Bhutan Cultural Tour with Paro Festival
The Paro Tshechu / Festival in the spring is a wonderful time to visit Bhutan, experience its ancient culture, and get enthralled in the celebrations. Amid blossoming flowers and lush green landscape the Festival comes alive with vibrant colors, music, dances and other sacred rituals. Mask Dance and music plays an important role in the cultural life of Bhutanese people and are performed to convey religious messages and righteous ways of living to the people.
The Paro Tshechu is a Buddhist Festival and one of the major annual events of Bhutan. The Tshechu holds religious significance and is held to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Bhutan who introduced Tantric Buddhism in Bhutan. Festivals are held mostly in the huge courtyards of the magnificent Dzongs/Fortresses and comprise of colorful masked dance and traditional folk songs and dances attended by even more colorfully dressed Bhutanese people. As per the Lunar calendar the Paro Festival falls during the Spring and is one of the most beautiful time to visit Bhutan. Weather-wise the days will be bright and sunny with clear view of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains and evenings and mornings will be pleasant but also a little cold.
- Paro Tshechu – attend and witness 8th century masked dances envisioned from the heavens and replicated in Bhutan
- Paro Tshechu – an interesting and cultural experience of the celebration of life the Bhutanese way
- Experience and visit the western regions of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangdue valleys
- Tiger’s Nest/Taktsang Monastery - Hanging onto a precarious almost vertical mountain cliff, it’s a spectacular sight in terms of location, setting and history and is one of the holiest sites in the Buddhist arena.
- Visit Dochula Pass at 3,150 meters and enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the Himalayas
- Visit Tashi Chodzong or the Fortress of the Auspicious Religion – the office of the Dragon King of Bhutan
- Included quality wining and dining : a welcome reception with drinks at every hotels of your stay,
- 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.
- Airport Transfers
- Stay in hotels as mentioned in the itinerary – all are standard 3 star hotels whose services and properties are approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and only caters to tourists
- All three meals, tea and snacks
- Bottled mineral water throughout the trip
- Cooler box for cold water/beverage in the vehicle
- Hot thermos with tea/coffee on the go
- Dedicated SUV vehicle with a driver
- English Speaking Guide throughout the Trip
- Short hikes, Packed lunches and snacks wherever required
- Monumental Fees
- Bhutan Tourism Development Fee
- VISA Fee
- Government Royalty- goes towards the socio-economic development activities, eg, education, health, roads, etc
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
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
The only document needed for your Bhutan Visa is a scan copy of your passport with a minimum validity of 6 months prior to entering Bhutan. On your behalf we will apply for your Bhutan Visa and we will send you the approved Visa, a print out of which you will have to show at the Airport while boarding your flight to Paro, Bhutan.
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.
4 April 2020 - Landing in Bhutan the land of HappinessArrival in Bhutan, National Museum, Stroll in Paro Town
Enjoy the breath-taking landing of the plane and feel the crisp fresh air of the Himalayas as soon as you step out of the Airplane. At the petite Paro International Airport you will be welcomed by your enthusiastic guide and driver; and checked into your hotel after briefing and introduction. A quick rest and you can start your cultural extravaganza from the National Museum located just above the town. Take your time to casually browse through the National Museum, where an intriguing collection of artifacts serves as a great introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Some artifacts even date back to 2000 BC.
Afternoon and evening is an opportunity to acclimatize to the rarefied air at this altitude and to get to know your guide and driver, who will accompany your sightseeing for the rest of the day depending on your interest and energy level.
In the evening walk around town and notice that clusters of quaint farmhouses embellish the beauty of Paro Valley and the small handicraft and souvenir shops will mesmerize you with a unique handicraft of Bhutan.
5 April 2020 - The First Ever Spring Festival in BhutanWitness Paro Festival at the Paro Fortress
After a good and healthy breakfast, you will drive towards the Rinpung Dzong / Fortress of Heaped of Jewels which was built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (the saint who unified Bhutan) to defend from the numerous Tibetan invasion. The breathtaking structure and courtyard inside the Dzong is also the locale for the Hollywood movie “Little Buddha” starring Keanu Reeves – one of the most popular and favorite actors of the Bhutanese. But this time it will be more beautiful because of the Festival. Watch the various masked dances, join in with the crowd and interact with the local people who will be dressed up in their finest traditional attire to witness the Tshechu.
