Royal Highlander Festival & Bhutan Cultural Tour
The highlight of this Bhutan Tour Package is the Royal Highlander Festival of Bhutan and you will explore and experience the nomadic life of Highlanders and other interesting events. 12 days Bhutan Highlander Festival Itinerary will also take you through the Bhutan Cultural extravaganza, Trekking Adventure and Meet Bhutanese People of the western and northern part of Bhutan.
Initiated by the Fifth King the Royal Highlander Festival takes place in Laya, a remote, highland village located at around 4,000 meters (12,000 feet) and enjoys one of the most scenic locations for a Festival. There are no motorable roads to Laya and the only way to get there is by trekking for 2 days. Apart from preserving and showcasing the unique culture, the Festival itself is a celebration of the nomadic life and there are many interesting events held within the 2 days. What is even more special about this Festival is the high probability of meeting and speaking with the King and members of the Royal Family.
Royal Highlander Bhutan Festival - Other Highlights
- Included quality wining and dining : a welcome reception with drinks at every hotels of your stay,
- Welcoming Dinner by the founders of Bhutan Swallowtail Tours and Travels,
- Throughout your holiday to Bhutan, escorted by one of the Bhutan Swallowtail’s expert tour guide- your ‘travelling concierge’, expert guide, consummate facilitator and friend in a foreign land who ensures your journey is as enjoyable as possible.
- Baggage handling everywhere on your tour.
- Free Wi-fi and internet in most of the hotel rooms and lobbies.
- Enjoy the unique comfort of Bhutan Swallowtail’s Luxury air conditioned SUV and coach with extended leg room.
- Airport Transfers as per the scheduled flights.
Royal Highlander Bhutan Festival - Package Inclusions:
- Airport Transfers
- Stay in hotels as indicated in the itinerary
- All three meals, tea and coffee
- Dedicated SUV vehicle with a driver and
- English Speaking Guide throughout the Trip
- Short hikes, Packed lunches and snacks wherever required
- Monumental Fees
- Bhutan Tourism Development Fee
- VISA processing Fee
Package Does Not Include:
- International Air fare
- Refreshments and bottled drinks and alcohol
- Cost arising out of Flight Cancellation/road blockades/ landslides and events beyond our control
- Expenses of personal nature and any other expenses not mentioned in the above cost
Mode of Transport
The vehicles of Bhutan Swallowtail are all luxurious and air conditioned catering to the comforts of our guests as well as ensuring a smooth ride over the mountainous and winding roads of Bhutan. With high ride quality and extended legroom you can enjoy the beautiful landscape from the inside of our cars. We have Toyota SUVs, Hi Ace buses and coaster buses with carrying capacity of up to 30 people in one bus. Driven by experienced and licensed drivers we will make sure you enjoy your holiday to Bhutan and the comforts of our luxurious fleet of cars.
VISA to Bhutan
All tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.
You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.
At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
Terms and Conditions:
Tour prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. All tour information is correct at time of tours going live, however is subject to change, please confirm all details at time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.
08 October 2019 : Arrival at Paro International Airport, your first glimpse of BhutanRinpung Dzong/Fortress of Heaped Jewels, National Museum of Bhutan, Tachogang Lhakhang/Temple
On arrival at the Paro International Airport you will be warmly welcomed by your tour guide and driver. Depending on the time of the day you can have your lunch or tea/coffee/snacks in Paro town and then start your magical experience of Bhutan by first visiting the impressive Rinpung Dzong/Fortress of Heaped Jewels which is a fine example of the ostentatious Bhutanese art and architecture. The Dzong is located in the heart of the town and a few minutes walk through Nyimazam, one of the few last remaining traditional cantilever bridges in Bhutan. Dzongs serve as both monastic institutions and district administrative offices.
Located above the Dzong is the National Museum that houses various antiques and artifacts of Bhutan and provides a glimpse into Bhutan’s cultural and religious history.
Drive for an hour to Thimphu the capital of Bhutan. En route, you will have a glimpse of the 15th Century Tachogang Lhakhang/Temple built by the great master architect, iron bridge builder and Yogi Thangthong Gyalpo. He had built many iron bridges all over Bhutan including the one leading upto this temple.
You will be driving south along the Paro River to the confluence at Chuzom where it meets the Thimphu River. From then on the drive is along scattered settlements along the highway, paddy fields and fresh fruit stalls. Do not hesitate to stop and buy some local fresh organic fruits.
Check into your hotel, rest and relax or stroll through the town and market places. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
09 October 2019 : Excursion of Thimphu Valley – Combination of the Ancient and ModernCapital City of Bhutan, Shakyamuni Buddha statue,Memorial Chorten/stupa, Centenary Farmers Market, Changangkha Lhakhang the oldest temple in Thimphu
Thimphu with a population of a little more than a 100,000 people is one of the last few capital cities without traffic lights and the traffic still managed by traffic policemen. While strictly maintaining the aesthetic beauty and traditional style of architecture in the modern buildings, there are also very old temples and numerous monasteries in and around the city, and a few discotheques, Karaoke joints and pubs.
Soak in the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley from the site of the gigantic Lord Buddha, a 51-meter bronze Shakyamuni Buddha statue gilded in gold.
The beautiful Memorial Chorten/stupa in town is another favorite with the tourists and a regular sight for congregation of devout Buddhists circumambulating the Chorten from dawn till dusk. The main statue of the Buddha inside the Chorten is said to grant wishes for the earnest and honest hearted!
