Ura Yakchoe Festival Tour in Bhutan is a journey that introduced you to the history and cultural significance of the Ura Festival celebrated in the Ura Lhakhang temple in Bumthang. The 9 days tour begins from the western end of Bhutan and heads to the central part of Ura village. Tourists get to witness the sacred dance performances, folk songs with ancient history, and the architectural grandeur of Ura Lhakhang. It is a great opportunity to interact with the local communities, all of who come together in unison to celebrate the annual festival for five days in April.
Apart from the one-day celebration in Ura Lhakhang, the tour also takes you to the valleys and cities of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and Bumthang, all of which offer visits to ancient Lhakhangs and dzongs. Through the long drives crossing high passes, almost as if on a mission to unravel the true cultural beauty of Bhutan, the tour becomes as sacred to tourists as it is to local pilgrims. In spirit, the Ura Yakchoe Festival Tour in Bhutan gets you to the crux of understanding the Buddhist religion, which is sewn to the tradition and practices of Bhutan.
|Day 1||Arrival in Paro then transfer to Thimphu (50km, 1 hour)|
|Day 2||Thimphu Sightseeing tour|
|Day 3||Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (74km, 2 to 3 hours) via Dochula pass (3,150/10,334ft)|
|Day 4||Drive from Punakha to Bumthang (216km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 5||Enjoy Ura Yakchoe Festival in Bumthang|
|Day 6||Bumthang Sightseeing tour|
|Day 7||Flight from Bumthang to Paro (35 minutes) and sightseeing|
|Day 8||Sightseeing hike to Paro Taktsang/Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro|
|Day 9||Final Departure Paro|
Ura Yakchoe Festival tour in Bhutan embarks on a spiritual and cultural journey from the west to central Bhutan in search of one of the most amazing festivals in the country, Ura Yakchoe. Ura Yakchoe Festival brings together the communities in the Ura valley to celebrate the festivities once a year with dances, songs, eateries, and a strong union. The tour package offers a chance to visit the cultural landmark from the west to central Bhutan with Ura village near Bumthang to witness the Buddhist religion at its core.
The tour begins with a scenic flight to Paro International Airport then heads to the capital city of Thimphu. At Thimphu, your sightseeing tour the next day takes you to the great monasteries, preserves, and dzongs. The King’s Memorial Chorten was established in dedication to the third king of Bhutan, School of Arts and Crafts, and National Institute of Traditional Medicine, which are significant economic sites and fall as a part of the tour. You will visit the tall bronze statue of Sakyamuni Buddha at the Buddha Dordenma and then head to the Motithang Takin Preserve, a wildlife reserve for the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. You can also visit the Tashi Chhoedzong in the northern end of the city.
The next day’s tour takes you to Punakha, passing through the Dochula pass. From the pass, you get to observe the views of the amazing mountains and the highest peak, Gangkar Puensum. On the way, you can also visit the Chimi Lhakhang/The Fertility Temple by crossing the green fields of Metisha village. You will visit the olden office of the kind and administrative building of the government of Bhutan at Punakha.
You will be driven to the religious heartland of Bhutan at Bumthang on the next day. The drive is long, but it takes you to the Yathra factory in the Chummey valley, where you can watch the women weaving wool on the wooden looms. From there, you will continue your drive and transfer to your hotel.
The next day, you will drive through Ura pass and visit the Ura village to enjoy the annual Ura Yakchoe festival. This is the main highlight of your trip as you get to hear about the ancient mythology of how a lama left a sack with a relic’s statue on a women’s door, which has worshipped at the Ura Festival. You can intermingle with the locals who have been dressed in their fineries to enjoy the mask dance, folk songs, and other celebrations in the streets and courtyards of the Ura Lhakhang.
The next day’s tour will take you on a sightseeing tour to Bumthang. You will visit the white birds, Jakar Dzong, and one of the oldest temples of Jambay Lhakhang. The tour continues to Kurjey Lhakhang, where the cave is believed to have the imprint of spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche from his meditation visit. You can also visit the Tamshin Lhakhang built by the saint, Pema Lingpa. All these places of worship are architecturally mesmerizing and have a serene ambiance.
From thereon, the next day’s scenic flight will take you to the valley town of Paro. In Paro, you can visit one of the largest monasteries of Rinpung Dzong. You can also visit Kyichu Lhakhang’s oldest temple Jowo and all the other temples located within the vicinity. The next day, you can visit the Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) by taking a vigorous hike uphill. There you can visit the caves where Guru Rimpoche, as per the Bhutanese myth, flew on a tiger’s back and landed for a long meditation. After visiting the interconnected temples and monasteries, you can head back to the Paro streets and stroll around in the evening. The remarkable tour ends on the ninth day with a short drive to the Paro International Airport for final departure homewards.
