees flock to the Paro Dzong to proclaim their faith and receive blessings. Monks and lay people, dressed in elaborate silk costumes perform festive dances of good triumphing over evil to the haunting sounds of trumpets, cymbals and flutes. The dances and costumes have survived unchanged for thousands of years, each dance is an exact re-enactment of visions seen by Bhutan's great Buddhist saints and any changes would be seen as sacrilege. Many dances will be performed today including: Lords of the Cremation Grounds. Terrifying Deities, Heroes, Novel Man and Ladies Lencham , Stag and Hounds. Overnight in Paro.
Day-3: Paro After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre 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 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. 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.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
Day-4: Paro - Thimpu. Following an early breakfast, we will go to see the early morning blessing from Thangka of Guru Rhinpoche. Today is the most auspicious day of the festivities and dances of the Heroes, Ging and Tsholing, the Eight Manifestatons, the Sixteen Fairies and the Religious Song are all performed in a magnificent cacophony of sound and color.
During the day you visit the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here is an intriguing collection of artefacts which provide you with a wonderful insight to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom of Bhutan. In the evening you will travel to Thimphu.
Day-5: Thimpu Enjoy a morning of sightseeing, including a visit to 12th century Changangkha Temple, and the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. In the afternoon return to Tashichhodzong to experience the colourful events of the Thimphu festival. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day-6: Thimpu - Punaka Today we drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a splash of colour.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637.After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. 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/ Wangdue.
Day-7: Punakha & Wangdue Tour After breakfast, drive through the upper Punakha Valley you pass through traditional villages and farmlands before taking a pleasant short trek to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, built by the Queen of Bhutan for peace and stability in a changing world. In the afternoon you continue on to Wangdue, visiting the Devine Madman's Monastery - Chhimi Lhakang, famously known for its fertility shrine. The monastery is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley who used humour and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings. The final visit of the day is to the ruins of Wangdue Dzong (destroyed by fire in 2012), situated on a ridge overlooking a river junction, it played an important role in unifying the western and southern regions of the country. You will also visit local markets in Punakha/Wangdue. Overnight in Punakha/Wangdue.Day-8: Punakha/Wangdue-Thimphu ( 71 km, 2 1/2 hrs) After breakfast travel to Thimphu through Dochula pass stopping at Simtokha Dzong en-route. Built in 1627, it is often said to be the oldest dzong in Bhutan. The site is said to have been chosen to guard over a demon that had vanished into a rock. The dzong was constructed to enclose the rock, to ensure that the demon would remain imprisoned. Simtokah Dzong now houses the Institute for Language and Culture. Your next destination is the Takin Preserve which houses the national animal, the unique Takin, which lives in herds at altitudes of over 4000 metres and weighs as much as 220 kilos! Your last visit for the day is the Government-run Handicraft Emporium and Craft Bazaar where you can find fine examples of locally produced woven textiles, thangkha paintings, ceramics, jewellery, slate and wood carvings. Overnight in Thimphu
Day-9: Thimphu Tour & Thimphu-Paro Today, after breakfast, you continue to explore Thimphu and the surrounding area starting with The National Textile Museum, an excellent place to see traditional arts and crafts being perpetuated. You also visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed and where traditional practitioners are trained. Visits are planned to the outdoor National Folk Heritage Museum, displaying rural life in Bhutan, the Chengzamtok Weaving Centre to observe beautiful colourful silk and cotton textiles being woven into shawls, scarves and traditional Bhutanese dresses and a Bhutanese paper factory to see the hand made traditional craft of paper-making. Good quality traditional paper is held in very high esteem in Bhutan.
In the late afternoon drive to Paro and overnight in Paro
Day-10: Final Departure. Drive to airport for the final departure.
End of services
Spring (March to May) is considered to be the most beautiful time of the year, as it is then that all of the local flowers come into bloom turning the low lying valleys into a wash of colour. It is also the time of the Paro tsechu festival so if you are planning on catching this festival, then Spring is the time to come.
Autumn (September to November) brings crisp clear blue skies, allowing for stunning uninterrupted mountain views. It is also popular trekking season and thus brings more tourists into Bhutan.
June to August (Summer) is monsoon season. Bhutan, however, does not receive the high level of rainfall that other countries in the region do, and when it does rain, it is generally confined to the afternoons.
Winter (December to February) is cool and sunny and a great time to visit the area. However, many of the areas are snowbound, particularly in the east. If you are planning to see the Black Necked Crane, then winter is the time to come.
Hotels in Bhutan are rated according to a National 5 star rating system. This does not mean all hotels are 5 star, but rather that every classification of accommodation from home stays to guesthouses, have to adhere to a set of government standards. As such, the standard hotels, lodges and guesthouses are usually good, often small and with a great ambiance.
All tour operators are required to provide their guests with a minimum of 3 Star accommodations so you can be assured of your comfort. Most hotels provide their guests with television, room service, fitness centers, spas and wi-fi. However the exact services available will vary from hotel to hotel. The more popular tourist destinations like western and central Bhutan usually have the higher standards of star rated European and Asian properties. There are a few luxury hotels and resorts, but they are rather expensive. Hotels in Bhutan are rated according to a National 5 Star rating System.
If starting in Nepal, we spend two nights in 3-star, Thamel Eco Resort, well situated within the heart of Thamel, or, if it is full, a similar category in Kathmandu.At the end of the tour we return to the same hotel.