Bhutan Fall Festival – 13 Days

Bhutan also known as the ‘Thunder Dragon Kingdom’ is a rich mosaic of different cultures, traditions, life styles, ethnic groups, languages and belief systems. It is astounding that a country with a population of just over half a million speaks as many as nineteen different dialects and a few major languages. Diverse as it may seem, yet the Bhutanese socio-culture fabric is well interlaced and harmonized mainly due to the common thread of simple Buddhist values that the people share. Our cultural tours are the easiest way to get a taste of Bhutan. Each town has a Dzong dating back from the 1600s, and many old temples and monasteries. In our trip, we will visit Bumthang, Gangtey, Punakha, Thimphu valley (the capital of Bhutan), Trongsa, Wangdue and Paro.

Bhutan’s festivals are extremely colorful and lively. With traditional mask dances and dramas, delicacies, games and a lot more, the Tsechu festival is celebrated annually  on the 10th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. This festival has plenty to offer and attracts thousands of tourists every year. Moving on to Bumthang, the Tamshing Phala Chhoepa festival is similar to the previous one yet different in its own environment. One can receive blessings from the monks and socialize within the local community, make merry and rejoice in the festive mood.

Skeleton Itinerary

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu

Distance: 53kms/ 32 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour approx.
Altitude: 2,350 m / 7,709 ft

At the Paro International Airport, one of our representatives will receive you and escort you to the hotel in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. If your flight is scheduled in morning shift, we will be able to visit few places in Thimphu.

En route to Thimphu, visit Simtokha Dzong, which is believed to be the first dzong, built in Bhutan.
Once in Thimphu, check into the hotel. After freshening up visit the Memorial Chorten.
The Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten is a large Tibetan-style Buddhist Monastery with golden spires and bells. It is a popular landmark and one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu.

Overnight at Hotel [-/L/D]

Day 2: In Thimphu

Morning attend the sacred Thimphu Drubchen Festival, popularly known as Thimphu Dromchoey, which is held in the courtyard of the Tahshichho Dzong.

This dzong is an impressive building also known as ‘the fortress of the Dharma Raja’. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi, the head of Bhutan’s civil government. The dzong was damaged in an earthquake in 1897 and was rebuilt in 1902 without using any nails or written plans.
You will see locals dressed in their finest clothes who have walked for miles to attend the festivities.  While the underlying purpose of the festival is spiritual, dances are often like plays, telling stories where good triumphs over evil.
During the Drupchen, the deities are prayed to and dances are performed only by monks in costume, while in the Tsechu the dances are performed by monks and secular people.

The highlight of the day will be the Lhamoi Tshomi Kunchum, the dance dedicated to the Pelden Lhamo (female protecting deity of Bhutan, also called Maha Kale).

This afternoon, tour the city including visits to the Folk Heritage Museum, the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts and National Institute of Traditional Medicine. We will continue tomorrow visiting any places we do not get to today.

In Thimphu, visit the Folk Heritage Museum, the first structure to incorporate both monastic and administrative facilities. Its students are both monks and ordinary people. Also visit the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts. The traditional crafts represent hundreds of years of knowledge and ability that has been passed down through generations.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 3: In Thimphu

Distance: 70kms/ 43 miles
Drive Time: 3 hours approx
Altitude: 1,310 m / 4,300 ft

Morning attend the sacred Thimphu Drubchen Festival, to witness a few significant religious dances.
Next, visit Changakha Lakhang the temple with its wonderful city’s view and the oldest temple in Thimphu – built in 12th century.

After lunch, drive to Wangdue via Dochula Pass, the Dochula Pass offers a 360-degree of beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range, especially on clear winter days.
Once arriving in Wangdue, check into the hotel. Later explore the town and farm houses.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 4: In Wangdue

In the morning we go to an army ground, a five minute walk from the Dzong to observe Wangdue Tsechu Festival. ‘Tse’ means Date and ‘Chu’ meaning the Tenth is a religious festival conducted annually coinciding on the 10th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar.

Built in 1639, the Wangdi Dzong is the dzong of Wangdue Phodrang, which held a powerful position during the pre-monarchy days.

Afterwards, drive about 2 hours to the entrance of Phobjikha Valley, the Phobjika Valley is a vast U-shaped glacial valley, also known as the Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery. Further we continue an hour drive to Gangtey, a beautiful village at an altitude of 3000m. From Gangtey, one can closely view the picturesque black mountain ranges.

After freshening up, visit Gangtey Gompa the largest Nyingma Monastery in Bhutan.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 5: Drive to Trongsa

Drive Time (Gangtey-Trongsa): 4.5-5 hours approx.
Drive Time (Trongsa-Bumthang): 2.5 hours approx.

After breakfast, we begin our drive to Trongsa. Trongsa meaning ‘the new village’ in Bhutanese comprises of retreats, temples and hermitages of monks. En route we can stop at the Chendibji stupa which is built in the style of the Boudhanath stupa in Nepal.

