Bhutan – Cultural & Festival Tour
10 days / 9 nights
Visit the World’s Only Carbon-Negative Country
This Buddhist nation is the only country in the world to have a negative carbon footprint and in 2016 was rated the “least corrupt country in the world”.
Perched high on the mighty Himalayan range, the Kingdom of Bhutan has defied globalisation and chosen to remain a hidden paradise. This is a place that even seasoned travellers consider a privilege to visit. Bhutan, unlike its other Himalayan neighbours, considers all creation sacred, including trees, mountains, rivers, and lakes. Consequently, Himalayan species near extinction in the bordering countries of Nepal, India, and Tibet are doing well in Bhutan.
Bhutan is also the last bastion of vajrayana Buddhism, a spiritual practice that is known to be one of the most profound schools of teaching in the Buddhist world. The sacred monasteries, the fluttering prayer flags that line the high ridges, the red robed monks chanting their prayers — all give this kingdom an aura of another time.
This is BHUTAN: Known to its inhabitants as Druk Yul — “the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
Paro Festival (Tsechu)
Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan.
A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
A highlight of the Paro Tsechu is the unfurling of the silk Thangka – so large it covers the face of an entire building and is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan. The ‘Thangka, known in Bhutan as a ‘thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll, and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing.
This holy scroll “confers liberation by the mere sight of it” (the meaning of the word ‘thongdroel’ in Bhutanese).
Day Pre Tour - 17 March, 2024 Bangkok - Novotel hotel at Suvarnabhumi Airport - 5pm
Location: Novotel hotel at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Meet in Bangkok at Novotel Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport)
This evening at 5pm we meet in the bar at the Novotel attached to Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok where we get to know members of our group over a few drinks and nibbles.
We go over timings for the morning departure to Paro, Bhutan the next day.
Please make sure you arrive into Bangkok in time to make this meeting as we plan to go over important details for the trip.
Your Bangkok accommodation tonight is covered on a twin share/room only basis .
Day 1 - 18 March 2024 Bangkok - Paro (2200m) overnight in Thimpu
Meet your knowledgeable guide from Tuatara Tours at Bangkok Airport, where your Bhutanese adventure begins.
Board a flight from Bangkok to Paro, which typically takes approximately 3 hours.
Upon arrival in Paro, be greeted by the awe-inspiring Himalayan scenery that sets the stage for your Bhutanese experience.
Your Tuatara Tours host will accompany you throughout the journey, providing insights into Bhutan’s culture and ensuring a seamless travel experience.
Embark on a scenic drive from Paro to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, which takes approximately 1 hour.
Check into Sacred Residency, your comfortable abode for the next few nights, and take some time to rest and acclimatise to the serene mountainous surroundings.
Day 2 - 19 March 2024 Thimphu Sightseeing (2334m)
After a delicious breakfast, set off on a captivating sightseeing tour of Thimphu, where ancient traditions blend harmoniously with modern development.
Accompanied by your host and an expert Bhutanese guide, explore the Memorial Chorten, a stunning stupa built in honour of Bhutan’s third king, and take a moment to soak in the spiritual ambiance.
Immerse yourselves in Bhutanese culture at the Folk Heritage Museum, where you’ll gain insights into the country’s unique customs and traditions.
Meander through the lively Centenary Farmers’ Market(if operating that day), a vibrant hub offering a kaleidoscope of local produce and handicrafts.
As the day draws to a close, return to Sacred Residency to relax and rejuvenate.
Day 3 - 20 March 2024 Cheri Monastery Day Hike
Embrace the natural beauty of Bhutan as you embark on a serene day hike to Cheri Monastery, nestled amidst pristine mountain landscapes.
With your experienced guide leading the way, breathe in the fresh mountain air and revel in the tranquility that surrounds you as you ascend the hilltop, enjoying panoramic views of the valley below.
Explore the ancient monastery, adorned with vibrant prayer flags and filled with a sense of spiritual serenity.
Descend back to Thimphu and spend the evening at your leisure, reflecting on the beauty and tranquility of the day.
Day 4 - 21 March 2024 Drive to Punakha (1242m) approximately 3 hours
Today, embark on a picturesque journey to Punakha, a valley renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and historical landmarks.
We stop at the magnificent Dochu La Pass along the way, where panoramic views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks will leave you in awe.
Continue your journey to Punakha, enjoying the scenic drive that takes approximately 3 hours.
Upon arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece and the former seat of Bhutan’s government.
Immerse yourselves in the grandeur of the fortress and soak in the serene ambiance of the surrounding rivers and lush valleys (the timing of the visit to the Dzong will depend on its opening hours) We may visit the following day.
Spend a peaceful night in Punakha, surrounded by nature’s tranquility.
Day 5 - 22 March 2024 Punakha (1242m) Sightseeing, Return to Thimphu (Approx. 3 hours)
Delve deeper into the beauty of Punakha as you explore its captivating sights.
Discover the enchanting Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument with intricate artwork and panoramic views.
Immerse yourselves in the serenity of the countryside, enveloped by the gentle whispers of the flowing rivers and lush greenery.
Bid farewell to Punakha and return to Thimphu, enjoying the scenic drive that takes approximately 3 hours.
Upon reaching Thimphu, unwind and reflect on the remarkable experiences you’ve had so far.
Day 6 - 23 March 2024 Thimphu Sightseeing (2334m) or a relax day
Today, you have the option to embark on a day trip from Thimphu to explore the surrounding areas.
