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7 Days Grand Annual Festival of THIMPHU and Western Bhutan Tour

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport & Excursion in Paro / Transfer to capital city Thimphu

Stop At: National Museum of Bhutan, Paro, Bhutan
After you are received at the Paro International Airport by our guide and the driver, you will be taken on your first excursion in the Kingdom of Happiness.

The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district) was established in 1968. It is housed in an ancient watch tower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watch tower 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 snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.

Lunch will be served either in Paro town or on arrival in Thimphu depending on the time.

Then you will be transferred to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. The road distance is 55km and takes about 1.5-hour.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: National Institute for Zorig Chusum, Thimphu Bhutan
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and it is home to approximately 100,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. It is the only capital city (actually the whole country) in the world without traffic lights and even commercial billboards.

On arrival in Thimphu, visit the National Institute of Zorig Chuzum (Zorig Chusum means 13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) was established to promote and preserve the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as Shing Zo (woodwork), Dho Zo (stonework), Par Zo (carving), Lha Zo (painting), Jim Zo (sculpting), Lug Zo (casting), Shag Zo (wood turning), Gar Zo (blacksmith), Troe Zo (ornament making), Tsa Zo (bamboo work), De Zo (paper making), Tsem Zo (tailoring, embroidery and applique) and Thag Zo (weaving).

These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that have been practiced from time immemorial. If the class is in session when you arrive, you will be allowed to enter the classroom and observe students as they get hands-on training.

Mon-Fri: 9am - 3:30pm
Sat: 9am - 12noon
Sundays & Government holidays: Closed
Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Buddha Dordenma, Kuensel Phodrang Viewing Point, Thimphu 11001 Bhutan
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 in the world . The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of same type. The construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2015 after almost 10 years.

Then spend a leisure time around Thimphu town.
Duration: 1 hour

Meals included:
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or at a similar one.

Day 2: Full day in Thimphu - Witness grand annual Thimphu Tshechu Festival

Stop At: Tashichho Dzong (Thimpu Dzong), Chhagchhen Lam, Thimphu Bhutan
Today, you will witness one of the biggest festivals in the country, the Thimphu Tshechu. This festival is held in the capital city for three days. The Tshechu is witnessed by thousands of people, both local and tourists. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche) and manu other dazzling sacred mask dances are performed. Festivals are a true reflections of ancient culture and traditions that has been handed down from generation to generation and are still vibrant today.

In Bhutan, it is understood that the Tsechu is an ideal mechanism to promote happiness and harmony, and strengthen the community and social bonds. These representations of traditional culture are given high priority and great respect from every level of Bhutanese society and function as a manifestation of Gross National Happiness (GNH) policy.

After lunch you can continue witnessing the festival or visit the National Memorial Chorten and then enjoy the leisure afternoon strolling the Thimphu town.
Duration: 4 minutes

Stop At: Thimphu Chorten (Memorial Chorten), Thimphu Bhutan
The National Memorial Choeten is the most frequented religious site and obviously an important landmark in Thimphu. The National Memorial Choeten is a Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. People from all walks of life come here to pray and circumambulate offering you a good opportunity to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

Then spend leisure time strolling the streets of Thimphu.
Duration: 45 minutes

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or at a similar one.

Day 3: Hike to Tango Monastery / Transfer to Punakha Valley

Stop At: Tango Buddhist Institute, Thimphu Bhutan
After breakfast, hike to the 12th century Buddhist and visit Tango Monastery.

Tango is located on the mountain side north of Thimphu. There is also monastery called Cheri located on a mountain in the neighbourhood. Hiking to Tango is much easier as most part of the footpath is paved and the uphill ascent is not as steep. It is roughly 14km from the main Thimphu town. Following the trail through the forests, the walk uphill takes about 1.5 hour in slow pace. Tango monastery was founded in 1222 by the Tibetan saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who first established the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan and subsequently became the state religion. The present form of monastery was built later in 1689 by the Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal ruler of Bhutan.

After the hike, drive back to Thimphu town where lunch will be served at one of the traditional restaurants.

After lunch you will be transferred to Punakha valley via a sacred mountain pass, Dochula. The road distance is 74km and takes about 2.5-hours.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Dochula Pass, Thimphu Bhutan
About 45 min drive from Thimphu towards Punakha is a mountain pass at an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level from where you can see, on a clear day, some of the highest peaks of Bhutan. Before the construction of these beautiful 108 Druk Wangyal Choetens (stupas) in 2004, this mountain pass remained only as a sacred place blessed by a famous Buddhist saint, Lam Drukpa Kuenley in late 15th century. From Dochu La Pass, we will continue driving towards Punakha, passing through some villages, the elevation drops gradually and the road winds through the pine trees. As you reach the lower subtropical valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to subtropical valley at 1,200m.
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes

Stop At: Chimi L'hakhang Temple, Punakha Bhutan
About 11km before reaching proper Punakha town, we will stop to visit a very famous temple called Chimi Lhakhang.

