Bhutan

11-Day Jambay Lhakhang Festival Experience

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Standard

Tour Period: 11 Days

Tour Highlight

  • Visit Bhutan's unique cultural attractions such as medieval fortresses, markets and museums
  • Watch sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in 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 Himalayas
  • Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions

tour details

The Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival Tour will take you across to Bhutan’s spiritual heartland to experience the rich pageantry and festive atmosphere during this time of year. For 11 immersive days, traverse the country and explore local villages to experience the true life of Bhutanese people. Watch as colourfully costumed monks and laymen perform sacred dances and rituals at the Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival and visit farmhouses for a peek into family life. This tour also explores the western and central valleys of Bhutan where you will visit a variety of historically and culturally important dzongs, temples, monasteries and museums.

After arriving at the Paro International Airport, your guide will wait for you at the arrival terminal and welcome you in a traditional manner 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. Next, 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. Then explore Kyichu Temple, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo. This king believed these temples would overcome the giant demoness that was preventing the spread of Buddhism across Tibet. In the evening, 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!Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
After an early breakfast, take a short drive to the trailhead of the famous Taktsang Monastery. Also known as Tiger's Nest, the hike is roughly three hours long and ends at one of the holiest sits in the country, dangerously perched on the cliff 900 metres (2,600 feet) above Paro Valley. Enjoy lunch during the return hike and then visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, it has helped prevent numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. Then, visit a local farmhouse and see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The farmhouses are very decorative and 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. Near the end of the day, relax in a 'dotsho’ hot stone bath, which alleviates joint pains and aids in reducing high blood pressure.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
On a morning drive toward Punakha Valley, visit Simtokha Dzong. The name Simtokha means 'Atop a Demon'. The dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures carved and painted in exquisite detail. The tour continues to Druk Wangyel Chhorten, a new landmark for travellers as they cross Dochula Pass.Further into the pass, enjoy stunning views of the snowcapped Himalayan range. Following that, go on a 20-minute walk through the village of Sopsokha to the 15th-century Chimi Lhakhang believed to bless couples unable to have children. Then, drive to see the impressive Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan and home to Bhutan’s most treasured possession, the Rangjung Kharsapani relic.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
After an early breakfast, begin the journey towards Bumthang. Cross the Black Mountains and drive through the Pelela mountain pass, which divides western and central Bhutan. This is a wonderful opportunity to take photographs of the beautiful scenic views. Continue driving through forests of rhododendron and magnolias and past yak settlements. After crossing the Nikarchu Bridge, enter the Trongsa district and see the Chendebji Chorten and the Trongsa Dzong. Then visit the Ta Dzong, which once served as the watchtower above the Trongsa Dzong but is now a state-of-the-art museum about the Bhutan monarchy. There are eleven galleries with one gallery fully dedicated to the history of the kings of the Wangchuck Dynasty. Continue your journey towards Bumthang, which is approximately two-hours from Trongsa. This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and is also the heartland of Buddhism where many great teachers have meditated.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
After breakfast, witness the first day of the Jambay Lhankhang Drup Festival, one of the most spectacular festivals in the country. The festival lasts for five days beginning from 24 to 27 October 2018. The highlight of the festival is the fire ritual that is held in the evening where crowds gather to witness the ritualistic naked dance. It is held at Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the kingdom and one of 108 temples built to subdue the demoness residing in the Himalayas.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
During the first half of the day, enjoy breakfast and then watch several ritual dances performed in the courtyard of Jampa Lhakhang. Enjoy the energy of the crowd and look upon the local people dressed in their finest clothes. In the afternoon, continue with a sightseeing tour to the three temples of Kurjey Lhakhang, which are built on the rock face above Jambay Lhakhang and are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall symbolising each joint of the human body. Then, take a short walk north from Kurjey Temple, across a footbridge and uphill to a trail to Tamshing Temple. Founded in 1501, it contains interesting religious paintings such as 11,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Bohhisatava). Lastly, visit the Wangdichholing Palace.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Witness the morning events of the last day of the Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival and then enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, take a day excursion to Ura, which lies in the Tang Valley, a 1.5-hour drive from Bumthang through forests and large sheep pastures. Along the way, cross the Ura La Pass with a magnificent view of Mount Gangkar Puensum. Closely clustered houses are the characteristics of the villages in Ura, which is a unique feature in the country. On the way back from Ura, stop to see Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), and then drive back to Bumthang.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
The day begins with a drive to Gangtey, the wintering grounds of the rare black-necked crane that migrate from remote parts of Tibet, China and Siberia between mid-October and early December and remain until March through mid-April. The local people say that when the cranes first arrive, they circle over the Goemba monastery as though they are paying homage before descending into land in the marshy area of the valley. Gangtey is declared as a conservation ground for the black-necked cranes and borders the Black Mountain National Park. It is also inhabited by muntjak (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox. Whilst there, visit the crane information and observation centre to view the exotic birds.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Gangtay.
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu Valley, home to the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Urbanisation began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built, though it still maintains an ethnic architectural style. Check into your hotel and then begin your 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 aerial 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. The building is a restored 3-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 before driving back to Paro.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, your guide will escort you to the airport and bid you, "Tashi delek!'.

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: JLFE11

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