Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour - 11 days

Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour - 11 days

Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour is an 11-day escapade into the central region of Bhutan to experience one of its age-old festivals in commemoration of the spiritual conducts of Guru Rimpoche. The tour situates you into the cusp of beliefs, ritualistic practices, culture, and traditions radiating from the rich heritage sites of Bhutan. The history of the monasteries and temples built atop hills point out to the spiritual Leader Guru Rimpoche and his disciples. They played an imperative role in their construction through the spread of Buddhism.

Celebrated on the 5th Lunar Month of the Bhutanese calendar, the Nimalung Tshechu festival unites the locals in the Nimalung Monastery to celebrate the great relics and leaders, particularly Guru Rimpoche. The monks who see the festival's success every year perfectly capture the Bhutanese culture through their traditional dances, songs, blaring drums, and dramas. Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour undeniably is a historical tour to understand the establishment of religious and cultural landmarks around Bhutan, specifically in its religious and spiritual heartland, Bumthang. Suppose you are someone who loves ancient architecture, festivals, culture, and history. In that case, the Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour is intended just for you.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit the religious monuments of King’s Memorial Chorten, Buddha Dordenma, and Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu.
  • Explore the National Museum, Motithang Takin Preserve, School of Arts and Crafts, traditional paper factory, Bhutan Post Office Headquarter, and National Institute of Traditional Medicine.
  • Witness the unique Buddhist traditions in the Chimi Lhakhang temple decorated with phallus objects and paintings, built by the Divine Madman
  • Visit the architecturally wonderful Punakha Dzong that once was the seat of the administration of the government of Bhutan and office of the Druk Gyalpo.
  • Visit the Gangety Goempa and Phobjikha valley, known to be the roosting ground of the rare black-necked Cranes in the winter.
  • Visit the Nimalung Monastery known for the large Thangkha painting of Guru Rimpoche and housing 100 monks.
  • Attend the fascinating Nimalung Tshechu Festival to enjoy the traditional dances of Guru Tshengye and Drametse Nga, folk songs, and plays performed by the musically blessed monks
  • Visit the Jakar Dzong, Kurjey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, and Jambay Lhakhang, which are known to be surrounded by ancient Bhutanese Mythology.
  • Make a stop at the Chendebji Chorten to observe its Nepalese stupa styled architecture on the way to Wangdue from Bumthang.
  • Sightseeing tour to the local archery ground, Rinpung Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang in the valley town of Paro
  • Hike to the cultural icon, Tiger’s Nest Monastery atop a cliff above the Paro valley floor, known to be blessed by Guru Rimpoche, who mediated in its cave

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrival in Paro then transfer to Thimphu City (50km, 1 hour)
Day 2 Excursion tour in Thimphu
Day 3 Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (74km, 2 to 3 hours) then excursion tour
Day 4 Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha Valley via Gangtey Goempa (85km, 2 to 3 hours)
Day 5 Drive from Gangtey/Phobjikha to Bumthang (156km, 4 to 5 hours)
Day 6 Attend the Nimalung Festival
Day 7 Excursion tour in Bumthang
Day 8 Drive from Bumthang to Wangdue (197km, 6 hours)
Day 9 Drive from Wangdue to Paro (110km, 3 hours) then sightseeing
Day 10 Excursion Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro
Day 11 Final Depart from Paro

Trip Overview

Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour takes you to the central region of Bhutan, and it introduces you to the Nimalung festival in honor of Guru Rimpoche, as per the ancient Bhutanese mythology and beliefs. The tour is an adventure into the spiritual heartland of Bhutan to observe the rich cultural landmarks and understand the ornated history behind their establishment. More than most, you get a chance to intermingle with the ethnic tribes in the corners of the villages, towns, and valleys which come to be part of the rituals in Nimalung Tshechu.

The Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour begins with a flight to the valley town of Paro, then transfer to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu city, passing through chortens, farmlands, and rivers. On the next day, you will engage in an excursion around Thimphu city. You will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten built in honor of the third king of Bhutan. Then head to the Tashichho Dzong, which is the current seat of the administrative body of the Government of Bhutan and the office of the King. You will continue your visits to the tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha at Buddha Dordenma, to the Motithang Takin Preserve, and to some economic landmarks.

The next day’s drive takes you to Punakha, which is the old capital of Bhutan. You will make a stop at Dochu La pass to view the eastern Himalayas and the rolling hills. You then continue your drive until reaching Metshina village. From there, a short walk will take you to the Fertility Temple/Chimi Lhakhang. You will witness the phallus objects and paintings embellishing the temple built by Drukpa Kuneley/Divine Madman. Then you will head to Punakha, where you will visit the Punakha Dzong. Located between Mo Chu and Pho Chhu rivers, it was once the Druk Gyalpo and the seat to the administrative body of the Government of Bhutan.

