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Druk Wangyel Festival tour is a 7-day escapade into western Bhutan that offers a once in a lifetime experience to take part in its annual winter festival. The tour takes you in between the cities of Thimphu and Punakha, at the Dochula pass height. The Druk Wangyel is a tribute to the fourth King of Bhutan and the Royal Bhutan Army for protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country.

The tour begins from the city area of Paro and Thimphu, which is set in the religious Buddhist routes, observed via the visits to monasteries and dzongs. The best part of the entire tour is getting to witness the unique mask dances, folk dances and songs, and the rich interaction with the community that gathers to celebrate the festival of Druk Wangyel. It is a larger-than-life experience to watch the Bhutanese come together in unison to celebrate a common good. The tour showers you with experiences of witnessing the monasteries and temples cradled in between villages, hills, and cities, depicting the importance of culture in the daily lifestyle of Bhutan.

The Druk Wangyel Festival (Tsechu) tour also portrays the accomplishment of the Kingdom of Bhutan in the support of the monarch, seen through the Druk Wangyel festival celebrated in their name. Unlike other tours, you get to experience the strong bond between the existing monarchy, people, and culture in the awe-inspiring landscape of Bhutan.

Highlights

  • Visit the religious and spiritual landmarks of King’s Memorial Chorten, Buddha Point with a tall Buddha statue, Tashi Chhoedzong in Thimphu
  • Stroll around the Motithang Takin Preserve and witness the national animal of Bhutan, Takin in Motithang, Thimphu.
  • Observe the mesmerizing views of high mountains and rolling hills from the viewpoint of Dochula pass.
  • Enjoy the celebratory mask and folk dances in the Druk Wangyel Festival celebrated in the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang
  • Interact with the local people and pilgrims at the Druk Wangyel Tsechu to immerse themselves in their culture and traditions.
  • Visit the old administrative seat of the government of Bhutan, the Punakha Dzong.
  • Hike to the distinct Chimi Lhakhang temple in Lobesa and idyllic Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten through the rice terraced farms.
  • Visit one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan, Rinpung Dzong, and one of the oldest temples of Kyichu Lhakhang.
  • Hike to the spiritual monastery or Tiger’s Nest/Paro Taktsang on a high cliff to visit the caves of Thulo Phuk and Pel Phuk where Guru Rinpoche is believed to have meditated in the 7th century.

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrival in Paro then transfer to Thimphu (50km, 1 hour)
Day 2 Sightseeing tour in Thimphu
Day 3 Drive to Dochula Pass (23km, 45 minutes) and enjoy the Druk Wangyel Festival, then drive to Punakha (51km, 1 to 2 hours)
Day 4 Sightseeing tour in Punakha
Day 5 Drive from Punakha to Paro (116km, 3 to 4 hours)
Day 6 Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3120m/10236ft, 6.4 km, 3 to 4 hours)
Day 7 Final Departure from Paro International Airport

Trip Overview

Druk Wangyel Festival tour in Western Bhutan is an introduction to the winter festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army unlike other festivals. The tour lets you absorb the traditions and beliefs of the Bhutanese people through attendance at the Druk Wangyel Festival. The amazing experience also includes visits to the most celebrated religious landmarks in Bhutan.

The incredible tour begins with your flight to the Paro International Airport. From the valley town of Paro, you will be transferred to the capital city of Thimphu. The next day’s activity revolves around Thimphu. You will visit ‘the most visible religious and spiritual landmark’ of Bhutan which is the King’s Memorial Chorten. After which you will head to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and School of Art and Crafts. Thereon, you can continue your trip to Motithang to visit the Takin Preserve and to the north of Thimphu to visit the Buddha Dordenma statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. You can also visit the large and architecturally mesmerizing fortress of Tashi Chhoedzong.

The next day’s tour is the most imperative and exciting as you will be attending the Druk Wangyel Festival. For this, you will take a drive to Dochula pass where the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang is situated. There you will witness the Royal Army of Bhutan performing the ceremony. The events of masks and folk dances will light up the festival. Worth remarking in the events are the amazing traditional practices, dances, and the traditional dress of the men and women from different villages and districts who come to enjoy the festival in unison. After enjoying the event and interacting with the locals you can head to Punakha.