Your international arrival in Bhutan is through a flight that lands at the Paro International Airport. It is the only international airport in Bhutan and perhaps the most exciting and adventurous flight in the world. Even as you land at the airport, you will be surrounded by progressing green hills and be astounded by the architectural splendor of the airport building. Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by our Bhutanese guide and, after lunch, driven to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
After reaching your hotel, you can take some rest, then head out to the streets to enjoy the rest of your evening. The walk around the city will bring you close to the urban lifestyle of Bhutan, which is very different from those seen in the villages of Punakha and Bumthang later in the tour.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu.
On this day, you will be taking a tour around Thimphu city to visit some of the most celebrated cultural, architectural, and economic landmarks.
King’s Memorial Chorten is situated in proximity to your hotel. Also called the National Memorial Chorten is located in Doeboom Lam and built-in 1974 to honor the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It is also known as ‘the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan’ due to its prime location. It does not contain any human remains, unlike other stupas.
Your next stop will be at the School of Arts and Crafts and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, both of which have high value in the economy and administration of the country.
Buddha Dordenma is a 54m/177ft bronze statue of Shakyamuni Buddha situated in Kuenselphodrang overlooking the valley far beyond. It was constructed on the 60th anniversary of the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, dedicated to bringing peace and prosperity to the world.
Motithang Takin Preserve is situated in Motithang Thimphu. It is a wildlife reserve for the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. It was originally a mini zoo but was later named a wildlife reserve.
Tashi Chhoedzong is situated at the northern end of Thimphu on the bank of Wang Chhu. The fortress is huge, with thirty temples, chapels, and shrines within the vicinity.
After visiting these sites of wonder, you will head back o your hotel to enjoy some warm Bhutanese meal.
Overnight stay at Hotel in Thimphu.
On this day, you will begin your drive towards the old capital of Bhutan, Punakha. You will reach the Dochula pass from the pine-clad road, which is situated at an altitude of 3,150m. You can spot the 108 memorial chortens in the pass, which are known as Druk Wangyal Chortens. You can observe the views of the highest peak In Bhutan, Gangkar Puensum, at its front face from the pass.
The east-west road then continues to Metshina Village with green rice fields. Amidst the fields, you will take a stroll to reach the Chimi Lhakhang temple known as ‘The Fertility Temple.’ It observes many female worshippers all-round the year who come to take blessings to enhance their fertility. It was built by the Divine Madman, Ngawang Choegyel, who is revered for his unique ways of spreading the Buddhist religion in Bhutan. The temple is adorned with phallus paintings, art, and objects which were the Divine Madman’s ideology. Following your steps back, you will step back to your car for a continued drive to Punakha.
Punakha is known for its amazing monasteries and temples. Upon reaching Punakha, you will be transferred to your hotel. You will then visit the Punakha Dzong situated in between the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu river banks. Also called ‘the palace of great happiness and bliss, it was once the administrative head and the office of the King when Punakha was the capital of Bhutan. You will head out on the streets to enjoy viewing the local restaurants and shops in the evening.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Punakha.
On this day, you will take a long drive from Punakha to Bumthang. The road leads through lush green oak and rhododendron forest. On the way, you will be enthralled by the incredible views of the rural Bhutan settings with sparse settlements in the hills. A short instance before you reach Bumthang, you will come across the Yathra factory. It is also one of the top attractions of Bumthang. There, you will see women working on their wooden looms to weave wool. The Yathra factory here in Zugney of Chummey valley prepares bags, scarf and other items from the wool.
After spending some time interacting with the workers, you can continue your drive to Bumthang. After the long and exhilarating drive, you will be transferred to your hotel in Bumthang, where you can take a rest and enjoy the scene. Optionally, in the evening, you can visit the local shops to buy some.
Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.
This is the most exciting day of your entire trip, as you will be heading to the Ura Yakchoe Festival celebration. After having breakfast, you will head to the Ura Valley. On the way, you will cross the Ura La pass at an elevation of 3,590m. The views are surreal from this pass. After a short while, you will reach the ancient village of Ura at Ura valley. The village is paved with cobblestone streets and age-old houses. You can see the women wearing their traditional white headscarves and shawls made of sheepskin. The inhabitants of the village are mostly sheep and yak herders.
