Bhutan Ura Yakchoe - 12 Days
Highlighting this tour is the Ura Yakchoe Festival; invocations of local blessing and religious purification. Tsechus are spiritual, exotic arrays of color, medieval and breathtaking.
- Sightseeing in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Bumthang, Ura
- Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest)
- Ura Yakchoe Festival activities
Highlighting this tour is the Ura Yakchoe Festival; invocations of local blessing and religious purification. Tsechus are spiritual, exotic arrays of color, medieval and breathtaking. The four valleys of Punakha, Bumthang, Ura, Wangdue defy words with their beauty.
Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan ranks among the top ten hot spots in the world for biodiversity, in the month of May, nature spreads a feast to delight your senses. Bhutan hosts 600 species of wild orchids, 50 different types of Rhododendrons, Blue Poppy (the national flower), medicinal plants, high-altitude plants and tropical trees. Over 70% of Bhutan is blanketed in virgin forests of richly diverse flora, with rippling pristine rivers meandering alongside terraced rice fields.
Land-locked and surrounded by high Himalayan Mountains the essence of Bhutan is serenity and beauty distilled through the ages of time. This unique and custom itinerary gives you the best of Bhutan. Cultural hikes to ancient century-old dzongs, (forts), Temple and Buddhist monasteries. Week-end markets, remote villages and Bhutanese hospitality at its finest.
April 30 – Arrival at Paro (by Druk Air) then transfer to Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.
May 1 – Sightseeing around Thimpu. Overnight at a hotel.
May 2 – Thimphu to Punakha. Overnight at a hotel.
May 3 – Punakha to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.
May 4 – Bumthang excursion and sightseeing. Overnight at a hotel.
May 5 – Bumthang to Ura. Overnight at a hotel.
May 6 – Ura to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.
May 7 – Bumthang – Trongsa – Wangdue. Overnight at a hotel.
May 8 – Wangdue to Gangtey. Overnight at a hotel.
May 9 – Gangtey to Thimphu to Paro. Overnight at a hotel.
May 10 – Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest) . Overnight at a hotel.
May 11 – Departure from Paro (by Druk Air)
Departures & Availability
We do not have fixed departure date for this trip. This trip can only be organized upon your request. There is an option of private and tailor-made journey best suited for you, your family and friends. We have price discounts according to the group size, the bigger your group, the bigger your group discounts. We allow complete flexibility on your departure date, please choose your preferable date.
- Pick up from and drop off at the hotel and the airport on a tourist car / van /minibus.
Standard government-approved accommodation (in twin sharing rooms) for the duration of the tour.
Full-board meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea & snacks – for the duration of your stay.
Drinking water for the duration of the tour.
Country presentation and tour Briefing on the evening of Day1 with welcome drinks.
Licensed English-speaking Bhutanese tour guides.
Private transportation and a designated driver within Bhutan. Toyota 4WD luggage vans and light trucks for group travel. Luggage will be hauled by horses, mules or yaks at higher elevations.
Monument and museums entrance fees for all sightseeing locations detailed in the itinerary.
Cultural afternoon/evening sessions with traditional mask and folk dances (with beverages). Only for group tours.
Bhutan visa fees and processing assistance.
Government royalty (35% of $200), which goes to the country’s health and education projects.
All route access and monument entry permits and fees.
All government taxes, official expenses and tourist service charges.
International airfare and airport departure tax.
- Your travel insurance (mandatory for the trip, see the travel insurance page).
Tips for tour guides, porters, driver, hotel lobby and in restaurants. (Tipping is expected)
Personal clothing and equipment.(See the equipment section for detail information)
Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry.
Alcoholic and cold drinks.
- Any expenses other than the Price Include section
Detailed ItineraryExpand All
Day 01: April 30 - Arrival at Paro (by Druk Air) then transfer to Thimphu
You can take flight to Paro from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dhaka etc. We recommend you to fly from Bangkok because Druk air offer everyday flight from Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok whereas Druk air do not operate everyday flights from other sectors.
