Punakha Festival tour

"Unique festival because it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle"

Punakha is located in the western part of Bhutan is the winter home of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Punakha has been of critical importance since the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 17th century.Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is known as the unifier of Bhutan as a nation state and he was the one who gave Bhutan and its people the distinct cultural identity that identified Bhutan from the rest of the world.During 17th century Bhutan was invaded several times by Tibetan forces seeking to seize a very precious relic, the Ranjung Kharsapani. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal led the Bhutanese to victory over the Tibetans and to commemorate the triumph he introduced the Punakha Drubchen. Since then Punakha Drubchen (also known as Puna Drubchen) became the annual festival of Punakha Dzongkhag.The Punakha Drubchen is a unique festival because it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The pazap or local militia men, dress in traditional battle gear and reenact the ancient battle scene. This reenactment harkens back to the time when in the absence of a standing army, men from the eight Tshogchens or great village blocks of Thimphu came forward and managed to expel the invading forces from the country. Their victory ushered in a period of new-found internal peace and stability.In 2005 another festival known as Punakha Tshechu was introduced by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra and the then Home Minister His Excellency Lyonpo Jigme Yoedzer Thinley. The Tshechu was introduced in response to the requests made by Punakha District Administration and local peopleto host a Tshechu in order to better preserve Buddhist teachings and keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rimpoche.The best two Punakha Festival Tour not only play an important role in preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions but also provide devout Buddhists with an opportunity for prayer and pilgrimage. They reflect the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and are very special in the eyes and hearts of both Bhutanese and tourists who visit Bhutan.
Tour NamePunakha Festival Tour
Duration10 Nights/11 Days
Off Season CostsUSD: 2,000 per person
Peak Season CostsUSD: 2,500 per person

Note: For groups of less than three, the Royal Government of Bhutan imposes surcharges; surcharges are separated from minimum daily tour prices. You can also visit Tourism Department official website http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/minimum-daily-package

Tour Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive Paro.

Day 02: Thimphu only.

Day 03: Thimphu to Phubjikha.

Day 04: Phobjikha valley sightseen.

Day 05: Phobjikha / Punakha.

Day 06: Punakha Festival.

Day 07: Punakha Shula Temple trek 8 hours.

Day 08: Punakha / Haa Valley.

Day 09: Haa Valley to Paro Valley Chella Pass.

Day 10: Paro Tiger Nest Hike.

Day 11: Depart

Day 01: Arrive Paro
The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley below. Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town will be a fine sight. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport, and after completion of arrival formalities you will be transferred to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, an exciting blend of tradition and modernity.

Overnight at the three stars: Hotel Thimphu Tower or Migmar Hotel

Day 02: Thimphu only
Today’s full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley includes, visit to;
National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the Father of modern Bhutan”) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Then proceed to Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue under construction in the mountains of Bhutan. The statue will house over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Buddha Dordenma itself, the Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. From Buddha points you can also do around two hours hike to the Changjakha Temple is very beautiful hike.

After lunch visit archery spot ground which is national game of Bhutan and evening visit Trashichho Dzong: This impressive fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.
Overnight at the three stars: Hotel Thimphu Tower or Migmar Hotel

Day 03: Thimphu to Phubjikha
After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

Then continue onwards, reaching Wangduephodrang town in time for lunch. From Dochu-la pass, it is a long, winding descent into the Wangduephodrang valley, which is about 1,700m below the pass. Take lunch at Wangduephodrang town, and then continue on to Phubjikha across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large white chorten prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.

In the mountains east of Wangduephodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 15th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km, down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quite, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Overnight in Dewachen Resort.

Day 04: Phobjikha valley sightseen
After breakfast visit crane information centre and explore the Phobjikha valley.

Overnight in Dewachen Resort.

Day 05: Phobjikha / Punakha
After breakfast drive to Punakha. On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the center of the Lobesa valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings and due to this also known as ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple or you can drive directly to temple.

