17 days
Duration
Asia and the Orient
Destination
Level 3 - Moderate
Activity

Bhutan points of interest small group cultural festival tours

The Bhutan points of interest small group cultural festival tours are  an unhurried journey set in an ocean of calm in a crowded continent.  Bhutan is scenically magnificent. Snow-capped mountains rising above jungle-covered hills and verdant green river valleys where farms and villages are clustered. Centuries of Buddhist tradition inherited from Tibet, their Northern neighbour shape this land with art, dance and  music. Religion has shaped Bhutan's medicine. A dignified and hospitable people, the Bhutanese will welcome you to share their distinctive culture, unpolluted environment, and colourful festivals.

About the tour

From the moment you arrive at Paro’s unpretentious airport you enter a different world. You are enthralled by the majestic architecture of Bhutan’s traditional centres of religious and political power. Impressed  by its huge Dzongs, or fortresses, and  fascinated by the Buddhist artworks within these and smaller temples.  Or probably  be amazed at the monasteries such as the iconic “Tigers’ Nest," which clings to the mountainside above Paro valley. On the Bhutan small group tour you will  visit the remote Haa valley, only recently opened to outsiders. Explore  the capital Thimphu, where you see paper crafted by hand. Admire Bhutan’s national animal, the gentle Takin. Experience  joining  the throngs of locals at a memorial chorten dedicated to the 3rd King. Further afield you will visit botanical gardens to view Bhutan’s exotic fauna. Enjoy a day at an authentic village festival,  an incredibly colourful event.  This is an opportunity for you  to marvel at Bhutan’s famous masked dancers. These groups of dancers  perform religious rites in timeless representations of Buddhist legends. You will also  see  and learn about the creation of Bhutan’s distinctive woven fabrics. Visit markets where trade continues almost unchanged with the passage of time. You will have a guided tour of a traditional medicine hospital. You can also walk through a beautiful river valley to see an old manor house that hosts a museum of life in earlier days.

A comfortable tour, where English is the second language

English is Bhutan’s second language. You have time with the local guides to wander and meet local people throughout your travels. Travel around Bhutan in a comfortable modern coach at a slow pace, accompanied by  knowledgeable local guides as well as your tour leader. Accommodation is in clean, modern hotels that nonetheless retain Bhutanese character. You dine on fresh and healthy local produce during the tour.

Conclusion for Bhutan points of interest tour

The Bhutan points of interest small group cultural festival tour  is a unique opportunity to see one of the most exotic lands on earth. An independent culture that selects those aspects of the modern world that it needs while retaining its own colourful and fascinating culture. Bhutan is a special place, a land you will always remember with pleasure and a memory you will always treasure. For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
See and shop for Bhutan’s extraordinarily distinctive woven fabrics and other treasures in markets and at the National Textile Museum.
2
Visit Chimi Lhakang, a popular fertility temple honouring the “Divine Madman,” religious folk-hero Drukpa Kinley.
3
Spend a day at Nalakhar Tsechu, a colourful village festival featuring Bhutan’s famous sacred masked dance performers.
4
Take a walk or horseride through a forest to Bhutan’s iconic “Tigers’ Nest” (Taktshang) Buddhist monastery.
5
Tour Bhutan’s great fortresses (dzongs), enormous stone-walled religious and political centres that tower above the surrounding country.

Overview: After arriving in Bangkok, we make our own way to the hotel, where we meet our tour leader and come together for drinks and a tour orientation. We have overnight accommodation at Bangkok Airport for our early flight to Paro.

Accommodation: Best Western Airport Hotel or similar

Overview: After flying in from Bangkok, we drive to Thimpu (1.5 hours drive), with a stop at Tamchhog Lhakhang, a relatively small dzong that has many fruit trees, orange and apple, around and inside of it. The  people who take care of the Dzong also herd cattle, and can be seen caring for them as you continue your tour around the area. In the afternoon, we visit the Golden Buddha and Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi (or "Dharma Raja"), the head of Bhutan's civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country. We stay overnight in Thimpu. (D)

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace Hotel or similar

Overview: Overview: This morning we do some sightseeing in Thimphu, visiting the National Textile Museum, handmade paper factory, as well as the School of Traditional Arts. In the afternoon, we drive out of the capital and walk a couple of hours to visit Cheri Gompa, where Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyei establised the first body of monks in 1620 (2.7 km walk). We return to Thimphu for the night. (L,D)

