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  • Punakha Festival (Tshechu)

    Experience the spectacular Punakha Festival (Tsechu), held in the grounds of the magnificent Punakha Dzong. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Locals gather in a spirit of festivity, celebration and deep faith to witness unique masked dances and celebrations. The Tsechu is one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. Also visit sacred sites in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and view the Black-Necked Cranes in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley.


    HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUDE

    Witness the celebration of traditional Bhutanese culture and faith and Punakha Festival (Tsechu), held in the grounds of the magnificent Punakha Dzong. This Bhutan tour also explores all of the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys, and visits Phobjikha Valley, winter home to the Black-Necked Cranes.

    • Witness sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in elaborate, colourful costumes.
    • Join in with locals in a special occasion of celebration, blessings and socialising.
    • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
    • Explore the stunning Phobjikha Valley, winter home to the Black-Necked Crane.
    • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
    • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
    • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
    • Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
    • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

    DETAILED PROGRAM

    Day 1

    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. Our Bhutan Senses Travel representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical and cultural past. Next, visit the Rinpung Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge still in use. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

     Bhutan National Museum, Rinpung Dzong

    Recommended Hotels in Paro:

    - Bhutan Mandala Resort
    - Metta Resort & Spa


    Day 2

    After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you high above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. 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. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for lunch.

    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. Kyichu is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa.

    Alternatively, day 2 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

     Taktsang Monastery, Drukgyel Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang


    Day 3

    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 4 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 riot of glorious spring colour.

    Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” to attend the festival. You will see locals dressed in their finest clothes who have walked from miles around to attend the festivities. They come to watch masked dances, to pray, and to feast. While the underlying purpose of the festival is spiritual, dances are more often like plays, telling stories where good triumphs over evil, or depicting significant historical events, especially surrounding the life of Bhutan’s patron saint, Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche). There is inevitably a great deal of socialising as well.

    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.

     Punakha Dzong, attend Punakha Dromchoe festival

    Recommended Punakha Hotels:

    - Drubchhu Resort
    - Vara Hotel Punakha


    Day 4

    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. Afterwards, return to Punakha Dzong to observe the continuing masked dances and rituals that take place as part of the Punakha Festival. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

     Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha Dzong


    Day 5

    Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (3 hrs) via the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang. Drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. After lunch visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha

     Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey Monastery

    Recommended Wangdue Phodrang Hotels:

    - Dewachen Gangtey Hotel
    - Kichu Resort Wangdue


    Day 6

    After an early breakfast drive back to Thimphu (5.5 hrs). Afternoon at leisure to explore downtown Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

    Recommended Hotels in Thimphu:

    - Hotel Thimphu Towers
    - Namgay Heritage Hotel


    Day 7

    Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery. If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichho Dzong, ‘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. Tashichho Dzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.

    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.

     National Memorial Chorten, Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu weekend market


    Day 8

    Continue sightseeing in Thimphu. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.

    Other options for the morning include a hike to Tango and Cheri Monasteries (45 mins), two of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region or a hike to Phajoding Monastery providing a splendid view of Thimphu valley.

    Late afternoon transfer to Paro. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

     School for Arts and Crafts, Folk Heritage Museum, Tango and Cheri Monasteries


    Day 9

    Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

     

     

    WHEN TO GO?

       MORE TOURS HERE


    Notes:

    • Prices are in USD, per person, based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. At Bhutan Senses Travel, we carefully select all hotels to ensure that your accommodations match our standards of trip and service excellence.
    • Prices include the following:
      . All hotel accommodation including all taxes and breakfast
      . Internal economy flights as stated with airport taxes
      . All transfers & sightseeing transportation in private vehicle
      . Private services of local guides
      . All special events & private tours, guest experts
      . All entrance fees into historical sights & museums
      . Drinking water and refreshing towels for touring
      . 24/7 support from the Bhutan Senses Travel Team

     

    Location
    Accommodation

    PARO
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    Bhutan Mandala Resort

    • Offering a hot tub and sauna, Bhutan Mandala Resort is located in Paro. Free WiFi is available and free private parking is available on site.
    • Rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV. You will find a kettle in the room. Rooms include a private bathroom fitted with a bath.
    • Paro Airport is 3 km from the property.

    Metta Resort & Spa

    • Metta Resort and Spa offers accommodation in Paro. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on site.
    • All rooms come with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some units include a seating area where you can relax. Every room includes a private bathroom fitted with a shower. Extras include bathrobes and slippers. Metta Resort and Spa features free WiFi .
    • There is a 24-hour front desk at the property.
    • The resort also offers car hire. The nearest airport is Paro Airport, 5 km from the property.

    PUNAKHA
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    Drubchhu Resort

    • Drubchhu is a family owned and managed resort located in the valley of Lobesa
    • Drubchhu overlooking paddy fields and farm houses. The resort is within easy walking distance to Chimi Lhakhand and the village.
    • With a total of 27 rooms and yoga room, giving travellers a place to stay. The rooms are large and spacious.

    Meri Puensum Resort

    • Lying approximately 5 kms from Punakha village and with good views of the valley area.
    • The 20 rooms are spacious and there are lovely views down across the river and the valley.
    • There is a large dining area and bar where you can relax after a day exploring the Puankha valley.

    Vara Hotel Punakha

    • Located in the valley of Lobesa overlooking the blossoming and verdant valley with panoramic elongate between Punakha and Wangdue. This three star hotel started operation in early 2014 and is one of the best three star hotel in Punakha and Wangdue area.
    • Vara Hotel allows travelers to explore the wonders of valleys and offers the spectacular view of mountains landscape and oasis of tranquility and peacefulness. Enjoy your stay in one of its lovely big rooms, cozy restaurant and an upstairs bar.
    • The hotel offers 18 Deluxe Rooms and 1 Suite. Free WiFi (public areas).

    WANGDUE PHODRANG
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    Dewachen Gangtey Hotel

    • Dewachen Gangtey Hotel features sixteen double rooms with modern bathroom fittings, comfortable bedding. The restaurant is cozy with magnificent views and the meals prepared by a professional chef are delicious. The Luxury hotel or lodge is located in the pine forest with beautiful view of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
    • There is no electricity in the valley. The hotel has its own generator supplying electricity for two hours in the evening and two hours in the morning. It is then turned off after the dinner time. The rooms are heated by individual wooden stove (Bukhari). When the generator is not in use, a dim solar powered light or candles are used. At night, during the colder months, guests are provided with hot water bag. For hot shower, you have to ask for hot water in the bucket.

    THIMPHU
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    Hotel Thimphu Towers

    • Hotel Thimphu Tower offers accommodation in Thimphu. Free WiFi is available and free private parking is available on site.
    • Rooms have a flat-screen TV with cable channels. You will find a kettle in the room. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom fitted with a bath. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer.
    • The nearest airport is Paro Airport, 23 km from Hotel Thimphu Tower.

    Namgay Heritage Hotel

    • Offering a restaurant, Namgay Heritage Hotel is located in Thimphu. Free WiFi access is available in the public areas of the property.
    • Each room here will provide you with a seating area. Featuring a shower, private bathroom also comes with free toiletries and slippers. You can enjoy mountain view and city view from the room.
    • At Namgay Heritage Hotel you will find a 24-hour front desk. An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including skiing and cycling. The property offers free parking.
    • The Dochula pass is 10 km and the Thimphu Chorten is 12 km. The Paro Airport is 48 km.