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Royal Highlander Festival- The Dance of the Nomads

The Royal Highlander Festival is a festival of its own kind. The festival introduces you to the way of nomadic people living at an altitude of 3,800 meters. The Royal Highland Festival showcases highlander’s cultural display and exhibits the highlands as a pride of Bhutan. The various interesting competitions on highland animals including the Yaks, horses and Mastiffs will be held.

The festival was started by the fifth Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to show appreciation for a small number of indigenous people inhabiting the high mountains of north west Bhutan. The celebration is held at Laya , a small beautiful town where life ticks to a different time. However you may need to trek for two days to reach this place. Laya-Gasa trekking route offers the most pristine and unspoiled landscape of Bhutan. 

 The Royal Highland Festival Tour is crafted in such a way that you get the best of Bhutan. Not only will you be treated by the unique Festival but you will also be travelling to some of the most beautiful valleys of Bhutan with cultural sightseeing.


Package Details :

Duration : 12 Nights/ 13 Days .

Destination Covered : Thimphu – Punakha - Gasa- Koina- Laya - Phobjikha- Trongsa- Bumthang - Paro   .

Day 01 :Arrive At Paro, Paro – Thimphu (55km/1 Hour)

The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley below. Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town will be a fine sight. Our representative will receive you and will drive to Thimphu with sightseeing along the way.

Visit Dra Karpo at Paro

Perched on a small hill top of Paro valley lies a small monastery ‘Dra Karpo ‘ (split Rock), one of the holiest site in Bhutan. Guru Padmasambhava accompanied by his consort Dakini Yeshey Tshogyal and many other yogis and great master down the ages have blessed and sanctified the place. As you circumambulate you can see the foot and hand prints and many other auspicious signs and symbols believed to have manifesrted through some supernatural powers. Maybe owing to all these there is a mystique tranquility in the vicinity of Dra Karpo . It is believed that the demon took refuge inside the rock and Guru Rinpoche had Split the rock and subdued the demons. It is believed that even the deadliest of your sin will be washed away if you can circumambulate 108 times around dra karpo

Drive to Thimphu

Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu

Day 02: Thimphu- Punakha (71kms/3hours)

Drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the 108 chortens, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the north east will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a Table Mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

Hike to Chimi Lhakhang through a nice walk along the rice field and through farm houses. The temple was built by Lama Ngawang Chogyel in 1499 and is today a popular temple where barren women come to pray for a child. The temple is popularly known as the Fertility Temple.

Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

Day 03: Punakha- Gasa- Koina (73kms/4 Hrs Drive - 4hrs Trek to Koina)

Early Morning leave your hotel for your approx. 4 hours drive to Gasa where the road ends, from there start your trek (4 hours) to Koina which, is your destination for tonight. Starting from end of the road, trek for approx 4 and half hours, the trail first winds with a gradual descend till Koina and then winds up with a gradual climb till your camp site past the small bride (Thongchu zam). The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered as one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan.

Overnight at Camp in Koina.

Day 04: Koina - Laya (19kms/6-7 hours trek)

After breakfast, start trekking to your destination, the beautiful highland village of Laya. The trail winds up gradually and at times with steep climbs till you reach Laya. Early arrival to your camp and enjoy the scenic beauty of the landscape and then you will come across a lot of locals in their typical Laya costumes.

Overnight Camp.

Day 05 : Laya (Witness Royal Highland Festival) 

The Royal Highlander festival was first introduced last year (2016 on 16thOf October) to mark the celebration of the birth of HRH the Gyalsey; 400 years of Zhabdrung Rinpoche and the Rabjung (60 years cycle) birth year of Guru Rimpoche. This year will be the 2nd year of the Royal Highlander festival and will be held on 23rd and 24th Octber, 2017. The Royal Highlander festival shares the beauty and the wonders of Gasa district through its nature, history and its age old tradition and culture, to share Gasa’s vision of “Good to Great Gasa” and to finally share all theses authenticity and the simplicity of the life of the Highlanders with our guests.

During the festival, visitors can witness The traditional offering of Buelwa (Gift offering) with Auley (traditional epic poem/song recitation tradition originated from Zhabdrung Rinpoche days) that begun during Zhabdrung Rinpoche’s reign in showing loyalty and respect by the community of Laya is being offered for dynamic and visionary leadership of our successive monarchs.