Chimi Lhakhang is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. To reach the temple, you have to walk 20 – 30 minutes through beautiful terraced paddy fields and traditional farm houses. 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. He would often use phallus as a tool to subdue malevolent spirits. Using the phallus was also intended to free up the social inhibitions enforced by the socially established values. Today, 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 ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chimi Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.

Lama Drukpa Kuenley built a small black stupa on this hilltop to mark the burial site of demons whom he managed to subdue after chasing all the way from Dochula Pass, where the demons were terrorizing the travellers. This black stupa can be seen even today just outside of the main temple. It was Lama Ngawang Chogyel, the younger brother of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who built the present temple in 1499 AD.
Duration: 3 minutes

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight at Hotel Lobesa or at a similar one.

Day 4: Hike to Khamzum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten located on a hilltop overlooking the Punakha valley

Stop At: Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, Punakha Bhutan
After breakfast, drive about 20mins to the nearest road head and venture out on an exhilarating hike to the Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten.

Located on a ridge overlooking the picturesque Punakha valley, Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture used in building temples and monasteries. From the nearest road head you cross a suspension bridge over the Punakha Mochu (female river) and the trail takes you through terraced paddy fields. Normally it takes just under one hour to reach the serene site of the marvelous Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten. The view below is stunning with glacial fed Mochu river snaking through the fertile valley of Punakha.

After the hike, drive back to Punakha town to visit the historic Punakha Dzong.
Duration: 3 hours

Stop At: Punakha Dzong, Punakha 13001 Bhutan
The historic Punakha Dzong was originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang, meaning the “Palace of Great Bliss”. It was built in 1637 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and founded nation-state of Bhutan) on a small stretch of land where the rivers Phochu and Mochu converge. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest Dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate wood works and the architectural structure of the dzong displays fine example of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today.

The Dzong serves as the winter residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan and the office of the district governor.

After lunch you will be transferred to Phobjikha valley. The road distance is 80km and takes about 3-hours.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan
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 Tibet by the beginning of spring season. Researchers have confirmed that some of the birds which migrates here in winter goes as far back as Mongolia in summer. Every year on the 11th of November, Black Necked Crane Festival is held to celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part in the lives of the local people during winter months.

One very famous landmark in this valley is the 17th century Gangtey Monastery popularly know as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance). Founded in 1613, this is one of the largest monastery in Bhutan. The monastery also has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 year. While visiting this monastery, you will have an opportunity to interact with enthusiastic happy monks. An annual religious festival, Gantey Tshechu, is held at Gangtey Goenpa during autumn when the harvest season is just over. A series of dazzling sacred mask dances interspersed by Bhutanese folk dances are performed during this festival.

After lunch, you can either relax, take a leisure walk in the valley and visit the Black Necked Crane Information Center, which has a lot of information on the migratory bird and about the valley and its role in conservation of Black Necked Crane. For nature enthusiasts and those who enjoy long walk through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, taking up Gangtey Nature Trail is highly recommended. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 3 hours. It gives you a great feeling of the Phobjikha valley and ample opportunities to take beautiful pictures.
Duration: 3 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner: Authentic home-cooked local cuisine will be served for dinner at a farmhouse. You can take hot stone bath if interested.
Accommodation included: Stay at Yue-loki Guest House or at a farmhouse with local family and get a glimpse of typical village life in Bhutan.

Day 5: Gangtey Nature Hike / Transfer back to Paro valley

Stop At: Gangtey Monastery, Gangtey Bhutan
After breakfast, visit the famous landmark in Phobjikha valley – a 17th century Gangtey Monastery popularly known as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance). Founded in 1613, this is one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan. The monastery also has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 years. An annual religious festival, Gangtey Tshechu, is held at this majestic monastery during autumn when the harvest season is just over. A series of dazzling sacred mask dances interspersed by Bhutanese folk dances are performed during this festival.

Then you will venture out on an exhilarating nature hike. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 3 hours through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, wonderful meadows, beautiful traditional village houses, farm lands and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and understanding of the livelihood of the people living there. Lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!

After lunch, you will be transferred back to Paro. The road distance is 188km and takes about 5.5-hours.
Duration: 3 hours

Stop At: Kyichu Lhakhang, Lamgong Gewog, Paro 12001 Bhutan
Upon reaching Paro, visit Paro Kichu Lhakhang. Located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in his effort to build 108 such temples across the Himalayan region to subdue the spirit of a demoness who was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. Bhutan is blessed with two of these temples, one being Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, central Bhutan. Both Kichu Lhakhang and Jampa Lhakhang are believed to have been built on the same day.
Duration: 45 minutes

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or at a similar one.

