Bhutan Cultural Tour With Thimphu Festival
The Annual Thimphu Tshechu / Festival is one of the most important cultural event that the Bhutanese people look forward to, which makes it all the more appealing to tourists. Additionally, tourists get some extensive opportunities to interact with the locals and share in the festivities. With the Thimphu Tshechu as the highlight, the ultimate luxury tour will take you on a cultural extravaganza of the beautiful valleys, unique culture and traditions and rich nature with overnight stays at 5 star hotels and resorts throughout the trip. Luxury, comfort and style is the essence of this tour and expect to be swept away on a luxurious expedition of the best that Bhutan offers while enjoying the various high-end resorts and its extravagant facilities and services.
The Thimphu Tshechu is a Buddhist Festival of colorful masked dances and traditional folk songs and dances. 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. Masked 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. 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 Thimphu Festival falls in Autumn and is one of the most beautiful time to visit Bhutan for clear blue skies and pleasant weather.
- The Thimphu Tshechu / Festival
- All accommodations at luxury high-end hotels and resorts
- Tiger’s Nest/Taktsang Monastery - one of the holiest sites in the Buddhist arena
- Hoisting of prayer flags high in the mountains – as per your birthdate an astrologer will consult the Divination Charts and accordingly your guide will purchase the appropriate prayer flags that most benefit and protect you
- Excursion of Thimphu valley – the capital city
- Excursion of Punakha valley – the old capital of Bhutan
- Gangtey & Phobjika valleys – remote, peaceful and picturesque valley
- Dochula Pass - enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the Snow-capped Himalayas
- Tashi Chho Dzong - Fortress of the Auspicious Religion
- Farm House experience - typical Bhutanese rural life, Bhutanese cooking experience and traditional dinner
- Traditional hot stone bath & a game of traditional archery
- 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 vehicles
- Airport Transfers as per the scheduled flights.
- English Speaking Guide throughout the Trip
- Luxury SUV vehicle with driver – Toyota Prado/Land Cruisers/Hi-roof Buses
- Stay in luxury 4 & 5 star hotels
- All three meals, tea and snacks, picnics
- Bottled mineral water throughout the trip
- Cooler box for cold water/beverage in the vehicle
- Hot thermos with tea/coffee on the go
- 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
Transport and Facilities
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.
26 September: Paro International Airport – Your first glimpse of BhutanParo valley, Rinpung Dzong, National Museum and Thimphu valley
The flight into Bhutan is spectacular with views of the snow capped Himalayas of Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim and checking through immigrations at the Paro International Airport is quick and hassle-free. At the Airport exit gate your tour guide and driver will be waiting for you and a few minutes’ drive will bring you to the Paro town where you can have your lunch or tea/coffee.
You can 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 evident everywhere. Located above the Dzong is the National Museum showcasing various artifacts and relics of ancient Bhutan.
Enjoy the one and half hour drive to Thimphu through the beautiful landscape and during holidays you can stop over and watch an archery match in progress. Thimphu is one of the few capital cities in the world not having traffic lights and the traffic is still manned by traffic policemen. You can either check into your hotel and relax or go for an evening stroll through the town and and market areas.
Overnight at the Le Meridien located in the heart of the city and enjoy your dinner at their multi-cuisine restaurant and other facilities like the swimming pool, well equipped gym, steam and sauna.
27 September: Thimphu Tshechu
After a hearty breakfast, your guide and driver will take you to the impressive Tashi Chho Dzong / Fortress of the Auspicious Religion. The Dzong houses the office of our King, few government offices and the Central Monk Body. The masked dances and other dances are held at the Tendral Thang/outside courtyard.
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 the crowd 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!
In the evening walk along the market places and town and continue the festive mood with various events taking place in the town square and along the main road.
28 September: Thimphu Valley Excursion – Combination of the Ancient and the ModernBuddha Point, Memorial Chorten, Farmers Market, temples and monasteries, Craft Bazaar, short hikes
After a leisurely breakfast explore the capital Thimphu and visit the main sites. Soak in the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley from the site of the gigantic Buddha Shakyamuni, one of the largest statue of Buddha at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters). You can also enjoy a short hike around the Buddha, and then a stopover at the Memorial Chorten/stupa in town is another favorite with the tourists and elderly citizens as they circumambulate the Chorten chanting prayers and pulling at their beads. 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.
There are many other places of interest if you are not too tired, or you can rest and relax at your hotel.
