Bhutan Winter Dragon Festival Tour

Bhutan Winter Dragon Festival Tour

  • CommunityBasedTourism
  • CulturalSight-seeing
  • FarmHouseStay
  • Festival
  • Hiking
  • Meditation
  • MotorCycling
  • Photography
  • Textile
  • ValueAddedActivity
  • VillageLife
Bhutan Winter Dragon Festival Tour,Bhutan tour operator
Trip Code: T018
Trip Duration : 15 Days
Trek Duration:
Trip Type: Exclusive Tours/Cultural & Festival Tours
Difficulty Level:
Psychical Demand:
Destination(s): Bhutan
Highest Altitude:
Max Elevation:
Highest Camp:
Max Group Size: 16
Best Season: April to June & Mid September to Mid Nov
Trip Start: Paro
Trip End: Paro
Avg. user rating:
Trip Route: Paro > Thimphu > Punakha > Gantey > Trongsa > Bumthang
Activities: Festival, Hiking, Visit Farm House, Monastery, Museums, Weekend market, Stroll around the City etc

Overview


This program Bhutan winter Dragon festival tour is designed to experience Bhutan through Bhutan tour operator from the historic west to the spiritual central valleys and to the remote and the least explored regions of Far East coinciding with Tsechu (festival) in Lhuntse from 05th till 07 January, 2009. As you take a drive from west to east you can have varieties of experiences. It has everything in it; from picturesque farmland and ancient forest, to alpine pasture and high passes which offers panoramic views of eastern Himalayas are amongst its many highlights. Whilst, a number of strategically located fortress-monasteries and scattered settlements, provide a full measure of cultural interest.

At Lhuntse Tsechu, you are not likely to come across many other foreign visitors other than the locals because of its remoteness. You can see the ancient old religious mask dances that are performed by both monks and laymen in brilliant costumes re-enacting the legendary events, accompanied by blaring horns, booming drums, and clashing cymbals as they whirl and leap around the ancient old courtyard of a Dzong (Fortress). Crowds of people gather in their finest hand woven dress, brightly patterned cloth for which Lhuntse region is renowned for, creating an intensely colorful and exciting atmosphere that had remained unchanged in its traditional purity for centuries.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit the impressive Dzong (fortresses), former palaces and Buddhist monasteries!
  • Hike through the ridge top Goembas (monasteries) and meet the monks.
  • Hike through the terraced farmlands and villages, visit the farmhouses and meet the villagers.
  • Attend the local festivals and events.
  • Visit the vibrant markets and towns.
  • Visit the traditional arts and crafts workshop, meet the artisans, weavers and painters!
  • And much more…

What’s included

  • Receive and Transfer to Airport
  • Double/Twin in 3 Star Hotel
  • 3 Meals every day with Evening Tea
  • Toyota SUV for FIT & Toyota Bus for Group with Driver.
  • English Speaking Guide
  • All Sightseeing
  • Museum Fees
  • Bhutan Visa
  • All Permits
  • Bottled Mineral Water
  • Walks and Hikes

What’s is Not Include

  • Guide and Driver tip
  • International Airfare
  • Laundry Charges
  • Internet, International calls
  • Other Beverages
  • Donation when photographing
  • Travel Insurance
  • Baggage Handlers tip

Intinerary


You’ll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organizing the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimize the time spent travelling and maximize the variety of experiences. From small buses to riverboats as well as on foot.

Itinerary at a Glance:

  • DAY 1: Bangkok/Paro.
  • DAY 2: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
  • DAY 3: Paro/Thimphu.
  • DAY 4: Thimphu/Punakha.
  • DAY 5: Punakha/Tongsa.
  • DAY 6: Tongsa/Bumthang.
  • DAY 7: Bumthang sightseeing.
  • DAY 8-9-10: Jakar/Tang Valley.( Local festival for 3 days).
  • DAY 11: Bumthang (Tang – Chamkhar).
  • DAY 12: Bumthang – Gangtey.
  • DAY 13: Gangtey (Valley Excursion).
  • DAY 14: Gangtey – Paro.
  • DAY 15: Depart Paro.

Detail Itinerary

1

Bangkok/ParoFlying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Creative Tours for the trip will receive you and transfer you to the hotel in Paro.

The Paro valley has attractive sites to visit. In the morning, you will visit Ta Dzong; once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Ta Dzong became the Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968.

Next visit is Rinpung Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, built the dzong in 1646; the dzong continues its age-old function as the seat of the district administration, district court and the monastic body. The southern approach to the dzong has a traditional roofed cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk across the bridge offers a spectacular view of dzong’s architecture and an opportunity to tread the same path as the ancient warriors. “Little Buddha”, the Hollyhwood movie has captured the beauty and splendour of Rinpung Dzong and Nemi Zam.

After lunch, you will have 18km drive from Paro town to the northern valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong (victory fortress). Drugyal Dzong is a well-known place from where the Bhutanese fought back several invading Tibetan armies in the 17th century. Unfortunately, the fire that started from a butter lamp destroyed the dzong in 1951. The ruins depict the past war strategies of Bhutanese army and the ancient lifestyle of a farming community and are still a tourist attraction.