You will drive towards Gangtey via Wangdueohodrang on a subsequent day. You will visit the only Nyingmapa monastery in central Bhutan; Gangtey Monastery. You can extend the drive by reaching Phobjikha valley, a little further, to observe the large pastures. From the valley, you will drive to Bumthang on the next day. On the way, you will visit the Trongsa Dzong, which is the largest Dzong in Bhutan. Also, near Bumthang, you can stop at the Yathra weaving center to observe the women workers weaving wool on their looms. You can buy scarves, bags, or caps made from the material. Found in the local shops.

The following day’s tour takes you to the Nimalung Monastery to celebrate the Nimalung Tshechu. Celebrated in the 5th Lunar month of the Bhutanese calendar for three days, the festival is organized by the monks living in the temple. You will witness the display of the large Thangka with images of Guru Rimpoche, which is known to cleanse the soul of any sins upon looking at it. Distinct traditional dances of Guru Tshengye and Drametse Nga, masked dances, and other rituals are performed. The festival is celebrated in honor of Guru Rimpoche, who is known to have introduced Buddhism to Bhutan.

The next day’s tour is around the Bumthang valley. You will begin your tour by visiting Jakar Dzong, called the ‘castle of the white bird,’ as per the ancient history of its establishment. Then you will head to the Kurjey Lhakhang, which is believed to have the imprint of Guru Rimpoche during his visits to the cave of this temple. Tamshing Lhakhang, known for spreading the teachings of Dharma, can also be visited on this day. You will then head to Jambay Lhakhang, which was built in the 7th century by a Tibetan Emperor to restrain the body of an evil demoness.

You will bid farewell to Bumthang and head to Wangdue on an ensuing day, retracing the route. On the way, you will visit the Chendebji Chorten, which is supposed to have pinned down the body of the Nagala demon. From Wangdue, you will head to the valley town of Paro on the next day. You will cross the Dochu La Pass, Thimphu, then reach Paro. You can opt for a short sightseeing tour of the local archery ground. Then you can visit the Rinpung Dzong to witness its architectural beauty. Finally, you can head to one of the oldest temples of Jowo in Kyichu Lhakhang.

To wrap up your seamless tour, you will head for a hike to the cultural icon Tiger’s Nest Monastery on the next day. The hike takes you up to a cliff and introduces you to the architecturally beautiful monastery buildings. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche flew on his tiger’s back and landed on the caves here to meditate. Hence, the monastery advances its name and fame from this myth. After the successful tour, you will take a flight back home from the Paro International Airport on the 11th day.

Route Map

Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour - 11 Days Route Map Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Paro then transfer to Thimphu City (50km, 1 hour)

The Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour commences with a flight to the only international airport in Bhutan, the Paro International Airport. The flight to Paro is filled with picturesque vistas of the eastern Himalayas and the progressing hills. Upon reaching the architecturally stunning airport, you will be greeted by our Bhutanese guide, who will then take you to a local restaurant for an authentic Bhutanese lunch. From there on, you will take a drive to Thimphu for the stay. 

The drive from Paro to Thimphu takes you through the Paro-Thimphu Highway, passing by lovely chortens, farms, and the Pa Chhu and Thimp Chhu rivers. The travel crew will transfer you to your hotel in Thimphu city. After some refreshment, you will be oriented about the tour to follow. Then head out to discover the evening market. You can stroll around the Handicraft Emporium and local arts and craft shops. 

Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu. 

Day 2: Excursion tour in Thimphu

Tashichho Dzong Tashichho Dzong is a fortress located about 2 km away from the city of Thimphu in Bhutan

On this day, you will explore the famous tourist destinations and be amazed by the culture and nature of Thimphu. After breakfast, you will drive to some religious, economic, and nature bound landmarks as per your interest and permittance of time. 

Your first stop will be the King’s Memorial Chorten, situated in the prime location of Doebom Lam. It is thus regarded as the ‘most visible religious landmarks in Bhutan.’ With its golden bells and majestic architecture, the National Memorial Chorten was built in honor of Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the third king of Bhutan and the father of modern Bhutan. 

To view the earliest history of the Land of Druk, you can take a short sightseeing tour of the National Museum in Thimphu. With the assistance of your guide, you can comprehend the historical use and significance of the preserved textiles, weaving tours, art, and craft found exhibited in the museum. 

