Paro Festival-27th to 31st March 2018 (Tour 11 Days and 10 Nights)

About this Tour

Destination: Paro, Thimphu, Phobjikha, Punakha
Bhutan is rich in cultural diversity and this richness is further enhanced by the wide variety of elaborate and colorful religious festivals that are celebrated throughout the country. Every village is known for their unique festival though the most widely known is the annual Tshechu, meaning a religious festival.
In the early spring, we see Punakha Tsechu and Punakha Dromchoe, and bit later into full spring, attend Talo village festival, along with the famous Paro Tsechu festival, where we also see the unfurling of giant Thangkha. In the autumn, you’ll see three festivals of Wangduephodrang, Gangtey and Thimphu Tshechu festival. As these festival periods are extremely popular, flights and hotels tend to get booked out soon, so book this tour early!

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: DRIVE FROM PARO AIRPORT TO THIMPHU (1HOUR)
Sunday 2nd April: After clearing immigration and customs you will be greeted by your BHTC guide & driver and transferred by coach to Thimphu city with scenic sightseeing en-route. All the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style. On arrival take a wander through the colorful local Thimphu weekend markets before lunch & check-in at your hotel. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of Thimphu including the National Memorial Stupa; the Takin Preserve (home to Bhutan’s most unusual national mammal); Enjoy some time to wander Thimphu’s main street Norzin Lam & visit the Craft Bazaar. Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 02: Sightseeing in the Thimphu Valley.
This morning visit the awesome Golden Buddha which offers an excellent 1 hour (3km) hiking option with sensational views of Thimphu city and valley followed by a visit to the majestic Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s Govt & Royal Offices and the recently consecrated Tara Lhaden Zhingkham Lhakhang (temple)
After lunch at a local restaurant visit the celebrated Royal Textile Academy and a visit to Zorig Chusum – the Institute of the 13 Arts & Crafts of Bhutan and where you can interact with the students, time permitting visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 03: Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley (5 hrs)
This morning transfer by road eastwards to the Phobjikha Valley. En-route pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629, the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley, and which today it is a monastery. Continue ascending to Dochula La (pass-3116m) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan-Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya and depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – March) to a profusion of blossoms (March – May) splashed among the soft green of the wild herbs and forest trees. When the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong ruins come into view, notice the large cacti that cover the hillside below (the Dzong was destroyed by fire in June 2012 currently under reconstruction). These were planted long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope to the Dzong. From the road view Rinchengang, one of Bhutan’s oldest villages, which did not have access to water, electricity or schooling until the early 1990’s.The craftsmen of Rinchengang are sought after for their skills in construction of Dzongs and Lhakhang (temples).
Until recently the Phobjikha valley’s only electricity came from solar or mini hydro plants. From 2012 underground cabled electricity is gradually connecting the valley to the national grid. Potatoes are this region’s primary cash crop once exported to India. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. It is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter home (late October to early February) of the rare black necked crane, which annually flies in from Tibet. There are also barking deer, wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bears, leopard and red foxes. While you are in Phobjikha you will visit the Black Crane nature information centre; the sacred Gangtey Gonpa (monastery) plus enjoy time to wander through Gangtey village and hike the Gangtey Nature Trail. Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

DAY 05: Sightseeing in the Phobjikha Valley today.
Explore the Phobjikha valley today as per the above suggestions & perhaps enjoy one of the many additional hikes available in this beautiful valley. Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 06: Phobjikha Valley to Punakha Valley (3.5 hrs)
Depart this morning to the Punakha Valley which holds the title as the winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Arriving into the Punakha valley visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman), which is a pleasant 20 min walk across paddy fields. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk. After lunch at a local restaurant take an excursion along a scenic country lane to the Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang & Nunnery and further on to the very traditional village of Talo where you can stroll through the beautiful & serene gardens of the local monastery. Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 07: Sightseeing and hiking in Punakha today.
This morning visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formally served as the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Darshang (Central Monk Body). This is Bhutan’s most spectacular Dzong and an excellent example of how a medieval fortress and a centre of both monastic and administrative functions, has adapted and evolved for modern day use. After lunch at a local restaurant travel further up the valley & hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. This Chorten holds very special significance being consecrated in 1999 and dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince – today’s current King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 08: Punakha Valley to Paro Valley (5 hrs)
Depart Punakha this morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley, once again traversing Dochula La, and arriving in Paro town for a late lunch.
This afternoon head north up the Paro valley and visit the revered Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples and boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit. Continue up the valley to visit to the old ruined fortress of the Drukgyel Dzong (14 km from Paro). This is the historical site of the Fort of Drukpa Victory, from where the Bhutanese used to repel the Tibetan invaders again and again. On a clear day views of the 7315m snow domed peaks of sacred Mt Chomolhari can be seen. Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 09: : The Paro Tshechu (27th to 31st March 2018).
Today witness the colour & spectacle of the opening day of the Paro Tshechu (festival). This is held annually at the Rinpung Dzong just as it has been for hundreds of years. The local Bhutanese dress in their finest clothes and the proceedings are raucous & joyous affairs. Choose between a picnic lunch at the Tshechu or wander across to the town for lunch at a local restaurant. Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

DAY 10: Hiking & Festival in the Paro Valley.
This morning take a ‘pilgrimage’ hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tigers Nest. All Bhutanese Buddhists desire to make this pilgrimage at least once in their lives and each step they take along the trail counts as merit points towards their future.
Choose between a 1.5 to 2 hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint or a longer 5 hour and more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock, 1000m above the valley floor, and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.
This afternoon return to the Paro Tshechu and join in the continuing festivities or take the rest of the afternoon at leisure or for shopping in Paro town. Overnight Paro – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

DAY 11: Early morning transfer to Paro Airport for your onward flight.

All night stay at 3 star hotel
All transportation throughout the tour
All meals (B/L/D) throughout the tour
All entry fees to dzongs and museums
Complimentary mineral water bottle
Well experienced guide service
Airport pick & drop
Government royalty
Doctor consultancy only

Airfare cost
Upgrade to 4 & 5 star hotels
Upgrade to specific language guide
Personal purchases & expenses
Extra cost due to natural calamities
Extra cost due to delays
Travel insurance
Bellboy services