Trip Type : Group Tour
Bhutan Tours: Spring Festivals, Families And Nature tour

Bhutan Tours: Spring Festivals, Families And Nature

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Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
12 days
From: $ 4,495 $ 375 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Explore Paro
  • Visit Memorial Chorten, Textile Museum and Paper factory
  • Visit Gangtey Gompa and Black Crane Center
  • Explore Punakha Dzong
  • Experience Hike to Taktsang Monastery and visit Kyichu

Short Description

Experience Bhutan and its people by meeting families, seeing a variety of festivals, staying in small hotels, rafting the rivers, enjoying traditions such as hot stone baths, and sampling regional foods. Travel routes in Bhutan may be somewhat limited, but what you do in the country is as broad as your imagination. This special trip includes the Punakha Serda in the spring and the Jambay and Prakar Tsechu in the fall. In addition, you can visit a local school for arts and crafts just outside Thimphu, take time to meet with local people, and experience many other very unique adventures.

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Paro
End City Paro

Trip Includes

  • Accommodations as listed, including all service charges and taxes
  • All ground transfers
  • All private excursions with expert English-speaking guides
  • All meals as indicated with B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner
  • Bhutan visa

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Bhutan And Drive Thimphu

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Riverview Hotel, Hotel Druk Or Taj Tashi

From your entrance point to Bhutan, you need to check in at the Druk Air counter at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight to Bhutan. Be sure to bring your visa letter and your e-ticket. On arrival in Paro, your visa is then finally stamped.

After clearing customs and immigration, you will be met by your guide representing Myths and Mountains in Bhutan.

Paro is at an altitude of 7545’, and serves as an ideal spot for rice growing. The special red rice from this valley has found a home in some of the restaurants in our country also. The valley is also famous for its fruits – strawberries, apples, pears, plums, and peaches. The town center, built in 1985, is quite new, and the main street is parallel to the Paro Chhu (river). If time permits either today or at the end of the trip, you can poke through the many handicraft shops, visit the archery field and get a sense of the place.

Touring in Paro often depends on your arrival time, which can be anywhere from mid-morning to late afternoon. In Paro, you can at least change some money at the bank and perhaps stop and visit the Paro Museum, to get a sense of a bit of Bhutan’s history.

From the museum, you head out along the Paro-Thimphu Road. Along the way, you will stop at an ancient iron bridge, built by one of Bhutan’s great leaders.

As you near Thimphu, you may stop at a private home – the ancestral home of one of Bhutan’s cultural writers and travel experts. Here the owner is building a small museum and, if possible, you can stop for tea and learn about family customs. Note this visit is not always an option.

Once in Thimphu, you can explore the town a bit, and watch the sunset from Buddha Park.

Day 2: Tour Thimphu

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Riverview Hotel, Hotel Druk Or Taj Tashi

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, you tour the city. Thimphu contrasts sharply with most cities you have visited throughout the world. It is a capital city without traffic lights and where no cars existed until 1962. Although people lived and farmed the valley and hills bordering the Thimphu Chhu for many years, the town did not really develop until it became the capital city in 1961. Even then, the population growth was not huge until the 1990s. Today’s Thimphu is trying desperately to keep up with the growth of its population, increase in the number of autos, and ever-reproducing dogs! Today will be an introduction to the city.

Your first stop will be the Memorial Chorten to join the local people who begin their day by honoring the gods.

The day includes is a visit to the Textile Museum, where you can get learn how textiles are woven in Bhutan and the designs that are particular to different parts of the country.

There will also be time to visit the traditional paper factory.

Lunch will be in town!

In the afternoon, you can talk a walk through a small village near Thimphu to a local school for Arts and Crafts.

Then at the end of the day, you drive up to the Zilukha Nunnery hopefully in time for the evening service

Day 3: Fly Bumthang. Fall: evening Jambay Lhakhang Drup

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Jakar Village Lodge Or Amankora Bumthang

After breakfast, you drive back to Paro and catch KB 1002 (1050/1125) to Bumthang. The flight lands in Choskhor Valley in Jakar, the major trading center for the Bumthang region.

In the afternoon, you can visit Tamshing Lhakang. Tamshing Langrub Chholing, or Temple of the Good Message, was established by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1501, and is the most important Nyingma-pa gompa in the country. The lhakang contains original paintings by the founder. Those on the first-floor date from the surviving paintings in Bhutan. A little distance from the temple is a water mill, where people still make flour from barley and wheat.

After visiting Tamshing, you can wander around town. A small town, Jakar is easy to walk and find your way around.

