FESTIVALS OF MONGAR & TRASHIGANG

A wonderful cultural trip in Bhutan, this tour is remarkably well- planned starting with a visit to a museum. After admiring the art collection, there are dzongs to visit, the Tiger’s Nest on a steep hill, a walk through pine and rhododendron forests, strange animals to ponder over, palaces to see, topped off with a religious festival.
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Gallery

Itinerary

  • Level of Trek: Easy
  • Best Period: According to festival dates
  • Duration: 15 Days
  • Accomodation: Hotel

For your next trek with us in the Himalayas, travel light and aware: Base Camp offers you a biodegradable soap made in Nepal, to leave no trace ...

Day

Morning transfer to TIA (Kathmandu Airport) for a 1 ½ hr flight to Paro. Reception at Paro Airport by a Bhutanese representative and transfer to the hotel.
After lunch, we visit the National Museum which was originally a watchtower. The building was later transformed into a museum by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1969. There are rare collections of thangkas (religious scroll paintings) and statues. This visit is an excellent introduction to the natural history and culture of Bhutan. We then visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. Typically, these dzongs (fortresses) house Bhutan’s political and religious administrations. The Paro Dzong was built in the 17th  century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan. 200 monks live here and mingle with the district administration officials. We then go down to the famous wooden bridge to reach Paro.
- Free time in town
- Accommodation: Hotel

This shrine on a high cliff face symbolizes Bhutan and is a very important place of pilgrimage. It has also been a sanctuary for refugees for more than 1200 years. Taktsang or the ‘Tiger's Nest’ is 600 meters high on the steep cliff of the Paro Valley. It is a great photo opportunity. On the way back, we visit the Kyichu Lhakhang Monastery, one of the oldest in Bhutan.

- Duration of hike: 4hr

*(On-site, option of renting mules for the climb)

We hike all the way to Thimphu via the Dochu La Pass (3,150m). It’s a 2-hour walk through a forest of pine and rhododendron to reach the Lungchuzekha Temple. On clear days there are amazing panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges.
We then go downhill through a beautiful dense forest to the Trashigang Meditation Center. From there we walk to Thimphu and on the way, visit a temple.
- Free time in town
- Accommodation: Hotel
After a 40-minute drive, we hike for an hour. It is an easy hike in a beautiful location and we reach the Buddhist University of Tango. The temple here was built in the 17th century by Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, the fourth Desi (secular ruler). We meet with monks and learn a bit about Buddhism.
We then return to Thimphu for lunch. After lunch we head for the zoo to see the Takin, a strange animal said to have been created by the Lama Drukpa Kunley (known as the divine fool). It seems to have a goat's head and a cow's body. Our next visit is to a convent that has thirty nuns residing. We meet them to find out more about their life path. We then move on to a painting school. All religious paintings for temples, monasteries, private homes, and dzongs are made by the graduate students of this school. You have a chance to discuss with their teachers to learn about the symbolism found in these religious artworks and their origins.
We then drive to the heart of the city to see the Chorten Memorial, which was built in 1974 as a memorial of the third king of Bhutan. You are allowed to visit the interior of the stupa. Our last stop is at the Changangkha temple, which was built in the 13th century and is the most famous temple in Thimphu. We get the opportunity to see a remarkable statue of Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattva of compassion).
- Duration of hike: 1hr
- Accommodation: Hotel
We climb up to the Dochu La Pass (3,150m) and enjoy a panoramic view of the high Himalayan peaks of Bhutan.
Then as we go downhill, we observe dramatic changes in topography as we begin to see semi-tropical vegetation. We stop for lunch and then walk to the village of Nyzergang and visit the KhamsumYuley Namgyel temple. We walk through rice fields and typical Bhutanese villages.
On the way back, we make a little detour to the Chime Lhakhang in a lovely setting. We visit the temple of one of Bhutan’s first saints, Drukpa Kunley, better known as the Divine Fool.
- Duration of drive: 3hr
- Duration of hike: 2hr
- Accommodation: Hotel

In the morning we visit Bhutan’s most beautiful dzong, the great Punakha Dzong which serves as the government’s winter offices. Then we move on to Gangtey (Phobjikha Valley), a 2 ½ hour drive via the Kayche La Pass (3700 m).

We then reach the Phobjikha Valley and Gangtey, a peaceful village built around a monastery of the Nyingmapa (ancient) school. It is known for its peculiarity of being a monastery of lay meditators who wear the dress but live in the surrounding houses. We marvel at the excellent works of the painter and carpenter monks. Winter brings the black-head cranes to this valley as they migrate here from neighboring Tibet; a delightful sight for bird watchers.

