Experience the unique festival of Punakha Drubchen & Tshechu, a ‘serda’ procession that enacts the war against Tibet in the 17th century and illustrates through dancing, costume and music how the local Bhutanese militia forced them to withdraw. Punakha Tsechu is held on the fourth day right after the popular Punakha Drubchen. This tour gives you a real appreciation of both the Buddhist faith and the Bhutanese way of life.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
Day 2: Thimphu
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Day 4: Punakha Festival
Day 5: Gangtey Nature Trail Walking
Day 6: Back to Paro
Day 7: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Day 8: End of Tour
Flying into Bhutan offers the most spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges, including Mt. Everest (8,848m/29,028ft), Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m/28,169ft) and Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7,564m/24,836ft). On arrival we meet you at Paro International Airport after clearing your immigration and customs formalities. Today we travel to Thimphu (54-km) for an hour, the capital of Bhutan and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Stop off at the 13th century Tachog Lhakhang (temple) en route, built by Saint Dupthop Thangtong Gyalpo (the iron bridge builder). Continue travelling via Chhuzom (24-km) where the Pachhu and Wangchhu Rivers join. Chhuzom (confluence) is a major road junction connecting Thimphu (30-km) to the northeast, Haa (82-km) to the southwest and Phuentsholing (141-km) to the south. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner with authentic traditional Bhutanese meals in the evening. Overnight in Thimphu.
Today we explore the best attractions of Thimphu city (2,300m), home to approximately 138,736 inhabitants. Thimphu is a small city but has many attractive places. Morning begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (Stupa), built in 1974 in honour of The Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (1928-1972). This stupa is a prominent monument for Bhutanese daily worship in the city with its golden spires and bells. Another must see place to tick off on your list is Kuenselphodrang (the largest 169ft Buddha Dordenma statue in the world), built in 2006 and sits atop a hill, overlooking the southern entrance to Thimphu city. Our next stop is at the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, established in 1971 where students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. After lunch, continue on to the National Library of Bhutan nearby established in 1967, which is located in the cultural centre of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Here you’ll see the world’s largest book “Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom.” It weighs over 60 kg, is 1.52 metres high and 2.13 metres wide and its pages are turned once per month. Later, visit the Tashichhodzong, first constructed in 1216 AD and re-built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (founder of Bhutan), which now houses some ministries, the office and throne room of His Majesty the King and the Central Monk Body. This afternoon ends with a tour to the Centenary Farmers Market (Thimphu’s weekend market), a platform for Bhutanese farmers to sell farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast, we travel (71-km) about 3 hours to Punakha, once the winter capital of Bhutan until 1955. It is situated in western Bhutan with a warm and temperate climate, bordered by Gasa to the north, Thimphu to the west and Wangdue Phodrang to the east and south, and also a popular tourist destination. Stop off at Druk Wangyal Chortens (108 Stupas) before crossing over Dochula Pass (3,050m). On a clear day, you can enjoy panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks, including Bhutan’s highest mountain (Mt. Gangkar Puensum at 7,564m). Continue our scenic journey (52-km) to Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang Valley. Arriving in Punakha (1,350m), visit the fertility Chimi Lhakhang (temple) en route, nestled on a round hillock near a village called Sopsokha, built in 1499 by Saint Drukpa Kunley (known as the Divine Madman). The temple is about 10-km from Punakha Dzong and takes 20-minutes walk through agriculture fields. Legend has it that the childless couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting this mysterious temple. We also visit the Punakha Dzong, which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (founder of Bhutan) built the dzong in 1637. Overnight in Punakha.
Today attend the Punakha Drubchen/Tshechu festival for a full day. It is the unique event with a “serda” procession that re-enacts the war against Tibetan in the 17th century. This festival is dedicated to Yeshey Gempo (Mahakala) or Palden Lhamo, the two main protective deities of Drukpas (the people of Bhutan). The religious masked dances in the form of animals, fearsome deities, skulls or just simple human beings are performed during the festival wearing spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade, often decorated with ornaments of carved bone. Punakha Tsechu is held on the fourth day right after the popular Punakha Dubchen.. Overnight in Punakha.
