Paro Tsechu – 11 Days
Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan.
The ‘Thangka, known in Bhutan as a ‘thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll, and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum. Next, drive to, 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 02: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria).
In the afternoon, attend the Paro festival. You will see locals dressed in their finest clothes who have walked from miles around to attend the festivities. They come to watch masked dances, to pray, and to feast.
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU
Wake up very early at 2.30 am and drive to Paro Dzong to witness the thongdroel ceremony where a large religious painting of Guru Rinpoche made of cloth is unfurled on the side of the Dzong. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder.
DAY 04: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Temple, Zilukha Nunnery and The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century.
DAY 05: THIMPHU – TRONGSA
Drive from Thimphu to Trongsa (7-8 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m) and Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range. En-route visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty.
DAY 06: TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Also visit the Ta Dzong museum housing an incredible collection of historical artefacts of the Royal Family and a range of traditional armour.
Afterwards proceed towards Bumthang (2.5 hrs), the spiritual heartland of the country. The road winds steeply up to Yo Yutung La Pass (3,400m) before descending down through dense coniferous forest to Chummey valley.
DAY 07: BUMTHANG
Enjoy a day exploring some of the many sites around Bumthang. The 16th century Tang Ugyen Chholing Palace stands features a museum containing an excellent overview of traditional rural life in Bhutan.
Continue on to visit the pool of Mebartso (The Lake of Fire). It is here that Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) is said to have found treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
DAY 08: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA
Depart for Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan stopping along the way at Trongsa for lunch. On arrival, enjoy a stroll through the Punkha township. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
DAY 09: PUNAKHA
Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava).
Afterwards drive a short distance for a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman.
DAY 10: PUNAKHA – PARO
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Afterwards proceed to Paro.
DAY 11: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.