Punakha Drupchen: 7 days and 6 nights

Punakha Drupchen is held annually in the early week of March. The festival showcases the battle scene between Bhutanese warriors and the Tibetan invaders. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutanese state, tricked Tibetan invaders in believing that he had thrown Bhutan’s most sacred relic, Rangjung Kharsapani into the river.
Rangjung Kharsapani emerged from the spinal bone of great Tibetan Buddhist saint Tshangpa Gyarey during his cremation. Zhabdrung brought to Bhutan when he fled Tibet in 1616 after a conflict over the throne to estate of Ralung in Tibet.
Disappointed at what they thought was a silly act, the Tibetan forces withdrew. During this festival, Je Khenpo, the religious head of the country throws oranges representing Rangjung Kharsapani into the river where many brave viewers jump into the icy cold river to grab those blessed oranges.

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Duration : 7 days and 6 nights

Nature of tour : Festival and cultural sightseeing

Festival venue : Punakha Dzong, Punakha

Departure date : 18 February 2018

Festival date : 19-24 February 2018

Places covered : Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, Gangtey

Entry : Paro

Exit : Paro

Base Price : $1120

Itineraries

Day 01: Arrival at Paro – drive to Thimphu (capital) (65 km)

Welcome to Bhutan. Guide and driver from See Bhutan Travels will pick you up from Paro international airport. Enjoy your lunch from Paro and drive towards Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Towards evening pay visit to Memorial Chorten.

Memorial Chorten: Located in the heart of Thimphu city, it was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden in memory of her son, Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The three-storey Chorten houses several relics such as Phurba Lhatshog, Kagay, Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa, Guru Tshengye, and Khenlop Chesum. The Chorten is today the spiritual nerve centre of the city.

Buddha Statue: Located at Kuenselphodrang, facing Thimphu valley down bellow is the worlds’ largest and tallest Buddha statue standing at the height of 169 feet (52m). The statue houses one hundred thousand of smaller Buddha statues, the exact replica of the outer Buddha statue. From here one can have a 360 degree view of Thimphu valley.

Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu

Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha (77 km)

After visiting Buddha statue in the morning, we will proceed towards Punakha via Dochula pass. On a clear day, you will have a beautiful view of snow capped mountains of Himalaya. The pass is also decorated with hundred and eight stupa built in the honor of 4th king of Bhutan for his service to the country and his subjects.

After descending down for about an hour, we will reach to a junction where it leads towards Khemae Lhakhang. Pay visit to it and proceed further towards Punakha.

Khemae Lhakhang: Located on a hillock in Lobesa (Punakha), the temple was built in 1499 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the cousin of Lam Drukpa Kunley, on the spot where the latter subdued a demon who was running away in the form of a dog. Lam Drukpa Kunley buried the demon and said there was no dog now (khe – dog; mae – no). Hence, the temple came to be known as the “temple of no dog”. Today however it is pronounced as Chimi Lhakhang. The temple contains the bow and arrows of Lam Drukpa Kunley and a phallus to bless the visitor.

After reaching Punakha, check into your hotel and call it a day.

Day 03: Witnessing Punakha Drupchen

Today we will visit to Punakha Dzong, the venue of Drupchen. The Dzong is situated on a stretch of a land where two rivers – Phochu and Mochu – meet. The dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1937 and named it Pungthang Dewa Chenpai Phodrang, the palace of great bliss. Later it became the final retreat palace for him. The first monarch, King Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned there and it served as the capital of the country until 1955. Today it serves as the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body. The sacred relic Rangjung Kharsapani is also kept in the Machen Temple inside the dzong.

Along with Drupchen, witness the cultural display of Bhutanese people, mingle and interact with them.

Overnight: At hotel in Punakha.

Day 04: Punakha – Gangtey (78 km)

Gangtey valley which is located 78 km east of Punakha is a beautiful and most scenic glacial valley of Bhutan. This valley serves as roosting spot for Black necked crane, one of the rarest and endangered species of bird which migrates during winter months (November, December, January, February) from Tibetan plateaus and northern region of India.

Once at Gangtey, we will go around for short hikes and towards evening pay visit to Gangtey monastery. We will also visit to nearby villages and mingle with local people.

Overnight: At hotel in Gangtey

Day 05: Gangtey – Paro (200 km)

Today we will head back towards Paro. After arriving, we will visit to Paro Ta Dzong and Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Paro Ta Dzong: Located on a spur above Rinpung Dzong, five and a half kilometers’ drive from Tshongdu town, the dzong was built in the mid-17th century as a watchtower overlooking Rinpung Dzong by Lanyongpa Tenzin Drukdra and Chogyal Migyur Tenpa. The circular dzong houses the National Museum of Bhutan.

Paro Rinpung Dzong: Located on the bank of Pachu River, Paro Dzong, formally known as Rinchen Pung Dzong (shortened to Rinpung Dzong), was built in 1644 under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most beautiful and historically important dzongs in the country. Today, it houses both district administration and monastic body.

Overnight: At hotel in Paro

Day 06: Taktsang hike

Another interesting program of our tour is hiking to Taktsang monastery. Taktsang monastery to Bhutan has become like an Eifel tower to Paris. The hike on average will take around 6 hours in total. Horse riding facilities are available (own expense) till view point while hiking up towards the monastery.

