Paro Festival Tour Bhutan 11D/10N, 23 MAR- 02APR 2024
After the awesome flight into Paro experience the 4 valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Phobjikha & Punakha. You will be amazed by the colour & spectacle of the famous Paro Tshechu (festival). Also, this small group tour caters to a maximum of 8 persons. Furthermore, it features the most important sights in Thimphu city; the remote beauty of the Phobjikha valley and the splendour of the magnificent Punakha Dzong. Finally a special pilgrimage hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) in Paro. This tour combines the very best the Kingdom of Bhutan has to offer in western Bhutan.
Tour Itinerary Overview.
- 2 nights Paro valley with exploring & festival visits.
- 2 nights Thimphu with sightseeing, hiking and shopping options.
- 2 nights Phobjikha valley for hiking and exploring.
- 2 nights Punakha valley with monastery & Dzong visits.
- 2 nights Paro valley with Taktsang Monastery hike, shopping & exploring.
PRICE: From US$3733.00 pp twin/dbl share
Reasons To Book This Small Group Tour
- We only take a maximum of 8 persons on our tours.
- Witness the spectacle of the Paro Tshechu (festival).
- We tailor our tours for less driving and more sightseeing!
- 20 years experience, service & knowledge.
- Competitive pricing & well constructed itineraries.
- Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION
- Our comprehensive Bhutan Visitor Information planning guide.
- ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel.
- English speaking guide, driver & private coach.
- All touring & transfers throughout your journey.
- Bhutanese style 3* hotel accom with private bathrooms.
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) including two bottles of water daily.
- All monument & entrance fees, hiking & sightseeing as per the itinerary.
- Bhutan visa fees & visa processing.
- Sustainable development fee (SDF) & local taxes.
- The spectacle of the Paro Tshechu (festival).
- Bank transfer & communication fees.
- Professionally operated by Bhutan Tourism Corp – BTCL.
- Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION.
- Our comprehensive Bhutan Visitor Information guide.
- ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel.
- Flights to/from Paro are additional.
- Personal items: phone calls, laundry, drinks, designer coffee’s etc.
- Tipping – we will advise your tipping regime.
- Travel Insurance is mandatory to enter Bhutan.
- Any COVID-19 PCR or RAT tests required.
Available On Request:
- Upgrade to Business Class on your flights.
- Ex-Australia airfares.
- Stopovers & additional India & Nepal arrangements.
- Deposit date until 45 days prior arrival in Bhutan – Land tour deposit is refundable less B&B service fees.
- 45 days or less prior to arrival in Bhutan – No land tour refund permitted.
Please note: – These conditions cover land travel arrangements only, not airfares, which are subject to their own cancellation conditions.
DETAILED TOUR ITINERARY - 23MAR-02 APR 2024
Saturday 23 March:
Paro Airport to Paro (20 mins)
After clearing immigration and customs you will be greeted by your BTCL guide & driver and transferred to Paro town. Here you can enjoy a wander through the colourful festival markets. You will mingle with the local Bhutanese before taking lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon witness the colour & spectacle of the Paro Tshechu. The festival is held annually at the Rinpung Dzong, just as it has been for hundreds of years. Because the local Bhutanese dress in their finest clothes the proceedings are raucous & joyous affairs. Finally check in at your Paro hotel.
Overnight Paro Valley– Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Sunday 24 March:
Half day excursion to Chele La & Festival
Firstly consider the early morning option to attend the festival for the unfurling of the Thongdrel. This takes place at the Rinpung Dzong at around 3.00 am. It is an intensely religious experience for the Bhutanese. The extremely large thongdrel is a painting (Thangka) which is not allowed to be struck by the direct rays of the sun. Therefore it must be rolled back up by 7:30 AM. The mere sight of the Thongdrel is said to cleanse the viewer of sin.
After breakfast enjoy a morning excursion to Chele La (pass) on Bhutan’s highest motorable road at 3988 metres. Take an optional short walk near the pass, which can afford spectacular mountain vistas on a clear day. Visit the nearby Kila Nunnery, the oldest in Bhutan, before returning to Paro for a late lunch.
This afternoon make a return visit to the festival, or enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Alternatively, for those keen to spend as much time as possible at the festival, you have the option of spending the entire day there. (A picnic lunch will be provided to enjoy while at the festival.)
Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Monday 25 March:
Paro Valley to Thimphu (1 hr 30 mins drive time)
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, transfer to Thimphu city, Bhutan’s quirky capital, with a stop at the Iron Bridge and temple en-route. On arrival in Thimphu visit the celebrated Royal Textiles Academy, followed by a visit the ‘Simply Bhutan’ display village, where you can experience traditional Bhutanese village life; ara tasting (local spirit); suja tasting (butter tea); try your hand at archery and more.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore Thimphu on foot. Enjoy a wander along Thimphu’s main street Norzin Lam and visit the craft bazaar.
Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Tuesday 26 March:
Exploring in the Thimphu Valley
This morning visit the awesome Buddha Dordenma statue located at Kuenselphodrang, close to Thimphu city. The statue is made of bronze and gilded in gold. It is considered the largest Buddha Shakyamuni statue in the world. There is also an excellent 3 km hike option through Kuenselphodrang Nature Park which offers sensational valley views. Returning to Thimphu visit the National Memorial Chorten followed by the Takin Preserve – home to Bhutan’s most unusual national mammal.
Continue on to view the majestic Trashichhoe Dzong and visit the beautiful Tara Lhaden Zhingkham Lhakang (temple).
After lunch at a local Thimphu restaurant, choose between free time in Thimphu or visiting & mixing with local weavers at the Gagyel Lhandrup Weaving Centre, plus checking out the adjacent S. Bishwa art gallery, which showcases the emerging & vibrant arts scene in the city. If free time in Thimphu is preferred we suggest you take the afternoon to wander about Thimphu’s CBD including a visit to the popular weekend markets. This is where all the locals go for fresh seasonal produce, clothing, handicrafts and religious items. Thimphu also enjoys a booming ‘coffee-culture’ so take time to sit, relax and people-watch from one of many local cafes.
Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese 3* Hotel.
Wednesday 27 March:
Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley (4+ hrs)
This morning drive eastwards to the Phobjikha Valley. Ascend to Dochu La (pass-3116 m) to view the 108 Stupas. These were commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002. This is when Bhutan evicted Indian separatist rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan-Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya.
When the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong comes into view, notice the large cacti that cover the hillside below. These were planted long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope to the Dzong.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains. It is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan and, in addition, also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. Phobjikha is the winter home (late OCT to early FEB) of the rare black necked crane which annually flies in from Tibet. There are also barking deer, wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox.
While you are in Phobjikha you will visit the Black Crane nature centre & the sacred Gangtey Goenpa (monastery). Furthermore enjoy time to wander through Gangtey village and hike the Gangtey Nature Trail. Take an excursion to the remote Phobji area of the valley for an easy, flat hike through farm houses and temples.
Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel
Thursday 28 March:
Exploring Phobjikha Valley
Explore the Phobjikha valley as per the above suggestions. Plus visit a local family & farmhouse for a traditional Bhutanese lunch.
Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Friday 29 March:
Phobjikha to Punakha Valley (2+ hrs)
Depart this morning to the Punakha valley. This holds the title as the winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Arriving into the valley wander through the local markets at Mesina. Next visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman), which is a pleasant 20 min walk across paddy fields. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a ‘wang’ (blessing) from the resident monk.
After lunch at a local restaurant take an excursion along a scenic country lane to the very traditional village of Talo. Here you can stroll through the beautiful & serene gardens of the local monastery. Finally, time permitting, visit the Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang & Nunnery.
Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Saturday 30 March:
Exploring & hiking in Punakha
This morning perhaps enjoy a walk over the Punakha suspension bridge which offers excellent valley & river views, followed by a visit to the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formally served as the seat of the government. It is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). This is an excellent example of how a medieval fortress, and a centre of both monastic & administrative functions, has evolved for modern day use.
After lunch at a local restaurant we recommend the hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten. This is a delightful hike through tiny hamlets, fields of vegetable and rice paddy. The Chorten holds very special significance being consecrated in 1999. It is dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince – today’s current King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Alternatively you can take the afternoon at leisure at the hotel.
Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel
Sunday 31 March:
Punakha Valley to Paro Valley (4 hrs)
Depart Punakha this morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley. Once again traversing Dochu La and arriving in Paro town for a late lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon visit the National Museum featuring a wide range of historic artefacts. Later, check in at the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Monday 01 April:
Hiking & Exploring in the Paro Valley
After early breakfast we take a ‘pilgrimage’ hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tigers Nest. All Bhutanese Buddhists desire to make this pilgrimage at least once in their lives. As a result each step they take along the trail counts as merit points towards their future.
Choose between a 1.5 to 2 hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint or a longer 5 hour and more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock 800 m above the valley floor. Furthermore, this is where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons. This was followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition. It was then consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.
Take lunch at the Viewpoint Cafe on the hiking trail. Head back to your hotel via the revered Kyichu Lhakhang (temple). This is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples. Futhermore it boasts an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit. Take the rest of the afternoon at leisure or consider more shopping and exploring in Paro town.
Overnight Paro – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Tuesday 02 April:
Day of Departure
Early morning transfer to Paro Airport for your onward flight.