Winter Festival Tour


These rare dances are performed during the annual two-day festival in December where family members from Samdang dung and Ngang Lhakhang Chhoejey lineage play a central role.
Before the start of the Tshechu the protecting deity, Genyen Jagpa Meloen, has received from the house of dung in Samdang village. The people of Thedung household lead the eight Zheps (noblemen dancers) and eight Pazaps known as Threps (tax bearers) to the lhakhang.

Enroute to the lhakhang the people from the Ngang Lhakhang chhoejey lineage receive the procession.

While members of the Ngang Lhakhang Chhoejey look after the mask dancers Samdangdung members take care of the Pazap and Zheps. During the festival a member from each lineage are required to attend the entire tshechu. Until and unless the festival dismisses for breaks, the representatives of the two families are expected to sit together. The festival starts on the night of the 15th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. The Ngang Lhakhang was being built by Lama Namkha Samdrup who is believed to have come from Tibet in the 15th century.
It is said that when he reached the place where the monastery stands today, a beautiful swan or Ngang-ma came flying in circles and landed there. The Lam considered this an auspicious sign and decided to build his monastery there. The monastery thereafter came to be known as Ngang Lhakhang “Swan Monastery” and the valley called Ngang-bi (Swan valley). For centuries, Ngang Lhakhang has served as the seat of direct descendants of Lam Namkha Samdrup, whose ancestry can be further traced centuries back to a powerful monastic lineage in Tibet.

Day 1
Arrive Paro

Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking firstimpression.

On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Norwang Travel for the trip will receive you and transfer you to the hotel.

Overnight- Tandiling resort/similar

Day 2
Paro Tigers Nest Hike

Today we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.

As you know, normally we go up to the Tiger’s Nest and then turn back but if you like I don’t mind walking extra miles with you. After Tiger’s Nest, we can climb to the temples that are on top of the ridges further up. It’s so peaceful on top and the views are stunning. A perfect place of contemplation! Here you will come across some monks who have not gone down to town for ages – knowing the real nature of this world. There is one elderly monk in particular who had been living here for 25 years in solitude. Perhaps! Depending on if he is not under meditation, we can take some prayer flags and request him to perform a consecration ceremony. To come back, we follow a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.

Overnight – Tandiling Resort/ similar

Day 3
Paro - Thimphu

This morning, take a drive to Thimphu following Pa Chhu downstream till Chuzom where the two rivers meet, and here you can see the three different styles of stupas or chortens commonly found in Bhutan: Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese. The chortens are Buddhist reliquaries, memorials to the teachings of the Buddha. Sometimes actual relics of the Buddha or revered monks are inserted into the dome of the stupa, but whether or not there are relics inside, the stupas mark the landscape with reminders of the Buddha’s teachings. From here, the road follows Thim Chhu and slowly the valley begins to widen as you get nearer to Bhutan’s capital city. Thimphu has a special charm and it is fascinating to sit and watch a gathering of local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress and going about their business in a typically unhurried Bhutanese way. You can have free afternoon on your own to walk along the street to see the people and the local stores.

Overnight – Hotel Jhomolhari/Similar

Day 4

We will take a drive up the valley towards north along Thim Chhu (river) for a short hike to Cheri Monastery. The short drive through the countryside surrounding Thimphu brings us to the Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the country. The park is home to several endangered species including the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been cataloged within the park and it’s so rich in plants.

Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena as we go across the covered bridge over the Thim Chhu to climb up steadily to Cheri, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view over the Thimphu Valley. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built this monastery in 1620, and this is where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established. The monastery is considered very sacred as it contains the ashes of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. Shabdrung also spent three years in retreat here and it’s a renowned meditation place even today. After our visit to the monastery, we descend back the way we came, keeping our eyes open for the goral (wild goat) that are often spotted on the cliffs. Back at the village of Dodena, we will have a picnic lunch along the clean and unpolluted Thimphu River.

Later, back in Thimphu, we will visit Tashichho Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery. The massive fortress, whose name translates as the fortress of glorious religion, was initially a smaller structure but took the present form after expansion/reconstruction commissioned by Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1965. Besides being the summer seat of Je Khenpo, Head Abbot, and the central monastic body, it houses some ministries, the secretariat, the Golden Throne of the King of Bhutan and His Majesty’s office. The National Assembly Hall initially in the Dzong has since 1993 moved to a new location directly across the river.

Overnight – Hotel Jhomolhari/Similar

Day 5
Thimphu - Punakha

We visit Thimphu’s weekend market which takes place from Friday till Sunday evening. This certainly offers the best opportunity to see people from remote places come to sell their agricultural products.

