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Custom Program to Bhutan - Festivals

21st March - 1st April 2016 (11 nights / 12 days)

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International Flight Schedule | Bhutan Land Tour Itinerary | Quotation | Booking Information

International Flight Itinerary

18 MAR – LAX – SIN – SQ 11– 3:20PM - 3:25AM+2 (20 MAR)
*(6hr day room at Changi Airport hotel - Approx. USD65 per person sharing)
20 MAR – SIN – BKK – SQ 970 – 7:15AM – 8:40AM
 

20-21 MAR - Overnight in Bangkok to connect with Druk Air to Paro. (Hotel cost TBA)

 
21 MAR – BKK - PBH – KB 141 – 7:20AM - 10:40AM
1 APR – PBH - CCU – KB 152 – 11:30AM - 12:10PM
 
7 APR – CCU – SIN– SQ 5487 – 11:50PM - 6:40AM+1 (8 APR)

OPERATED BY SILKAIR                                            

8 APR – SIN – LAX – SQ 12 – 9:25AM – 12:50PM

CODES: SQ–SINGAPORE AIRLINES, KB–DRUK AIR, LAX –LOS ANGELES, SIN – SINGAPORE, BKK- BANGKOK, PBH-PARO, CCU - KOLKATA

*All flight schedules & rates are subject to change by the airline.

Bhutan Land Tour Itinerary


Day 01, March 21, 2016 (Mon): BANGKOK – PARO (BHUTAN) DRUK AIR KB#141 – 7.20am-10.40am (via Guwahati).
Paro Altitude: 2200m. Paro is a town and seat of Paro district in Bhutan. It is also the home to the only international airport in the country. Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. In addition, the Paro Valley is wide and verdant and is recognized as one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan.

The flight to Paro is considered one of the most spectacular flight experiences in the world.  While flying in and out of Bhutan, one can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makula, and other high peaks such as Jumolhari, Jichu Drakey, and Tsrim Gang. You will be received by representative of Rainbow Tour & Trek and transferred to your hotel.

Visit the following places in Paro:

National Museum - Ta- Dzong (the watchetower) was built in the 17th century to guard the Paro Rimpong dzong (fortress) below.  It was said that the future first king was kept in this tower as a prisoner for a week. It was the third king who restored the Ta-dzong and converted it into the National Museum.  The visit to the museum will familiarize you with the Bhutanese way of life and will also acquaint you with the natural and cultural history.

Drukgyel Dzong : This Dzong, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, this point offers bird eye view of the Mt. Chomolhari (7329m). Explore the village just below the dzong and get a feel of rural Bhutan.

Kyichu Lhakhang: It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.

Overnight in Paro

Day 02, March 22, 2016 (Tue): Paro Festival***
The Paro Tsechu is the most spectacular and deeply symbolic of the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Bhutan. Devotees dressed in traditional finery flock to the Paro Dzong monastic fortress to bear witness to their Buddhist faith and receive blessings.

The festival has three parts: the "Pre-festival" on the first day, ceremonies inside the Paro Dzong on the second day, and the main festivities on the festival ground on the remaining three days. For the devout, the highlight undoubtedly occurs on the final day when a huge religious picture (thongdrel) is unfurled at dawn. To witness this event is to gain great merit.

This festival is held in Rinpung Dzong which is arguably among the most distinctive and important structures in Bhutan. Rinpung Dzong is the headquarters of the Paro district, housing the head administrator and staff, as well as a the monastic body with about 200 monks..

Today the festival consists of the following mask dances:
1. Durdag (Dance of the lord of the cremation ground)

Costume: Short white skirts, white boots, and white skull masks.

On the external edges of a symbolic Mandela where the assembly of the sacred
tantric deities reside, there are eight large cremation grounds. Living there are
numerous protectors of the religion (Chhokyong) among are the Lords of the
Cremation Grounds (Durdag) who are bound by an oath to protect the Dharma
from its demonic enemies.

2. Tungam cham (Dance of the Terrifying Deities)

Costume: Beautiful brocade dresses, boots and terrifying masks.

This dance is intended to deliver all sentient beings by showing them the Zantopelri,
the paradise of Guru Rimpoche.

3) Guan Druk Pawo Cham (Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments)

The Powos are called the heroes with six kinds of ornaments because they wear
five types of bone ornaments and hold tiny drum and bell, considered as one.

They arouse the assembly of the gods and the tantras from the state of the indifference
by the sound of their divine drums and lead sentient beings, caught in the
wheel of reincarnations, along the path of liberation.

