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.
The Ura Valley in Bumthang is well known for its famous dance called Ura Yakchoe. Myth has it that one day an old woman was sitting outside her house and had a visitor (saint or lama) who asked her for a glass of water. While the woman came out with a glass of water, the lama had disappeared leaving behind a sack. Filled with curiosity, she carefully opened the bag and found a statue that is now being displayed annually. This relic has been passed on from generation to generation and it is now in the hands of the descendants of the woman. So, plan your visit to Bhutan to coincide with this festival held in May 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 you’ll explore a fascinating full day tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,350 m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, visit the Changgangkha Monastery, the Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artifacts used in rural households, the National Library, which houses ancient manuscripts or the Painting School. This afternoon, head out of town to explore the Simtokha Dzong, which is the oldest fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629 or visit the National Textile Musuem. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, 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 1,200 m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. Afterwards, visit the Punakha Dzong (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong) built in 1637, which 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. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha – Gangtey (Phobjikha)
After breakfast, we drive a distance of 78-km for about 3 hours via Wangdue Phodrang to Gangtey 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. En route visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (also 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. Along the highway, you’ll photo stops as there are loads of breathtaking views during the journey. Overnight in Gangtey.
Day 5: Gangtey – Trongsa
This morning you will visit the picturesque Gangtey Gompa (monastery). Enjoy the views of the remote Phobjikha glacial valley and the black mountain ranges. After lunch we travel a distance of 120-km for about 5 hours to Trongsa via Pelela Pass at an altitude of 3,300 m. This pass is an important dividing range that separates western from central and eastern Bhutan. The evening is at leisure to relax, enjoy and explore the Trongsa town at an altitude of 2,200 m. Spend the night in Trongsa.
Day 6: Trongsa – Bumthang
Today morning you’ll visit the Trongsa Dzong or the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower), the ancestral home of the present Royal Family where the first two Kings ruled from this dzong. After lunch, you’ll continue the journey for a distance of 68-km for about 2 hours to Bumthang, the most beautiful valley and cultural heartland in the Kingdom. 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. The evening is at leisure to relax, enjoy and explore the delightful surroundings of Bumthang valley at an altitude of 2,600 m. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 7: Ura Yakchoe Festival
Today morning head to Ura to attend a full day festival of Ura Yakchoe. Your guide will explain the story or play of the mask dances in colour costumes performed by monks and laymen including Atsaras (playful clowns). In the evening, return to Bumthang for overnight.
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 Rinpoche 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 – Wangdue Phodrang
Today we drive for a distance of 197-km for about 6-7 hours to Wangdue Phodrang at an altitude of 1,300 m. En route visit the Chendebji Chorten (stupa) just below the road. In the evening, why not stroll the delightful surroundings of Wangdue Phodrang town in Bajo? Overnight in Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 10: Wangdue Phodrang – Paro
This morning visit the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, founded in 1638 by Shabdrung Nagwang Namgyal, which is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu Rivers. Continue into Paro and en route visit the Simtokha Dzong, which is the oldest fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629. Overnight in Paro.
Day 11: Excursion to Paro Taktshang
Today morning we will begin a day 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 Rimpoche flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century. Use the evening to explore the sights of Paro valley, go shopping or stroll in the Paro town. Your last overnight is in Paro.
Day 12: End of Tour
Early morning drive to Paro Airport and your guide from Bhutan Green Travel will accompany you to bid farewell for your onward flight. Goodbye and Good Luck!
Please note that one or more extra days during the festival can be arranged upon request. An extra payment of $15 will incur for the extension of visa.
[21st to 25th April 2013: Ura Yakchoe Festival]
[It’s always advisable to contact us 2 or 3 months in advance. You decide dates depending on your plan of travel, however, time your arrival to coincide the festival dates indicated above]
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
• Transfers to and from the airport
• Twin-sharing accommodation in 3-star hotels
• Upgrades to 5-star luxury accommodation available on request
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
• Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
• Licensed Bhutanese English-speaking guided tours
• All entrance fees to museums and other attractions
• Comfortable transport within Bhutan
• All applicable internal taxes and service fees (including royalty)
• Mineral water
• Visa fees
Services Not Included
• International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
• Travel insurance • Gratuities to guides and driver (we provide suggested guidelines)
• Single room supplement
• Beverages with included meals
• Other personal expenses
Peak Season [March, April, May, September, October & November]
• Solo Traveller: US$ 3148
• Group of two: US$ 3038 per person
• Group of three or more: US$ 2708 per person
Single Room Supplement [Not Included]
Peak Season [March, April, May, September, October & November]
• From US$ 40 – 50 per person per night