A variety of masked dances will be lined up for the day and your tour guide will explain to you the significance and stories behind each dance. The Atsara or the Clown will entertain you throughout the Festival; in their comic attire and wooden phallus hanging from their mask ready to fly on to the women spectators. Don’t get paranoid if an Atsara tries to get too close to you – it is all in jest!
Before the day ends you can enjoy the breath taking scenery of Paro town from the the Fortress and walk through the nyimazam (cantilever bridge) over the glacial Paro river. Walk through the valley and market places, and you can have your dinner in one of the restaurants in town or go back to your hotel
6 April 2020 - Drive to Thimphu, the Capital City of BhutanCapital City Bhutan, Thimphu Valley, Memorial Stupa, Big Buddha Statue
The food must be good and your stomach well fed in any journey especially in the Himalayas. So after a sumptuous breakfast at your hotel, you will drive for about an hour and half from Paro to Thimphu along the Pachu (Paro River). From Thimphu it is another 5 hours to Gangtey and Phobjika valleys. It is a beautiful place of rolling hills and green meadows surrounded by snow capped mountain.
Enroute stop over at the Dochula Pass (3,150m) and soak in the picturesque view of the Himalayan Ranges floating above the dancing clouds and the magnificent 108 Stupa blessing all the travelers passing through. Get lost in nature for a while.
To stretch your legs from the long drive, enjoy a short walk through the paddy fields to reach the Chime Lhakhang / The Temple of Fertility of the the Divine Mad Man. Paintings of phalluses on the wall of the house will welcome you humorously when you cross the village with many small handicraft shops along the way. Don’t feel pressurized or obliged to buy, but enjoy the arts and craft items.
You will continue the drive towards Gangtey via Wangdue valley along the longest river and Dangchu River as well. Be prepared for cool temperate to tropical weather conditions and changing vegetation along the drive. The bumpy road will give you a natural massage so you can have a good sleep as soon as you check into your hotel at Gangtey.
7 April 2020 - Drive to Phobjikha and Gangtey VillagesDochula Pass (3100m), Gangtey Villages, Glacial Valleys
Gangtey, Phobjika and the neighboring villages are the sacred roosting grounds for the endangered Black Necked Cranes in the winter, and also one of the most beautiful glacial valleys of Bhutan.
Around this time, the Black Necked Cranes would have just migrated back to Tibet for its summer habitat. If you are fortunate there will a few left behind.
After breakfast visit the Crane Center and enjoy the Gangtey Nature Trail, which is a leisure and wonderful walk of about 1.5 hours. From the valley you head upward to the beautiful forest of lichens which is also known as old man’s beard! Walk on to the village and climb through flower meadows to the small hilltop overlooking the Gangtey Monastery. Built in the 16th century, The Gangtey Goemba /Monastery is one of the most important center for the Nyingma school of Buddhism and the Monastery is a showcase of the fine Bhutanese architecture.
In the evening drive back to Punakha, which will take a little more than 2 hours to your hotel.
8 April 2020 - Excursion of Gangtey and Phobjikha - The Most Beautiful Glacial Valleys of BhutanGantey Village, Crane Center, Gangtey Nature Trail, Gangtey Monastery
Punakha is one of the most beautiful valleys amid the greenery of chirpine trees and terraced paddy fields. It is the old capital of Bhutan and still the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body.
Wangdue is also located alongside the Punakha valley and located at an elevation of 1,400 m above the sea level.