You will enjoy the religious landmarks and natural sceneries on the next day during your sightseeing tour in Punakha. You will first visit the ancient office of the King in Punakha Dzong. From there on, you will continue to Lobesa and begin your hike from the Metsina village farms towards Chimi Lhakhang. Also called The Fertility Temple, you will be amazed by the phallus objects and paintings on display. It was built during the time of Divine Madman who believed in such practices and promoted fertility. From there, you will hike on to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten in the Yepaisa village. Sitting at a hilltop, the views of surrounding hills and valleys are phenomenal.

On the next day, you will leave for Paro. Upon reaching Paro, you will take a short sightseeing tour in the nearby dzongs and temples. You can visit the Rinpung dzong known best for being one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan. After which, you can visit the Kyichu Lhakhang temple known as one of its oldest temples of Jowo built in the 7th century. On the following day, you will take a tough yet interesting hike up a cliff into the Tiger’s Nest monastery, perhaps the most famous religious and cultural icon of Bhutan. The buildings in the monastery are architecturally beautiful with carvings, statues, and paintings of ancient relics. You can visit the caves of Thulo Phuk and Pel Phuk where spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche is known to have landed on his tiger’s back to meditate in the caves in the 7th century. After enjoying the astounding tour, you will head to the Paro International Airport on the next day for a flight back home.

Route Map

Druk Wangyel Festival Tour Map

Detailed Itinerary

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

Bhutan, the Land of Druk is known for its distinctively beautiful Himalayan landscape which can be seen even as you enter the Paro international airport. The airport is situated between high hills on the sides so the landing is extremely interesting and adventurous. It is the only international airport in Bhutan. After arriving to the airport, you will be welcomed by our associates and taken for lunch. After having authentic Bhutanese lunch, you will be driven to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu.

The road to Thimphu takes you across many twists and turns through the Paro-Thimphu highway. After reaching Thimphu, you will be transferred to your hotel for the night’s stay. You will also be briefed about the Druk Wangyel Festival tour itinerary. You can opt to enjoy the evening by strolling around the evening street.

Overnight stay at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 2: Sightseeing tour in Thimphu

Buddha Dordenma Statue Thimphu Buddha Dordenma Statue Thimphu

A tour in Thimphu is unlike any tour in the capital cities of other countries. Despite being an urban area, Thimphu has the most visible religious and spiritual landmarks. You will be visiting some of the most important tourist attractions in Thimphu.

Your first visit will be to ‘the most visible religious landmarks in Bhutan’, King’s Memorial Chorten. It was built in 1974 to honor the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Unlike other stupas, National Memorial Chorten does not contain any human remains.

The economy and administration of Bhutan can be observed through the brief stops at the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and School of Arts and Crafts.

Buddha Point or Buddha Dordenma, your next stop, is a tall 54m/177ft bronze Shakyamuni Buddha statue. It is situated in Kuenselphodrang overlooking the Thimphu city on the horizon. The statue was built recently on the 60th anniversary of the fourth king of Bhutan. It is dedicated to bringing peace and prosperity to the world.

Motithang Takin Preserve situated in Thimphu was a mini zoo that was turned into a wildlife reserve for the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. You will find many Takins in the preserve.

Tashi Chhoedzong, situated on the bank of Wang Chhu in the northern end of Thimphu is a huge fortress also known as the ‘Fortress of Glorious Religion’. You can visit parts of the thirty temples, chapels, and shrines in the vicinity.

Overnight stay at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Drive to Dochula Pass (23km, 45 minutes) and enjoy the Druk Wangyel Festival, then drive to Punakha (51km, 1 to 2 hours)

Druk Wangyel Festival Druk Wangyel Festival is a unique and colorful festival held at the spectacular Dochula pass, at an altitude of 3150m.

On this day, you will drive to the Dochula Pass situated at an elevation of 3140m/10,301ft, to celebrate the Druk Wangyel Festival. The drive to Dochula pass crosses lush green forests via the Thimphu-Punakha Highway. Upon reaching Dochula pass you will first be mesmerized by the 108 memorial chortens. The Druk Wangyel Festival is celebrated in the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang in the pass. The construction of the temple began in 2004 by Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The temple was constructed in commemoration of the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

Unlike other festivals in Bhutan, the Druk Wangyel Festival is performed by the Royal Bhutan Army. Festival has been celebrated since 2011 and sees many pilgrims, locals, and tourists in the courtyards of the temple every December annually.