The flight into Paro on Bhutan’s national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of the country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. After clearing customs and visa control you will drive you to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. The drive will take around 1 hour. Thimphu has a population of about 98,000. The town is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights.
Day 02: May 1 - Sightseeing in and around Thimpu
In the morning we first stop at Bhutan’s National Bank to exchange currency as well as visit the post office to view and purchase elaborate and exquisite Bhutanese collector item stamps. We then will visit the National Memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 in memory of the third king. Also, the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved and the Takin Reserve which protects the national animal of Bhutan. After lunch visit the Textile Museum and the Arts and Crafts School. A visit to the House of Incense and House of Paper are always favorites as well.
Day 03: May 2 - Thimphu to Punakha
After breakfast depart to Punakha, an ancient capital of Bhutan. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to your hotel for lunch and check in. After lunch visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. If time permits take a hike to Khamsum Yueley Chorten (45 minutes one way) through the terraced rice fields and overlooking the village to kabina.
Day 04: May 3 - Punakha to Bumthang
Today we start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. The drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is approximately 7 hours crossing over Pele La pass (3,300m) and Yotongla pass (3,400m). “The Central Road”, across the Black Mountains, was completed 30 years ago, and it brought about great changes to the people in central Bhutan. We pass Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan. We climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass (3,300m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Chomulhari (7,314m),to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. In Trongsa we visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla pass (3,400m).
Day 05: May 4 - Bumthang excursion and sightseeing
In the morning we hike to visit Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). We also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in 7th century) and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration) In the afternoon drive towards east of Bumthang valley to visit Membar Tsho (burning lake) where Pema Lingpa found some Dharma and then visit Swiss Cheese farm where you can taste the cheese along with some cider juices and wines produced locally.
Day 06: May 5 - Bumthang to Ura
After breakfast drive to Ura Valley. Today we will witness URA Yakchoe in Bumthang. Ura is considered one of the holiest valleys in Bhutan. Today Bhutanese from many different areas will gather to pay respect and to be blessed at this social gathering. Bhutanese dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry attends this celebration of purification and religious blessings. Here we can truly appreciate the essence of Bhutanese people and a preserved steadfast culture. Arrays of colorful brocades whirl through the air as the dancers spin and dance the “thunderbolt step”. Masks of glorious demonic demons and animals arouse your senses as you watch the purification take place. The intensity goes on.
Day 07: May 6 - Ura to Bumthang
Returning to Ura Festival meet with Ura Head Lama. Watch for the Atsara (clown) this dancer, unique in his own style, mimics dancers and entertains onlookers. Festival deities are invoked through benediction and luck is increased and misfortunate gone. Drive back to Bumthang.
Day 08: May 7 - Bumthang – Trongsa – Wangdue
After an early breakfast drive to Wangdue via Trongsa. The drive to Wangdue over the Pelela pass.
Day 09: May 8 - Wangdue to Gangtey
Morning drive to Gangtey enroute visit Wangdue Dzong and continue your drive to Gangtey which lies towards the east of Punakha and Wangdue on the flanks of the Black Mountains. There is an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa on the valley floor are the fascinating valley of Phobjikha. The gentle sloping hill side of Phobjikha is described as “the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas”. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains of Tibetan Plateau in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Afternoon walk through the valley and observe the rare “Black Necked Crane” and its habitats. One can get good information about this bird from its observation center in the valley, it is worth a visit.
Day 10: May 9 - Gangtey to Thimphu to Paro
After breakfast drive back to Paro with lunch stop at Thimphu.
Day 11: May 10 - Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest)
After breakfast drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Mount Chomolhari, can be seen the on a clear day from Drukgyal village. We then drive to Ramthangka to hike upto the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The hike to the cafeteria will take around one and half hour. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After lunch at the café walk back to the road point. On your way back visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in 7th century.
Day 12: May 11 - Departure from Paro (by Druk Air)
After breakfast at your hotel, your local Bhutanese guide will escort you to Paro airport for your onward flight and bid you farewell and happy journey back home.
