The Thimphu festival or tshechu is Bhutan’s largest and most popular autumn festival held in the vicinity of Trashichhodzong, a 17th century fortress, under clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Thousands of people turn up for the four-day festival where colourful and ancient mask dances are performed in an open cobbled stone courtyard by monks and laymen.
DAY1: Arrive Paro – Thimphu
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. Our team representatives will receive you at Paro airport. After lunch, we enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum and the 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang. Then we drive to Thimphu.
DAY2: Thimphu – Attend the Festival
After breakfast, drive to Tashichhodzong to attend the Thimphu 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. There is inevitably a great deal of socialising. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
DAY3: Thimphu – Sightseeing
We will give you a tour of whole Thimphu exploring the most famous tourist spots around, most famous of all being The Memorial Chorten, Buddha point, Farmers’ Market, Folk Heritage Museum, Thimphu Tashichho Dzong and more. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY4: Thimphu – Punakha
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. While in Punakha, we will visit the Chorten Nebu Temple.Time permitting, we can visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location.
DAY5: Punakha – Thimphu – Paro
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.We then drive back to Thimphu where you will have the opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, we will 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 rides). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face, 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. Nearby there is a tea house where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch. If time permits, we could take a trip to the Haa Valley as well, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
DAY7: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.