Paro Tsechu

Paro Tsechu

9 days (04-08 April, 2020)

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
DAY 02: PARO
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 04: THIMPHU
DAY 05: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – PUNAKHA
DAY 07: PUNAKHA
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 09: DEPART PARO

Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. A highlight of the Paro Tsechu is the unfurling of the silk Thangka – so large it covers the face of an entire building and is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan. The ‘Thangka, known in Bhutan as a ‘thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll, and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing. This holy scroll “confers liberation by the mere sight of it” (the meaning of the word ‘thongdroel’ in Bhutanese). This tour also takes advantage of the beautiful spring time growth with stunning hikes through the countryside to a Rhododendron forest in Phobjikha, as well as a visit to the Lamperi a Rhododendron Festival near Dochu La Pass. The sacred sites of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha are also featured.

Highlights of this Tour

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PARO TSECHU TOUR

The ‘Paro Tsechu’ festival tour includes one of Bhutan’s most popular festivals. Join locals in a colourful celebration of Bhutanese culture and faith. This Bhutan tour also explores the cultural western and historical central valleys of Bhutan.

  • View sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in elaborate costumes.
  • Join in with locals in a special occasion of celebration, blessings and socialising.
  • Witness the unfurling ceremony of the sacred ‘thongdroel’ scroll at daybreak.
  • Explore Bhutan’s central valleys, rich with ancient historical and sacred Buddhist sites.
  • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
  • Hike through the beautiful countryside and Rhododendron forests in the Phobjikha Valley.
  • Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions.
  • Drive over high mountain passes affording sensational views of the Himalayan peaks.
  • Attend the Lamperi Rhododendron Festival.
  • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
  • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
  • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
  • Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
  • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

To view more information about some of the townships that are featured in this tour, please visit the Township Highlights page.

Detailed Itinerary

DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
DAY 02: PARO
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 04: THIMPHU
DAY 05: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – PUNAKHA
DAY 07: PUNAKHA
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 09: DEPART PARO

 

06th APR: 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 Bhutan Travel Bureau representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities

After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, drive to, 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. Inside there is a great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

07th APR: PARO (4th Day of Festival)

After breakfast at hotel will go back to dzong to enjoy festival mask dances. It is most colourful and symbolic of all the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Bhutan. Dressed in traditional and local people gather at Paro dzong to show their faith and receive blessings. Colourful mask dancers both monk and lay men perform festive dances of good triumphing over evil to the haunting sounds of trumpets, cymbals and flutes.

Local people come out in their best and most expensive Gho & Kiras and share meals together at festival ground. Visit Rimpong dzong which was built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The dzong is now being used as an Paro district administrative office headed by Dasho Dzongdag (Governor) and half of dzong used by monks headed by Lam Neten (Chief monk). Evening at leisure in town. Overnight at hotel in Paro
08th APR: PARO – THIMPHU (Thongdrel at Dawn)
Wake up very early at 2.30am and drive to Paro Dzong to witness the thongdroel ceremony where a large religious painting of Guru Rinpoche made of cloth is unfurled on the side of the Dzong. This event signifies the final day of the annual festival. After some time spent resting back at the hotel, Drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

 

09th APR: THIMPHU
Begin your day with a short drive to Kuenselphodrang, a popular vantage point, with the biggest Buddha statues in the world. This site offers a panoramic view of the capital below and also has several walking trails, which ranges from leisurely to moderate. Then visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in the memory of the Third King and for world peace. Continue on to the picturesque 12th century Changangkha Temple and Nunnery at Zilukha.

Afterwards visit the weekend vegetable market. Located below the main town, near the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Visit the Folk Heritage Museum featuring an exhibition of items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. After visiting the museum we will walk to School for Arts & Crafts; which is located close to the museum. This is one of the interesting schools where young boys & girls learn 13 different skills of arts & crafts in Bhutan.Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

10th APR: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA
Drive from Thimphu to Phobjikha (5-6 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m), which is marked by 108 little Chortens and prayer flags. On clear weather we can enjoy the view of almost all snow-covered mountains including highest mountain Gangkar Puensum (7740m). We will take a short walk to stretch legs to Chimilhakhang temple. After lunch at Chimilhakhang café , continue our drive crossing over Puntsangchu River at Wangdiphodrang via old town. In Phobjikha we will visit Gangtey monastery before we check into our hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Gangtey/Phobjikha.

 

11th APR: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA

After breakfast drive to Punakha. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, 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. The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

12th APR: PUNAKHA
Chorten Nebu Temple Trek: 6 miles, moderate with an elevation gain of 1,200 ft
The walk this morning begins on a quiet country road, before climbing steeply over a rough trail as you make your way through terraced fields of rice to the local Chorten Nebu Temple. After lunch you continue descending through small villages. Although steep in places, the trail from Chorten Nebu towards the valley floor is wide and well defined, as local people visiting the temple, as well as children walking to and from school frequently use it.

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. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned. Overnight at hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

13th APR: PUNAKHA – PARO
After leaving Punakha, en-route to Paro you enjoy a walk through a forest with temperate vegetation. Arriving at the royal botanical garden, which is 8,800 feet above sea level, you will enjoy Rhododendron festival performed by local people in and around Hongtso and Thinleygang village. A short walk around the small lake, where you may spot a red panda, one of the rare animals in the Himalayas.

After enjoying a visit through the gardens, we continue our drive to Paro. After settling into comfortable accommodations, there is time to relax before a dinner of local specialties in the hotel restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Paro

14th APR: PARO (hike to Tiger nest)
After breakfast 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 for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. 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 refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.

Overnight at your hotel in Paro.


DAY 09: DEPART PARO

Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

Tashi Delek!

Tailor-Design This Tour

TAILOR-DESIGN THE PARO TSECHU TOUR

We understand that every traveller is different, so we design holidays to suit you. Our consultants are experts in creating the most unique Bhutan tour just for you. Whether you are solo traveller, a couple, group of friends, or a large group, we are here to help you open the doors to your himalayan dream. Use the form below to let us know what you are interested in adding or excluding to customise the Paro Tsechu tour.

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Value-Add Options

VALUE-ADDED OPTIONS

In addition to offering independent, flexible tour options, Bhutan Travel Bureau can also arrange a variety of “add on” options to provide a more in-depth experience of Bhutan. These include:

  • Cooking lessons
  • A farmhouse stay
  • “Ara” (rice liquor) brewing lessons
  • Monastery experience
  • Evening dinner & culture show

Alternatively, you can awaken your senses with a range of wellbeing and spa retreats offering yoga, pilates, meditation, healing bodywork, hot stone baths and massage.

These activities can easily be incorporated into any itinerary. Please note that some activities may attract additional fees.

BHUTAN TOUR DATES:

All of our Bhutan tours are private, tailor-made journeys for independent travel on dates of your choosing. We can easily customise your Bhutan tour to spend more in the places doing the activities that you are interested in. Please click on the ‘Tailor-Design This  Tour’ tab above to begin customising this tour to your requirements. This tour can be experienced all year around.

WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:

  • Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
  • All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
  • Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
  • Experienced driver.
  • Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard government approved hotels & guesthouses.
  • All meals in Bhutan.
  • All entrance fees and permits.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
  • Medical / Travel Insurance.