Later, drive to Punakha and one of the highlights of the journey is at Dochu La (3050m), the highest point between Thimphu and Punakha. It provides a spectacular view of the Himalayas to the north when the sky is clear, and it is marked with numerous chortens. In Punakha, we will visit the Dzong that was built by Shabdrung, in 1637, on a strategic place at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. The Dzong has played a hallowed role in the history of Bhutan. It served as the seat of Shabdrung’s government, several foreign delegations were received here in 18th and 19th century, the election and coronation of the first King was observed in 1907 and the Third King convened the first National Assembly in the Dzong. The central monastic body continues to reside here in winter. The embalm bodies of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Pema Lingpa are housed on the top floor of the main tower. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King from the latest fire in 1987.

Overnight – Hotel YT/ Similar

Day 6
Punakha - Gangtey

After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, and the slate which is mined up the valley a few kilometers from the town.

Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gonpa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.

Overnight- Hotel Dewachen

Day 7
Gangtey - Bumthang

To Tongsa across Pele-la (3,300m), the traditional boundary between western and eastern Bhutan right on the western edge of Black Mountain National Park. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendebji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.

The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive Dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. We will visit the massive Trongsa Dzong. It was Shabdrung’s great – grandfather who founded the first temple at Trongsa in 1543. In 1647 the Shabdrung had begun his great work of expansion and unification, realizing all the advantages that could be gained from Trongsa’s position; he constructed the first Dzong at the place where his ancestors had erected the temple. The Dzong was called Choekor Rabtentse. In 1652, Minjur Tenpa, the Penlop of Tongsa, had the Dzong enlarged. The Dzong is built in such a way that in the old days, no matter what direction a traveler comes from, he was obliged to pass through the courtyard of the Dzong. This helped to make the Penlop of this Dzong as powerful as it had a complete control over the east – west traffic. The watch tower above the Dzong further strengthened its defense. The father of the first king known as the black regent and the first king served as the Governor of Tongsa before the emergence of the Bhutanese Monarchy, since then it has become a tradition for the young crown prince to serve as the Governor of this place before he is crowned. After visit to the dzong, we drive to Yotung La (3425m). On our further drive to Bumthang, we will make a brief stop at Zugney Village, where we will see the weavers weaving the famous Bumthang fabric known as Yathra.

Overnight – Mountain Lodge/Similar

Day 8

Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m. In the morning we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).

After lunch, we will visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later, we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, and then take a stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the lodge.

Overnight – Mountain Lodge/ Similar

Day 9

Today, we will hike to Ngang Lhakhang the “swan valley’ were we have two nights of tented camping to observe the local festival. The hike continues through Thangbi village and long the chamkhar chu.

Upon reaching our campsite we will have opportunity to explore the nearby villages and interact with local.

Overnight: Tented Camp

Day 10
Day at Festival

Before the start of the tshechu the protecting deity, Genyen Jagpa Meloen, is received from the house of dung in Samdang village. The people of thedung household lead the eight Zheps (noblemen dancers) and eight Pazaps known as Threps (tax bearers) to the lhakhang.

Enroute to the lhakhang the people from the Ngang Lhakhang chhoejey lineage receive the procession.

While members of the Ngang Lhakhang Chhoejey look after the mask dancers Samdangdung members take care of the Pazap and Zheps.

During the festival a member from each lineage are required to attend the entire tshechu. Until and unless the festival dismisses for breaks, the representatives of the two families are expected to sit together. There will be full day activities such as mask dances and folk dances perform by local village people.

Overnight: Tented Camp

Day 11
Ngang Lhakhang/Bumthang

After thanking the local villagers for letting us to join their annual festival we retrace our journey to Jakar.

Overnight: Mountain Lodge/similar

Day 12
Bumthang - Punakha

After breakfast you will resume your journey to Punakha from the same road you had come. We will have several stops for pictures or sightseeing if we had missed any during our incoming.

Overnight; Hotel YT/Similar

Day 13
Punakha - Paro

After breakfast resume your journey to Paro. Crossing Dochula Pass you will arrive at Simtokha dzong, visit the old fortress, now used as the Institute for traditional studies for lay men and women. Continue your drive to Thimphu, lunch will be served here. After lunch resume your journey to Paro, en route visit the 15th Century Tamchogang Temple.

Overnight: Tandiling Resort/Similar

Day 14

After breakfast in the hotel, you will be driven to the airport in time to catch your onward flight. Your escort from Bhutan Norwang Travel bids you farewell, and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.


  • Government Royalty and taxes
  • Dedicated English speaking tour guide
  • Dedicated tour vehicle and driver
  • 3-star accommodation (twin sharing)
  • Daily 3 meals (B/L/D)
  • Airport transfers
  • Bottled water
  • Entry fees to parks and monuments


  • Flights to and from Bhutan
  • Personal expense/shopping
  • Beverages (soda/juice/alcohol)
  • 4 or 5 star accommodation (extra charges will apply)
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for guide and driver

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Winter Festival Tour

Trip Facts

  • Festival Tour
  • Car
  • Sightseeing, Watching Festival, Hiking

  • No Size Limit

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