Punakha Tsechu-Bhutan - 8 Days

Experience the spectacular Punakha Tsechu (Festival), held in the grounds of the magnificent Punakha Dzong. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Locals gather in a spirit of festivity, celebration and deep faith to witness unique masked dances and celebrations. The Tsechu is one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. Also visit sacred sites in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and view the Black-Necked Cranes in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley.

Overview

Experience the spectacular Punakha Tsechu (Festival), held on the grounds of the magnificent Punakha Dzong. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honor of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Locals gather in a spirit of festivity, celebration, and deep faith to witness unique masked dances and celebrations. The Tsechu is one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. Also visit sacred sites in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and view the Black-Necked Cranes in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley.

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Paro

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 company representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoys afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art, and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical and cultural past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Afterward, walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge still in use. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 2
Paro

After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you high above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for lunch.

In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, a historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Kyichu is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa.

Alternatively, day 2 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterized by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 3
Paro - 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 4 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.

Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” to attend the 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, pray, and feast. While the underlying purpose of the festival is spiritual, dances are more often like plays, telling stories where good triumphs over evil, or depicting significant historical events, especially surrounding the life of Bhutan’s patron saint, Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche). There is inevitably a great deal of socializing as well.

Day 4
PunakhaTshechu

Enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Afterward, return to Punakha Dzong to observe the continuing masked dances and rituals that take place as part of the Punakha Festival. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

Day 5
Punakha - Phobjikha Valley

Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (3 hrs) via the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang. Drive-up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys and chosen winter home of black-necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. After lunch visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black-necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.

Day 6
Phobjikha Valley - Thimphu

After an early breakfast drive back to Thimphu (5.5 hrs). Afternoon at leisure to explore downtown Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Day 7
Thimphu - paro

Continue sightseeing in Thimphu. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.

Day 8
Paro Depart

After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for a flight to the onward destination. Our representative will bid you farewell.

The Trip Cost Includes

  • Visa Fee
  • Hotel Accommodation
  • only including 3 stars above
  • Tour Guide
  • All meals inclusive
  • All transportation in the destination location
  • Taxes, surcharges, the government contribution, Tourism Development Fund.
  • Mineral water for the duration of the stay

The Trip Cost Excludes

  • Guide Service Fee
  • Driver Service Fee
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Room Service Fees
  • Travel Insurance

Frequently asked Questions

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Where is Bhutan ?

Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.

Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel ?

It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.

Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan ?

All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.

How much does the visa cost ?

For International tourist visas, a cost of USD 40 is applicable. This can be paid in advance to your tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals, and persons from the Maldives, there is no cost incurred.

How do I get to Bhutan ?

There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only – Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator. A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all the necessary arrangements.

What does the $200/$250 per day minimum daily package include?

The $200 per day (January, February, June, July, August) and $250 per day (March, April, May, September, October, November) package includes a minimum of 3-star accommodations, costs for food, an experienced guide, and transportation within the country. Also included in the price is a $65 per day Sustainable Development Fee that goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation. All of these services will be arranged by your tour operator.

What currency is used in Bhutan ?

Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in the country.

Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year ?

There is no limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit in a year. In order to protect our culture, traditions, and natural environment, the government has adopted a unique policy of “High Value, Low Impact ”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one-of-a-kind experience.

What’s the food like in Bhutan ?

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that is not spicy.

Rice forms a staple Bhutanese diet. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef, and chicken are consumed most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Punakha Tsechu-Bhutan

Trip Facts

  • 1-32 people
  • HOTEL DRUK THIMPHU, Norkhil Boutique Hotel & Spa
  • Paro International Air Port
  • Moderate