29 September: Thimphu – Gangtey & Phobjika valleysDochula Pass (3,150 meters), The Temple of Fertility, Gangtey & Phobjika valleys
Even though it is about six hours drive till Gangtey, however there are many interesting stops in between so you will not feel the long drive too tiring. After an hour drive from Thimphu you will reach the scenic Dochulaa Pass (3150 meters) from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains and the mini 108 stupas built over a hill. The road from the Pass winds down to the warm and fertile adjoining valleys of Punakha and Wangdue.
You can have your lunch in one of the many tourist standard restaurants in Lobesa Market and after, visit 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 which included blessing women in the form of copulation!
Another two and half hour drive will reach you to your destination that is Gangtey and Phobjika valleys. Check into the exclusive Aman Kora Lodge built in the style of a Dzong / Fortress and relax after the long drive. Being one of the most luxurious hotels in Bhutan the services and facilities at Aman will comfort you after the long drive and rejuvenate you for your next day.
30 September: Excursion of Gangtey & Phobjika ValleysBeautiful short hikes in and around the valley
Gangtey and Phobjika are one of the most beautiful glacial valleys of Bhutan and most importantly the winter home to the endangered and sacred Black Necked Cranes from late October till March.
These valleys are remote, peaceful and beautiful and while there are not many tourist attractions or sights per se, however the valleys offer numerous hikes in and around the valley. You can visit the Gangtey Goemba Monastery and if interested also get a horoscope reading from the Astrologer. A must do is the short one and half hour Gangtey Nature Trail hike through the pine trees. You can enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the many beautiful spots overlooking the valley.
You can enjoy some more short hikes, walk through the villages and also visit some traditional farmhouses and interact with the villagers or walk/drive back to your hotel and enjoy a relaxed evening.
1 October: Punakha & Wangdue ValleysExplore the old capital of Bhutan, magnificent fortress, short hikes, longest iron bridge
After a leisurely and sumptuous breakfast, drive back to Wangdue and Punakha valleys and you can either check into your hotel Uma by Como Resort and rest for a while or continue driving around the Punakha valley and visit the various interesting places.
Punakha is the old capital city of Bhutan and the Punakha Dzong meaning the fortress of Great Bliss, was built by in 1673 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. Although ravaged by flood, fire and earthquakes many times, the Dzong was always rebuilt with its original pattern and design.
A few minutes walk from the Dzong through beautiful flower gardens and huge flowering trees will bring you to the longest iron suspension of Bhutan. Continue walking on the rickety bridge till you reach the other side of the river where your car awaits to take you back to your hotel. Enjoy the ride along the river and the paddy fields. Enjoy your evening and hospitality at the Uma located on a hillside with sweeping views of the valley and the female river.
2 October: Excursion of Punakha & Wangdue ValleysBeautiful stupa, nunnery, meandering river and terraced paddy fields
After breakfast drive for a few minutes up north 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. You can then visit the Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery where you can watch the nuns as they go about their daily life and rituals and since most of them speak a little English you can interact with them and exchange life-stories. You can also enjoy the beautiful view of both the valleys with the meandering river and landscape dotted with houses and prayer flags.
You can either drive back to Uma for your lunch or enjoy a picnic lunch and continue exploring the valleys. Talo and Nobgang villages is the ancestral village of the four Queen Mothers and you can walk through these villages, visit some farmhouses, the local temple and interact with the villagers. The climate is also very ideal for growing many different fruits and vegetables.
3 October: Punkaha – Thimphu – Paro Valleys
The drive back to Paro is about 4 hours and enroute you can stopover to visit the Semtokha Dzong, the first Dzong built in 1629, Tachogang Temple across the iron suspension bridge, and back in Paro you can check into the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary and enjoy their hospitality.
The Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary is the latest addition to the high-end hotels in Paro and offers many interesting activities like archery, pottery, cooking classes, traditional doctor consultation, unlimited spa, massage and hot-stone baths, yoga/meditation class, other wellness treatments and visits to nearby villages and temples.
4 October: Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery / Taktsang GoembaThe highlight of your Bhutan tour
After an early breakfast drive for about 30 minutes to the base of the Taktsang Monastery, and while there are options to ride a pony till halfway, we’d suggest you to walk all the way to the Monastery. It is about 3 hours uphill and 2 hours down, and enroute there is a cafeteria, however we can either arrange a picnic lunch or depending on your walking pace you maybe able to come back to your hotel for lunch.
Since the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary offers many activities you have the choice to stay at your Hotel and enjoy these facilities, or you can visit few temples located in the town and enjoy a stroll through the market places and numerous small handicraft shops.
5 October: Paro International Airport
After breakfast and as per your flight time your tour guide and driver will drive you to the Airport. We hope you had a pleasant stay and we hope to see you again in Bhutan.
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