Day 6: Hike to the famous Paro Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) and later visit farmhouse for home-cooked local cuisine

Stop At: Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest), Taktsang Trail, Paro 11001 Bhutan
After breakfast, hike up to the famed Tiger's Nest.

Taktsang monastery is located on the face of a sheer 800-meter rock cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan.Taktsang which literally translates to ‘Tiger’s Nest’, is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century AD. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress. Taktsang monastery was originally built in 1692 on the sacred cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated.

The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill hiking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular view of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff. It takes further 1 hour to reach the monastery.

Lunch will be served at the Taktsang cafeteria and then we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting.

Spend leisure time in Paro town.
Duration: 5 minutes

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner: Visit a beautiful farmhouse where home-cooked local cuisine will be served for dinner.
Accommodation included: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or at a similar one.

Day 7: Departure from Paro International Airport

Pass By: Paro International Airport, Airport Road Paro, Paro 12001, Bhutan
After breakfast, depending on your flight departure time you’ll be transferred to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.

Meals included:
• Breakfast
No accommodation included on this day.
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Important Information
Departure Point
Traveler pickup is offered

Airports

  • Paro Airport, Paro Bhutan
Departure Time
Depends on the landing time of your flight. If you arrive few hours before the hotel check-in time, you will be right on your first adventure in this beautiful country.
Duration
7 days
Return Details
Paro International Airport. After breakfast at the hotel in the morning of Day 7, check-out from the hotel and you will be transferred to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.
Inclusions
  • 6x Breakfast
  • 6x Dinner
  • 6x Lunch
  • Accommodation included: 6 nights
  • Visa Fee
  • Government Taxes (Sustainable Development Fee)
  • Accommodation on a twin sharing basis at 3-star hotels certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan
  • Round trip airport transfers
  • Private transport as per itinerary for the entire duration of your trip
  • English speaking licensed private tour guide
  • All internal taxes
  • Bottled water
  • Entry fees to parks, museums and other national monuments
  • Entry/Admission - National Museum of Bhutan
  • Entry/Admission - National Institute for Zorig Chusum
  • Entry/Admission - Buddha Dordenma
  • Entry/Admission - Tashichho Dzong (Thimpu Dzong)
  • Entry/Admission - Thimphu Chorten (Memorial Chorten)
  • Entry/Admission - Tango Buddhist Institute
  • Entry/Admission - Dochula Pass
  • Entry/Admission - Chimi L'hakhang Temple
  • Entry/Admission - Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
  • Entry/Admission - Punakha Dzong
  • Entry/Admission - Gangtey Monastery
  • Entry/Admission - Kyichu Lhakhang
  • Entry/Admission - Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest)
Exclusions
  • Airfares - We can help you with bookings of flights to and from Bhutan.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Laundry services, telephone call charges
  • Supplemental charges of US$30 per night if you opt for a single room
  • Premium accommodation in a 4-Star hotel and above
  • Cultural shows that require advance arrangement
  • Tips to Guides and Drivers (optional)
  • Any other personal expenses
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Additional Info
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • January, February, June, July, August & December are considered as Low Season
  • March, April, May, September, October & November are considered as High Season
  • Youth rate applies to students aged between 13-24 years old only upon submission of a valid student identification document.
  • Visa is 100% guaranteed
  • There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan and so securing air tickets can be difficult especially during the months of high season. As this tour takes place during high season, we recommend you to book few months in advance to secure air tickets. To ease your burden and take the stress out of trip planning we can take care of your air ticket bookings for the incoming and outgoing flights from Bhutan at no extra commission. You just have to take care of the connecting flights.
  • Accommodation will be provided at hotels periodically inspected and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and those are the hotels we love to stay ourselves
  • Please let us know if you have any allergy, intolerance and dietary restrictions or any other special request at the time of booking
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
Cancellation Policy
If you cancel at least 7 days in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee. If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee. If you cancel within 2 days of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
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+14
Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel created an intimate Tour & Travel experience for 10-days to West-Central Bhutan. When I booked the trip the interaction was professional, responded promptly, informative of the process, and personal. Booking a trip to a rare country to visit that
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Response from ksphuntsho, Owner at 7 Days Grand Annual Festival of THIMPHU and Western Bhutan Tour
Responded 12 May 2019
Dear Sean, Thank you for leaving us a wonderful review. Milan was indeed very happy to hear that you enjoyed the trip. We look forward to welcoming your with open arms and hearts in the future. Kadrinchey!
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