The festival has a specified schedule starting first with a folk dance traditionally called Ashe Lham. Following the dance, you will get the opportunity to witness the famous mask Dance of Gadpo Ganmo. You will then observe other mask and folk dances like the Druk Puna Dechen, Lha Ugyen Pema, Phodrang  Dangpa Michag, Ngonjon Gyalwagongma, to name a few. You cannot miss the farewell dance of Tashi Labey. Most of all you will be amazed by the wigs, masks, and the vibrant colored traditional dresses worn by the performers. You can intermingle with the locals to further amplify your understanding on their culture and traditions. After enjoying the celebrations, you will take a drive towards Punakha for the night.

Overnight stay at hotel in Punakha.

Day 4: Sightseeing tour in Punakha

Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha Chimi Lhakhang is known as the "Temple of the Divine Madman or Temple of Fertility"

On this day, after having breakfast, you will head towards the nearby Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong was the seat of the Government of Bhutan and the office of the King during the time that Punakha was the capital city of Bhutan. It is a beautiful fortress situated between the rivers of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu.

Next up in the day tour, you will head to Lobesa in Metsina village which is around 13 km away from Punakha. From there on, you will begin your hike to the Chimi Lhakhang by crossing green rice fields. The Chimi Lhakhang also called The Fertility Temple was built by the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kunley. His sublime life was devoted to Buddhism but he had a unique way of spreading it in Bhutan. As per his beliefs, the temple is constructed with phallus objects and paintings signifying fertility. After enjoying your tour, you will head on for Lunch.

The third phase of today’s tour will take you on a hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. You will be passing through rice fields, farms, and pine forests to visit the Chorten. It was built by the Queen Mother in 2004 in Yepaisa village. The pagoda styled stupa is four-storied with statues and mandalas of relics. After enjoying the landmark, you will head downhill and drive off to your hotel.

Overnight stay at hotel in Punakha.

Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Paro (116km, 3 to 4 hours)

On this day you will be bidding farewell to the old capital of Bhutan, Punakha, and head to the valley town of Paro where your tour first began. On the way, you will be crossing the Dochula pass and make a stop at Thimphu for Lunch. After passing some green forests of Pine you will reach your hotel at Paro.

After some refreshment at your hotel, you will be taking a short sightseeing activity in nearby areas. You can take a short walk past the wooden bridge to visit Rinpung Dzong. Also called the ‘Fortress of the heaps of jewels’, Rinpung’s construction dates back to the 17th century. At present, it houses the administrative body of the Paro district. From here on, you will head to Kyichu Lhakhang which is one of the oldest built temples in Bhutan. One of the temples within its vicinity, the Jowo temple was built in the 7th century. The age-old heritage reeks from the architectural masterpiece. The orange tree in the garden is believed to bear fruits round the year.

After enjoying your brief visits, you will take a stroll in the streets of Paro flocking with women and men wearing traditional dresses and engaging in their day-to-day activities. You can also visit some local shops to buy souvenirs to take back home.

Overnight stay at hotel in Paro.

Day 6: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3120m/10236ft, 6.4 km, 3 to 4 hours)

On this day, you will be visiting the most famous landmarks of Bhutan, The Paro Taktsang/Tigers Nest Monastery. It is situated 900m above the Paro valley floor on the edge of a cliff. You will pass by some Pine and rhododendron clad forest on the way. You will even cross a sacred pool before finally reaching the top of the cliff. Views of the amazing buildings interconnected by stone ways will keep you amazed. How the perfect structure might have been built on such a height will most certainly baffle you.

As per the myth surrounding the construction and name of this monastery, the spiritual leader, Guru Rimpoche is known to have visited this site for his meditation expeditions in the 7th century. Guru Rimpoche is a mythical legend known to have spread Buddhism in Bhutan. He is believed to have flown on his tiger’s back and landed in the Thulo Phuk cave after which he meditated in the Pel Phuk cave for months at an end. The connections with Buddhism and Guru Rimpoche are the reason why the monastery sees tourists and pilgrims flocking the place all year round. You can stroll around the different buildings and the courtyards. While the vicinity is mostly silent, you will occasionally hear the Buddhist monks chanting prayers. The cliff also stands as an amazing viewpoint for the vistas of the rolling hills and valley beneath. After enjoying the visit, you will head downhill through the same path and get back to your hotel.