The tour also permits you to observe the economic and administrative activities of the country. You can visit the School of Arts and Crafts, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, and the Bhutan Post Office Headquarters on the way.

You can visit the religious fortress of Tashi Chhoedzong in the city. It is momentous to house the secretariat, King’s office, throne room, and the central monk body. Built during the 16th century, it is called the ‘Fortress of Glorious Religion.’ There are over thirty temples, chapels, and shrines in the fortress. 

You can also opt to visit the Buddha Point or Buddha Dordenma, a 54m/177ft tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha situated on the Thimphu District's northern side. Changankha Lhakhang is another religious site you can visit if you are up for some hiking adventure. Built in the 13th century, it is located atop a small hill. 

You can drive to Motithang and observe the Takin Preserve, a wildlife reserve for the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. 

Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu. 

Day 3: Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (74km, 2 to 3 hours) then excursion tour

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan Punakha Dzong - Second oldest and second biggest dzong of Bhutan

After breakfast, you will be driven to the old capital of the country, Punakha. The drive to Punakha is filled with natural sceneries. Through the Sama Lam and Lungten Lam road, you will head to Semtokha. From there, you will take the road to Dochu La Pass. At the elevation of 3,140m/10301ft, it is an apt viewpoint for the panoramic vistas of the Eastern Himalayas. The pass is also prolific for hosting the Druk Wangyel Tshechu festival in the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang. You will also witness the 108 memorial chortens in the courtyard, which the Queen Mother built in 2004. 

From the pass, you will head on to the Thimphu Punakha Highway to Thinyelganag. Then you will eventually reach Metshina village with green rice fields. From there, you will take a short walk towards the Chimi Lhakhang temple, also called the Fertility Temple. It is festooned with phallus objects and paintings, which was promoted by the builder of the temple, Divine Madman/Drukpa Kuenley. His sublime life with bizarre ways of spreading Buddhism has been celebrated to date. You will then catch up with the car as you take a descend then head to Punakha. 

After refreshment at your hotel, you will head to one of Bhutan's most prominent and beautiful monasteries, the Punakha Dzong. It is known for housing the Government of Bhutan and the office of the Druk when Punakha was the country's capital until 1955. After the short excursion, you will head back to your hotel for the night. 

Overnight stay at a hotel in Punakha. 

Day 4: Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha Valley via Gangtey Goempa (85km, 2 to 3 hours)

On this day, you will be heading to Gangtey, situated in the Wangduephodrang district. Wangdue is the last town before reaching central Bhutan. You will be passing by farmlands and small settlements in Khuruthang, Pajo, and Sopsokha until you reach Wangduephodrang. Upon reaching Wangdue, you will be surrounded by buildings with amazing stone and bamboo works. You will also notice the distinct Getshi monks in their crimson gowns. 

From there on, you will continue your drive through lush green forests of bamboo via the Wangdue Phodrang – Nobding highway. Eventually, you will reach the Lawa La pass after crossing the zigzag road. The pass at an elevation of 3250m/10,662ft is adorned with rhododendron and dwarf bamboos. The views of mountains and hills can be seen from the vantage point. Taking a downhill road, you will ultimately reach the Gangtey Goempa. 

You will take the opportunity to visit the only Nyingmapa monastery in central Bhutan. It is known best for being the seat of Pema Lingpa tradition. It is also recognized to hold the annual Black Necked Crane Festival to welcome the majestic creatures in Phobjikha valley for roosting. The Phobjikha valley is a little far away from the Goempa. Driving down the road, you will observe the big pasture lands. 

Overnight stay at a hotel or guesthouse in Phobjikha Valley. 

Day 5: Drive from Gangtey/Phobjikha to Bumthang (156km, 4 to 5 hours)

Phobjikha Valley Phobjikha or gangtey Valley is the favorite destination of bird watchers and nature lovers.

A drive from Gangtey to Bumthang passes through lush rhododendron and oak tree forests. The scattered settlements will come to view on the way as you push into central Bhutan. You will cross the Chendebji Chorten, which you can visit later in the tour. Eventually, a sharp turn in the road will take you to Trongsa. You can make a brief stop at Trongsa to visit the Trongsa dzong. The 16th-century marvel is beyond any of your imagination. It is the largest dzong in Bhutan and seats the administrative body of the Trongsa District. 

From there on, you will continue your drive until you reach Zugney, where you will make a brief stop at the Yathra weaving center. You can make a short stop to interact with the women working on their looms to weave woolen cloths. You can even examine the material and buy some bags, scarves, and caps found in the local shops. You will then continue your drive to Bumthang. After the long drive, you will head straight to your hotel for some rest. You can observe the evening activities of the locals by strolling around the streets and shops. 

Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang. 

Day 6: Attend the Nimalung Festival

Nimalung Tshechu Nimalung Tshechu Festival (Nimalung Monastery)

Today, you will get to witness the Nimalung Tshechu festival in the Nimalung Monastery, one of the most special days of your tour. The monastery is located near Prakhar in Bumthang. Built in 1938 by Doring Trulku lama from Tibet, it is now home to 100 monks. You can witness the large thangka painting of Guru Rimpoche in the temple. Many Buddhist pilgrims come to see the Thangka with the belief that it will cleanse the soul of any sins. 

The Nimalung festival is celebrated in the 5th lunar month of the Bhutanese calendar, which often falls in June. The 3-day festival is celebrated in honor of Guru Rimpoche, the spiritual leader known to have introduced Buddhism and Vajrayana to Bhutan. Along with his followers, he is believed to have led the establishment of many temples and monasteries in Bumthang and Bhutan at large. The large Thangka will also be put on display in the courtyards of the monastery. 

During the festival, you will witness the masked dances and other rituals. Depending on the day when you will attend the festival, you get to observe the traditional dance of Guru Tshengye and Drametse Nga performed by the monks of the monastery. These monks are known particularly for their exceptional musical talents, which can be observed through folk songs and plays. Most of all, you can interact with the locals who have gathered in the monastery to witness the performances. The locals are seen dressed in their fine traditional dresses and ornaments. This celebration has been passed on from one generation to the next, knitted by ancient mythology, values, and beliefs. After enjoying the amazing performance, you will head back to your hotel in Bumthang late in the evening. 

Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang. 

Day 7: Excursion tour in Bumthang

Bumthang Jakar Dzong (Bumthang) - Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.

After breakfast, you will head to some of the most prominent cultural sites in the country's religious heart, Bumthang. 

Jakar Dzong is our first landmark tour for the day. Its establishment history dates back to the 15th century when a group of lamas searched for a site to build the monastery. When doing so, the lamas witnessed a large white bird fly and sat atop a hill taken as a positive omen, so Jakar Dzong was built there. It is thus called the ‘castle of the white bird.’ 

Kurjey Lhakhang is another excellent site you can visit, which will engulf you in Bhutanese mythology. As per the beliefs, Guru Rimpoche is known to have left his imprint in this temple’s vicinity when he visited its cave for meditation. Hence Kurjey was named so, translating to ‘Body Imprint.’ 

Tamshing Lhakhang, called the Temple of Good Message, is home to 95 monks. It is known for spreading the good message by teaching Dharma, a practice of serving the community. 

You can then visit the Jambay Lhakhang built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor, Songtsen Gampo. The temple hosts the annual Jambay Lhakhang Tshechu Festival to establish the monastery and worship Guru Rimpoche. 

After the long sightseeing tour around Bumthang, you can head to the town to interact with the locals and understand their traditions and practices. 

Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang. 

Day 8: Drive from Bumthang to Wangdue (197km, 6 hours)

You will bid farewell to Bumthang and head back to Wangdue through the Trongsa Bumthang Highway. You will pass Jakar, followed by the Bumthang-Ura Highway towards Chendebji for lunch. You will visit the Chendebji Chorten, which is built in Nepalese stupa style during the 18th century. It is known to have restrained the body of an evil spirit of the Nagala demon under the Chorten. 

After the brief stop, the drive will continue towards Wangdue. There you will be transferred to your homestay or hotel. In the homestay, you will have a better chance of interacting with the locals and understanding their day-to-day lifestyle. From their distinct food to their homes, you will be offered the true Bhutanese experience. In the evening, you can set out to the scattered settlements for photography. 

Overnight stay at Hotel or Homestay in Wangdue. 

Day 9: Drive from Wangdue to Paro (110km, 3 hours) then sightseeing

Rinpung Dzong Rinpung Dzong - Also known as Paro Dzong, one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan

On this day, you will head to the valley town of Paro, taking the same road back. You will pass Sopsokha, then enter Thimphu district, and there you will cross the Royal Botanical Garden and take a winding path to the Dochu La Pass. A brief stop at the pass will offer you views of the Jomolhari and Jhichu Drake mountains and the Thimphu city. Following the same road back, you will pass the settlements of Semtokha, Sigyel, Khasadapchu, and Chokha, where you will spot the locals in their ethnic wear, strolling the streets. You will continue via the Paro-Thimphu Highway with the Pa Chhu river beside you. Upon arrival in Paro, you will be transferred to your hotel for refreshment. 