4) Pho-lay Mo-lay (Dance of the Noblemen and Ladies)

Costume: white mask and traditional Gho and Kira

Two princes go to war, leaving behind two princesses in care of an old couple.
As soon as they depart, a team of clowns try to frolic with woman who behaves
immorally as well. Upon returning from war the princes are scandalized by the behavior
of the princesses and the old woman and cut off their noses as punishment.

Finally the princes marry the princesses andeverybody is reconciled.

5) Shawo Shachi (Dance of the Stag and Hounds)

The Hunter, Gembo Dorji was enraged with the sight of Milarepa and two animals at peace. He shot the poisonous arrow at the saint and his bow was broken. The hunter took the oath not to sin and embraced religion and attained full realization.

Overnight in Paro

Day 03, March 23, 2016 (Wed): Paro – Hike to Tiger’s Nest OR attend the Festival
Morning: Hike to Taktshang, Tiger’s Nest (3-4hrs)  Optional – with guide (extra cost)

Bhutan’s most scenic icon or the most important landmark, Taktshang the Tiger’s nest clings to the side of a steep cliff 300 meters above the Paro valley. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, in the 8th century.  It was said that he meditated there for about three months.  The original temple was built in the 17th century, but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998.  Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003.  Takshang is considered to be the 10th-holiest site in the Buddhist world. You can visit three different temples inside the main Takshang complex. Riding Ponies provided upon request. 

Attend the Festival. Today the festival consists of the following mask dances: 
1) Shinjey Yab Yum (Dance of the Lord of death and his Consort)

Costume: Buffalo Mask and long brocade dress
Jambayang represents the body of the wisdom of Buddha and also the Lord of Death. He is the lord of the three worlds and the protector of the four continents. He blesses the continents before the arrival of god of wisdom on earth.

3) Raksha Mangcham (Judgment of the Dead)
When all beings die, they wander in the intermediated state (Bardo) waiting to be
led by their merits to the ultimate goal (Nirvana). Beings that in their lifetime had
not fervent adoration for the Buddhist doctrines are disillusioned and cannot find
passage into the paradise.

4) Dramitse Nga Cham
Costume:- Knee-length yellow skirts, animal masks, drums.
This dance with drums was introduced in Dramitse in the 15th Century by Khedup
Kuenga Nyingpo, the brother of Ani Chorten Zangmo, founder of the Dramitse
Monastery and sister of Pema Lingpa .

Overnight in Paro

Day 4, March 24, 2016 (Thur): Paro Festival - Unfurling of Throngdroel
Today is the last day of Paro Festival and the festival will last till around 4pm.  After the Throngdrol you’re free to go back to the hotel to rest for awhile and then head back to the festival if you wish to watch the remaining of the mask dances mentioned below. Today’s the festival consists of the following mask dances.

1) Thongdroel
In the early morning at 3 to 4 a.m the large silk embroidery Thanka of Guru Rimpoche and his eight manifestations will be displayed to the people. People will get the blessing to eradicate the sins and accumulate the merits. In Buddhism, Thong means ‘to see’ and Droel means ‘get rid of sins and obstacles’.

2) Pacham (Dance of the heroes)
Costume: knee length yellow skirt, golden crown and holding small bell (Dril-Bu)
In Zangtopelrie / paradise Pema Lingpa witnessed Guru Rimpoche sitting with
his assistants in the centre of a limitless mandala of Rainbows.

3) Ging dang Tsholing
Costume:-The Tsholing wear long colorful dresses and masks. The Ging wear orange skirts that hang like a skin, terrifying black and orange masks with flags on top, and carry
big drums.

The Tsholing wears long colorful dresses and terrifying masks. The Ging dancers
wear replica of a tiger skin, attractive masks with a flag on the top and carry drums.
On the occasion of the consecration of the Samye Monastery in Tibet, Guru Rimpoche
initiated this dance to show the people of Tibet his place, the Zangdopelri.

4) Guru Tshengye (Eight manifestation of Guru Rimpoche)

This dance shows the eight different forms that Guru Rimpoche assumed in order
to bring different beings into the Buddhist fold:-

• Guru Tshokye Dorji (Diamond Thunderbolt Born from the Lake).
• Guru Sakya Senga (The Lion of the Shakya Clan).
• Guru Loden Chogsy (Guru who aspires for the Supreme Knowledge).
• Guru Padmasambhava (Lotus Born).
• Guru Pema Gyalpo (Lotus-king).
• Guru Nima Yeoser (Sunbeam).
• Guru Senge Dradok (The One who speaks with the roar of a lion).
• Guru Dorji Drolo (Thunderbolt).

