6 Night 7 Day Thimphu Drubchen Festival Tour
Besides the Thimphu Tsechu,Thimphu also celebrates a one day festival known as the Thimphu Drubchen which is also commonly known as Thimphu Dromchoe . The day long festival dates back to the 17th century. It was first introduced by Kuenga Gyeltshen in 1710, who was recognized as the reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. The dromchoe is celebrated 3 days prior to the Thimphu Tshechu.
The Drubchen showcases the sacred dances dedicated to the chief protective deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Dromchoe.
During Thimphu Drubchen the mask dances known as cham and folk dances are performed to bless onlookers, to teach them the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil. It is believed that merit is gained by attending these festivals. The dances invoke the deities to wipe out misfortunes, increase good luck and grant personal wishes.
Apart from its religious implications, the festival is also an annual social gathering where people dress in their finest clothing and jewelleries. It brings you a closer contact with the local people and gives you an insight into the Bhutanese lives, beliefs and more.
Thimphu Dromchoe Schedule: Sept 15,2018
6 Night 7 Day Thimphu Festival Tour Itinerary
Day 01 : Arrive Paro
Fly into Paro by Drukair flight. After immigration and customs formalities, you will be received by the representative of Access Bhutan Tours & Treks and driven to your hotel.
After checking into your hotel, visit the following:
- Rinpung Dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks.Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
- Farm houses in Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
- walk through Paro downtown and you may visit local handicraft stores
Overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 02 : Paro-Punakha/Wangdue
Distance: 125 km & estimated driving time: 3 hours
After breakfast, you will travel to Punakha & Wangdue which will take you through Chunzom (confluence of Pachu- the river flowing through Paro valley & Wangchu –the river flowing through Thimphu valley). On the way, visit Tachog Lhakhang (temple) , this 14th century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa chu on the Paro-Thimphu highway, is a must visit temple in the Paro valley. Built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo, the temple houses some unique statues. To get to the temple one may actually walk over the iron chains that spans over the Pa chu.
After crossing Chunzom, the drive will take you along the Wangchu upto Simtokha where road diversion leads you to Punakha/Wangdue through Dochula Pass (3,088m). In the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. At Dochula Pass you will see the beautiful 108 chortens (stupa) built on the hill by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. You will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) .The temple was built to honor His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck (the 4th King of Bhutan). The past and future appear to merge in the details of the temple that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future.
After refreshment at Dochula Pass Resort you will continue your journey to Punakha.
After lunch at Punakha, walk for about 20 minute through paddy fields to visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
Next visit is the Punakha Dzong. Take a 10 minutes walk over traditional canteliver bridge to visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river).
Then walk for about 15 minutes to one of the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan spanning 350 m and perched high above the very swift Pho chu (male river). Draped with prayer flags ,the bridge connects the town of Punakha and Punakha Dzong.This bridge is mainly used by locals from the village located on the other side of the river as a shortcut to Punakha Dzong.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 03 : Punakha/Wangdue-Thimphu
Distance: 71 km & estimated driving time: 2 hours
After breakfast, drive through upper Punakha valley passing through farmhouses and take a leisure walk through farmhouses and then through nature to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten temple built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about 1 hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtaking view from there.
Then travel to Thimphu with lunch enroute.
On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and visit the following:
- Centenary Farmers’ Market (open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
- Kuenselphodrang where largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu valley and also if interested/if time permits, take a leisure walk through Kuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below.
- National Memorial Chorten (stupa), chorten literally means ' seat of faith' and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
- Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts and Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
In the evening stroll around Thimphu downtown where you can visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu Dromchoe ( 10.00 am-4.30 pm)
After breakfast you will go to witness Thimphu Dromchoe (Festival) which will be held at the Courtyard of Tashichhoedzong. The sacred dances would be performed which are dedicated to the chief protective deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen (chief abbot of Bhutan) and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Dromchoe.
These religious dances are interspersed with folk songs and clowning. The festival is a magnificent cacophony of sound and colour and a photographer’s delight.
You also visit the interior of Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
After the festival you will visit the following:
- Watch Archery match : Bhutan’s national game
- Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
In the evening explore Thimphu city on your own.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu
Day 05: Thimphu Nature and Cultural and Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast travel for about 25 minutes from Thimphu city towards the northern end of Thimphu valley, you will come to the base camp of Tango Monastery which is located at about 14 km from Thimphu city. Starting point of this nature & cultural hike is from the parking lot which is the end of motor road. You will hike up to the Monastery following the zig-zag trail through the forest filled with oak and pine trees as well as rhododendron flower trees. Since this area falls within Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park you will come across Gray Langur (monkeys) along the way and some bird species as well.
Hiking for about 40 minutes you will come to a Chorten (stupa). From here you have an excellent view of several meditation houses and the monastery straight ahead. Then hike up another 20 minutes to the monastery. The round trip hike is about 2.5 km and estimated hiking time is about 2 hours for a slow hiker.
The Tango Monastery was built in 1689 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgyal. At present Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area.
You may visit the monastery and have interaction with monks. You can also sit in inside the main temple of monastery and meditate for sometime .
Then take a slow walk back to the base of Tango Monastery from where you will travel for about 5 minutes to the base of Chagri Monastery where you will eat your packed picnic lunch by the riverside.
After lunch relax for sometime by the river.
Then travel back to Thimphu city and visit the following:
- Bhutan Postal Museum:The museum tells the story of Bhutan’s progress and development through the evolution of communications and postal system in the country. And also you can get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends.
- National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
- The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
- Folk Heritage Museum or Simply Bhutan– A living museum of rural life which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 06: Thimphu-Paro (54 km,1 hr) & A Day Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
After breakfast,drive to Paro which takes about 1 hr and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The walk up to the viewpoint will take about 1 – 1 ½ hrs depending on your fitness and from View Point you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk downhill back to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further downhill to the road point. Then drive back to hotel. On the way visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
In the evening you can relax in the Traditional Bhutanese Hotstone bath.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 07: Depart Paro
After breakfast,your tour guide from Access Bhutan Tours will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your onward journey.
End of Tour Program
Bhutan Trip Cost for this 6 Nights 7 Days Tour Itinerary
3 pax & above
High Season:Sept 2018
The above Bhutan tour package prices include the following:
- Bhutan Government Royalty of US$ 65/person/night
- FIT surcharges of US$40/person/night for a single traveler and US$30/person/night for a double
- Twin sharing hotel rooms at 3 star hotels
- All meals ( breakfast, lunch, dinner & light refreshments) with standard menu at 3 star hotels
- English speaking tour guide service
- All transfers and excursions by private vehicles
- All entrance fees to museums and monuments
- All internal taxes and fees
- Mineral drinking water
The above tour prices do not include the following:
- Single room supplement of US$ 50/room/night (optional)
- Visa fee of US$40/person (must be paid in advance with tour cost)
- Airfares (optional)
- Travel issurance (recommended)
- 4 star and 5 star accommodations and meals (optional)
- Other personal expenses like overseas calls, laundry,etc
***Thank you & Tashi Delek***