Visit Bhutan 2017

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FESTIVAL OF THIMPHU DRUBCHEN & TSHECHU (9 days/8 nights)

FESTIVAL OF THIMPHU DRUBCHEN & TSHECHU

The word “tshechu” in the Bhutanese language means literally “an annual religious Bhutanese festival” held in each district on the 10th day of a month of the Bhutanese calendar. The dates and duration of the tshechu vary from one district to another but always take place on or around the 10th day of a month. Such festivals are mostly held in the dzong (fortress) or local monastery in honour of Guru Rimpoche, one who was born from a lotus flower and brought the tantric Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. By attending such festivals, it is believed that one gains merits by seeking forgiveness for their sins in life. During the tshechu, mask and historical folk dances in colourful costumes are performed by monks and laymen including the Atsaras (Clowns), who amuse the audience with their antics. It is believed that it is very important to know the name of the dances and its significance. Tshechu is also considered as an occasion for social gatherings; to get together with families and kith & kin dressed in their finest traditional clothes and jewellery. Amongst the various tshechus in Bhutan, the Festival of Thimphu Tshechu, instituted in 1867 by the 4th Desi Tenzin Rabgye, is one of the biggest festivals in the capital city of Bhutan and draws a major tourist attraction from around the world. So plan your visit to Bhutan to coincide with this festival held in September/October annually. This tour gives you a real appreciation of both the Buddhist faith and the Bhutanese way of life but also included in the package are other places of interest.

Day 1: Arrive Paro

On arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel in Paro for an overnight. After lunch, visit the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower) which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan and continue to the Paro Dzong (also known as the Rinpung Dzong), built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The evening is at leisure to relax – so why not stroll in the Paro town? The altitude of Paro is at 2,200m.

Day 2: Hike to Paro Taktshang

Today morning we will begin a day hike to Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900m above the Paro valley and takes about a 2-hour climb on a well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century. In the evening, we will drive a distance of 65-km for about one hour journey to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 3: Sightseeing in Thimphu

Today you’ll explore a fascinating full day tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,350m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, visit the Changgangkha Monastery, the Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artefacts used in rural households, the National Library, which houses ancient manuscripts or the Painting School. This afternoon, head out of town to explore the Simtokha Dzong, which is the oldest fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629 or visit the National Textile Musuem. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 4: Thimphu Tshechu (Festival) Day 1

Attend a half day of Thimphu Tshechu, which is held in Tendrelthang (courtyard) of Tashichhodzong, which houses some ministries, the office and throne room of His Majesty the King and the central monk body. In the afternoon, continue the Thimphu city sightseeing tour to Kuensel Phodrang (also known as the Buddha Point), which is one of the largest Buddha stupas in the world at a height of 169ft (51.5m). From there, you can also enjoy a very clear view of the Thimphu city. Then visit Mini Zoo for Takin, the National Animal of Bhutan and if lucky, perhaps the archery matches, which is the national game of Bhutan! Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 5: Thimphu Tshechu Day 2

Immerse yourself today by attending Thimphu Tshechu for a full day. The tshechu is a religious festival in honour of Guru Padmasambhava, one who was born from a lotus flower, popularly known as Guru Rimpoche, who brought Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. By attending such festivals, it is believed that one gains merits. Enjoy the mask and historical folk dances in colourful costumes performed by monks as well as by laymen including the Atsaras (jesters or playful clowns), who amuse the audience with their antics. It is believed that it is very important to know the name of the dances and its significance. Tshechu is also considered as an occasion for praying and receive blessings and also for social gatherings; to get together with families and kith & kin dressed in their finest traditional clothes and jewellery. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 6: Thimphu – Punakha

Today morning begin the day by travelling a distance of 77-km for about 3 hours journey to Punakha via Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,050m. Punakha, at an altitude of 1,300m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. En route stop off at the Chimi Lhakhang, which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – Japanese and several American couples visited this temple and were blessed miraculously with children. Later, visit the Punakha Dzong (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong) built in 1637, which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) rivers. Now the dzong serves as the administrative centre of Punakha district and the central monastic body. Overnight in Punakha.

Day 7: Punakha – Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang

After breakfast, drive a distance of 78-km for about 3 hours to Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang in the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha at an altitude of 3,000m. Visit the picturesque Gangtey Gonpa (monastery), the picturesque views of the remote Phobjikha glacial valley and the black mountain ranges. Phobjikha valley is one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrates to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. Along the highway to Gangtey, you’ll photo stops as there are loads of breathtaking views during the journey. Tonight you will stay in Gangtey.

Day 8: Gangtey – Paro

This morning we return to Paro via Wangdue Phodrang. En route visit the ruined site of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong by fire in late June 2012. The dzong was built in 1639, which is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu rivers. After lunch, continue the journey to Paro. We will also stop at Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,050m. On a clear day, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalaya ranges and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. The evening is at leisure for you to explore further, so why not take a stroll in the Paro town or go for shopping to buy your souvenir items for your loved ones back home? Your last overnight in Paro.

Day 9: End of Tour

Early morning transfer to Paro Airport for your return scheduled flight. Your guide from Bhutan Green Travel will accompany you to bid farewell for your onward departure. Goodbye and Good luck!

Services Included

  • Transfers to and from the airport
  • Twin-sharing accommodation in 3-star hotels
  • Upgrades to 5-star luxury accommodation available on request
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
  • Licensed Bhutanese English-speaking guided tours
  • All entrance fees to museums and other attractions
  • Comfortable transport within Bhutan
  • All applicable internal taxes and service fees (including royalty)
  • Mineral water
  • Visa fees

Services Not Included

  • International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
  • Travel insurance
  • Discretionary gratuities to guides and driver (we provide suggested guidelines)
  • Single room supplement
  • Other personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls, etc.

Prices and Dates

ON REQUEST

Pricing Policy

Prices are quoted and payable only in (US$ dollars). All prices published on our websites, brochures and marketing materials are set as low as possible. The guide prices may vary at any time subject to government actions, changes in exchange rates, increase in transportation costs or fuel prices before we have accepted your booking, however, we guarantee our prices who have already signed up for your tour.

Festival Dates

[26th to 29th September 2017: Thimphu Drubchen and 30th September to 2nd October 2017: Thimphu Tshechu]

[It’s always advisable to contact us 3 or 4 months in advance. You decide dates depending on your plan of travel, however, time your arrival to coincide the festival dates indicated above]

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