Today we travel on one of Bhutan’s most beautiful roads. The summits are adorned with stupas, flags and prayer wheels. We come across the villages of Rukupji, Chendebji, and Tangsubjii and we stop to visit a Nepalese-style chorten which was built in the 19th century to subjugate local demons. As we approach Trongsa, there is an impressive view of the dzong and its tower. We visit a dzong which was built in the 17th century. It is the most impressive and strategic dzongs of Bhutan with about 200 monks residing within.
- Duration of drive: 4hr
- Accommodation: Hotel

While we are on the way to Bumthang we stop at the Yotong La Pass (3,425m) to take pictures. At Jakar, we will visit the following places: The Jakar Dzong which was also built in the 17th century. Called, the White Bird Dzong, it played an important role in the country’s defense. It is now the residence of 60 monks and the headquarters of the district administration. 
Built-in 1900, the Wangdicholing Palace was the summer residence of the first two kings. Though it has been abandoned, it houses some beautiful, detailed paintings.
- Accommodation: Hotel

In the Jakar Valley, we visit the Jakar Dzong. Built-in the 17th century, it is known as the White Bird Dzong and has played an important role in the country’s defense. It is now the residence of 60 monks and the headquarters of the district administration. We then move on to the Wangdicholing Palace. Built-in 1900, it was the summer residence of the first two kings. Though it has been abandoned, it houses some beautiful detailed paintings. Our next visit is to the Jambay Lhakhang, which was built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and dedicated to the Buddha of the Future "Maitreya Buddha" (‘Jampa’in Tibetan).

Before we stop for lunch, we go to Kurjey Lhakhang. Kurjey means ‘footprint’. The Guru Rinpoche came here when he visited Bhutan for the first time in the 8th century and converted the king and the people to Buddhism. The cave where he is said to have meditated still retains marks left by his body. Surrounded by 108 chortens, this place is one of the most revered in the country. We stop for lunch at a farm and try out authentic Bhutanese cuisine.
Our afternoon program includes a visit to Tamshing Lhakhang which was built in the 15th century by Pema Lingpa who is venerated as a great religious treasure, born in Bhutan.  Pema Lingpa was an artist as well as a major architect. The paintings inside the temple are the oldest in the country and a metal chain that was once used by Pema Lingpa can still be seen here. Pilgrims can take a tour of the temple with this chain to purify their sins. We make a small tour of the town to end the day on a high note.
- Accommodation: Hotel

We stop at the charming little village of Ura where most of the inhabitants are secular monks. The power of the village Lama chief here is hereditary. We stroll around the villages and then walk to the Thrumshing La Pass (3, 750m).
We now enter the National Park of Thrumshing La. A few lucky visitors have had the good fortune to see tigers and red pandas; you may be the next! Before heading for the pass, we visit a superb rhododendron garden that displays no less than 15 different species. We then go up to the Thrumshing La which is the highest pass between east and central Bhutan. On a clear day, you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Eastern side of the Himalayas. This part of the itinerary is also a paradise for birds of all kinds. After crossing the bridge over the Kuri Chhu, we still have an hour to reach Mongar, the largest town in eastern Bhutan.
- Accommodation: Hotel

This day is dedicated to the colorful Mongar Festival, one of the most beautiful festivals of Bhutan and full of rhythm. The masks worn by the monks are beautifully made and the highlight of the festival is the ritual dances.
- Accommodation: Hotel

In the morning, we attend the Mongar Festival. By afternoon, we are in Trashigang and crossing the Kori La Pass at 2,400m. We stop for a few minutes at the pass to admire the view and then head down to the village of Yedi. There we will visit a factory and receive instructions on how to make citronella oil. Citronella is a grass that grows wild in all the eastern mountains and this industry gives the farmers extra income. After the small village of Sheri Chu, we will follow the "Drangme Chu" (river) to the Bridge of Chazam. Rest of the day, free time in town.
- Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we attend the Trashigang Festival. Then in the afternoon, we head for Rangjung to visit the village and the monastic school of Garab Rinpoche. After a little stroll around the village, we learn of the local way of life. Then in the evening, we return to Trashigang.
- Accommodation: Hotel
This day, we go to the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. On the way, we visit a temple near Kanglung College and stop in Khaling at a weaving center founded by a women's association. This center trains Bhutanese women on how to use the loom. We take a tea break at the village of Womrong.. Our next stop is at the village of Narphung, famous for its wild tea. This is followed by the crossing of the small pass of Narphung La (2200m). We then enter a dense subtropical forest to reach Samdrup Jongkhar.
- Accommodation: Hotel

We drive to Guwahati, capital of the Indian state of Assam, passing through villages and tea plantations avoiding speeding bikes, trucks, and overloaded buses.
- Transfer to the airport for your return flight.
End of our services.

What's included

- All land transport 
- Room at Hotel
- A English-speaking guide
- Bhutan visa
- Full board stay
- Entrances during visits

What's not included

- International flight
- Visa according to place of transit
- Repatriation insurance
- Tips, personal expenses, and equipment, etc.
Question? Make an inquiry or call (977-1) 441 55 73