PARO FESTIVAL DETAILED ITINERARY
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
DAY 02: PARO
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 04: THIMPHU
DAY 05: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – PUNAKHA
DAY 07: PUNAKHA
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 09: DEPART PARO
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountain peaks on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport after you have completed your customs requirements.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing several relics, works of art and handicrafts. Next, drive to the 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. The temple is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa. Inside, you will get a view of the great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 2: PARO (4th Day of Festival)
After breakfast at hotel, we will visit the dzong again to witness the festival of mask dances, a colourful and symbolic performance by monks and men wearing costumes and masks. Women also perform traditional dances.
Dressed in their traditional attire, locals gather at the dzong to show their faith and receive blessings. The dance symbolises the victory of good over evil and performers dance to the music of trumpets, cymbals and flutes.
We will then visit Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The dzong is now being used as a Paro district administrative office headed by Dasho Dzongdag (Governor) and half of the dzong is used by monks headed by the Lam Neten (Chief monk). Evening at leisure in town. Overnight at hotel in Paro
DAY 3: PARO – THIMPHU (Thongdrel at Dawn)
Wake up very early at 2.30am and drive to Paro Dzong to witness the thongdroel (tapestry) where a large religious painting of Guru Rinpoche made of cloth is unfurled on the side of the Dzong. This event signifies the final day of the annual festival. After some rest time at the hotel, we will drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. You can stop on the way to view the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyelpo. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 4: THIMPHU
Begin your day with a short drive to Kuenselphodrang, a popular vantage point, which has the largest sitting statue of Buddha in the world. This site offers a panoramic view of the capital city below and also has several walking trails, which ranges from leisurely to moderate. Then visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the Third King and for world peace. Continue on to the picturesque 12th century Changangkha Temple and Nunnery at Zilukha.
Afterwards visit the weekend vegetable market. Located below the main town, near the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Visit the Folk Heritage Museum featuring an exhibition of items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. After visiting the museum we will walk to School for Arts & Crafts; which is located close to the museum. This is one of the interesting schools where young boys & girls learn 13 different skills of arts & crafts in Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 5: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA
Drive from Thimphu to Phobjikha (5-6 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m), which is marked by 108 little victory Chortens and prayer flags. With clear weather, we can enjoy the view of almost all snow-covered mountains including the highest mountain peak in Bhutan, Gangkar Puensum (7740m). We will take a short walk to stretch our legs and visit Chimi Lhakhang, the temple fo fertility. After lunch at Chimi Lhakhang café, continue our drive crossing over the Punatsangchu River at Wangdiphodrang via old town. In Phobjikha we will visit Gangtey monastery before we check into our hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
DAY 6: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA
After breakfast drive to Punakha. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Male and Female Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location in winter. The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
DAY 7: PUNAKHA
Chorten Nebu Temple Trek: 6 miles, moderate with an elevation gain of 1,200 ft
The walk this morning begins on a quiet country road, before climbing steeply over a rough trail as you make your way through terraced fields of rice to the local Chorten Nebu Temple. After lunch we continue descending through small villages. Although steep in places, the trail from Chorten Nebu towards the valley floor is wide and well defined, as local people visiting the temple, as well as children walking to and from school frequently use it.
Time permitting, we can visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned. Overnight at hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
DAY 8: PUNAKHA – PARO
After leaving Punakha, en-route to Paro you enjoy a walk through a forest with temperate vegetation. Arriving at the royal botanical garden, which is 8,800 feet above sea level, you will enjoy Rhododendron festival performed by local people in and around Hongtso and Thinleygang village. A short walk around the small lake, where you may spot a red panda, one of the rare animals in the Himalayas.
After enjoying a visit through the gardens, we continue our drive to Paro. After settling into comfortable accommodations, there is time to relax before a dinner of local specialties in the hotel restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Paro
DAY 9: PARO (hike to Tiger nest)
After breakfast hike to Taktshang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike, we will arrange a horse for transfer up till the cafeteria). The view of Taktshang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.