You will also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 lhakhangs built in 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. Legend has it that king Songtsen Gampo built Kyichu Lhakhang on the right foot of a demon. It is now the oldest and most sacred shrine in the kingdom.

In the evening, you will visit traditional farmhouses for an opportunity to interact with the local families and learn more about their lifestyle. Later, you can take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops, or take refreshments at a local café or bar.

Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Altitude at Paro: 2300m

Overnight: in Paro

2

Hike to Tiger’s Nest MonasteryToday, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hill tops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for the rest of their lives!

Coming back, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.

Approximate walking time: 06 hours. Altitude at Paro: 2300m

Overnight: in Paro

3

Paro/ThimphuAfter breakfast, drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages and paddy fields on either side of the road. Thimphu has a special charm and it is fascinating to sit and watch a gathering of local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress and going about their business in a typically unhurried Bhutanese way.Sightseeing in Thimphu includes visit to: Tashichhodzong, the seat of the government; the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; and the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground, just below the town.

Approximate driving time: 01 hour. Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m.

Overnight: Resort in Thimphu

4

Thimphu/PunakhaIn the morning, visit the following: the National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a six-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where Bhutan’s famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed.After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu La pass (3,088m/10,130ft), the highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flags fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, there is a breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot.

Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan until 1955, and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers.

Approximate driving time: 03 hours. Altitude at Punakha: 1300m.

Overnight: Resort in Punakha

5

Punakha/TongsaToday, we will start quite early so as to ease the long drive with as many stops as possible on the road for views and so on. We drive up to Pele La (3300m) the traditional boundary between eastern and western provinces before the emergence of present monarchy. The road then goes down to Chendeji along the outskirt of the Black Mountain National Park, and then to Tongsa. The landscape around Tongsa is spectacular and its impressive Dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road actually leads you into the town.Visit and experience the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture at Trongsa Dzong. It was Shabdrung’s great – grandfather who founded the first temple at Tongsa in 1543. In 1647 the Shabdrung had begun his great work of expansion and unification, realizing all the advantages that could be gained from Tongsa’s position; he constructed the first Dzong at the place where his ancestors had erected the temple. The Dzong was called Choekor Rabtentse. In 1652, Minjur Tenpa, the Penlop of Tongsa, had the Dzong enlarged. The Dzong is built in such a way that in the old days, no matter what direction a traveler comes from, he was obliged to pass through the courtyard of the Dzong. This helped to make the Penlop of this Dzong as powerful as it had a complete control over the east – west traffic. The watch tower above the Dzong further strengthened its defense. The father of the first king known as the black regent and the first king served as the Governor of Tongsa before the emergence of the Bhutanese Monarchy, since then it has become a tradition for the young crown prince to serve as the Governor of this place before he is crowned.

Approximate driving time: 05 hours. Altitude at Trongsa: 2200m.

Overnight in Trongsa

6

Tongsa/JakarThis morning, we will take a drive for about an hour towards south to see the winter palace of the second king, Jigme Wangchuk. It’s an interesting drive, passing Takse Goemba and a large expanse of rice terraces in the lower Mangde Chhu valley. It’s a good side trip from Tongsa and it gives an intimate insight into life in the early days of Bhutan’s monarchy. After having lunch in Tongsa, we will then proceed to Bumthang crossing the Yotong La Pass and then into the first valley of Bumthang known as Chumey where we will make a brief stop to observe the weavers weaving the famous Bumthang fabric known as Yathra.Approximate driving time: 03 hours. Altitude at Jakar: 2700m.
Overnight Lodge in Jakar

7

Bumthang sightseeing.Bumthang is a general name given to combination of four valleys Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Start the morning with visit to Jambey Lhakhang, the temple built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, in the 7th century.Next visit the Kurjey Lhakhang complex. It consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. The body imprint of the great master can be distinctly seen in the rock cave enshrined in the temple. Your guide will explain the fascinating stories connected to this place. Second temple was built in 1900 by the first king when he was still the governor of Trongsa. The third temple was built in 1990 by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. A wall of 108 chortens surrounds the entire complex.

After lunch drive up the hill to visit the Jakar Dzong. Founded by the great-grandfather of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially a small hermitage in 1549. It was expanded the Shabdrung 1646 to help consolidate his expanding power into the eastern region. Scouting for a place for the Dzong a small white bird was seen perched on a hill, which was taken as an auspicious sign, and hence the name Jakar, meaning white bird. As others the Dzong is now the seat of district administration and monastic body of Bumthang valley.

The last stop for the day will be Tamshing Lhakhang, located in a village across the river from Kurjey Lhakhang. It is the seat of Bumthang’s famous son saint Pema Lingpa. He built it himself in 1501. A skilled tantric master and an artist he sculpted the main statues and painted the frescoes, which can be seen even today, mostly in original state. There is also a chain mail made by Pema Lingpa that devotees carry and circumambulate the inner sanctum. The throne from which he performed the consecration ceremony is preserved in a small temple outside the main hall. The physical structure surrounding the main inner temple was restored at the end of the 19th century. Pema Lingpa’s expansive skills in building, painting, sculpture and metal work can still be seen in mostly original state. Tantric Buddhists believe in the tradition of treasure finders or terton. Treasures are various forms of relics hidden by Guru Rimpoche to be discovered by the future generation, to aid religion in times of degenerate age or changing times. Pema Lingpa is the first of five main tertons. He is also revered as the incarnation of Guru Rimpoche himself.