As you visit the village, you will be familiarized with the local people who are ready to enjoy the annual festival of Ura Yakchoe. The Ura festival has an interesting legend. As per the myth, a lama who entered the valley asked for a glass of water from an old lady in the village. When the lady got out with the glass of water, the lama had disappeared, leaving behind a bag with the statue of a relic, which to this day has been passed down to her descendants. The relic is represented through statues, folk songs, and dance in the Ura Yakchoe. It is celebrated each year around April month for five days in the Ura Lhakhang temple.
Masked dances in folk music characterize the festival. The dancers wear vibrant clothing, head masks of animals, and perform synchronized dances. The beating of the drums and musical instruments in the courtyard is an absolute phenomenon. Men and women who surround to relish the festivities are seen wearing their traditional clothes. You get an opportunity to enjoy with the Bhutanese community to understand their cultures and traditions. After enjoying the festival and your picnic, you can head back to Bumthang for the night.
Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.
Bumthang is the religious core of Bhutan, so it is a wonderful prospect to get absorbed into the spirituality, culture, and traditions of Bhutan. On this day, you will visit some ancient and religiously significant Dzongs and Lhakhangs which are nearby.
Jakar Dzong, called the ‘castle of white bird,’ was built in the 15th century. It was built when the lamas were picking a site for establishing a new monastery, and they saw a big white bird settle on a hilltop which was chosen as the destined site, considering the event a positive omen.
Jambay Lhakhang near the Bumthang Chhu river and the Chakkar Lhakhang is an old temple built in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Goemba. He has built 108 temples in Tibet and Bhutan, one of which is the Jambay Lhakhang.
Kurjey Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples built in the 6th or 7th century, and its cave is regarded to hold the body imprint of Guru Rimpoche, a spiritual leader who is cited for bringing Buddhism to Bhutan.
You can also visit the Tamshin Lhakhang, a Nyingma gompa built between 14th to 15th centuries by the saint Pema Lingpa. After the wonderful sightseeing tour, you can head back to your hotel for the night.
Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.
On this day, you will be leaving Bumthang on a flight to Paro. Since the distance is long, it is not feasible to take a drive. Hence, you will be flying with the views of amazing hills and snowcapped mountains from your window seat. You will be transferred to your hotel in Paro. In the afternoon after having lunch, you can go on a short sightseeing tour.
Near your hotel, you can visit the Rinpung Dzong, built in the 15th century and regarded as one of the largest monasteries. It is a huge fortress that houses the administrative body of Paro. After visiting the architecturally beautiful Rinpung, you can move to the Kyichu Lhakhang temple. Its vicinity has one of the oldest temples of Jowo, built in the 7th century. You can visit the Guru temple and the orange trees in the courtyard, which is believed to bear fruits all year round. To add to the amazing tour, you can visit the local archery ground in Paro to witness the phenomenal skills of professional players.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
On this day, you will embark on an enthralling hike up to the Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery, a world-renowned Bhutan monastery. It is elevated 900m above the Paro valley floor. On the way, you will be passing thick pine forests, sacred pools, and small temples. As you reach the top of the cliff, you will be mesmerized by the grandeur of the monastery buildings interconnected by stone stairs.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery’s name is derived from the ancient Bhutanese mythology, which suggests that the spiritual leader, Guru Rimpoche flew on his tiger’s back and landed on the Thulo Phuk cave and did a meditation on months end at the Pel Phuk cave situated here. This ancient myth has bound many Bhutanese pilgrims who visit the monastery, caves, and temples to get blessings. You can witness the architectural carvings and the status of Padmasambhava in the cave. The Tibetan Siddha Jetsun Milarepa is also known to have meditated in the caves of Taktsang in the 11th century. Hence, the Paro Taktsang has gained high religious significance in Bhutan. After an in-depth visit to the monastery, you can head back to your hotel. You can stroll out in the Paro streets in the evening, which are at times filled with women drying the red chills. You can buy some souvenirs to take back as a memory of your visit to Bhutan.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
On this day, early after having breakfast, you will be driven to the Paro International Airport for the final departure homewards. Our Bhutanese guide will bid you farewell on your way back. As you board the plane, you will remember the amazing time you had at the Ura festival in Bumthang, the visits to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Rinpung Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang, Jakar Dzong, Motithang Takin Preserve, and more.
After the incredible spiritual tour, you can remember us again for similar festival trips in different seasons in Bhutan. You can also extend your travel by visiting the neighboring countries of India and Nepal for similar experiences.