Overnight stay at hotel in Paro.

Day 7: Final Departure from Paro International Airport

Tiger's Nest Monastery Bhutan's cliff-top Tiger's Nest monastery- Located in upper Paro valley in Bhutan and also called Taktsang Palphug Monastery

On this day, you will be driven to the Paro International Airport for your flight back home. We will bid you farewell as you board your flight. You will remember all the amazing monasteries and Temples you have visited on this tour. Most importantly, the memories of the folk and mask dances observed at the Druk Wangyel Tsechu will be imprinted in your mind. For more similar festival tours in the future, you can contact us anytime.



Images: Christof, Rachel |flickr

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Trip Reviews

Travel experiences of our clients who recently returned from their trips.
100%

Based on 5 reviews

Logan Barker
flagsUnited States of America
Oct 20, 2019
Best Festival Trip in Bhutan
Finally, after years of planning, I along with my family attended the annual winter festival in Bhutan. For days, we were lost in the beauty of Bhutan, the love of local people, and the culture. We visited King’s Memorial Chorten, strolled around the Motithang Takin Preserve and admired the views from Dochula pass. We did hike to Tigernest monastery, my dad loved the hike and the monastery. Our guide was really helpful, we explained every details of the place, culture and views. Thanks Third Rock for organizing such beautiful trip.
Georgiy Novikov
flagsRussian Federation
Oct 14, 2019
замечательная поездка очень понравилось!
Я вместе со своей семьей посетил ежегодный зимний фестиваль в Бутане в течение 7 дней. Нам очень понравилась поездка и наш путеводитель по Бутану. Мы посетили Мемориал Короля Чортен, прогулялись по заповеднику Мотитанг Такин, посетили Пунакха Дзонг и насладились видами с перевала Дочула. Мы совершили поход в монастырь Тигриное гнездо. Наш гид был действительно полезен, мы объяснили каждую деталь места, культуры и видов. Спасибо Third Rock за организацию такой красивой поездки. Мы настоятельно рекомендуем их всем, кто едет в Бутан.
Darwin Higgins
flagsUnited States of America
Sep 21, 2019
Loved the Trip
Review for my Druk Wangyel Festival Tour for a week. I chose Third Rock as they promised me the best service, food and accommodation. Before I confirmed by trip, I looked at their background, social media presence and website. I loved how they present themselves as a Nepali travel agency. I contacted the travel consultant and even loved the way they communicate, and offer information-they were prompt and respectful. On the trip, my assigned tour guide was friendly and the rooms and food were great just like they promised. My tour guide was experienced and could explain everything. I visite some of the best places in Bhutan and attended the annual festival. I was fascinated by the dress the local people wore and their culture was amazing. I mean such great preserved culture and tradition. I stood in awe for the whole time. Absolutely loved the trip
Warren Winters
flagsUnited States of America
Sep 21, 2019
Superb Tour
Highly recommended travel agency. They reply instantly to your emails, sends great information of the trip. They can even call you if you want to. The tour guide has years and years of experiences, the itinerary is perfectly designed and the services are top-notch. You don't need to ask for anything, they will do it on time and perfectly. We did the Druk wangyel festival for 7 days and got more than expected from the trip. We also did Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Nepal, they do it with local guide who has decade of experience. You can without a doubt do the Nepal and Bhutan Trip with them.
Warren Winters
flagsUnited States of America
Sep 21, 2019
Superb Tour
Highly recommended travel agency. They reply instantly to your emails, sends great information of the trip. They can even call you if you want to. The tour guide has years and years of experiences, the itinerary is perfectly designed and the services are top-notch. You don't need to ask for anything, they will do it on time and perfectly. We did the Druk wangyel festival for 7 days and got more than expected from the trip. We also did Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Nepal, they do it with local guide who has decade of experience. You can without a doubt do the Nepal and Bhutan Trip with them.
I like itinerary,Best and Selected Tours,
Recommendation

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