History tells that, on this very cliff where the monastery stands today, Guru Rimpoche, the great Buddhist saint flew from Kurtoe Singye Dzong (located in eastern Bhutan) on a back of Tigress to subdue the demon who was opposing him from spreading Buddhism in Bhutan. Hence the name Taktsang, Tigers Lair or nest derived.

After subduing, Guru Rimpoche meditated here for 3 years. The monastery was later built in 1694 by 4th Druk Desi (secular head of the country), Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. Tragically, the monastery was gutted down by fire in the year 1998 but soon it was restored to its former glory.

Overnight: At hotel in Paro

Day 07: Departure

Your Bhutan tour comes to an end today. After breakfast, your guide and driver will see you off at Paro international airport.

Prices

When visiting Bhutan, one should be aware of Peak and Lean tourist season. March, April, May, September, October and November is considered as peak tourist season and December, January, February, June, July and August is considered as lean tourist season in Bhutan.

There is a difference in cost to visit Bhutan during peak and lean tourist season. The reason behind this is; all the tourists visiting Bhutan have to pay a minimum mandatory fee (daily tariff) of US dollar 250 per person per night stay in Bhutan during Peak tourist season and $200 during Lean tourist season.

Surcharges

On top of minimum daily tariff, by virtue of smaller group; solo travelers have to bear a surcharge of $40 per night stay in Bhutan and Dual travelers (two) have to bear a surcharges of $30 per person per night stay in Bhutan (both peak and lean tourist season).

Surcharges are not applicable if the traveling group consists of 3 or more travelers.

Visa Fee

All the tourists visiting Bhutan have to bear a onetime payment of $40 as Bhutan Visa fee on top of mandatory minimum daily tariff and surcharges.

The total tour cost, inclusive of our company’s promotional rates, minimum daily tariff, surcharges and Bhutan visa fees for booking “Punakha Drupchen: 7 days and 6 nights” are as follows:

Single Traveller: USD $ 1480
Dual travelers/2pax: USD $ 1420 per person
3 and Above: USD $ 1120 per person

Note: Promotional rates are available for larger groups. Contact us for more detail.

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Meals during the tour

Some may find food in Bhutan monotonous with the same menu being offered in every restaurants and hotels but these foods are true to Bhutan, unique in its own way, different from anywhere else in the world.

Bhutanese people are very fond of spicy foods and chili lies in the center of every cuisine as its main ingredient. A proper meal from the Bhutanese point of view is a plate full of rice with curry prepared either of vegetable or meat items.

    Different types of curry that one can enjoy along with a plate full of rice (red or white) while in Bhutan are as follows:
  • Jasha Maru (chicken curry)
  • Phaksha (pork curry)
  • Sikam (dried pork)
  • Beef curry
  • Ema Datshi (Hot chili and cheese); refer to as Bhutan’s national dish.
  • Kewa Datshi (Potato and cheese)
  • Fish curry
  • Mix vegetables

Bhutan being cultural destination rather than a culinary, there are not much to choose from but whatever that are offered are authentic and native.

Other than rice and curry, Momo is a popular snack that one will enjoy in Bhutan. Momo is a Tibetan originated dumpling stuffed with cabbages and onions along with beef, pork or cheese.

Other than Bhutanese cuisine, restaurants in Bhutan also serves Chinese and Indian dish such as noodles and Roti. Popular drink one must try while at Bhutan are Suja, the salted butter tea, Ara the locally brewed wine from rice, maize or millet and Bangchang the rice, millet or maize beer. It will be quite a task to get Ara and Bangchang at western parts of Bhutan but are easily available if you are visiting some of the far away villages in eastern parts of Bhutan; they will even offer to you for free as a gesture of hospitability.

Refrain from drinking water directly from tap or streams. Bottled water will be provided everyday by the tour operators.

Tour Vehicle

    Tour vehicles are prearranged by your respective tour operators and its costs are covered by the minimum daily packages that are paid prior to your arrival in Bhutan. Depending on the size of travelers tour vehicles are arranged as follows:

  • 1-2 travelers – SUV cars
  • 3-8 travelers – Mini Bus
  • 8 and above – Coaster Bus
Tour Guide

Tourists to Bhutan are not allowed to travel on their own and it is mandatory to use the service of a professional guide trained and certified by Tourism council of Bhutan. Guides in general speak English but language speaking guides are also available for few languages such as French, German, Chinese and Japanese. Your guide and driver along with tour vehicle will be waiting for you at the port of entry.

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Mobile number: +975 77374799 (24/7)

Office Number: +975 2 339170 (9am – 5 pm Bhutan Standard Time)

We organize Cultural sightseeing tour, Trekking, Mountain biking tour, Festival tour, Luxury tour and White water rafting tour within Bhutan.

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All three meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodations in 3 star rated hotels in twin sharing basis. (4 Stars and 5 Star available on paying extra premium)
Licensed English speaking guide
Transportation in a comfortable SUV cars, Mini Bus and Medium size Buses depending on the number of travelers
Experienced driver
Sustainable Development Fee of $65 per person, per night stay in Bhutan, which goes for infrastructure development, free education, free medical services and reducing poverty
All government taxes
Bhutan visa fee
Entry fee to all the tourist visiting sites and museums.
Tea and snacks.
Bottled water during the day.

what's Not Included

Flight tickets (both international & domestic)
Beverages, Laundry & personal shopping
Travel insurances
Tips and gratuity for guide and driver
Cost incurred due to road blockage, flight cancellation, rescue operation and any cost beyond our control