This morning, our journey covers (78-km) over 2 hours of driving into the countryside of Phobjikha (2,900m), and takes us past the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong overlooking the convergence of the Dangchhu and Punatsangchhu Rivers. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (founder of Bhutan) constructed the dzong in 1638, resembling that of a sleeping elephant. The fortress was gutted by fire in 2012 and is under reconstruction. Phobjikha Valley is a must visit for nature enthusiasts and is also well-known for the winter home to the rare Black-Necked Cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau from late October to mid-March. Take the opportunity to visit the 17th century picturesque Gangtey Gonpa (monastery) on the hillock with amazing views of the valley. This monastery is the only Nyingmapa School of Buddhism taught here in western Bhutan. Afternoon is set aside for a short and gentle nature hike (4-km) about 2 hours. The best way to soak up this magnificent valley is to head downhill from the start point (nearby the monastery) to Semchubara village. This trail takes you through beautiful forests, flower meadows and into vast plains of Phobjikha Valley, ideal for spotting some birds, grazing cows, farmhouses, people and the local life. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang through gentle grassy slopes carpeted with purple primluas, your hike ends at the local community school. Overnight in Phobjikha.
After breakfast, our return journey takes us to Paro (185-km) about 5 hours drive, pausing en route at the Dochula Pass (3,050m). Perhaps why not take a chance to meditate awhile in the 11 man-made hidden “Igloos – Caves” with 11 different paintings of gods and goddesses? People seeking inner peace from modern day stress come to Dochula Pass for meditation. Buddhists pursue meditation as a path towards enlightenment and nirvana. Continue to Paro (70-km) about 1.50 hours, home to the famous Taktshang Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest), National Museum, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The evening is at leisure to relax and enjoy, we have allowed some time for this and also to explore a small Paro town and its surroundings. Overnight in Paro.
Bhutan’s famous Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) is an unforgettable sight. No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Paro Taktshang (3,120m). It is stunning in its beauty and location. Today is a real highlight as you take a short hike to the Taktshang Monastery, clinging on a rock cliff at 900m above the Paro Valley floor. The monastery is one of the most revered pilgrimage places in Bhutan because Guru Rinpoche (one the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism) is believed to have flown to the site on the back of a flying tigress in the 8th century. An 11-km (round-trip) hike starts from the base of the mountain from the road point (Ramthangkha), which is 2-km drive from Paro town. Enjoy your rewarding hike about 4 hours (round-trip) with extra one hour to tour the monastery at a leisurely pace. There is a small teahouse halfway through from where a view of the spectacular monastery to enjoy! Gentle horse/pony rides are permitted till the viewpoint. Afterwards, there will be time to visit the Kyichu Lhakhang en route, one of the oldest and 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century (so full of history and mythology). Overnight in Paro.
Your tour ends this morning after breakfast. We transfer you to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Our guide and driver from Bhutan Green Travel will see you off. Tashi Delek (Goodbye and Good Luck!)
Regular Season – Land Only (Prices in USD Per Person)
|Start Date Wednesdays||1 person||2 people||3-10 people||11-15 people||16-20 people|
|25 Feb 2023||$3110||$2950||$2710||$2620||$2590|
Our 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.
- Pickups and drops from airports and hotels
- Comfortable transport (private vehicle) throughout your trip
- Licensed English-speaking guide & driver
- Best accommodation in 3 star hotels with private bathrooms based on 2 adults sharing a twin/double bed (single supplements apply)
- Comfortable farmhouse/home stay/heritage house can also be arranged
- Camping facilities and haulage for trekking tours
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and bottled water daily
- All sightseeing & hiking (entrance fees to museums and other attractions)
- Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
- All applicable internal taxes and service fees
- Bhutan visa fees
- International and domestic flights
- Travel insurance
- Other personal expenses such as alcoholic drinks & beverages, laundry, telephone calls, etc.
- Discretionary tips for guides and drivers (see FAQs)
- Upgrade to luxury properties (4 star and 5 star hotels)
- Single room supplement from $50 per night
- Optional activities & additional services