5) Ri-Nga Chudru (Sixteen Fairies)

They are goddess of offering who are divided into four categories. Each category
is divided into four. This dance brings total happiness. People believe in the manifestations
of Ugyen Rimpoche during the dance. A changeless faith in the glorious
deeds of Ugyen Rimpoche’s mind, speech and body is born to them.

Overnight in Paro

Day 5, March 25, 2016 (Fri): Paro - Thimphu (65kms/1hr)
Thimphu Altitude: 2320m. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas with a population of about 100,000 people.  It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. All houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style.

Visit the following places in Thimphu:

Memorial Chorten:  This stupa was built in 1974 to honor the 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme  Dorji Wangchuck. This religious structure is circumambulated only in a clockwise direction (reciting prayers and whirling the large red prayer wheels).

Buddha Point – Visit the world’s largest sitting Buddha, an immense statue housing a monastery and visitors center. Enjoy a stunning view of Thimphu city from this point. 

Painting School - It is the primary center of learning for Bhutanese artists. Depending upon the student’s interest, one can specialize in any of the thirteen arts and crafts, including painting, weaving, sculptures, blacksmithing, embroidery, etc. It is the best place for visitors to learn about traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts.

This musuem is worth a visit to learn about Bhutan's living national art of weaving. The ground floor focuses on cham costumes, while the upper floor introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and type of textiles made by women and men. There is usually a small group of weavers working their looms inside the shop, which features work from the renowned weaving centre of Lhuentse in northeastern Bhutan

Tashichho Dzong:  has been seat of Bhutan's government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. It also house the monastic body.

Visit Centenary Farmer’s Market: Take a walk though this market and shop/interact with the local farmers. Thimphu’s new weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favourite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life.Nearby, across a cantilever footbridge, Kuendeyling Bazaam, to the west bank is a collection of stalls selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts.

Overnight in Thimphu

Day 06, March 26, 2016 (Sat): Thimphu - Punakha(77km/2 hrs)
Punakha Altitude:  1300m/4265ft. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan during the time of Zhabdrun Ngawang Namkgyal, the founder of Bhutan. Today it is the administrative and religious center of the district and  the winter home of Bhutan’s Central Monk Body.

Start your morning by enjoying and taking pictures of the Dochula Pass (3150m/10,000ft) with its panoramic views of the Himalayas.  The pass is decorated with 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were built to celebrate the stability and progress, brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King.
Visit the following places:

Chimmi Lhakhang Hike: take a 2 hour hike round trip through the rice field to Chimmi Lhakhang, the 15th-century monastery built by Lam Ngawang Chogyal on the spot where his cousin Lam Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as “the Divine Madman”) subdued a powerful demon.  This monastery is also referred to as the “Abode of Fertility” and believed that any couple who gets blessing from this temple is blessed with a child in the next year or so.

Punakha’s Dzong: The name means Palace of Great Bliss. This dzong stands magnificently on the spit of land where two rivers (Pho chu and Mo chu) meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history as the place where Bhutan's first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned in 1907.  It is also the winter residence for the Je Khenpo (spiritual leader) and the entire central monk body.

Punakha suspension bridge: this is an exciting bridge for photography enthusiasts.

Overnight in punakha

Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.

The three day Talo Tshechu is well known for its mask and Atsara dances, but an equally popular attraction which has a deep religious and historical significance is the Zhungdra by the Talo dance troupe. The Zhungdra performance particularly Mani Sum (3 songs) are very close to the heart of the Talops (people from Talo). This is because Mani Sum was composed by Meme Sonam Dhondup, the grandfather of Zhabdrung Jigme Chogyal (1862-1904), the 5th mind reincarnation of the first Zhabdrung (1594-1651).

The three songs of Mani Sum are performed at the closing item on each day of the three day of the tshechu. The three Songs, Samyi Sala(performed on the first day), Drukpa Dungey (second day) and Thowachi Gangi Tselay on the final day.

Sami Sala was composed when the Talo Sanga Choeling dzong was built which was influenced by the Samyi Monastery in Tibet. Drukpa Dungey tells the story of the Zhabdrung Lineage and Thowachi Gangi Tselay is the thanksgiving song.

Overnight in Punakha

Day 08, March 28, 2016 (Mon): Punakha – Trongsa (142kms/5hrs)
Trongsa Altitude: 2300m. Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched.