Have a leisurely breakfast and hike for an hour towards the Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten / Stupa and enjoy the view of the meandering river between terraced paddy fields and the Fortress in the far distance. Then drive to Punakha and visit the most beautiful Fortress in Bhutan (Punakha Dzong / Fortress of Great Bliss) built in 1637. Important national ceremonies are conducted in the Punakha Dzong, like the crowning of the First king Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907 and the Royal Wedding of our Royal King and Queen in 2011. Just behind the Dzong is the longest Iron Suspension bridge and enjoy the walk along the swaying iron bridge.
In the evening stroll through the beautiful valley along the road by the riverside. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
9 April 2020- Punakha Day Excursion – The Old Capital of BhutanNunnery, Thimphu Valley, Memorial Stupa, Big Buddha Statue, combination of modern and ancient
Before you drive back to Thimphu, visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery located on a ridge overlooking the vast Punakha and Wangdue valleys. You can watch the nuns as they go about their daily life and also interact with the nuns who speak English.
Then drive back to Thimphu and start your tour of the capital city.
Thimphu is the only capital city in the world with no traffic lights and the main traffic controlled by a policeman with hand gestures. As you enter the city drive towards the Buddha Point which is a 51.5m bronze statue of the present Buddha (Buddha Shakyamuni) and enjoy the panoramic view of Thimphu Valley.
Check into your hotel and visit the oldest 13th century Changangkha temple considered to be home of guardian deity of all children born within the Thimphu valley. After, visit the Simply Bhutan Museum - showcasing Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage. The magnificent Memorial Chorten consecrated in the memory of our Third King, and be amazed to witness the senior citizens and young people alike circumambulating the Chorten with prayer beads in hand to gain karmic merit. The Stupa also holds the legacy of tantric Buddhism. In the evening you will visit the Tashi Chho Dzong / Fortress of the Auspicious Religion and the office of the Golden Throne and after enjoy a leisurely stroll in the Thimphu City and your dinner in one of the many restaurants that serve traditional, Continental, Nepal, Indian and Chinese cuisine.
10 April 2020 - Thimphu Excursion – the Combination of the Ancient and the ModernZorig Chusum (Traditional School of Arts and Crafts), Bhutan Postal Museum, ashi Chho Dzong / Fortress of the Auspicious Religion
Continue exploring the valley with a visit to Zorig Chusum (Traditional School of Arts and Crafts) a leading institute to preserve and promote culture. The thirteen traditional arts of Bhutan were introduced by Pema Lingpa the Treasure Discoverer in the 14th century. You can also watch the students at their work stations and maybe learn some tips too!
The Bhutan Postal Museum was established in 2015 to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of our fourth king. One of the most intriguing story you will learn will be that of the legend of Garp Lungi Khorlo (literally translates into wind below the feet) - a messenger who used to travel from Trongsa to Wangdue on foot in one day which is approximately 123km.
Next visit the Royal Textile Museum showcasing the finest Bhutanese textiles and you can also watch the weavers at their looms. Located next to the Museum is a single line of small bamboo huts selling traditional authentic made in Bhutan art and craft items.
Drive to Paro and check into your Hotel, rest well for your hike to the Tiger Nest tomorrow.
11 April 2020 - Hike to Tiger Nest MonasteryTiger Nest Monastery, Farmhouse Visit, Dinner at the farm house
The Taktsang Monastery / Tiger’s Nest is one of the most important cultural icon of Bhutan and a must visit for all.
Have a good breakfast and try to start as early as you can. Your driver will drop you at the base of the Monastery from where you will start the hike. It takes about 3 hours uphill on a comfortable and leisurely pace. A frequent hiker can complete it in 1 hour! The total distance walked is about 4km one way with 800m elevation gained. Along the hike your guide will enthrall you with motivating local jokes and stories. You will have your lunch in Taktsang view cafeteria facing the magnificent Monastery hanging on the cliff.
In the evening visit a traditional farm house with Bhutanese cuisine and a hot stone bath to relax. Your guide will take you around the farmhouse which is replete with farm animals, paddy fields and vegetable garden.
Rest and relax at your hotel.
12 April 2020 - DepartureDeparture
After breakfast drive to Paro International Airport where your guide and driver will bid you farewell and hope you had a pleasant holiday and hope to see you in Bhutan again.
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