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 Tsechu draws hundreds of Bhutanese people in a spirit of reverence, blessing, festivity and celebration. The Tsechu 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 Thimphu Festival (Tsechu) is one of the grandest of Bhutan's festivals and attracts the largest audience. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes.
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 Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River.Day-2: Thimpu. After breakfast, drive to Tashichhodzong to attend the Thimphu festival. Tashichhodzong, 'the fortress of the glorious religion'. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan's third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Here, locals dressed in their finest clothes come to attend the festivities.
During the festivities, masked dances dance, pray and tell stories of good triumphing over evil, as well as stories of the significant historical events surrounding the life of Bhutan's patron saint, Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche).
Day-3: 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-4: 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/ Wangduephodrang.
Day-5: Punakha - Thimpu - Paro. In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Drive back to Thimphu where you will visit The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. 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.
Afterwards proceed to Paro.Overnight at your hotel in 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.
Bhutan itinerary ends here
Good-bye and happy journey back to Kathmandu. Overnight hotel
Day-7: Final Departure. In the morning our staff escort will bid you farewell at Paro airport.
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.