If you want to mingle with the Bhutanese people and jostle with local farmers amongst the aroma of organic fruits and vegetables, the Centenary Farmers Market is the place to be. Smiling tourists watch in awe as locals bargain with the vendors and you could even stock up on your organic fruits for the coming days.
Visit the Simply Bhutan Museum which is a living studio showcasing the age old culture and traditional heritage of Bhutan. Walk for a few minutes from the Museum to Changangkha Lhakhang the oldest temple in Thimphu. In the evening visit the Tashichho Dzong/Fortress of the Auspicious Religion and office of the Golden throne of the Dragon King of Bhutan. Stroll through the market places and the craft bazaar. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
11 Oct 2019 : Thimphu – Punakha and Wangdue ValleysDochulaa Pass (3150 meters), Fertility Temple / Chime Lhakhang, Fortress of Great Bliss
After breakfast check out of your hotel and drive for about three hours to Wangdue and Punakha valleys. Enroute stop over at the Dochulaa Pass (3150 meters) and on a clear day enjoy the spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains. The 108 small stupas built over a small hill is also a beautiful sight. The road from the Pass winds down to the warm and fertile valleys and after a brief rest visits the Fertility Temple / Chime Lhakhang. It is a pleasant 30 minutes walk through mustard and paddy fields. Standing on a picturesque hilltop the Lhakhang is famous for its fertility wish grants to couples. Inside the walls of the Lhakhang are beautiful frescoes depicting the colorful life of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman regarded for his crazy methods of teaching that included blessing women in the form of copulation!
Punakha valley is the old capital city of Bhutan and the Punakha Dzong meaning the Fortress of Great Bliss, was built by 1673 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (the first spiritual & political leader of Bhutan) to commemorate the final victory against numerous Tibetan invasions. Located on a piece of land between two rivers Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu (literally meaning male and female rivers), the Dzong is massive, huge and magnificent in all its architectural grandeur.
The first King of modern Bhutan was crowned in Punakha Dzong. Important religious ceremonies are still held in the Dzong. The Royal Wedding ceremony on 13th October 2011 of the Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema was conducted in Punakha Dzong.
12 Oct 2019 : Punakha – Gasa – Tongchu Zam CampsiteTrekking - on the way to highland of Bhutan
After breakfast drive for about four hours to Gasa road end, and from here you will trek for another four hours till you reach your campsite beside Tongchu Zam / bridge. At the campsite your tents will be pitched and your trekking team will be waiting for you with hot beverage, snacks and dinner. Rest well for your hike to Laya the next day. Overnight at your camp.
13 Oct 2019 : Tongchu Zam to Laya villageCamp at an altitude of 4,260 meters
14 - 15 Oct 2019: The Royal Highlander FestivalWitnessing the highlander Festival, traditional songs and dances, recitation of Auley (traditional epic poem)
For two days you can witness and participate in the various festivities including the recitation of Auley (traditional epic poem), traditional songs and dances, highland animals’ parade (yaks, horses and highland dogs) where the most beautiful animals win prizes, wrestling and try out the various local cuisine. Usually the celebration is always graced by the Fifth King and members of the Royal Family.
16 Oct 2019 : Laya to Thongchu ZamSecond night camping of the trek
After breakfast you will start your trek back to Tongchu Zam and overnight at your campsite at Tongchu Zam.
Option – If you want you can spend two more nights exploring and trekking in and around Laya.
17 Oct 2019 : Tongchu Zam to GasaExperience the Natural Hot Spring of Bhutan
Trek back to Gasa and tonight you can enjoy a dip in the Gasa Hot Springs which is supposed to have numerous curative and healing properties. Overnight at your campsite near the Hot springs.
18 Oct 2019 : Gasa to Punakha to Paro, suspension bridge over the Puna Tsang Chhu – Punakha RiverKhamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten stupa,
After breakfast drive back to Punakha town, and walk for about an hour to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten stupa. The walk is beautiful through the pine trees, the stupa is beautiful and so is the view from there. Enroute you will also be walking through a suspension bridge over the Puna Tsang Chhu – Punakha River.
After lunch continue drive to Paro via Dochula Pass and overnight at your hotel in Paro.
19 Oct 2019 : Hike to the Tiger’s Nest – The most important cultural icon in BhutanTiger's Nest Monastery, Kyichu Lhakhang/temple
Have a sumptuous breakfast for your hike to Taktsang Monastery / Tiger’s Nest which is about 3 hours uphill and 2 down. Located around 900 meters above the Paro valley on a precarious almost vertical mountain cliff, Taktsang Goemba is truly a wonderful and spectacular sight in terms of its location, setting and history. In the 8th Century this was one of the major sites where Guru Padmasambhava – the patron saint of Buddhism in Bhutan meditated with his consort Khandro Yeshey Tshogyal. It is believed that Guru flew on a female tigress in pursuit of a demon which he subdued at the current site of the Monastery. It is one of the holiest site in the Buddhist arena and the most important cultural icon in Bhutan.
You can have your lunch, tea/snacks at the cafeteria midway.
Before you drive back to your hotel visit the Kyichu Lhakhang/temple, one of the oldest temple built in the 7th Century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gyembo.
If you wish you can go for a stroll through the valley or rest in hotel.
20 Oct 2019 : Departure
After breakfast drive for about 30 minutes to the Paro International Airport. Your guide and driver will bid you farewell and we hope you had a pleasant holiday in Bhutan.
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