10 days winter tour with Dochula Festival

Day 1: December 7th Arrival in Paro
Welcome to the land of happiness, also known as Druk Yul (country of the Drukpa Lineage, the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon.) Upon arrival at the Paro International Airport, you will be greeted in our traditional style by our guide and driver, who will be accompany you throughout the tour.
After that, we will gradually start with the tour at National museum / Ta Dzong / Watch tower. (Ta Dzong actually means a watch tower to look after the province of Paro valley and served as a regional administrator as well as a store house which would ensure supplies in the event of warfare.)
Paro Dzong / Rinpung Dzong (It was built by Gyalchog (brother of Gyalzom) the family of lama Pha Dung Dung in 15 centuries. He surrendered himself to the local deity Jawang Nep and built a 5 storied building and named as Hungrel Gampo.)
You will then have lunch at a local tourist restaurant to experience your first traditional Bhutanese cuisine.
You will then drive to Thimphu (capital city, 1hr drive). On the way, we will stop for a short sightseeing at Tamchog lhakhang (Temple built by the famous saint from Tibet called Thangtong Gyalpo in 13th century.)
Then go and check in your hotel and rest.

Day 2: December 8th Thimphu – Phobjikha/Gangtey
After breakfast, you will then start moving to Phobjikha (all in total, it will take around 4 hours approx.). On the way, you will need to go across the Dochula Pass (3100m). Over there you will stop for a short sightseeing and tea break, while having tea, you can also see the beautiful Himalayas across.
After that, you will then descend down towards Punakha at the elevation of 1242 m.
From Punakha you will then enter Wangduephodrang district, and you will drive towards Phobjikha from there.
Once you reach Phobjikha, you will need to first stop at Gangtey (It’s a beautiful vast U-shape valley which is a winter residence of the famous endangered bird called “The Black Necked Crane”) which is right next to Phobjikha.
You can have lunch and start going for the beautiful nature trail walk from Gangtey to see the full majestic view of the Phobjikha valley.
Later check in your hotel and rest.
Day 3: December 9th Gangtey/Phobjikha – Bumthang
After breakfast, before starting off your journey towards Bumthang, you will need to do short sightseeing in Phobjikha and Gangtey.
You will first visit The Black Neck Crane Information Center. Your first stop in Phobjikha should be the information centre of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN), which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the centre’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet Field Guide to Crane Behaviors.
Then Gangtey Gonpa or Gangtey Monastery (it is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism built in 17th century.)
Then start your jounrey towards Bumthang.
Lunch will be at a tourist restaurant near the road side.

Day 4: December 10th Bumthang
Bumthang is the most historic dzongkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted. Bumthang consists of the four mountain valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor, although the entire district is referred to as Bumthang valley.)
Today you will start early to visit all the secret sights in the area.
First you will visit Jakar Dzong (Ngagi Wangchuk continued his journey towards Bumthang after completing Trongsa dzong and as he wanted to built a suddenly he saw a white bird flying from this place and later he knew it was a Pelden Lhamo and built a Dzong and named as Jakar Dzong in 1549.
Jambay lhakhang (The 2nd oldest Jowo temple was built by Songtsen Gampo the first dharma king of Tibet. He has built 108 temples in a day to subdue the evils/ ogress in the Himalayan region for the free flourishing of Buddhism and this temple is one of them. It was renovated by Sindhu Raja as he has promised guru to protect the Buddhism.)
Kurjey lhakhang (Kurjey the name has been derived from the body print of Guru Padmasambhava that has been left after the subjugation of the Shelzen Karpo.)
Tamzhing monastery (The foundation has been done by Terton Pema Lingpa from (1501-03) and it is the second temple built by him.)
Kenchosum lhakhang (Kencho sum lhakhang means the temple of three times Buddha (past, present and future)
Mebartsho/Burning lake (It was prophesied by a Terton Dorji Lingpa that one day the boy will come from this village and discover a treasure from this river. So as prophesied a Terton Pema Lingpa is born to a father Dondrup Zangpo and mother Pema Dolma and he was born with many miraculous birth sign. Later he gathered all the people in the village and discovered a treasure from the river. The legend says that he went into a lake with a burning butter lamp and came out without putting off the light and came out with a text and treasure so it was named as a burning lake.)

Day 5: December 11th Bumthang – Punakha
After having breakfast, you will drive towards Punakha (Will take around 7 hours approx).
After reaching there you can check in the hotel and rest.
Lunch will be at a local tourist restaurant near the road side.

Day 6: December 12th Punakha
Today you will first do a small hike at Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten (Built by the third Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. This beautifully designed chorten took nine years to complete, using only religious scriptures to construct the four- story temple. Have to hike for 40minutes through the paddy fields and vegetable fields, into the chir pine forest.
Then visit Punakha Dzong (also known as Punthang Dechenphodrang, Legend says that Zhabdrung made the carpenter trulpizow balep made to sleep in chamber and he had been taken to paradise /zangtopelri of Guru Rinpoche and he got at the sketch and the model of the dzong.)
And then visit to the long suspension bridge in Punakha near the dzong.
Lunch will be at the Phalas Village where Chimi Lhakhang is located.
After lunch visit Chimi lhakhang (Temple of the famous saint mad man Drukpa Kinley).
Later you can stroll around the Punakha town and other places (ask your guide for suggestions)

Day 7: December 13th Dochula Festival
Today start off early to witness the most unique festival at the pass.
The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country. This one of a kind tshechu is performed against the backdrop of the magnificent Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain range.
Lunch will be at Dochula Cafeteria.

Day 8: December 14th Thimphu
Today you will first visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of Third Druk Gyalpo and is dedicated to World Peace.)
Then Buddha Point (one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at 54 meters/177ft)
Then Changangkha Lhakhang (It was first built by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhigpo(12-13 century) the founder of Drukpa Kagyu school in Bhutan.)
Lunch will be at Folk Heritage (to experiment the traditional life style of the Bhutanese).
National Institute of Zorig Chusum; (Commonly known as ‘the painting school’, operates four to six years courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts.)
After that you will go visit Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan (is a national textiles museum)
Centenary Farmers’ Market Farmers from the nearby village come here to sell agricultural products and handmade crafts to the locals. (Weekend market)
Tashichho Dzong (Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952)

Day 9: December 15th Paro (Tiger’s Nest)
Today is the last day so we usually let our clients do the famous Tiger’s Nest (The cave on the rock was there before 750 million years ago during the formation of the earth. It was only known after the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava in 746 A.D. Guru Padmasambhava used the cave for meditation for 4 months. He came on a riding female tigress (moenmo Tashi Khenden) from Singye dzong – Khoma-Drakarpo-Chumphuney and finally on Taktshang (tiger’s nest).
Lunch will be at either Tiger’s nest Cafeteria or back to town.
After that you will visit Kichu lhakhang (Kichu it actually means the peaceful palace. The first temple was built by a 1st Dharma king of Tibet Songtsen Gampo in 7th century). Then you can also visit the Late Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche’s Museum next to Kichu Lhakhang.
Later you can stroll around the town and buy souviners.

Day 10: December 16th Departure from Bhutan
Our guide and driver will bid farewell to you all and have a pleasant flight back home. We will be looking forward to seeing you again in future for another place to tour around.

Thank You & Tashi Delek!