Fall: Tonight, you head to the temple grounds for the opening Tsechu fire ceremony – Jambay Lhakhang Drup.

Day 4: Spring: Visit Valley, Fall: Watch festival and then sightsee

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Jakar Village Lodge Or Amakora Bumthang

You have the next few days to spend in Bumthang and explore some of the valleys – four in number, including Chummi, Choskhor, Tang, and Ura. Many of the small villages you see along the way have retained their centuries-old way of life, and the handicrafts from this area are exceptional. Bumthang boasts a rich religious and political past. The valleys were the home of the most famous saints of the Nyingma-pa tradition, particularly Pema Lingpa, who was born in the region and was a Terton, a discoverer of religious treasures. The valley was a separate kingdom until the middle of the 17th century, when it was conquered by the Drukpas.

There is much to see. Your day begins with a visit to Jambay Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in the country, Jambay Lhakang was built by Songtsen Gampo in 659AD, and visited by Guru Rimpoche when he came to Bumthang.

Fall: In the fall, the Jambay Lhakang Tsechu Festival will be under way. Tsechus are festivals to honor Guru Rimpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. They depict the story of how good conquers evil. You can spend as much time watching the dances as you wish. When you are ready, you return to the valley for more sightseeing.

In this valley of temples, one of the most famous and most loved is Kurjey Lhakhang, built in 1652 by the Penlop of Trongsa. A cave beneath the oldest Lhakhang is said to contain the body (kur) print (jey) of Guru Rimpoche, who meditated here on how to save the life of the King, Sindhu Raja, and convert the area rulers to Buddhism. You can take a short and lovely walk here from Jambay Lhakang.

From here, if time and energy permit, you take a short drive to Wangdicholing Palace. built in 1857 and the home of Bhutan’s first and second kings. During the reign of the third king, about 60 years ago, the capital was moved to Punakha.

This palace used to be a training ground for medieval administrators. At an early age, a boy was sent by his family to the court of the king. The boy was trained in everything from sweeping, to caring for horses, to reading and writing. At the age of 15, he entered manhood, and usually received his sword. Those who did not qualify for a sword remained stable boys. This was an old tradition, one that died during the reign of the Third King and the arrival of modern schools.

Day 5: spring: visit the tang valley. Fall: drive prakar in chummi Valley For Festival Or Visit Tang Valley

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Jakar Village Lodge Or Amakora Bumthang

Spring: Today, you can drive up into the most remote of Bumthang’s valleys – the Tang Valley. The area is the birthplace of one of Bhutan’s major saints, Terton Pema Lingpa, the discoverer of treasures hidden by Guru Rimpoche. The road passes his birthplace, Chel, marked by a small chorten. Here you can visit the Ugyenchholing Palace, today an excellent museum built by the family that used to live there and offering wonderful insights into the world of the noble families of Bhutan.

After visiting the palace, you can have lunch outside overlooking the valley below. Then, those who wish can take a walk through fields leading down to the river, and those who wish to drive can do so and meet the walkers.

The road back continues on to Mebartso, the site where Terton Pema Lingpa discovered the treasures, and Tang Rimochen, where Guru Padma meditated. You can stop and spend some time down in Mebartso and imagine the feat accomplished by Pema Lingpa!

Fall: Today you have a choice. You can head back to the Chummi Valley to watch the Prakar Tsechu and enjoy time with the locals or you can visit the Tang Valley When you are ready, you will return to Jakar for the night.

Day 6: Drive Gangtey

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Dewachen Hotel, Rkpo, Or Gangtey Goenpa Lodge

This morning, you will drive out to Gangtey via Trongsa, about a 7 to 8-hour drive. The distance is not great, but the roads and terrain are “happening”. As you drive, keep your eyes open for leopards, black and golden langur monkeys, spotted deer, and herds of Yak on this drive.

Your first stop is in Trongsa, in the shadow of the Black Mountain Range. Here you can visit the Museum – probably the best in the country – and explore the Trongsa Dzong.

Continuing on, you come to the Chhendebji Chorten. Depending on timing, you might have a picnic here.

From here, it is about 3-4 hours or so to the Gangtey Valley. Gangtey is the fall home to the aristocratic and endangered black-necked cranes (grus nigriclis), who migrate to Bhutan in the winter from Tibet and China. Villagers have many folk stories about these beautiful birds.

In 1992, about 180 birds arrived from Tibet to feed in their traditional valley home. In the fall, depending on weather, one may see the cranes.

Day 7: Visit Gangtey

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Dewachen Hotel, Rkpo Or Gangtey Goenpa Lodge

Today you can begin with a visit to the Black-Necked Crane Center, and, if you are there in the fall, hopefully spend time in the center’s nearby blind to view the breeding cranes. Also, various walks or mountain bike rides through this magnificent valley can be arranged.

