Essence of Bhutan – Sacred Festivals & Ancient Culture

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Duration 📅

10 Days

Flights ✈️

International flights are NOT included

Airport Transfer 🧳

Drop-Off, Pickup

Accommodation 🛏️

3 Star Hotel

Tour Size 🧑🏻‍🤝‍🧑🏻

Small Group

Language 🌐

English

Difficulty 🚥

Moderate

Visa 🛂

Visa is Included

Transport 🚍

Airconditioned Vehicle

Inclusions

Bhutan Visa Fee is included. Visa will be arranged for you.
Entrance fees to parks, museums, and other national monuments
Bottled mineral water in the car
Light snacks between meals wherever necessary
Tour Guide
9xBreaakfast
9xLunch
9xDinner

From: $2,525.00

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💎 Why we love it ?

On this 10 days Bhutan journey, you will venture out into this magical Kingdom with a private expert guide and discover happiness amidst stunning landscapes and majestic eastern Himalayan mountain ranges. You’ll witness sacred ancient festivals that have been passed down from centuries ago and still remains vibrant and untouched. Travel to 4 western and 2 central districts of Bhutan through staggering Himalayan mountains and pristine natural landscapes and come face to face with a unique identity and culture that has remained untouched.

🏁 Tour Itinerary: Essence of Bhutan – Sacred Festivals & Ancient Culture

Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport / Transfer to Thimphu (2334m)

Our guide and driver will receive you on your arrival at the only International Airport located in Paro. We’ll begin by first visiting the National Museum of Bhutan and then transfer to Thimphu the capital city.
The National Museum of Bhutan is housed in an ancient watchtower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watchtower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry, and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Ta Dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968. We then drive to the capital city Thimphu.

Distance 55km
Driving Time 1.5-hour
Thimphu Altitude 2,334 meters (7,650 ft)
Paro Altitude 2,195 meters (7,200 ft)

Arriving in Thimphu, visit the Bhutan Postal Museum especially if you are interested in philatelic products and stamp collection. Postal service in Bhutan was launched only in 1962 until which time communications and delivery of mails were done by messengers on foot (building of roads started from 1961). The museum was established in 2015. Philatelic enthusiasts can find a rich collection of stamps, stamp albums, and First Day Covers. A bank is also located in the same complex so you can exchange your money into local currency Ngultrum (Nu.) if you want. Leisure time to explore Thimphu streets.

Note: If your flight arrives early, you will be able to visit more places of interest.

🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.

 

Day 2: Thimphu / Transfer to Punakha valley (1200m)

Early morning after a hearty breakfast before driving towards Punakha Valley, you’ll visit some of the interesting sites in Thimphu.

Buddha Dordhenma Statue: The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can see a nice view of Thimphu city. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also for the purpose of bringing peace to the world. The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of the same type.

National Library & Archives of Bhutan. Located in the neighborhood of the Zorig Chusum, the National Library of Bhutan is considered a national treasure of Bhutan and a fundamental source of Bhutanese history, religion, medicine, arts, and culture.

National Institute of Traditional Zorig Chusum. The Institute where 13 traditional arts & crafts of Bhutan are taught is located in the neighborhood. If the class is in session, you can hop in and observe while the students get hands-on training. Both this institute and National Library open during working weekdays & on Saturdays, 10 am-noon.

After lunch at Folk Heritage Museum or at a similar restaurant, transferred to Punakha valley via Dochula, a sacred mountain pass.