Gears and Equipment
All you need to bring for this Tour is simply some comfortable clothes; there is no any requirement of special equipment on the tour. However for your ease, the following gives you the general idea about the personal items you need to manage for the trip. The personal items referred here are optional and depends upon your choice. The most important factor to be considered while choosing the equipments and your Bag-pack, is the time of the year you are travelling.
In a tour, the vehicle transfers all the heavy items and equipments. But the Personal belongings of the clients which is required at any moment like money, water bottle, camera, suns cream and toilet paper etc. should be carried by yourself. It is therefore advisable that you pack the personal belongings into your daypack.
If you are going bhutan from kathmandu, we will supply complimentary water and wind proof duffel bag, which you can use on the tour for your shopping purpose. The duffel bag is yours to keep.
List of Recommended Equipment
- Duffel or Rucksack bag or suitcase (We will provide one complimentary ACE duffel bag for you to keep.)
- Warm wool or synthetic hat that cover your ears (only if you are travelling in the cold season i.e January, February and December)
- Goggles or sunglasses for sunbeam, dust and wind.
- A neck warmer is another piece of gear for extra warmth if you feel you will need it and is for cold season i.e January, February and December.(optional)
- 1 pair warm gloves (This is required if your are travelling in cold season i.e January, February and December).
- T-shirts (2).
- Waterproof (preferably breathable fabric) shell jacket (preferable if you are travelling in rainy season from June to September.)
- 1 pair cotton pants (loose jeans/khakis), 1 pair shorts.
- 2 pairs lightweight long underwear/thermals (if you are traveling in winter January, February and December).
- 2 pairs of liner socks, synthetic or capilene.
- 1 pair light camping shoes or sneakers..
- 1 pair sandals (Optional).
Medicines and First Aid Kits
(Please note our guide will also carry the first aid kit bag during the trek. However we still recommend you to bring your personal first aid kit as well)
- Extra Strength Excedrin for altitude related headaches.
- Ibuprofen for general aches and pains.
- Immodium or Pepto bismol capsules for upset stomach or diarrhea.
- 1 small personal sized first-aid kit with blister treatments such as mole skin, band-aids, some waterproof tape, anti-infection ointments, etc. Your guides will have more extensive medical gear, but you should have the basics for general use.
- Passport and extra passport photos (4 copies).
- Airline ticket (Please make a copy and leave on at our office in KTM just in case if you need to change the date of your).
- Durable wallet / pouch for travel documents, money & passport.
- Lip balm. At least SPF 20, 2 sticks. A string taped to the stick is helpful, to hang around your neck and some are now being sold with a cord already attached. Handy as it avoids you from having to stop and look for it.
- Toiletry kit. Be sure to include toilet paper stored in a plastic bag, hand wipes, and liquid hand sanitizer, towel, soap, etc.
- 2 bandanas.
This list is only a guide. While you are required to bring everything on this list, there are numerous options, brands, and versions of each piece of equipment. Use your experience and the listed features to find the best gear for you.
Trip Map / ElevationDownload
FAQs for Bhutan Ura Yakchoe
Why trek with Ace the Himalaya?
Ace has a reputation for successfully leading treks with knowledgeable leaders and staff taking care of all your travel needs. We are a certified sustainable travel company that also endorses the idea of giving back to the community by participating in various philanthropic activities. Here are 17 reasons why you should choose Ace the Himalaya for your next adventure!
What essential documents do I need to bring with me on tours?
Here are some documents that you will need to carry with you:
- Valid Passport – must be valid for up to 6 months after you return from your tour (Keep a separate photocopy)
- Travel insurance (Keep a separate photocopy)
- Cash and Traveller’s Cheques (Keep numbers and proof of purchase separately)
- Flight tickets
- Emergency contact numbers for T/C’s, banks, insurance, family contacts
Weather and Temperature
What is the best season for this tour?
The best time for Bhutan tours is between February to June and September and December.
What is the weather and temperature like on the tour?