Altitude at Jakar: 2700m

Overnight Lodge in Jakar.

8-9-10

Jakar/Tang Valley.( Local festival for 3 days)For information please do visit our festival tours.
Today after the breakfast we will drive to Tang valley with packed lunch and visit one of the old palaces, which is now a museum. From Jakar, we will drive towards Ura in the east. After about 10kms, unpaved road on the left leads you to narrow gorge of Tang. After the turn off, there is a parking lot for short walk to Mebartso. The road climbs above the river for 7km before the Drangchel village. You will notice the monastic hermitage Kunzangdrak Goemba perched on the rocky cliff. It was founded in 1488 by Terton Pema Lingpa. The excursion to Knzangdrak takes about 2 hrs of steep uphill climb. We will continue along high feeder road for about 3km and pass through Jamzhong village. After short descent for about 2km, you will arrive at Misithang.Short distance away from misithang is a lhakhang known as Tag Rimochen (impression of tiger stripes) now known as Tang Rimochen, located below an enormous rock. Tang Rimochen was founded by Dorji Lingpa in 14th Century. The name of the place was derived from the marks on the rock that resemble tiger’s stripes. It is a sacred place where Guru Rimpoche meditated. The rock has body imprints of Guru Rimpoche and his two consorts. After Tang Rimochen, the road gets rougher till Kizum. From Kizum, we will cross the bridge over Tang Chu and climb up to the hill top of UgyenChholing Palace, built in 16th century by Deb Tsoki Dorji. The palace complex is now a museum for religious studies, research and solitude. The exhibits in the main building depict the life style and art works of a Bhutanese noble family.

Over night in tang valley.

11

Bumthang (Tang – Chamkhar)After breakfast we will see the morning session of the school kids at the community school. It is about a walking distance from the lodge. We will continue our drive to Jakar and on the way we will visit the nunnery, which is only the Nyingma monastery in Tang valley.Overnight: lodge in Bumthang.

12

Bumthang – GangteyAfter breakfast, we will proceed on to the Phobjikha Valley. After crossing the Pele La pass, we will make a left turn on another road that will lead us to the broad and beautiful valley of Phobjikha. This valley also serves as the winter home for the rare black-necked crane that migrates from the plateau of Tibet. If your visit is from end of October then we will have ample opportunity to witness the rare black necked crane feeding in the marshy meadow. Our car will drop us before arriving at the Gangtey Monastery.Overnight at the hotel.

13

Gangtey (Valley Excursion)Today we will start our hike from the hotel and you will get chance to capture the unspoiled valley. We will also visit the crane information centre and the 16th century monastery, which has completed the renovation work. We will continue our hike from the temple to the other side of the valley through farm road and mule track and end the hike at the community school. Then you will have time to explore at your own.

14

Gangtey – ParoToday after breakfast we will drive to Paro, which takes about 6 hours. You can enjoy the drive by taking pictures of the mountains and animals especially the monkeys gray langur and Resses mucake.Overnight at hotel in Paro.

15

Depart ParoAfter breakfast, drive to the airport for your onward flight. Your escort from Bhutan Creative Tours will bid you farewell. As the aircraft gains height and proceed, you will see the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappear behind its guardian mountains.

Images



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FAQ

What is the best time to visit Bhutan?

In Bhutan every season has its own charm; as such the country has variety of doings to the tourist according to their interest. But the most visited months are usually March, April and May during which the country is at its best scenery as the spring just hits off and of course in the later months of the year like August, September, October and November. These are the peak seasons as the weather during these time of the years are pleasant and warm and not to forget the festival months. However, Bhutan Creative Tours is focusing to spread out visitation over the year because, come rain or shine, there is something for all parts of the year. The winters are cold, but we have winter treks and festivals in the southern parts of Bhutan,which has warm weather through out the year. A winter in Bhutan is characterized by clear blue skies, but you need your jackets with you.


Do I need a Visa for Bhutan? How can I obtain a Visa for Bhutan?

All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a Visa prior to your arrival to Bhutan, except for Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. After your confirmation to visit Bhutan with us, you can just download and fill out the Visa Application form from our website and send it to us. We’ll have the visa confirmation letter processed within 7 working days and send it to you. The Visa Application System used by the national tourism office is designed by our CEO when he was working as the Chief Researcher for the Tourism Council of Bhutan. This makes it very easy for us to leverage visa processing even during the final minutes before your arrival to Bhutan.


What Documents will I require at the Airport when I come to Bhutan?

You will need your Passport which has 6 months validity for its expiry date, Druk Air e-ticket, whether you booked it through us or the Druk air’s website and your Visa confirmation letter which we will send you prior to your arrival in the country. And please to carry a copy of your tour itinerary as well.

Route map