Distance 74km
Driving Time 2.5 hours
Punakha Altitude 1,200 meters (3,930 ft)

En route to Punakha, about 45 mins drive from Thimphu, stop briefly at Dochu La Pass (3,150m/10,334ft) and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the distant Himalayan mountain ranges (weather permitting). This picturesque mountain pass was only a sacred site until 2004 when Her Majesty Grand Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck built 108 stupas adorning the pass. Continue driving to Punakha, the elevation drops gradually in a short period of time. As you reach the lower valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to 1,200m.
About 11km before arriving in Punakha town, visit Chimi Lhakhang popularly known as the “Temple of Fertility”. Chimi Lhakhang is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha about a 20-30 minutes walk through beautiful terraced rice fields and traditional farmhouses. The history of Chimi Lhakhang is associated with 16th century Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was affectionately known as “Divine Madman” for his obscene behavior and outrageous ways of cleansing people from religious dogmatism and egoistic self-possession by exhibiting his strong desire for sex. One of the relics of Chimi Lhakhang is a phallus. The blessing of the phallus is considered sacred particularly to women who are unable to conceive a child as it brings fertility to women, giving them the ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chimi Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.

You’ll have an opportunity to explore the nearby village and interact with the local people.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Hotel Lobesa or Meri Puensum Resort.

 

Day 3: Punakha / Transfer to Trongsa (2200m)

After an early breakfast at the hotel, you’ll hike to the picturesque Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten, the 7th-century Punakha Dzong, and then transfer to Trongsa in central Bhutan.

Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten: Located on a ridge overlooking the picturesque Punakha valley, this wonderful Buddhist structure is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture used in building temples, monasteries, and Zangdogpelri (copper-colored mountains). It was built over a period of almost 10 years under the command of Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, one of the Queen Mothers of Bhutan, and was consecrated in 1999. The round trip hike takes only about 2-2.5 hours through the beautiful terraced rice fields.

Punakha Dzong: The historic Punakha Dzong locally known as “Palace of Great Bliss” was built in 1637 to guard the region against Tibetan forces. This beautiful and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan is a masterpiece of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting, and craftsmanship. The Dzong served as the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955. It now serves as the office of the District Administrator (Dzongdag) and the winter residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan, Je Khenpo.

If interested, you can take a short walk to Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge that runs across the glacial-fed Phochu (male) river. After lunch, we drive to Trongsa in central Bhutan. You’ll pass through the highest mountain between Punakha and Trongsa (Pelela 3,350m). You will have several opportunities for photography and views of valleys and mountains along the way.

Distance 142km
Driving Time 4.5 hours
Trongsa Altitude 2,200 meters (7,220 ft)

On arrival in Trongsa, visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong. If there is not enough time, you can visit tomorrow morning.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Tashi Ninjay Guest House.

 

Day 4: Trongsa / Transfer to Bumthang (2800m)

After early breakfast, drive approximately 2.5 hours to Bumthang (also known as Jakar) through the serene mountain pass, Yotong La at 3,425 meters (11,235 ft) above sea level and gradually descend to the village of Chumey. At Chumey stop by the roadside Yathra weaving center (Yathra is the colorful textiles hand-woven out of sheep and yak hair) and get insights into the traditional attires and the weaving culture of the people of Bumthang. Continue driving towards Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang. The valley of Bumthang is considered the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country.

Distance 68km
Driving Time 2.5 hours
Bumthang Altitude 2,800 meters (9,185 ft)

After lunch in Bumthang, visit the Swiss Cheese & Wine Factory and Tamzhing Lhakhang. The Swiss Cheese and Wine factory was established by Mr. Fritz Maurer, a Swiss volunteer who came to Bhutan in the early 1960s and made Bumthang his home. After that visit the sacred Tamzhing temple built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa who is considered the patron saint of Bhutan. Among the many treasures and religious artifacts handcrafted by the Pema Lingpa himself, there is an armory that stood the test of time for five centuries bearing no rust or any sign of deterioration. It is believed that you will be cleansed of all your past sins and defilement if you circumambulate the inner sanctum of the temple 3 rounds carrying that sacred armory. Leisure time around Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang.

🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Kaila Guest House or Mountain Lodge.