It depends on the season you’re travelling. During winter (December to February), it is colder at night and relatively warmer during the day, with the temperature ranging from 4°C at night to 22°C. Between March and May, the weather stays prefect as the temperature averages 25°C during the day. From September to December, following the monsoon, the temperature gets cooler and allows for a great time to travel. The average temperature during this season is 20°C. The vehicles and the hotels during the trip will be air-conditioned making your travel very comfortable.
Arrival and Visas
Do I need to obtain VISA for Bhutan?
We will handle the visa procedures for you. The Govt. will sanction the VISA only after the receipt of full payment in advance. The visa fee is included with our tour price. Actual Bhutan VISA will be stamped in your passport on arrival on Paro airport. Without visa clearance number, tourists cannot board the flight or enter the country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwards a copy of this visa clearance to the concerned Druk Air stations and other entry points; we also fax a copy of the visa clearance document to our clients for their reference. While the actual visa is stamped on arrival, the initial visa clearance is also required at the time of issuing Druk Air Tickets.
All you need is to carry 2 copies of original passport-sized photographs, which are required on arrival in the country. Please e-mail us the clear color copy of the passport for the visa procedures.
Will somebody come to pick me up at the airport upon my arrival?
Yes, our airport representative will be there to greet you at the airport. S/he will be displaying a sign board with your name on it at outside the airport terminal. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel by our tourist vehicle.
Payments and extra costs
How much additional money do I need per day?
It depends on your spending habits. Generally, all the foods, accommodation and hot drinks are included in the price. You can allocate USD 10 to USD 15 for chocolates and a few drinks during the trip.
Can I use credit cards in the places visited in tour?
There are just a few ATM’s in Bhutan for credit card (Master card / Maestro) & only few establishments in Bhutan accept credit card payments hence US Dollars (cash or Amex travelers cheques) or Euros Cash is suggested and convenient to cover any personal expenses (eg. beverages , laundry ,phone bills , tipping , shopping etc) that the Pax may make in the Kingdom. 1US$ is equivalent to Nu. 55 & 1 Euro is equivalent to Nu.69 as of today (the day we writing this text). NU= Ngultrum, the Bhutanese currency.
Who Can Participate?
How fit do I have to be and is this tour for me?
This festival tour is suitable for any kind of person, no previous experience is required.
What sort of accommodation can I expect in tour?
Hotels vary in style and quality. All Government approved hotels are clean and well maintained with hot and cool water, telephones with international dialing and fax facilities. We use three to four star hotels for this trip. All the meals and hot drinks are included in the trip price.
What sort of food can I expect in tour?
Most of the restaurants serve Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine always plenty to choose from. Local Bhutanese food are spicy like the Indian food.
Is the water available drinkable? Do I need to bring purifying tablets/filter?
The trip price included the drinking water for the all Bhutan trip. You don’t need to bring any bring purifying tablets/filter or pay for the water.
Will it be possible to get any clothes washed/Laundry ?
Laundry service is easily available at your hotel. Please note that laundry service is not included in the package price.
Can I charge my digital camera or other equipments on my trip?
These facilities will be available in most of the places in your hotel. Remember to bring travel adapters!
Health and Safety
Is Ace the Himalaya's staff insured?
Our company insures all our trekking staff members, including guides, cooks, Sherpa, and porters. Please browse through our legal docment page to view insurance details.
What immunizations will I need?
No vaccinations are compulsory for traveling in Nepal, but we do recommend you are covered for diphtheria & TB, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, *malaria, typhoid, polio and tetanus.
We also recommend:
- A dental check-up prior to traveling
- That you know your blood group in case of emergency
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions which might affect you on tour, you make these known to your tour leader and Ace the Himalaya at the time of your booking.
What is your cancellation policy?
Notice should be provided 20 days before the trip start date in case of cancellation. The trip can be canceled for justifiable reasons. Once the trip is canceled, a fee of 30% of the trip cost is retained for administrative costs.