Visit the following places:

Chendebji Chorten :   Approximate four hours drive from Wangduephodrang is Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 18th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.

Trongsa Dzong : Like almost all towns in the Kingdom, this Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.

Ta Dzong: The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

 

Overnight in Trongsa

Day 09, March 29, 2016 (Tue) : Trongsa - Bumthang (68kms/02 hrs)
Drive to Bumthang after breakfast. Drive to Bumthang is a beautiful ride. You’ll cross Pele La  (3420m) &  Yotongla pass (3425m/ 10,850ft) after which you will descend to Bumthang’s first valley called Chumey valley. Bumthang district consist of four valleys: Chumey, Choekhor, Tang, and Ura.

Bumthang Altitude: 2600m-4500m. Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, this deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the ancestral home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin.

We will proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way, visit yathra (textile weaving) factory at Chumey, where the yathra are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their Looms.

Visit the following places:

Tharpaling monastery : The Monastery located at 3,600m is composed of a series of buildings overlooking the Chhume valley. It was first established by Lorepa (1187–1250), a Drukpa Kagyupa lama from Tibet. The temple that he is said to have founded is a small building, lower than the main complex.
Nimalung Monastery: The Lhakhang was co-founded by Dasho Gonpo Dorji and Doring Trulku Jamyang Kunzang, the third mind-aspect reincarnation of Terton Jigme Lingpa in 1935.
Evening: Eplore Bumathng town at your own leisure

Overnight in Bumthang

Day 10, March 30, 2016 (Wed): Bumthang

Visit the following places in Bumthang:

Jakar dzong (fortress of the White-bird): Built in 17th century, Jakar dzong and its forces for centuries defended against a host of enemies from both outside and within the country.  The name “Jakar” originates from this place.  It was said that lama Nagi Wangchuck, great grandfather of Shabdrung, came to this place and was looking for a site to build his hermitage.  He saw a white bird flying from the place where the dzong stands today, so he took this as a good omen and named the place “Jakar,” meaning “white bird.”  The Jakar dzong houses the Bumthang district headquarter and is home to about 60 resident monks.

Kurjey Lhakhang: Kurjey means “body imprint.”  Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambava) first came to this place to help cure the local king who was being made seriously ill through the malevolent actions of the local deity. Guru Rimpoche meditated in one of the caves and left his body imprint inside (thus the name Kurjey).  As the protector of Buddhism, he subdued the local deity, a feat that allowed him to convert the king and local people to Buddhism.  This event marked the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan.

Tamshing Lhakhang: Pema Lingpa was the only religious treasure discoverer born in Bhutan in the 15th century, and he was also a great artist and architect.  This temple was built by him.  The paintings you will see date back to same time period and were painted by him.  There is also an iron chain vest forged and used by Pema Lingpa during the construction of temple.  Nowadays, people carry this chain around the temple three times to cleanse their sins.

Wangdichholing Palace: this was built in 1857 on the site of the battle camp of the Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal. It was the first palace that was not designed as a fortress. Wangdichholing was the early home of the third king, who moved the court to Punakha in 1952.

Overnight in Bumthang

Day 11, March 31, 2016 (Thur): Bumthang –Paro (Domestic Flight)
Morning: Fly from Bumthang to Paro

Paro Farm House: visit a local farm house and experience authentic Bhutanese lifestyle and local hospitality. Explore their little village and enjoy a meal with the family of the house.

Overnight in Paro

Day 12, April 01, 2016 Friday) : Departure to Kolkata (INDIA) OR Home OR home via Bangkok (for those not taking the extension)
Transfer to Paro airport for departure to Kolkata on KB400 at 11.00am.

TASHI DELEK!

**All flight schedules are subject to change and the program may be modified due to these change. All driving times are approximate and depend on the weather and road conditions.

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Quotation Per Itinerary 

LIMITED GROUP SIZE

  1. 11 Nights Accommodation with full board (B/L/D)
  2. All transfers and tour in a comfortable vehicle
  3. English speaking Tour Guide
  4. Local Taxes and service charges
  5. Entrance fees per itinerary
  6. Visa fee *subject to change.

International airfare (to Bangkok, return from Kolkata quoted separately and subject to change), tips/gratuities to guide and driver, beverages other than those served with meals, personal expenses, trip insurance and any items not specifically mentioned.

Also excludes overnight costs in Bangkok & other stops en route. (hotel/transfers/meals etc)

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Completed booking forms must be sent in with your tour deposit of $500 per person to reserve space on this Bhutan tour.

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