Accommodation: Jomolhari Hotel or similar

Overview: This morning, we visit the bustling weekend market in Thimphu, and join the local residents at the popular Changangkha Temple. We then visit the local stadium to watch an unforgettable archery contest. In the afternoon, we will visit The Folk Heritage Museum and the Takin Reserve to see Bhutan’s distinctive national animal. We stay overnight in Thimpu. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Jomolhari Hotel or similar

Overview: In the morning, we drive east to the Dochu-la (la means “pass”), where, weather  permitting, there are panoramic views of the Himalayan snow-peaks. The drive takes approximately 4 hours. We will visit the modern Victory Temple at Dochu-la, which was built to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian insurgents in the early 1980's. In the afternoon, we visit Punakha Dzong, perhaps the most photogenic of Bhutan’s Dzongs, situated at the confluence of two fast-flowing turquoise rivers. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Hotel Vara or similar

Overview: Today, we experience the delights and spectacle of the Punakha Festival, held in Punakha Dzong. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Hotel Vara or similar

Overview: In the morning we drive (via Pele La) through jungle covered hills to Trongsa, the gateway to eastern Bhutan. Our journey takes around 7 hours. In the afternoon we will visit the spectacularly located Trongsa Dzong and Trongsa Royal Museum, housed in the watchtower above the Dzong. This small museum focuses on the history of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty from the time of King Urgyen Wangchuk, who became Bhutan’s first king in 1907. We stay overnight in Trongsa. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Yangkhil Resort or similar

Overview: In the morning we drive to Bumthang via Yotong La (approx. 4 hours). Bumthang is Bhutan’s second biggest town and an ancient centre of religious beliefs. Spread out widely over a valley, Bumthang is an ancient trading centre and has a number of sacred sites associated with Guru Rinpoche, who is believed to have introduced Buddhism into Bhutan in the 8th century. In the afternoon we will visit Jakar Dzong situated on a ridge above the valley, the 7th century Jambay Lhakang, and the 17th century Kurjey Lhakang. We stay overnight in Bumthang. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gongkhar Guesthouse or similar

Overview: In the morning we drive to the beautiful Tang valley (2 hours drive, each way) where there are several small temples and relics beside a flowing river. We walk across fields and up a hill to Ugyen Chholing Palace, an old manor house that is now a richly endowed folk museum. The palace is located on top of the hill at the village of Kizum, the walk up takes approximately 45 minutes each way.  We will take lunch in the gardens overlooking the valley before returning to Bumthang in the late afternoon. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gongkhar Guesthouse or similar

Overview: Today we take a three-hour day walk to Ngang Lhakhang (3 hours walk and also accessible via our vehicle if needed), a Buddhist monastery in the Cheokhor Valley of central Bhutan. A private temple, Ngang Lhkahng was built in the 16th century by a Tibetan Iama named Namkha Samdrip. We return to our hotel in the evening for dinner. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gongkhar Guesthouse or similar

Overview: From Bumthang we travel to Gangtey in the remote Phobjikha valley with a stop at Chendibji, where there is a mani wall of sacralised stones and a temple in the Nepali style that is said to ward off the threat from a demoness who formerly lived in this valley. We will have time to stop and enjoy views and sites such as wildlife and yak-herding camps beside the road as we cross mountain passes. The drive today will take approximately 8 hours. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Hotel Dewachen or similar

Overview: Gangtey is the seasonal home of the Black-necked crane, which migrates across the Himalayas between Gangtey and northern Tibet. We will visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated) and have the opportunity to walk through the valley and view rural Bhutan, with its distinctive farmhouses and hospitable people. The walk starts at the Dewachen hotel and passes by the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, which has lots of information on the valley and its famous migrating birds. From here the clients walk to Beta Village where there is a small school, which they are welcome to visit if it is open. Then the walk continues to Gangtey Gompa from where they can walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard) and where they can hopefully see some birds. The walk continues from the end of the nature trail to Kingathang village where they can visit a temple built by the Queen Mother. From Kingathang, we walk via Yusa village back to our hotel. The valley is almost entirely flat, and the walks are along a gentle path, the total walk is around 13 km but our vehicle will be available to pick us up at any point of the walk. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gongkhar Guesthouse or similar

