13 Days – Special Paro Festival tour with lots of day walks March 2019

This special itinerary has an emphasis on day walks to remote monasteries and dzongs together with a full day at the amazing Paro Tshechu (Festival).

Day 1 : - Paro to Thimphu (L/D)

Your flight to Bhutan will offer you a wonderful view of the Himalayan mountain scenery. It is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the Kingdom of Bhutan.

After clearing immigration and customs at Paro International Airport (2280m), you will be met and warmly welcomed with a traditional scarf (khadhar) by your guide from Bhutan-Bhutan Travel, who will then transfer you to your hotel in Thimphu 54km away.

The drive along a winding road by the Paro Chu (Paro River) downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then upstream along the Wang Chu to Thimphu, Bhutan’s scenically located capital city, takes about an hour.

Lunch will be served at your hotel. In the afternoon visit the Tashichho Dzong – the Fortress of the Glorious Religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and later on rebuilt in traditional fashion without nails or written plans by the third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Today it houses the Throne Room of the King of Bhutan, and the government secretariat. Part of this dzong also serves as the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and the clergy.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Day 2 : Hiking to Cheri and Tango Monasteries (B/L/D)

After breakfast at your hotel, a scenic drive into the upper reaches of the Wang Chhu Valley which is home to both the Cheri and Tango monasteries. Here you will have the chance to visit one or both of these amazing monasteries which are located high on adjacent hillsides surrounded by lush forests.

After lunch either at your hotel or at a restaurant outside, visit the National Memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is remembered as the father of modern Bhutan. Then drive to Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park located about 6kms from Thimphu city. Walk to The Buddha Dordenma Stutue in Kuenselphodrang, which at 51.5 meters is the world’s tallest Buddha Statue and then hike around the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. The park was formally
opened as a recreational park in 2011. The park conserves 943.4 acres of forest area that surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue.

You will then get an opportunity to explore the small city of Thimphu.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3 : Hiking to Phajoding Monastery (B/L/D)

After breakfast drive up to the forested edge of Thimphu to commence a five hour return trek to the Phajoding Monastery – which dates from the 13th century. The route climbs 1100m through rhododendron forests to the monastery at 3600m above sea level. The resident monks will welcome you to their place of worship – and a picnic lunch will be served. This day walk is actually the first part of the famous Druk Path trek between Thimphu and Paro.

On the way back, visit the mini zoo to see Bhutan’s endangered national animal the Takin at close hand.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Day 4 : - Thimphu to Gangtey (B/L/D)

After breakfast, drive to Gangtey in the Phobjikha valley. Your journey will take you through the forested mountains all the way to Gangtey.
The Phobjikha valley is a vast U-shaped glacial valley. It is also known as the Gangtey valley after the impressive Gangtey Monastery of the Nyingmapa sect in central Bhutan.This glaciated valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains is the winter home for a large flock of black-necked cranes. In addition to the cranes, there are also muntjacs (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan Black bears, leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills.

After lunch at your hotel, take a leisurely walk along a nature trail through the Phobjikha valley before visiting Gangtey Monastery.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Gangtey.

Day 5 : Gangtey to Bumthang (B/L/D)

After breakfast drive to Bumthang via the Pelela pass (3390m) which is an important dividing range that separates western Bhutan from central and eastern Bhutan.

Stop at Trongsa to take photographs of the impressive Trongsa dzong before continuing to Bumtang via the Yotongla pass at around 3425m above sea level.

After lunch at your hotel, visit the Jakar Dzong, the Kurje Lhakhang and the Wangdicholing Palace.
Jakar Dzong is situated on a ridge above Jakar village in the Chamkhar valley of Bumthang in central Bhutan. It was built in 1549 by Lama Ngagi Wangchuk who came to Bhutan around 1517-1554 to spread the teachings of the Drukpa Kagyupa order.

Wangdiccholing Palace was built in 1857 on the battle camp of the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal, father of the first King Ugyen Wangchuck. It was the first palace built in Bhutan without the design of a fortress. This palance served as the summer residence to both the first and second kings of Bhutan. You will see giant water driven prayer wheels to the north of this palace.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.

Day 6 : - Bumthang Sightseeing (B/L/D)

In a day long tour in the Bumthang district, you will visit some of the most significant and holiest places.

In the morning you will have the opportunity to hike up to Petseling monastery with its panoramic views across the Bumthang valley, and also to visit visit Mebar Tsho and Tamzhing Lhakhang.

Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it relates to the renowned treasure reveller, Terton Pema Lingpa – the incarnated disciple of Guru Padmasambhava, populary known as Guru Rinpoche who discovered treasure from the lake somewhere around the late 15th century. It is belived that Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision about hidden treasures to be found at the foot of Tang Valley which was indicated by Guru Rinpoche many centuries before. Since the people of Tang and the local ruler was cynical about it, he held a butter lamp in his hand, jumped into the lake, remained under water for a long time, and then re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper in his hand still burning bright. Thereafter, the lake came to be known as Mebartsho (the burning lake). Many tourists visit the site to observe the spectacular beauty of the place, and it is also an important site for historians. Tamshing Lhakhang is located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang. This temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa. The Monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 taras (female forms of Buddhisatava).

