Festivals of Bhutan

This special departure - Oct 5-16, 2014 - explores the culture of Bhutan and the legendary Himalayas, including two festival celebrations. Explore Bhutan’s fortress monasteries such as the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong.

Country Information

Bhutan

Festivals of Bhutan Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Bhutan


(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

12 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $7,470
  • Special Festival Departure: Oct 5-16, 2014
  • Experience Bhutan’s culture at Thimpu Tsechu Festival and Bumthang Thanghi Mani Festival
  • Hike in the mighty Himalayas on or a once-in-lifetime adventure
  • Explore Bhutan’s fortress monasteries such as the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong
  • Discover Paro, Bhutan’s capital city and home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries

Oct 5: Bangkok Thailand / Paro, Bhutan / Thimpu
Today you will proceed to the Bangkok airport and check in for your early morning flight to Paro through the Himalayas, which is perhaps one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights.  You may spot Mt. Everest. The Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the pristine heart of the eastern Himalayas and your arrival in Bhutan is an unparalleled experience as the plane circles over the dramatic valley below.  You are met and transferred to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, via a drive of about an hour and a half.  Enjoy lunch before visiting your choice of the National Memorial Chorten, the National Textile Museum, the Folk Heritage Museum or the National Library. Stroll along the main street and browse some of the many shops offering Himalayan artifacts and textiles.  Taj Tashi Thimphu (L,D)

Oct 6: Thimphu – Thimpu Tsechu Festival
In the morning, visit the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and royal offices; and visit Pangri Zampa, two 16th-century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers. Depending on your travel dates, you have the opportunity to experience Thimphu festival, which this year runs Oct 2-12, 2014.  The festival, established in 1670, honors Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and the Himalayan world in the 8th century. This is one of the biggest celebrations in the Bhutanese calendar with dancing and religious ceremonies. It is also a giant social event. It is a fascinating glimpse into the Bhutanese spirit.  Taj Tashi Thimphu – (B,L,D)

Oct 7: Thimphu / Punakha
After breakfast, proceed to Punakha, stopping briefly at Dochu-la Pass (3,088m/10,130ft), which offers visitors their first glimpse of the eastern Himalayan ranges. Along the way, you will stop at one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong, and you see the ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba Monastery.  After lunch in Lobesa, tour  Punakha Dzong, built in 1637.  It has played prominent role in civil and religious life of the kingdom.  Damaged by fire, flood and earthquake over the centuries, it has now been fully restored to its original splendor. It is open for visitors during the Punakha Festival in the early spring and in the summer months, after the monks have returned to Thimphu. The Dzong is placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region.  Kunzangzhing Resort Punakha (B,L,D)

Oct 8: Punakha / Bumthang
Today’s journey is long but certainly memorable as you travel through dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland, deep river valleys and precariously perched farmhouses. You are traveling along the only east west highway, which has been carved into the mountains.  Stop briefly at Chendebji Chorten, which, according to legend, was built to cover the remains of a demon spirit.  Continue to Bumthang over the picturesque Yotong La pass and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving, specialty of the region. These brightly colored wool fabrics are displayed outside the houses.  Here, you will have a chance to browse these traditional textiles and perhaps see the weavers create their intricate handiwork.  Standard Hotel (B,L,D)

Oct 9: Bumthang – Bumthang Thangbi Mani Festival
Today you spend the day at the Bumthang Thanghi Mani Festival, which takes place in early October in 2014.  The spiritual Bumthang Valley is the cultural and religious center of Bhutan. At religious festivals, masked dancers perform to instruct the onlookers in the ways of Buddhist Dharma. These are also great occasions when Bhutanese dress in their finest ethnic costumes.  Time permitting, you explore the palace of Wangdichhoeling, home to the second king and the neighbor of Amankora’s Bumthang Lodge.  Notice the auspicious prayer wheels. Take in the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, considered one of Bhutan’s most auspicious monuments.  Once the resting place of Guru Rimpoche and Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang is where the early winter festivals are held, drawing thousands of Bhutanese to receive blessings.  Standard Hotel (B,L,D)

