Festivals have a special place in the hearts of the Bhutanese. Locals come from miles around to attend these festivals of dance, feasting and socializing in their best clothes. On your 9-day trip you will not only be participating in the grand Thimphu Tshechu festival along with Thangbi Mani festival 2016, but will also be visiting popular landmarks like dzongs (fortress), monasteries scattered throughout the country. The Thimphu Tsechu and Thangbi Mani Festival Tour also takes you hiking to some of the beautiful hiking destinations of the country including the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, believed to be the epitome of the rich Bhutanese culture.
As your flight nears Bhutan, you can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Chomolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, you will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take you to your hotel in Thimphu for a good night's sleep. In the evening you can either take a rest at your hotel or stroll through the town. Overnight in Thimphu
After an early breakfast, we participate in the Thimphu festival which will be held at the courtyard of Tashichho Dzong. During the festival, we get to enjoy religious mask dances, other national dances, receive blessings and socialize. The Tshechu is a festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and the Himalayan region. Bhutanese believe that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once in their life in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast, we enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La pass at 3,100m, where on a clear day we get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. In Punakha we visit the Punakha Dzong which is located between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight in Punakha.
After an early breakfast, we drive to Bumthang, the cultural heartland of Bhutan. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La Pass. There is even a chance of spotting yaks on the trail at certain times of a year. We stop in Trongsa for lunch. After which we visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece in Bhutanese architecture. Then, proceed to Bumthang through lush valleys and forests. Along the way we stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and we can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight in Bumthang.
After an early breakfast, we will get to witness the Thangbi Mani festival. It is another popular festival of Bhutan and is held in Chhoekhor Gewog in Bumthang to bring peace, prosperity and also for better harvest. Mask dances are also a part of this festival. After spending half the day at the festival, we go for sightseeing in Bumthang including Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating back to the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurje Lhakhang, a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche is believed to have left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. We then visit Tamshing Lhakhang, a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings and we can also visit local shops. Overnight in Bumthang.
We begin the day by touring Bumthang market then drive to Wangdue. On the way, we stop at Chendebji Chhorten for lunch. The chhorten was built in the 18th century by lama Shida. It is built in the Nepalese style with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. Next, we cross two spectacular high passes before reaching Wangdue. The village is well known for its magnificent bamboo work and slate carvings. Overnight in Wangdue.
On the way to Paro, we stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. After reaching Dochu La pass we also visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery. With elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works, the Druk Wangyal Monastery is the one of its kind in the country. We stop at Thimphu for lunch and also tour the weekend market at the bank of the Thimphu River. The vendors sell all kinds of goods from fresh chilies, cheese and mangoes to Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast, we hike for 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and return to Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport for final departure.
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as grade A, B and C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. Based on availability at the time of booking, we will be accommodated in A grade hotels in Paro and Thimpu and B grade hotel in Punakha, Wangdue and Bumthang. We use Hotel Migmar in Thimphu, Meri Puensum Resort in Punakha, Hotel Peling in Bumthang, Dragon’s Nest Resort in Wangdue and Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro. All accommodations are on a twin-shared basis. Single supplement will be served on request and will cost USD 560.
All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are included during your stay in Bhutan. A variety of meals are available in most hotels – the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food. Non-vegetarian dishes are generally available in most parts of Bhutan - pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The best advice is to ask the hotel and restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season.