Overnight in Zhingkham Resort: https://www.facebook.com/zhingkhamresort/

Day 06: Punakha Festival
After breakfast drive back to Punakha and afternoon visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan’s capital until 1955, and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The latest flood, in October, 1994, caused great damages to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue.
Overnight in Zhingkham Resort: https://www.facebook.com/zhingkhamresort/

Day 07: Punakha Shula Temple trek 8 hours.
After breakfast drive 5 minutes to Chayel then trek start to Shula Temple and on the way back visit Khamsum temple standing regally on the hill above the Punakha valley, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten is a classic example of gorgeous traditions and architecture of Asian country.

This chorten, however, is unique. It is not designed for community worship or for monastic retreat or education like other Buddhist Institute and Colleges. It is designed as a magical tool. It was built by the Queen Mother for heading off the negative forces and transportation peace and harmony for all the living beings. The thing that sets this Chorten apart is that it was designed on the principals delineate within the Holy Scriptures instead of trendy engineering manuals. The golden spire and labyrinthine wall patterns square measure fine example of art and traditions of Asian country.
First, tourists have to park the bus on the west bank of the river, and walk across a suspension bridge. The iron bed and steel cable look new, but the towers look old. No one knows exactly how old. The first iron suspension bridges in Bhutan were built over 500 years ago, around circa 1440 and 5 of those are known to be still in use!

Overnight in Zhingkham Resort: https://www.facebook.com/zhingkhamresort/

Day 08: Punakha / Haa Valley (7 hours’ drive)
After breakfast, drive to Haa valley on the way lunch and overnight in local home stay where you will get more chance to interact with house owner and understand the Bhutanese traditions and cultures.

Day 09: Haa Valley to Paro Valley Chella Pass.
The isolated Haa valley lies southwest of the Paro valley, hidden behind the high ridge of the Cheli La. Despite easy access to Tibet, the remote valley has always been off the major trade routes and continues to be on the fringes of tourism.

After breakfast visit Haa’s 50-strong monk body is housed not in the Dzong (fort-monastery) but in the Lhakhang Kharpo (White Chapel) complex, just south of the Dzong. The atmospheric central chapel has statues of the Tselanam Sum trinity (Tsepame, Namgyelma and Drolma) and has a statue of local protector App Chhundu.
Then slowly drive Paro via Che le la Pass one of the highest vantage points, 3,800 meters. In May month you will encounter many flowers and you can marvel at the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys while watching the famous Himalayan yaks grazing in the distant horizon.
From the Cheella Pass if weather is clear you see the above mountain.
If you want you can also do hike towards Kila Goenpa Nunnery which takes around two hours, is really beautiful walk down the hill through rhododendron and hemlock forest.

After reaching Paro town visit to Ta Dzong, which in the past served as watchtower for Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) and now houses the National Museum. Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring. Overnight at the Tenzinling Resort or Metta Resort in Paro.

Day 10: Paro Tiger Nest Hike
After Breakfast proceeds to Taktsang Palphug Monastery more famous as Paro Taktsang is a Buddhist temple complex which clings to a cliff, 3120 meters above the sea level on the side of the upper Paro valley, Bhutan.
The Taktsang Palphug Monastery is one of the most famous touristic destinations of the country and the cultural icon of Bhutan.

Visiting the Paro Taktsang Monastery is an unforgettable experience thanks to its unique location and the views of surrounding majestic mountains and emerald green valleys.
After lunch, drives up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1647 by the Shabdrung to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetans in war of 1644. After Tiger Nest to do some shopping in Paro Town.
Overnight at the Tenzinling Resort or Metta Resort in Paro.

Day 11: Depart
After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

1. A sustainable development fee of $65 per person per night. This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.
2. 2% Government Tax per Person per Night.
3. All Meals.
4. Daily Mineral Water.
5. English Language Speaking Guide.
6. Comfortable and Luxurious Imported Cars for Internal Transportation with Skilled Driver.
7. Entrance fees for Museums.
8. The Government set package rates is valid for accommodation on twin sharing basis.
9. A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).

  1. Airfare international & Domestic.
  2. Travel Insurance.
  3. Personal shopping.
  4. Alcohol.
  5. Laundry.
  6. Tips for Guide & Driver.

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