Further take a pleasant drive to Bumthang, one the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual and historical heartland of the country.

Enjoy a visit to the Chummey weavers’ workshop. Here you can see example of Bumthang’s noted textiles.

Overnight at Hotel B/L/D]

Day 6: In Bumthang

After breakfast proceed to Tamshing Village to enjoy the Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Festival.
After lunch visit Tamshing Lhakhang. The Tamshing Lhakhang located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang and was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava.  In the evening, visit the Mebar Tsho (or The Burning Lake) more of a gorge than a lake.

Transfer back to the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 7: In Bumthang

Visit several ancient sites and important monasteries in Bumthang.
Visit Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang, the site of the palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja who invited Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The original palace was made of iron and hence the name Chakhar.
We visit several ancient and important monasteries such as Kurjey Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang and Jakar Dzong.

Kurje Lhakhang located further along the valley comprises of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 by Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century.

Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century is the oldest monastery in the country.
Jakar Dzong, which means ‘Fortress of the White Bird’, is the first place in Bhutan that Guru Rinpoche visited and subsequently as the ruler converted into Buddhism. Jakar is also considered as the birth place of Buddhism in Bhutan.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 8: Day excursion to Ura Valley

Distance: 50kms/ 31 miles
Drive Time: 2.5 hours approx. (both way)
Altitude: 3,100 m / 10,170 ft

Day excursion to the Ura Valley, the highest valley in Bumthang and is said to have been home to the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. Cobbled streets, villages and farm houses give this place a medieval feel with an unusual attractive atmosphere.
After visiting Ura Valley and it surrounding, drive back to Bumthang and transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 9: Drive to Trongsa

Distance: 68kms/ 42 miles
Drive Time: 2 hours approx.

After breakfast, drive to Trongsa. Later visit Trongsa Dzong.
In Trongsa, visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong.  The Trongsa Dzong is a very important part of the Bhutanese history since the present ruling dynasty in Bhutan was established from here.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 10: Drive to Punakha

Distance: 142kms/ 88 miles
Drive Time: 6 hours approx
Altitude: 1,300 m / 4,265 ft

We start early today and drive to Punakha via Pelela Pass.
In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong. The majestic Punakha Dzong is also known as ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’ and is the second largest dzong in Bhutan.

Chimi Lhakhang, flanked with hundreds of prayer flags sits on a round hillock near Punakha. The monastery, built in 1499 is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley, also known as ‘the Divine Madman’ or the ‘Mad Saint”.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 11: Drive to Paro

Distance: 143kms/ 88 miles
Drive Time: 4.5 – 5 hours approx.
Altitude: 2,250 m / 7,382 ft

After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Paro. Visit the National Museum and Paro Dzong.
The National Museum of Bhutan is a unique circular building also known as Ta-dzong which is an ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong.
Paro Dzong, also known as Ringpung Dzong means ‘Fortress on a heap of jewels’. This impressive dzong is the finest example of Bhutanese architecture and is one of the most popular and well known dzongs in Bhutan.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 12: In Paro

Hike Duration: 4.5 hours approx. (round trip)
Today we will hike to Taktsang Monastery and later visit Kyichu Lakhang
Taktsang Monastery: Perched on the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude north of Paro, the beautiful Taktsang Monastery also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is the most famous and an unofficial symbol of Bhutan.

Kyichu Lhakhang: Located close to the Paro Airport, the Kyichu Lhakhang is an important Himalayan Buddhist Temple. Built in the 7th century, this is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites in Bhutan.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 13: Final Departure

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward journey.

-End of Program-

Destination Bhutan
Trip Duration 13 Days
Arrival In Paro
Departure From Paro
Meals Full Board basis (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Best Season September
Activity Tour/ Festival
Grade Easy
Includes •    Arrival and departure transfers with assistance from our representative
•    2 nights’ hotel accommodation in Thimphu in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    1 night hotel accommodation in Wangdue in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    1 night hotel accommodation in Gangtey in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•     4 nights’ hotel accommodation in Bumthang in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    1 night hotel accommodation in Trongsa in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    1 night hotel accommodation in Punakha in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    2 nights’ hotel accommodation in Paro in a twin sharing room on full board basis
•    All transfers and tours as per the above program
•    Entrance fees at the monuments during sightseeing as per the program
•    Bhutan Visa Fees
•    Bhutan Tourism Development fees
•    All lunch and dinner at selected restaurants
Excludes •    International airfare (Will be quoted separately)
•    Photography charges in monasteries and monuments
•    Expenses of personal nature such as bar bills, laundry bills etc
•    Any expenses occur due to flight cancellation, road blockades, landslides or any other mishaps
•    Any other services and expenses not mentioned in the program