You visit the reconstructed Gangtey Gompa, sitting at the head of the valley, and stroll through the quaint Gangtey Village or hike along some of the trails. With luck, you will see some of the cranes.

Day 8: Drive Punakha And Explore. Spring: Watch Festival

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Dhumra Farm Resort, Kunzang Zhing Or Uma Punakha

Leaving Gangtey, you head out this time to Punakha, about a 2 1/2 -hour drive.

Spring: In the spring, after lunch, you can stop by the Punakha Dzong to watch the Punakha Drupchen festivities.

Fall: After lunch, you can visit Namgyal Monastery and perhaps watch the debates. Note that you will have to leave a donation for the monastery.

Later in the afternoon, you can take a sunset walk across the rice fields to Chimi Lhakang, built by the famous Drukpa Kinley, and a haven for women who want to have children.

Day 9: Visit Punakha Spring: Enjoy Punakha Serda

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Dhumra Farm Resort, Kunzang Zhing Or Uma Punakha

Spring: This morning, you head to the Dzong early, as very soon you will find it with wall-towall people – all there to watch the Punakha Serda celebration, re-enacting the victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetans in 1639. Their “George Washington,” Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, led the Bhutanese army.

Fall: This morning, after an early breakfast, you can climb up the hill and visit the beautiful Kamsum Yuelly Temple built by the Second Queen.

On your return, you will visit a home and have a cooking lesson while you prepare your lunch. After lunch, you visit the Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on a site occupied by a saint, Ngagai Rinchen. It was the second of Bhutan’s dzongs and Guru Rimpoche foretold its creation.

According to Guru Rimpoche, a man named Namgyal would arrive and build a temple at the base of a hill that resembled an elephant.

The dzong has weathered fires – some accidental, and some not – floods, and earthquakes.

You end your day with an evening visit to Nalanda Monastery, where you can witness a debate. Note that you will need to leave a donation here when you leave. Suggested donation - $100

Day 10: Drive Paro Via Thimphu

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace, Nak-Sel Boutique Hotel & Spa, Or Uma Paro, Amankora Or Six Senses

Leaving Punakha, you head over Dochu La, back to Thimphu for lunch. The road climbs up through maple and blue pine forests to the 10,334’ Dochu La (La means “pass”). Here, if the sky is clear, you can catch beautiful views of the Himalayas. According to the Bhutanese, the area around the pass is holy, and inhabited by a variety of spirits. Beware! One of the spirits is a man-eating demoness.

Once on the top of the pass, you have an option for a gradual hike up the south-face through thick rhododendron trees. They are not bushes as the trees stand almost 20-30 meters high. Three quarters of the way up, the trail gets noticeably steeper and you need to slow down, in order to avoid problems with altitude.

Your final destination is the Lungchuzeykha Temple, standing at 11,811 ft. Lungchuzeykha is a beautiful temple, restored by the Queen Mother HM Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. The woodwork inside is mostly from cypress trees and has anti-bug properties. The highlight of Lungchuzeykha is the 360-degree view of all the snow-clad peaks of Bhutan.

As you begin your descent from the pass, note the change in vegetation. Your maples and pines have given way to rhododendrons (ours came originally from the Himalayas!), magnolias, cypress, hemlock and fir. Also prominent is the Daphne, related to our laurel and used for paper-making. Dropping further in altitude, you begin to see tropical vegetation such as cactus, bamboo, and citrus. Don’t forget that Bhutan is about the same latitude as Florida, so it is altitude, not latitude, which determines the vegetation.

After lunch in Thimphu, you continue on to Paro. On the way, you can stop and visit the READ Library in Changiji. Changiji is a worker’s suburb of Thimphu, and very different from what you have seen of Bhutan. The library was built to provide opportunities for preschooler’s, materials and computers for students, aswell as a place where older people could learn to read or seek out information.

On arrival in Paro, you will check into your hotel. In the afternoon, you are free to wander, enjoy the spa or shop. You can also visit the Paro Dzong or explore the ruins of the Drukyel Dzong.

Day 11: Visit Taktsang Monastery And Kyichu

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Gangtey Palace, Nak-Sel Boutique Hotel & Spa, Or Uma Paro, Amankora Or Six Senses

Today, your last day in Bhutan is very special. You will take horses and ride up, or walk if you prefer, to Taktsang Monastery. Taktsang is a sacred pilgrimage site where the great tantric mystic, Padma Sambhava, flew on the back of the tiger and brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. The monastery clings to a cliff soaring 3,000 ft. above the valley floor at an altitude of 10,000 ft. Sadly, Taktsang had been partly destroyed by a fire. Lunch will be at the cafeteria on the way. The way is steep and it is dangerous to ride the horses down the hill. As such, you will return slowly, walking downhill for approximately 2 hours.