The Jambay Lhakhang was built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gompo of Tibet. It is one of the 108 Monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. You will also visit Kurji Lhakhang. The history of Kurji Monastery is associated with Sindhu Raja and the visit of Guru Rinpoche to Bumthang in 747 A.D.

Lunch will be served at your hotel or one of the best restaurants in Bumthang.

Explore Chamkhar town in the evening.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.

Day 7 : Bumthang to Ura and return to Bumthang (B/L/D)

After an early breakfast drive to the ancient village of Ura via the scenic Urala pass (3590m). Before reaching this pass, you can get a view of Mount Gangkar Puensum (7541m) to the northeast. Ura is a unique valley with a cluster of houses giving a medieval look because of the cobblestone streets and the typical sheepskin shawls that the women usually wear.

After exploring/walking in the beautiful Ura Valley, lunch will be served at Araya Zambhala Guest House in Ura. In the afternoon, return to Bumthang.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.

Day 8 : Bumthang to Trongsa and Punakha (B/L/D)

After breakfast drive through to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. On the way to Punakha visit Trongsa Dzong, probably the most impressive dzong in Bhutan It was built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, who was sent by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to unify eastern Bhutan. It was enlarged at the end of the 17thcentury by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings.

After lunch at Chendebji Resort, continue driving to Punakha.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

Day 9 : Punakha to Paro (B/L/D)

After an early breakfast drive about 7 km from Punakha and cross the suspension bridge over the Mochu River before walking approximately 30-45 minutes to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten (Stupa) which is perched on a strategic ridge overlooking the nearby villages. It was built under the sponsorship of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangden Wangchuck to remove evil forces and promote peace, stability and harmony throughout the world.

Then visit the Punakha Dzong. This impressive Dzong lies between two great rivers. The names of the rivers are Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). This Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the district Administration.
Take a leisurely walk for about 25 minutes along the beautiful terraced farmlands and farm houses to visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (the Devine Madman) in the 15th century. He subdued the demoness with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.

After lunch at Chimi Lhakhang cafe or Druk Wangyal cafe, drive to Paro via the 3,140m high Dochula Pass. The Dochula pass offers stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the high Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass.

Visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), built in honour of His Majesty the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appears to merge in the details of the lhakhang, and its structure tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future in a fine blend of history and mythology.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 10 : Paro Sightseeing (B/L/D)

After breakfast visit the Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress), 16 km away from Paro. Although it is now in ruins, this dzong has great historical importance for the people of Bhutan. It was a place where the Bhutanese finally defeated the Tibetan invasion. On a clear day one can view sacred Mt. Jomolhari (Mountain of Goddess).

Then drive to the National Museum of Bhutan (Ta Dzong) built in 1649 as a watchtower by the first Penlop (Governor) of Paro and later converted to the National Museum by the Third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1968. The museum contains artifacts such as old costumes and battle dresses, together with priceless jewelry and specimens of the kingdom’s unique flora and fauna.

Afterwards visit the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This dzong is the model by which all other dzongs are built.

After lunch at one of the restaurants in Paro, visit the Kyichu Lhakhang. This Lhakhang is one of the oldest lhakhangs to have been built in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 lhakhangs built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. The king is said to have built 108 lhakhangs in one day! Most of the remaining lhakhangs can be seen in Tibet.

Explore Paro town in the evening.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 11 : Attend Paro Tshechu (Festival) (B/L/D)

A Tshechu is a festival held every year in various temples, monasteries and dzongs across Bhutan. It is mainly a religious event celebrated on the 10th day of the month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, an 8th century Buddhist teacher. A Tshechu or festival is celebrated not merely for entertainment, but also for a series of sacred events choreographed to promote happiness with the intention of eventually cultivating enlightenment in the mind of attendees. The festival is a sacred event conducted by fully ordained monks and enlightened masters.

One of the most important festivals in the country is the spectacular Paro Tshechu. This Tshechu is witnessed by thousands of people many of whom travel from neighbouring districts to attend the festivities. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.

Lunch will be served at one of the restaurants in Paro.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 12 : - Hiking to Taktsang Monastery (B/L/D)

After breakfast take a short drive you to the base of the famous Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest, which clings to a sheer rock face at a height of 2600m above sea level. The climb is quite steep but ponies are available for those who feel they cannot make the climb themselves.

The primary Lhakhang or main temple was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in the east.

After lunch at the Taktsang cafe, you will have an opportunity to explore the beautiful town of Paro at your leisure.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 13 : - Paro International Airport

After breakfast drive to Paro International Airport for your departure from Bhutan.

Cost Information

Number of days: 13 days, 12 nights
Please contact us for up to date pricing

2018 Dates to be confirmed