 

Day 5: Full day exploring Bumthang valley

After breakfast, drive for about 45min to the sacred lake called Mebartso (Burning Lake) from where a sacred statue and other religious treasures were discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa. He went into the lake holding a butter lamp (candle-like lamp used for ritual offering) and resurfaced holding treasures hidden by Guru Padmasambhava in the mid-eighth century with the butter lamp still burning.
You would see some of the discovered sacred objects at Tamzhing temple on Day 3. Visit the nearby Tang village and ramble through the rural settlements to understand the daily lives of the farmers of Bumthang. Home-cooked local cuisine unique to Bumthang will be organized at one of the village farmhouses for lunch.
If interested, you can also visit Ogyen Choling Museum. A private museum owned by the ancestors of the Royal family of Bhutan was regarded as being a monastery or hermitage because of its past connections with great Buddhist masters like Longhcen Rabjam (1308-63) and Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405). It was turned into a museum in 2001 with the aim to share its heritage and also to preserve and maintain its religious and cultural significance. The museum gives you profound insights not only about the lifestyles and living conditions of households of the religious and nobility during the 19th and 20th centuries but also on how Bhutan has changed over the years.
After lunch, spend some time with the local family. Drive back to Jakar.

Distance to Tang Valley 30km
Driving Time 1 hour round trip

Kurjey Lhakhang: Kurjey Lhakhang is built on the sacred site blessed by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Bhutan and is revered as the second Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. If you wish, visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang believed to have been built overnight by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.

🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Kaila Guest House or Mountain Lodge.

 

Day 6: Bumthang / Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (3000m)

After breakfast, transfer to Phobjikha valley following the same route via Trongsa. In Trongsa, you’ll visit the Royal Heritage Museum and Thruepang Palace. Royal Heritage Museum: Housed in the 17th-century watchtower, the Royal Heritage Museum provides an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history and showcases the religious and artistic traditions of Bhutan.

Visit Thruepang Palace: This two-storied simple palace situated just above the highway in the town is the birthplace of our Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It was here that on 2nd May 1928, His Majesty was born to King Jigme Wangchuck and Ashi Puntsho Choden. He spent most of his early childhood days here in this Thurepang Palace. After lunch in Trongsa, continue driving to Phobjikha Valley.

Distance to Phobjikha valley 150km
Driving Time 4.5 hours
Phobjikha Altitude 3,000m/9,840ft

Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000m/9,840ft and it is a winter home for endangered Black-necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to Tibetan Plateau by the beginning of the spring season. As part of the conservation effort, Phobjikha valley has been declared a protected area. Arriving at Phobjikha valley, visit the famous landmark in the valley, the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery popularly known as Gangtey Gonpa (Gonpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance).
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Yueloki Guest House or at a similar one.

 

Day 7: Full Day in Phobjikha Valley

After breakfast, you will venture out on an exhilarating Gangtey Nature Hike through the pristine valley. If you book the tour coinciding with the Gangtey Tshechu Festival, you’ll have time to witness the dazzling annual festival where people from all walks of life, in their finest costumes, gather to receive blessings, socialize and promote happiness. A series of colorful mask dances are performed by skilled monks interspersed by traditional folk songs and dances.

Gangtey Nature Hike: Venture out on an exhilarating nature hike through the pristine valley. The trail is about 5km and takes approx. 2.5 hours through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, wonderful meadows, beautiful traditional village houses, farmlands, and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and an understanding of the livelihood of the people living there. Lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!
In the evening, take a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee of $15 believed to have a therapeutic and revitalizing effect (optional).
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Yueloki Guest House or at a similar one.

 

Day 8: Phobjikha / Transfer to Paro (2195m)

After breakfast, drive back to Paro valley via the same way we came – Wangdue Phodrang, Lobesa, Dochula Pass. En route, visit the first and oldest Dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century AD.