Oct 10:  Bumthang / Punakha
Depart early as your scenic drive back to Punakha. Upon entering the Punakha Valley, stop to stretch your legs at Chimi Lhakhang Monastery, built in 1499 on a round hillock.  Legend holds that Lama Kunley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the chorten now stands. He was known as the "Mad Saint" or “Divine Madman” for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism.   Kunzangzhing Resort Punakha  (B,L,D)

Oct 11: Punakha / Paro
This morning, travel to Paro that rests in a valley rich in cultural heritage and incomparable landscapes.  It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries as well as the country’s only airport.  Glacial waters from the 7315-meter/24,000-foot Mt. Chomolhari plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chu (Paro River).  Terraced fields in this fertile valley produce the bulk of Bhutan’s famous red rice. Explore the National Museum with its collection of artifacts. It provides wonderful insights into the rich culture and heritage of the kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lays the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese architecture.  From the Dzong, cross Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilevered bridge, to reach the town temple, built in 1525. Enjoy a picturesque picnic or a visit to a traditional farmhouse.  Uma Paro Resort (B,L,D)

Oct 12: Paro / Chele La Pass – Pangkala Trek (5-6 hour trek)
Today you set out to Chele La (3900 m/12,795 ft)) to begin your high mountain trekking adventure.  Chele La Pass is said to be the highest drivable pass in the country. Upon reaching the pass, you will meet your trekking team for the five-to-six-hour trek. Depending on the weather, you may glimpse Mt. Jumolhari.  A few minutes’ walk along the Chelela Ridge will take you to a Yak Herder’s Camp.  From there, walk downhill and cross the Dzonglela (3,565 m/11,696 ft).  Climb further up to your overnight camp at Pangkala (4150 m/13,615).  Overnight Camp (B,L,D)

Oct 13: Pangkala / Tsendula (4-5 hour walk)
Explore the meadow of Pangkala before beginning your next journey that will take you to your campsite at Tsendula.  Walk along an ancient trade route between Paro and Haa valleys to the Donglela Pass (3565 m/11.969 ft).  This pass was once a heavily traveled highway between the two valleys, but it is all but forgotten now. The route is also an excellent place to spot monal pheasants.  Your walk takes you to your camp at Tsendula (3,775 m/12,385). Overnight Camp (B,L,D)

Oct 14: Tsendula / Punakha / Paro
Rise early this morning to experience what few other travelers get to see… sunrise over the eastern Himalayan mountains!   Take some time to look for monal pheasants or just simply experience the solitude of these majestic surroundings.  After breakfast, you begin walking, occasionally passing by beautiful meadows used by the yak herders in winter. Trek up through the thick alpine forest of firs, rhododendrons and junipers to the ending point of your trek at the village of Dawakha, where you meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in Paro.  Uma Paro Resort  (B,L,D)

Oct 15:  Paro – Hike to Tiger Nest Monastery
Enjoy the last day with a great hike.  Everyone finds this trek a little challenging because of the elevation gain and the dramatic walks through the gorge. We start the day with a 30-minutes drive to the starting point of Taktsang. Start the uphill walk slowly so that you can get use to with the altitude, which is 600-700 meters/1968-2296 feet above the valley floor.  Take a break at the ‘cafeteria’ for refreshments.  Then hike for another three kilometers/1.86 miles uphill to the temple.  Then further still to the last viewpoint. From here, you will return to our hotel in Paro, tired but with incredible memories of this journey of a lifetime.  Uma Paro Resort (B,L,D)

Oct 16: Paro / Bangkok / Depart
This morning, you are transferred to the Paro airport for your flight to Bangkok. On arrival in Bangkok, you proceed to connect your onward flight to your next destination. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancyFrom $7470. Flights ((Bangkok / Paro / Bangkok) $1055.

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