Bhutan

10-Day Thimphu Tshechu Festival Experience

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Standard

Tour Period: 10 Days

Tour Highlight

  • Watch locals dressed in fine ghos and kiras celebrating the Thimphu Tshechu Festival
  • Visit Punakha Dzong, home to the sacred Rangjung Kharsapani relic
  • Drive through the Dochula Mountain Pass with stunning views of the snowcapped Himalayas
  • See Bhutan's national animal at the Takin Preserve
  • Soak in a traditional stone bath that is believed to heal the mind, body and soul

tour details

On this 10-day tour, visit many of the historically significant chortens and dzongs, some of which are architectural masterpieces or home to priceless relics across Bhutan. The highlight of this trip is experiencing the Thimphu Tshechu, one of Bhutan’s grandest festivals, which honours Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to the country. Immerse yourself in the ancient culture that’s still alive and well with two days of festivities watching dances performed by elaborately costumed monks and laymen.

After arriving at the Paro International Airport, your guide will wait for you at the arrival terminal and traditionally welcome you by offering a ‘khadar’ or greeting scarf. After that, you will be escorted to your hotel, allowed to freshen up, and then taken for a short sightseeing tour around Paro. First, drive to see Rinpung Dzong, which was built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. Today, this dzong is used as an administration centre and school for monks. Then, visit the Ugyen Pelri Palace, which was designed after the Second Buddha’s celestial paradise, Zangtopelri, and is considered one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.Afterwards, visit the National Museum, which is rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia. It has a collection of precious works of art and fantastic costumes, armour and other handcrafted, culturally significant objects. There is also a gallery dedicated to exquisite pieces of thangkas. End the day with a free evening to leisurely explore downtown Paro.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, enjoy a morning drive towards Thimphu. On the way, see the 15th-century Tachogang Temple, also known as the ‘Temple of the Hill of Excellent Horse’. Then, continue to Thimphu. Urbanisation began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built. This city is best known for being the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Check into your hotel and then after lunch, begin a local sightseeing tour with a walk around Memorial Chorten, which is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu. Afterwards, visit the Takin Preserve to see Bhutan's national animal and then drive up to the BBS Tower for a magnificent view of Thimphu Valley. Continue to the 15th-century Changangkha Temple, which contains ancient scriptures and thankas. In the evening, visit the 13th-century Tashichho Dzong, which houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
Enjoy an early morning breakfast and then take a 7-mile hike from Thimpu to Tango Monastery. The monastery dates back to the 13th century and was rebuilt in the 15th century by the 'Divine Madman', Lama Drukpa Kuenley. It is a lovely place for an excursion with beautiful views along the route featuring the countryside and the Thimphu Valley.After lunch, visit the Bhutan Post, which is known for its world-famous stamps. It is home to an extensive collection of exotic stamps made from metal and silk. Next, gaze upon priceless Buddhist manuscripts at the National Library of Bhutan. The NLB also accommodates a large and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as numerous hand-carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious books. Afterwards, peek into the way of life of Bhutanese villages and rural households by exploring the National Folk Heritage Museum. In addition to the displays, the museum also organises demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs. The building itself is a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house that resembles the average rural household in the Wang area during the mid-19th century. It comes complete with typical household objects, domestic tools and equipment that were used by rural families of that period. Lastly, visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum or 'Painting School', where you can often see students learning the various art skills. Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
After an early breakfast, attend the Thimphu Tshechu Festival, which is held in the Thendrelthang in Trashichoe Dzong. This three-day festival honours Guru Rinpoche, the saint who bought the Buddhism to Bhutan and the Himalayan world. Witness local men and women gathering together in their beautifully patterned ghos and kiras in a celebration of their culture and faith. In the evening, relax at your hotel or take a stroll through Thimphu town.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast, continue experiencing the ancient living culture of Bhutan by spending the entire day at the festival. One of the grand highlights are the dances performed by trained monks and laymen in elaborate masks and costumes. Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
Begin the day with a drive through the Dochula Mountain Pass toward Punakha Valley. On a clear day, Dochula offers stunning views of the snowcapped Himalayan range. Continue to Druk Wangyel Chorten, a symbol of peace and stability of the country. After a 20-minute walk through the village of Sopsokha, visit Chimi Lhakhang or the ‘Fertility Temple’, a temple that is believed to bless couples unable to have children. Continue with a drive to the impressive Punakha Dzong, which was built in 1637 and is said to be one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. Inside, there is a set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur, a holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The dzong also safeguards Bhutan’s most treasured possession, the sacred Rangjung Kharsapani relic. Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Punakha.
The day in Punakha Valley begins with a drive through the town of Khuruthang and continues along the banks of the Mo Chu River, passing the Phuntsho Pelri Palace and several other winter homes of the Royal Family. At the upper end of the valley, hike across a footbridge through terraces of rice, chillies and cabbage.Then take a 50-minute walk to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a 3-storey chorten that stands on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang roughly six miles from Punakha. It presents incredibly complex images and symbols that belong to the Nyingmapa tradition.Continue to Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery in Punakha, which is located on top of a hill with views of Punakha and Wangdue Dzongkhag. The nunnery mains the nuns' tradition in Bhutan and the continuation of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Drive further to Talo, the village of our Royal Queen mothers, with a scenic view of Wangdue Phodrang District and Punakha.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast, begin the drive back to Paro. On arrival, check into your hotel and then visit Dungtse Lhakhang, which is possibly the only ancient temple built in the shape of a chorten. Its chimi lhakhang is chained down since local belief holds that it will otherwise fly off to heaven. Lastly, explore the Kyichu Temple, which is one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo, in his attempt to banish a giant demoness that he believed was preventing the spread of Buddhism across Tibet.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
After an early breakfast, take a short drive to the trailhead of the famous Taktsang Monastery, which clings precariously to a cliff 900 metres (2,600 feet) above the Paro Valley. Also known as Tiger's Nest, Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most recognised Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas. The climb to the viewpoint will take approximately three hours. Afterwards, lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point.The sightseeing tour continues with a visit Drukgyal Dzong. Now in ruins, it was once strategically built over the only passage into Paro Valley. It helped to prevent numerous invasions throughout the course of Bhutanese history, beginning in 1646. In fine weather, gaze upon the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari, which marks the frontier with Tibet and is believed to be the dwelling place of the goddess Jomo.In the evening, visit a local farmhouse and see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical 3-storey style. The ground floor is used for cattle and the top floor is used for drying hay whilst the family lives on the middle floor. Relax with a hot stone bath known as ‘dotsho’, which is an important part of Bhutanese family life and has been used to treat various diseases for centuries.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to the airport and bid you, 'Tashi delek!' on your onward flight.

Includes

  • All private transfers, Hotel accomodation and transportation inclusive of taxes during the entire tour
  • Meals as stated in the programme B= Breakfast, L= Lunch & D= Dinner
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking guides in private air conditioned vehicles
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
  • Mineral water available in the vehicles
  • Visa fees at US$40 per person

Excludes

  • Domestic airfare (quoted separately, if requested)
  • International airfare to / from Lao (quoted separately, if requested)
  • Optional tours
  • Surcharges for other language guides
  • Surcharges for Lao Pimai (New Year)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenditures, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities, etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking or when available
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme

Notes

Upon request, a licensed French, German, Spanish or other language-speaking guide can accompany participants for the whole duration of the trip at an additional cost.

Tour code: TTFE10

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