Distance from Phobjikha to Paro 170km
Time 5 hours
Paro Altitude 2,195 meters (7,200 ft)

After driving for about 130km, stop at the outskirt of Thimphu and visit Simtokha Dzong which is built strategically on a ridge overlooking the Thimphu valley. The Simtokha Dzong is significant not only because it was the first Dzong built by Zhangdrung Ngawang Namgyel but also stands on the borders of three major regions: Thimphu, Paro and Wangdue Phodrang. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built this Dzong in 1631 to consolidate his rule over western Bhutan. Simtokha Dzong is considered as the oldest Dzong in Bhutan.
One of the main statues inside the Simtokha Dzong is the statue of Buddha of Compassion. Legend has it that fortunate visitors are able to see a light shining forth from the chest of the Buddha. The Dzong has more than three hundred slate carvings from the 17th century. Recently, His Majesty the 5th King donated a statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel which wasn’t there initially.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.

 

Day 9: Hike to the Famed Taktsang Monastery (3120m)

Today after an early breakfast, you’ll hike to the famous landmark in all of Bhutan, Paro Taktsang which is popularly known as Tiger’s Nest. Taktsang monastery or Tiger’s Nest is built on a rock cliff some 800m above the valley floor.. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. After an hour of steep uphill hiking on the ancient pilgrimage trails shaded by pine trees, you’ll reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see a spectacular view of the Taktsang monastery perched on the face of the steep rock cliff.
Taktsang Monastery is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known to Bhutanese as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century A.D.
After lunch at the cafeteria,  retrace your steps back to the base and drive to visit an auspicious 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang built by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo to subdue the spirit of demoness obstructing the propagation of Buddhism in the region.
Towards the evening, visit a beautiful farmhouse and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. If interested, you can soak in a therapeutic and revitalizing traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee of US$15. Specially selected stones are heated in a wood-fired fireplace. The bathtub is made of wood and a medicinal shrub is added to the hot bath. A delicious dinner of authentic home-cooked local cuisine will be served at the farmhouse.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.

 

Day 10: Transfer to Paro International Airport for Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check in.

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Terms & Conditions

Cancellation Policy

  • Free cancellation for up to 30 days prior to departure date
  • 20% will be charged if cancelled 16-29 days prior to departure date
  • 30% will be charged if cancelled 08-15 days prior to departure date
  • 50% will be charged if cancelled 03-07 days prior to departure date
  • No refund will be available if No Show or cancelled 0-02 days prior to departure date

Flights

The flight tends to get fully booked months ahead especially during the peak season. We highly recommend you book flights a few months ahead of your departure date. We can help with the arrangement of flights to and from Bhutan. There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan:

  • Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan (www.drukair.com.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airports: Bangkok, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Delhi, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Singapore.
  • Bhutan Airlines, a private airline introduced in 2011 (www.bhutanairlines.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airport: Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu

Other Important Information

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off time will be coordinated depending on your flight timings
  • For the purpose of processing a visa, you must send us a clear passport copy of all the participants after you book the tour. A whole biodata page including the machine-readable zone must be seen clearly. It can be either scanned or just a mobile photo shot as long as it is clear and legible. Passports should have a validity of at least SIX MONTHS from the day you depart from Bhutan.
  • You’ll receive a copy of your approved e-Visa Clearance letter in PDF format within 3-4 business days from the day the visa application is submitted. You MUST print a copy of this letter and present it at the check-in counter of the airline flying into Bhutan. Without the proof of an e-Visa Clearance letter, you may be denied boarding the flight to Bhutan. The actual visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at the Paro International Airport.
  • Child(ren) below 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
  • All participants between the age of 13 – 17 years old must send us a valid copy of the Student Photo ID Card/document after booking the tour. Discounts are already applied in the price. Those who do not have a valid student photo ID Card will have to pay the price difference.
  • All our tour guides speak very fluent English. Guides speaking other major languages (Chinese, Japanese, French & German) can be arranged at an additional fee of $120 per day.
  • You must let us know prior to your arrival if you have any dietary restrictions/preference.

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Essence of Bhutan – Sacred Festivals & Ancient Culture
Essence of Bhutan – Sacred Festivals & Ancient Culture

From: $2,525.00

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