Overview: Today, we drive to Paro (approx. 8 hours), stopping on the way to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple built in the 15th century by the Bhutan’s famous religious folk-hero, the “Divine Madman” Drukpa Kinley.. This popular temple is considered a fertility temple, and many young  couples visit it in order to be  blessed with children. After we arrive, we have some free time to walk around the city and do some souvenir shopping. We stay overnight in Paro. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace Hotel

Overview: This morning we enjoy some more sightseeing together in Paro, visiting the Rinpung Dzong, a large monastery and fortress tracing back to the Drukpa lineage of Kagyu School. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. We also visit the National Museum, which features a rich array of displays concerning Bhutan’s religion, culture, and natural history. In the afternoon, we visit the-7th century Kyichu Lhakang, one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites, and the 17th-century Drukgyel Dzong, with its extraordinarily vivid wall paintings. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace Hotel or similar

Overview: From Paro we will drive to Haa town in the Haa valley (3 hours, each way), which has only recently been opened to foreign visitors. We drive through forest and mountain scenery, stopping to visit local temples and monasteries en route, and make a stop at Chele La Pass for a short walk. Afterwards, we drive up to Kila Gompa, a convent inhabited by around 30 nuns. We return to Paro for the night. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace Hotel or similar

Overview: We rise earlier than usual to visit the spectacularly situated Taktshang monastery, a highlight of any visit to Bhutan. This involves a hike of 3-4 hours to reach the site, on a 900 metre acent up to the monastery at 3120 meters. There’s a possibility to hire a horse to go up to the halfway point if required. There is a tea-shop around the half way mark which provides excellent views of the monastery, and some visitors are content with reaching this site. We return in time for lunch, and the rest of the day is at leisure in Paro. (B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace Hotel or similar

Overview: We depart Bhutan from Paro airport in the morning. On arrival in Bangkok, we say our farewells and the tours comes to a close. We recommend booking a late evening flight out of Bangkok. (B)

What's included in our Tour
  • International airfares in economy class – Bangkok- Paro-Bangkok with Druk Air.
  • 16 nights of hotel accommodation.
  • Services of a Tour Leader.
  • Bhutan guide throughout the tour from arrival to departure.
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees.
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure and all overland transport within Bhutan.
  • 15 dinners, 15 lunches, and 16 breakfasts
What's not included in our Tour
  • International flights.
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, alcohol, laundry, and tips.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
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Bhutan points of interest

Tour Reviews

April 4, 2017

The local guide, Drukpa, was exceptional value. When I was ill for a couple of days his care for me, assisted by Len, was way beyond my expectation.

April 4, 2017

I wish to sincerely thank Len for his amazing care, good cheer and flexibility ! Len has that great combination of simultaneous organisation and flexibility, which is so very necessary on a small trip such as this. In his stride, he was able to re-design the program at short notice due to weather conditions (working closely with Drakpa) and the end result was better than the original plan in my opinion!!! It was clear from day one, that Len cared and payed attention to each and every one of us at every step of the way – going out of his way to assist those who needed it. The trust and camaraderie we developed with Len made the trip that much more special! I miss our laughs.

April 4, 2017

Loved:
National Institute of traditional medicine
hike to Wanyditse Goemba
Punakha festival – definitely a highlight
Hanging the prayer flags at the pass!
The outdoor picnics!
Archery competition!
Dumtse Lhakhang – went to heaven!!!
Dzong Drak Kha (mini tigers nest) amazing views and climb
Sanga Choekor Shedra (Bhuddist College)

Drakpa and his team (Nima and Karma) were just amazing. Drakpa was very knowledgeable, friendly, caring and cheerful. He went out of his way to provide us with information and experiences to help our understanding of the culture and religion, he was funny and entertaining and very professional under pressure.Nima was a very competent driver, and I have never felt in safer hands in the difficult driving conditions we were in.

April 4, 2017

The trip to the Tang valley and the Ogyencholing museum were a highlight. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and one of the best museums I’ve seen. That night and all next day it snowed – what a buzz. Made everything look magical and improved the scenery for the next few days

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