Back in town, you visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the charming Kyichu Gompa; do some shopping and have tea at a local restaurant. In the evening, you will have a farewell dinner. After traveling half way across Bhutan, to simply sit and enjoy a final dinner seems a fitting end to a wonderful trip.

Day 12: Depart Bhutan For Home

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, you will catch your flight out of Bhutan and back to your country of entrance.

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Price Per Day: $ 375 per day
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Start DateEnd DateDouble StandardAvailability 
Nov-11-2019Nov-22-2019$ 3,995Limited Reserve
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 520

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Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

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Bhutan Tours: Spring Festivals, Families And Nature

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Bhutan is amazing!

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Bhutan is amazing! We are at a loss for words and overwhelmed with the sights, people, and experiences. Paro festival was incredible! We were very lucky to see the king when he arrived for the festival. Bumtang was beautiful,  but the 8 hour bus ride was like Mr Toad's Wild ride at Disneyland.  Part of the experience. Thanks for your help in setting up a great trip! Wishing you the very best from Bhutan!
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Bhutan is amazing!

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Bhutan is amazing! We are at a loss for words and overwhelmed with the sights, people, and experiences. Paro festival was incredible! We were very lucky to see the king when he arrived for the festival. Bumtang was beautiful,  but the 8 hour bus ride was like Mr Toad's Wild ride at Disneyland.  Part of the experience. Thanks for your help in setting up a great trip! Wishing you the very best from Bhutan!
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Punakha was very interesting and knowledgeable

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"Seeing the world has been a lifelong passion taking me to many far off and obscure places. Bhutan has been in my sights for years and has even been scheduled a few times, but never worked out. When I contacted you, I was very impressed with your hands-on knowledge and appreciation of Bhutan and its wonderful people and unusual culture. Your planning and implementing of the trip we designed together was exceptional. You must have listened very well.

The guide and driver could not have been better. Our guide, Chencho, was an extraordinary guy with a deep and intimate knowledge of Bhutanese Buddhism as well as history, horticulture and ornithology. I ask many questions. When he was not sure of the answer he would search to find out, though that was rare. Sangay, the author at the farm resort in Punakha was very interesting and knowledgeable regarding the fusion of Animism and Buddhism. We also enjoyed our dinners in Jakar Village with the old administrator who in his time was quite an important guy in Bhutanese politics. We had wonderful meals and a few raucous political debates. I loved it!

We cannot thank you enough for your efforts and a remarkable adventure that went beyond our expectations!"
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Our second guide was fabulous

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Paro Festival was all we had hoped for. Our second guide was fabulous. He was attuned to what we wanted and made good suggestions and changes to the itinerary as needed.
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You all do an amazing job

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You all do an amazing job. I have recommended M & M to everyone who expresses an interest in travel. I can think of no other company, besides yours, that really shares my values about educational and responsible tourism.
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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay

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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay, ethnic groups near Bac Ha Market day! | Favorite Guide: Cuong! Experienced, passionate, straightforward, funny. | Helpful Tip: Use Myths & Mountains. They’re the best!
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Details

Optional Activities

Optional Activities

  • Biking In Punakha: $70/pp/day
  • Rafting In Punakha: $225/person for 1-5 people)
  • Mandala Making In Thimphu: $450
  • More activities and speakers available on request

Optional Hotels

  • Druk Hotel: From $235/Room/Night Based On A Double Occupancy
  • Kunzang Zhing Resort: From $320/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Nak-Sel Boutique Hotel And Spa: From $243/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Uma Paro Or Punakha: From $777/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Rkpo Gangtey: From $155/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Gangtey Goempa Lodge: From $988/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Amankora: From $1550/room/night based on double occupancy
  • Six Senses: From $1605/room/night based on double occupancy
  • The Taj Tashi: $758/room/night based on double occupancy

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

Trip ID#:

BhuFesMyt

Trip Excludes

  • International airfare
  • Airfare from Asia Gateway to Paro (broken out separately)
  • Upgraded hotels, broken out separately above
  • Lodging between your destination and United States
  • Meals where not indicated with a B,L,D
  • Tips/gratuity (porters, drivers, local guides, etc.)
  • Domestic and international airport taxes
  • Other items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic beverages, etc.

Meals Included:

10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches and 10 Dinners

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