Choose from various activities based on your interests and energy levels. You may visit the beautiful Buddha Dordenma statue, the Takin Preserve to witness Bhutan’s national animal, or the National Textile Museum to learn about Bhutan’s rich weaving traditions.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a relaxing day in Thimphu, strolling through its charming streets, browsing the local markets, or simply taking in the serene ambiance of the city.
Spend the evening at your leisure, savouring the peaceful atmosphere and reflecting on the remarkable experiences of your journey so far.
Day 7 - 24 March 2024 Travel to Paro for Paro Festival
Bid farewell to Thimphu as you embark on a scenic drive to Paro, the site of the vibrant Paro Festival.
Join in the festivities, a celebration of Bhutanese culture, where locals come together to showcase traditional music, dance, and arts.
Immerse yourselves in the vibrant atmosphere, adorned with colourful costumes, intricate masks, and joyful performances.
Spend the evening in Paro soaking in the cultural delights and embracing the warmth of the Bhutanese community.
After a delightful day, retreat to your accommodation in Paro for a restful night.
Day 8 - 25 March 2024 Paro - Tiger’s Nest Hike and then drive to Haa Valley (2670m)
Location: Haa Valley
Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you hike to the iconic Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest.
Set against a cliffside, this sacred site offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into Bhutan’s spiritual heritage.
With the guidance of your experienced guide, trek through lush forests and across picturesque landscapes, making your way to this extraordinary monastery.
After the hike, savour a well-deserved lunch and then drive to the enchanting Haa Valley, known for its pristine beauty and cultural significance.
Explore the valley, marvel at its charming villages, and immerse yourselves in the tranquil surroundings.
Overnight in the Haa Valley, where you can relax and appreciate the serenity of this hidden gem.
Day 9 - 26 March 2024 Haa Valley Exploration (2670m)
Location: Haa Valley
Spend the day delving deeper into the beauty of the Haa Valley.
Discover its traditional architecture, visit ancient temples, and interact with the friendly locals who are eager to share their stories and traditions.
Explore the valley’s picturesque landscapes, dotted with colorful prayer flags and framed by towering mountains.
Immerse yourselves in the cultural heritage of the Haa Valley and gain a deeper understanding of Bhutan’s rich history.
Overnight in the Haa Valley, surrounded by the tranquility of nature.
Day 10 - 27 March 2024 Haa Valley to Paro Airport for Return Flight to Bangkok
On the final day of your journey, bid farewell to the Haa Valley as you make your way back to Paro.
Take in the last glimpses of Bhutan’s awe-inspiring landscapes as you drive through the winding roads.
Arrive at Paro Airport, where you’ll board your return flight to Bangkok, filled with cherished memories of your Bhutanese adventure.
Depart Bhutan with a sense of fulfilment, gratitude for the experiences shared, and a deeper appreciation for the captivating wonders of this extraordinary kingdom.
Please note that this itinerary is subject to change based on local conditions and festival schedules. Tuatara Tours and your experienced guide will ensure that you have the most enriching and enjoyable experience throughout your journey in Bhutan.
We stay in modern 3 to 4 star hotels or resorts all the way.
Hotels in Bhutan are of a good standard and are comparable with hotels in more developed western countries. They are clean and tidy with modern facilities throughout. Rooms are double/ twin with ensuite facilities.
All rooms have coffee and tea making facilities. You will receive more comprehensive details of the accommodation on your tour at time of booking. oPst tour accommodation in Bangkok is not included in the tour cost. Your pre tour accommodation in Bangkok is included.
An experienced guide
You will be accompanied by a New Zealand guide (host) who is experienced in travel to Bhutan. Your host will be with you from the time you leave Bangkok until you arrive back in Bangkok where your tour will end. We will also have a fully accredited Bhutanese, English speaking guide for the duration of the tour. Our guide is very well versed and qualified to comment on all that is Bhutanese. Our driver is also accredited by the Bhutanese government.
All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are included in the cost of your tour in Bhutan. Generally meals will be buffet style and taken in your hotel or guesthouse. Breakfast, lunches and dinners will generally include a selection of western, Chinese or Indian style dishes, with some local specialties on occasion.
Don’t forget to try the national dishes of emma datshe (chilli and cheese) and delicious red rice. Rice and vegetable dishes are always present for every meal. Vegetarians are well catered for and meat is the exception rather than the rule with most meals.
Alcoholic drinks are not included with meals and are paid for separately. Filtered or bottled water is usually freely available in most hotels, restaurants and in the vehicle you will be travelling in.
Each meal will typically have three or four dishes to share. Choices are limited and feedback has suggested that the food isn’t the main reason to visit Bhutan. Meals may become a little monotonous with similar offerings at a lot of the restaurants.
Please don’t be offended that your guide and driver do not eat with you. This is the custom in Bhutan and guides and drivers generally eat together in another section of the restaurant.
All transport including your return flights from Bangkok to Paro in Bhutan are included in the cost of the tour.
On arrival in Paro we will be met by our Bhutanese Government accredited guide and driver. You will be travelling in a well appointed small bus with very comfortable seating.
Whilst there are approximately 8000km of roads in Bhutan, the quality varies greatly depending on proximity to the major towns of Thimpu and Paro. As such, even short distances can take longer than expected. Bhutan is currently upgrading a lot of their road network and delays are common. Roads are narrow and speeds are slow.
You will require a visa for Bhutan. Please talk to us at the time of booking as we arrange your Bhutan visa which is included in the tour cost.
Entry & Sustainable Development Fees
All entry fees to monasteries and other attractions when accompanied by our local guide.