Bhutan Festival Tour

Bhutan Festival Tour: Us on this small group tour (not exceeding 8 passengers) to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, during the joyous celebration of Paro Tsechu, the biggest masked dance festival of the year. Our adventure covers the capital city of Thimphu, the subtropical valleys of Wangdue phodrang and Punakha and then heads east to the cultural heartland of Bumthang, with its thriving spiritual center, abounding with numerous centuries old temples, shrines, and monasteries. Along the way, we stop to visit Phobjikha, one of the most wide-open and beautiful valleys of Bhutan. In Trongsa, we visit the large and impressive Trongsa Dzong, one of the largest fortress and monastery in the Kingdom. This Journey east and return from central Bhutan is through diverse and ever changing forests, dramatic landscapes, villagescapes and superb mountain views.

After a week across the country, we return to the Shangri-La setting of the Paro Valley, where we join the local people, who come attired in their finest clothing and jewelry to join in celebration of Paro Tsechu Festival. Mingling with the locals in this joyous celebration, a highlight of their social calendar, is a unique honor, bestowed to only a limited number of visitors each year. We also provide the opportunity to hike up to the famed Takstang monastery (optional). This adventure is designed to be easy, even for those who are not up to walking. The hotels and lodges selected are simple, clean, charming and include basic amenities and comforts of home. It is lead my our experienced, knowledgeable and fluent English speaking Bhutanese Tour leader. Come and join us on this intriguing trip for opportunities to see Bhutan's most visually exciting places, colorful festival, compelling architecture, irresistible allure, and experience the warm Bhutanese hospitality.

Day 01: Arrive in Paro - Thimphu(L/D). Arrive by Druk Air flight from Bangkok/Delhi or other cities served by Druk Air. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital, which is short 1hr drive. Familiarization tour of Thimphu, including the visit to Tashicho Dzong.
Overnight hotel River View or Jumolhari.

Day 02: Thimphu Sightseeing (B/L/D). Visit Memorial Chorten in the morning, where locals are seen circumambulating around this temple. Drive to Sangaygang View Point for aerial view of Thimphu. En-route stop to take a peek at Takin Sanctuary (National animal of Bhutan). Visit Zilukha Nunnery, followed by visit of Traditional Art School. Nearby is an Indigenous Hospital, where we take a peek to see the use of traditional medicine and treatments. Also visit National Library. After lunch, visit Textile Museum, Handicraft Workshop, see the art of traditional Paper making and others as per available time.
Overnight hotel River View or Jumolhari.

Day 03: Thimphu -Punakha (B/L/D). Drive east across Dochula pass, where we stop to savor tea and see the panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan range. Just before arriving in Punakha, we visit Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to Bhutan's most adored saint, Drukpa Kuenley. This is a short and easy walk across rice paddies and village. Later visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, located on the confluence of Pho and Mo Chhu rivers. We also have a time to stroll around Punakha town.
Overnight hotel Meri Phuensum Resort or similar.

Day 04: Punakha - Gangtey -Trongsa (B/L/D). Drive up through the black mountains to Gangtey in Phobjikha valley, one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. The valley is the winter home to the rare and endangered migratory black-necked cranes and you may be able to see some of them. After visiting Gangtey Monastery, we take a stroll in the valley. Rejoin the highway, cross Pele la pass into Trongsa. In the evening, stroll around little township of Trongsa, located at the cross roads of east, west and southern Bhutan.
Overnight hotel Yangkhil Resort or Phenzhe

Day 05: Trongsa - Jakar (B/L/D). In the morning, visit Trongsa Choekhor Dzong, the largest and most impressively situated fortress/monastery in the country. Drive across Youtong la pass into Chumey, first of four Bumthang valleys. Here we can see the weavers at work, dying, spinning wools and weaving Yathra textiles. We allow enough time for the exploration and even if you are not that much interested in weaving, it gives you the opportunity to visit and chat with the local people. After lunch in Jakar (Choekor valley), visit Jakar Dzong and then take a walk downhill through the villages into the town area. Here you can see some of the large and ancient houses.
Overnight Mountain Lodge or Mipham Lodge.

Day 06: Jakar (Bumthang) (B/L/D). We have a full day to explore the monasteries and villages of Bhutan's spiritual heartland. Combine short drives and short walks to visit sites in Bumthang, which among others visits Jampay Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Tamshing Goemba. In Swiss farm, you can try some of their produce, which among other includes Cheese, Brandy, Yoghurt and others. In the evening, we can watch the monks debating Buddhist philosophies in front of the Kharchu Dratshang monastery.
Overnight Mountain Lodge or Mipham Lodge.

Day 07: Jakar - Wangdiphodrang (B/L/D). Retrace our long drive back to Wangdiphodrang, across Youtong la and Pele la passes, pausing to take pictures and to view villages along the way. The forests along the way are spellbinding in their extent and diversity and mountain views are superb. Upon arrival, visit this small township and view Wangdiphodrang's fortress. Free evening to rest at your hotel, located near the riverside. Overnight Punatsangchu Resort or Dragon Resort. Day 08: Wangdiphodrang- Thimphu-Paro (B/L/D). Drive across Dochula to Paro via Thimphu (4hrs). After lunch in Paro, transfer to the festival venue, held in open area near Paro Rinphung Dzong. Today is the second day of Paro Tsechu festival. Paro Tsechu is the largest and most popular of Bhutan's festival, featuring fancifully costumed dancers performing masked dance-dramas celebrating the events and teachings of tantric Buddhism. The festival is supported and attended by local people, who come attired in their finest clothes and jewelry. In addition to the religious dances, there are folk singing and dancing in between. Later visit Kichu temple, one of the oldest temple/monastery in Bhutan.
Overnight Tandinling Resort or Gangtey Palace.

Day 09: Paro (Option to Hike to Takstang) (B/L/D). This morning, hike to Takstang (those who do not want to take this hike, can attend the festival for whole day and leisure). Taktsang, also popularly known as Tiger's nest is one of highlights of visit to Bhutan. Although the hike is quite steep uphill, taking between 1-3hrs each way; the first part of the close-up view point can be reached riding on the pony/mules for the uphill portion. However you must be able to walk down hill. Total excursion is expected to take most of the day. We also visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong fortress at the end of Paro valley.
Overnight Tandinling Resort or Gangtey Palace

Day 10: Paro Festival (B/L/D). We arrive early this morning to get the best vantage points or seats as you may prefer to see the festival or take photos . Both monks and laymen perform rituals and colorful dances, with elaborate head gears or masks, colorful costumes, depicting animals or fearsome looking deities. You can mingle with the locals in this joyous celebration. Visit the food stalls and shops. During the lunch, we will picnic like the locals, and may be share lunch them. In the evening, we have an opportunity to visit some of them in their home.Overnight Tandinling Resort or Gangtey Palace Day 11: Departure (B). Transfer to the airport, according to your departure flight. (Those who wish may also wake-up before dawn, and attend the ceremonies and see the sacred unveiling of a giant thangka, one of the largest appliqu

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