Rhododendron festival is a community based festival organized to celebrate the blossoming season of this majestic flower. The festival is organized at the royal botanical garden located at Lamperi, on the way from Thimphu towards Punakha. During the festival time, you will be able to view 38 of Bhutan’s total 46 species of rhododendrons.
Duration : 6 days and 5 nights
Nature of tour : Festival and cultural exploration
Festival venue : Lamperi
Departure date : 19 April 2019
Festival Date : 19-21April 2019
Places covered : Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
Entry : Paro
Exit : Paro
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.
Today we will be driving towards our festival venue located at Royal Botanical Garden, Lamperi about 35 km drive from Thimphu city. We will proceed 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.
Further down the pass is beautiful venue of the festival amidst the rhododendrons in full blossomed. Communities and school children gather here to celebrate this festival with varieties of folk dances and mask dances. Food stalls are set up for you to taste authentic Bhutanese foods and handicrafts and book stalls are also on the showcase in case if you want to shop.
During this festival you will get chance to view almost 38 species of rhododendrons of total 46 species available in Bhutan.
Towards evening we will drive towards Punakha for the night.
Today we will dedicate our day to explore Punakha valley. We will begin our day with a hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Choeten, followed by visit to majestic Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakhang.
Khamsum Yuley Namgyal Choeten: Located in Kabesa Gewog, about 7 km drive from Punakha town, the choeten was built with the sponsorship of her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck between 1992 and 1999 under the guidance of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Lam Sonam Zangpo. The three-storey choeten contains the images of Dorji Phurba on the ground floor, Khrowo Khamsum Namgyal on the first floor, and Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa on the second floor.
Punakha Dzong: 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.
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.
Today we will be heading back to Paro. On the way spend some time at Dochula Pass before descending down towards Paro.
At Paro pay visit to following places:
1. 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.
2. Paro Kichu Lhakhang: Located about 10 minutes’ drive from Paro town, the temple is one of the two among 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century to subdue a demon that lay supine across Tibet and Bhutan. The temple contains sacred relics dating back to the 7th century like a statue of Lord Buddha and four statues of Chagtong Chentong. It also contains the statues of Guru Nangsi Zilnon, Dolma Kukuli (a manifestation of Tara), Zhabdrung, the bone relic of his Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
3. Paro Ta Dzong (national museum): Located on a spur above Rinpung Dzong, five and a half kilometres’ 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.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
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
Your Bhutan tour comes to an end today. After breakfast, your guide and driver will see you off at Paro international airport.
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.
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:
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.
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.
|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
|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.
|Flight tickets (both international & domestic)
|Beverages, Laundry & personal shopping
|Tips and gratuity for guide and driver
|Cost incurred due to road blockage, flight cancellation, rescue operation and any cost beyond our control
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