However, the trip amount is entirely non-refundable if the cancellation is not made before the 20 days as per our terms and conditions. For submitting a claim to your insurance company after the cancellation, we can assist with documentation such as a receipt of monies paid. Refund will not be provided for unused accommodation in case of trip cancellation caused by personal reasons/sickness/weather.
More information about our cancellation policy can be found here in Terms and Conditions page.
Do I need to tip my guide and porters? How much would that be?
This is a difficult thing to gauge. We have seen everything from USD 20 to USD 1000 per person for guides and porters. Tipping is not required, but a small gesture of thanks to your guides and local porters thanks for their help. The level of the tip should reflect the level of satisfaction from and personal involvement with your guide.
Are there any communication facilities during the trip?
Telephones and Internet and international calls are readily available in most of the town for this trip.
Are there any photography restrictions?
You will have many photo opportunities during the trip. Please ask for permission before taking a person’s photo. Photography in, monasteries, shrine rooms of Dzongs and religious institutions is generally not permitted, but outdoor photography is. To be sure when visiting such places, you may consult with your guide just to make sure. Carry plenty of films and batteries. Photo shops in Bhutan do not sell equipment or accessories.
Can I add extra days to my trip?
No, because we can’t change your Druk air flight once it is booked.
Is there a minimum and a maximum number for your groups?
We cater to all group sizes, while maintaining the field staff ratio to give you the best quality and experience.
Transportation and flights
Do we book our international flights and Druk air flights?
Yes, you need to book your own International flights. We are a local agent and it would cost you significantly higher to book through us. Please find more information in the International Flight page.
Druk air is the only airline to and from Bhutan. We can ebook the Druk air flight to and from Bhutan and e-mail you the e-ticket.
Druk air flight cost is not included in the trip price. Druk air flights cost are different as per the flights sectors that you are taking. Druk air offer flights from following location. We recommend you to book your flight to Bangkok as they have every day flight to Paro and from Paro as well.
Please let us know which route is more convenient to you, the cost of the flights are as below. Please contact us for the up-to-date Druk air flight rate.
- Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok = US$890
- New Delhi – Paro- New Delhi = US$875
- Calcutta – Paro- Calcutta = US$510
- Kathmandu – Paro- Kathmandu = US$520
- Bangkok – Paro – Kathmandu = US$ 860
- Bangkok – Paro – New Delhi = US$ 875
What mode of transportation do you use?
Ace the Himalaya is all about providing you with local insights, lifestyle as well as adventure. Using a variety of private transport is an integral part of our Himalayan tours, enhancing the experience!
We use private tourist vehicles for sightseeing, city tours and pickups; whereas we use the best 4WD SUVs as our support vehicle. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible. For larger groups, we also use supported trucks to carry your luggage.
Are there any weight restrictions on Druk air flights?
Druk Air allows only up to 20 kgs of luggage per person, after which the excess baggage charge is USD 5 per kg.
I want to extend my holiday, any recommendations?
Yes, you can extend your holiday. Ace the Himalaya offers many options and alternatives for your holiday extension. For more information, you can visit our Day trips pages.
These full and frank reviews are from travelers who have traveled with Ace the Himalaya previously. The reviews and experiences shown here are from reputable travel websites like TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and Trust Pilot, etc.
What makes this trip different ?
Our CSR with Sambhav Nepal
- Ace the Himalaya believes in giving back to the communities that surround and support tourism in Nepal. Ace provides logistical support and, if needed, cash donations to the projects of Sambhav Nepal (a local NGO).
- Sambhav Nepal and Ace work together to plan volunteer programs that will bring in foreign volunteers and make use of their enthusiasm, time, and talents in a variety of projects.
Sustainability and Responsible Tourism
- Of the few Travelife Partners in Nepal, Ace the Himalaya is one. We respect the procedures for sustainable tourism. Our excursions are socially and environmentally conscious, leaving the lowest possible impact in the Himalayas.
- About 80% of Ace the Himalaya’s staff members are natives of the regions where our trips are organized. It is one of our sustainable and responsible efforts to help local communities, support small businesses, and promote regional culture and way of life.