Then, you can head out for a short excursion around the town. You can first visit the Rinpung Dzong, which is known to be one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan. It is dubbed as the ‘fortress of the heaps of jewels.’ Then you can visit the religious Kyichu Lhakhang temple. In its vicinity, the Jowo temple is regarded as one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built around the 7th century. As per Bhutanese Mythology, Guru Rimpoche is known to have blessed the area around the temple. From there, you can head to the nearby local archery ground to witness the professional archers playing. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. 

After the short sightseeing tour, you can head back to the town's streets and buy some souvenirs from the local shops. 

Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro. 

Day 10: Excursion Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro

After having breakfast, you will embark on an interesting visit to the cultural icon of the country; Tiger’s Nest monastery/Paro Taktsang. You will put on your hiking boots and hike through a lush pine forest to a hilltop. Situated on the edge of a high cliff, you will witness the majestic Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The mystical history and grandeur of the monastery and vistas of the hills and Himalayas from the cliff make the hike unusual. 

As per ancient mythology, Guru Rimpoche flew on his tiger’s back, landed on the cave of Thulo Phuk, and meditated in the Pel Phuk cave in the vicinity. This is the source of the monastery’s naming. Now pilgrims flock to the temple to worship Guru Rimpoche and get blessings. As for foreigners, the visit is nothing short of an adventure as you get to witness the ancient architecture and the natural beauty of Bhutan. 

The monastery is characterized by serenity with mild sounds of the monks humming prayers, prayer flags fluttering in the wind, and prayer wheels rotating swiftly. You can meditate in a secluded area in the vast monastery. After visiting all the temples, buildings, and monuments in the monastery, you will take a descend to the valley floor and drive off to your hotel. 

Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro. 

Day 11: Final Depart from Paro

Paro International Airport Paro International Airport

Following an amazing Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Tour, you will bid farewell to the Himalayan Kingdom on this day. You will be driven to the Paro International airport for your flight homewards. On the way, you will recall the memories of visiting all the amazing monasteries and temples, villages, and valleys in the Land of Thunder Dragon. Most significantly, you will miss the enjoyment you had at the Nimalung Tshechu festival with the locals. 

After the wonderful and well-managed tour, you can remember us for more similar tours in Bhutan, Nepal, and India. If you wish to extend your tour or visit some other neighboring countries in the future, please contact us anytime. 

Trip Reviews

Travel experiences of our clients who recently returned from their trips.

Based on 3 reviews
Very good

Orazio D'Amore
Feb 14, 2020
Great Service and amazing team.
Grazie THIRD ROCK ADVENTURES per aver offerto questo viaggio. Proviamo sempre tour unici in ASIA, e questo tour è tra i migliori tour che abbiamo provato nei nostri oltre 5 anni di esperienza di viaggio. La tua guida turistica è stata amichevole ed esperta. Poteva rispondere a tutte le domande e abbiamo apprezzato la sua compagnia. Ogni attività è stata gestita correttamente e abbiamo ottenuto i migliori servizi. Parlando di questo tour, abbiamo imparato molto sul Bhutan, sulle persone e sulla loro cultura radicata. Abbiamo apprezzato molto la nostra escursione al monastero di Tiger Nest in cima alla collina. Grazie ancora per il vostro servizio a livello internazionale ... di prim'ordine !!!
Joseph Whelan
Jan 19, 2020
We absolutely loved the trip. The itinerary is designed specially for travelers like me who love to enjoy festival, culture, interacting with local people. The people of Bhutan are just like that of Nepal, who are friendly and ever-welcoming. We hiked atop the hill, to Tiger Nest Monastery. We visited some of the important places in Bhutan, and all of it in just 11 days. We had two more days and asked the company if we could add-on to which they offered us a variety of options and we choose to stay in the capital of Bhutan. Highly recommended tour.
Bronislava Zaytseva
flagsRussian Federation
Sep 19, 2019
Фантастический тур в Бутан
Спасибо THIRD ROCK ADVENTURES за эту поездку. Мы всегда пробуем уникальный тур по АЗИИ, и этот тур является одним из лучших туров, которые мы пробовали за наш более чем 5-летний опыт путешествий. Ваш гид был дружелюбным и опытным. Он мог ответить на все вопросы, и нам понравилось его общество. Все задачи были выполнены должным образом, и мы получили лучшие услуги. Говоря об этом туре, мы много узнали о Бутане, людях и их глубокой культуре. Нам понравился наш поход в монастырь Тигриное гнездо на вершине холма. Еще раз спасибо за обслуживание международного уровня ... на высшем уровне !!!

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