The word “tshechu” in the Bhutanese language means literally “an annual religious Bhutanese festival” held in each district on the 10th day of a month of the Bhutanese calendar. The dates and duration of the tshechu vary from one district to another but always take place on or around the 10th day of a month. Such festivals are mostly held in the dzong (fortress) or local monastery in honour of Guru Rimpoche, one who was born from a lotus flower and brought the tantric Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. By attending such festivals, it is believed that one gains merits by seeking forgiveness for their sins in life.
During the tshechu, mask and historical folk dances in colourful costumes are performed by monks and laymen including the Atsaras (Clowns), who amuse the audience with their antics. It is believed that it is very important to know the name of the dances and its significance. Tshechu is also considered as an occasion for social gatherings; to get together with families and kith & kin dressed in their finest traditional clothes and jewellery.
Punakha Dromchoe is the unique festival with a ‘serda’ procession that re-enact the war against Tibetan in the 17th century. So, plan your visit to Bhutan to coincide with this festival held in February/March annually. This tour gives you a real appreciation of both the Buddhist faith and the Bhutanese way of life but also included in the package are other places of interest.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
On arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan for two nights. We will drive a distance of 65-km for about one hour journey to Thimphu. Spend rest of the day at leisure to allow for acclimatisation.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing
Today we explore a fascinating full day tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,300 m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, visit the 13th century Changgangkha Temple and the Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artefacts used in rural households. Later, drive up to the Sangaygang Hill (Radio Tower), visit Mini Zoo for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan and the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) offering a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. Continue to the Centenary Farmer’s Market on the banks of the Wangchhu River selling farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, today you’ll travel to Punakha for a distance of 77-km for about 3 hours journey and stop off at Dochula Pass at an altitude of 3,050 m. On a clear day, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalaya ranges and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. Punakha, at an altitude of 1,300 m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. The Punakha Dzong (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong) was built in 1637 and is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) rivers. Now the dzong serves as the administrative centre of Punakha district and the central monastic body. The evening is at leisure to relax – so why not stroll in the Punakha town? Overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha Dromchoe and Tshechu (Festival)
After breakfast, attend Punakha Dromchoe festival for a full day. Punakha Domchoe is the unique festival with a ‘serda’ procession that re-enact the war against Tibetan in the 17th century. This festival is dedicated to Yeshey Gompo (Mahakala) or Palden Lhamo, the two main protective deities of Drukpas (the people of Bhutan). The religious masked dances in the form of animals, fearsome deities, skulls or just simple human beings are performed during the festival wearing spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade, often decorated with ornaments of carved bone. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 5: Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang
Begin your day by travelling a 13-km journey to Wangdue Phodrang at an altitude of 1,300 m. En route visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – Japanese and several American couples visited this temple and were blessed miraculously with children. After lunch, visit the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. The dzong was founded in 1638 by Shabdrung Nagwang Namgyal and is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu Rivers. Overnight in Punakha or Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 6: Wangdue Phodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha)
After breakfast, we drive a distance of 65-km for about 3 hours to Gangtey in the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha at an altitude of 3,000 m. Phobjikha valley is one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrate to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. Visit the Gangtey Gompa (monastery), enjoy the picturesque views of the remote Phobjikha glacial valley and the black mountain ranges. Along the highway, you’ll photo stops as there are loads of breathtaking views during the journey. Your overnight is in Gangtey.
Day 7: Gangtey – Bumthang via Trongsa
This morning we will travel a distance of 188-km for about 5-6 hours to Bumthang via Trongsa at an altitude of 2,200 m. Visit the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower) or the Trongsa Dzong. Lunch at Trongsa and continue the journey to Bumthang via Yotongla Pass at an altitude of 3,400 m. En route we will stop for a quick visit to the Yathra Weaving Centre at Chumey, where they use yak and sheep wools for yathra products with patterns unique to Bumthang. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang Sightseeing
After breakfast, we set out for a full day sightseeing to experience more of this spiritual heartland of Bhutan. You will visit the following legendary monasteries, temples and dzong: the Jakar Dzong, the Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songsen Gampo of Tibet, the Kurjey Lhakhang, built in 1652 and named after the body imprint of Guru Rimpoche who introduced the Buddhism in Bhutan, the Tamshing Lhakhang, built in 1501 which is the most important Nyingma temple in Bhutan. If time permits, you’ll visit the Mebar Tsho (flaming lake) located along the way to Tang village, where the renowned treasure reveller, Terton Pema Lingpa, discovered treasures from the lake in the late 15th century. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 9: Bumthang – Paro
Today is a day-long journey heading back to Paro via Trongsa and Wangdue Phodrang. The journey passes through the awe-inspiring mountains and lush vegetation along the highway and will photo stops during the journey. Enjoy some leisure time in Paro town in the evening, one of the beautiful valleys in Bhutan and home to the famous Paro Taktshang (also known as Tiger’s Nest), National Museum and Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines). Spend the night in Paro.
Day 10: Hike to Paro Taktshang
This morning you’ll take a hike to Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 m above the Paro valley and takes about a 2-hour climb on a well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century. Afterwards, there may also be time to visit the ruined Drugyal Dzong (fortress), built in 1647 to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders or visit the Kichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan (7th century). Your overnight is in Paro.
Day 11: End of Tour
Your tour ends in Bhutan with a departure transfer to the Paro Airport for your onward journey. Your guide from Bhutan Green Travel will see you off. Goodbye and Good Luck!
Please note that one or more extra days during the festival can be arranged upon request. An extra payment of $15 will incur for the extension of visa.
[15th to 19th February 2013: Punakha Dromchoe and 20th to 22nd February 2013: Punakha Tshechu]
[It’s always advisable to contact us 2 or 3 months in advance. You decide dates depending on your plan of travel, however, time your arrival to coincide the festival dates indicated above]
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
• Transfers to and from the airport
• Twin-sharing accommodation in 3-star hotels
• Upgrades to 5-star luxury accommodation available on request
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
• Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
• Licensed Bhutanese English-speaking guided tours
• All entrance fees to museums and other attractions
• Comfortable transport within Bhutan
• All applicable internal taxes and service fees (including royalty)
• Mineral water
• Visa fees
Services Not Included
• International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
• Travel insurance
• Gratuities to guides and driver (we provide suggested guidelines)
• Single room supplement
• Beverages with included meals
• Other personal expenses
Low Season [January, February, June, July, August & December]
• Solo Traveller: US$ 2400
• Group of two: US$ 2300 per person
• Group of three or more: US$ 2000 per person
Single Room Supplement [Not Included]
Low Season [January, February, June, July, August & December]
• From US$ 25 – 40 per person per night