Variety of cultural programs will be performed by Layaps. Competition such as traditional songs and dances.

The various competitions on highland animals including the Yaks, horses and Mastiffs will be held.

The festival consists of series of stalls ranging from local based yak produce to highland technology, highland agriculture technology, medicinal herbs & plants and others. You can do some filming here as well

Day 06 : Laya

Royal High Lander festival

Today we will explore Laya valley, one of the most remotest place in the planet. The whole settlement has about 110 houses. The people of Laya have their own dialect ,customs and distinct dress. The women keep their hair long and wear conical bamboo hatswith spike at the top. Cordyceps sinesis which is an insect parasite fungus having high commercial demand due to its high medicinal value is also found here.

Day 07 : Laya – Koina

After the festival, we trace your way back to Thongchu Zam on days 7. Even while on rek we can capture some beautiful sceneries, people etc

Over night at camp in Thongchu Zam.

Day 08 : Koina- Gasa-Punakha- Phobjikha

We go back to Gasa. Have a warm hot spring bath after your long travel.And head towards Phobjikha Valley

Overnight at Guest house or home stay

Day 09 : Phobjikha-Bumthang

Gantey – Bumthang (2600m) 137 km & 5 hrs 15 mins drive.

After breakfast, drive to Bumthang via Pele – La Pass (3300m). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and eastern Bhutan.
Further down the road, you will see Chendebji Choten (Nepalese styled Stupa). On arrival at Trongsa, visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive Dzong in the kingdom. It was built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tenpa, the official who was sent by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to unify eastern Bhutan. After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hillside above the town, dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling and continue your journey to Bumthang en-route cross Yutong-la pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass and then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open, cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley and then finally to Bumthang.

Overnight at hotel/lodge.

Day 10 : Take a domestic from Bumthang to Paro

Fly From Bumthang To Paro Which Takes About Half An Hour, However If You Have Time We Can Go By Road Which Is About 12 Hours Journey.

If we take flight you all maybe able to check out few places like Paro Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong. Or try a day excursion to Thimphu and visit Buddha Point Tashichodzong & few other Land mark places & Later return to Paro

Later in evening we can Namsay Artisinry brewery & enjoy the different flavor of Bhutanese beer.

Evening at Leisure

Overnight at Hotel in Paro

Day 11 : Taktshang Hike

Taktsang Monastery (or Tiger’s Nest) is the most recognizable sites in Bhutan. Built precariously on a hillside cliff, it sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Accessible only by foot, we follow a trail decorated with colorful prayer flags along the way to protect travelers from evil spirits. Built over the caves that Guru Padmasambhava meditated in for three years, this eighth-century father of Bhutan Buddhism is said to have been brought there on the back of a tigress. One of the most sacred sites in Bhutan it offers breathtaking views to those energetic enough to make it to the top.

Visit One of the oldest temples in Bhutan Kichu Temple,

Evening Leisure

Overnight at hotel in Paro

Day 12 : Departure

Bhutan Inbound Team will drop you all till Airport & bid you farewell.

Read Customer Reviews

5.0 / 3 Reviews


My first happy trip

We couldn’t have been more happy with the trip this tour company planned for us! Every driver, tour guide, resort, and experience far surpassed our expectations!!


I was a solo traveler and wanted to visit Bhutan manily to watch Royal Highland Festival.

Royal Highland Festival is a festival of its kind. Very rich in cultural heritage, they perform games which cannot be seen anywhere in the world . It was much more than what I expected

The highland women are beautiful , they were lot of ornaments , conical hat and their dress is also unique.

The trek was pretty difficult for me as I am not really a trekking person but the view of himalayas and landscape the trek offers is incomparable.

Other than Trek , did lot of cultural sightseeing which was also equally Fantastic.

Highly Recommend Bhutan Best Inbound Tour

James & Michelle
New York City, USA

The Royal Highland Festival is celebrated at one of the most beautiful and unique destinations of Bhutan. Our top highlights of the trip in addition to the awesome Tiger's Nest Monstery was the Highland Festival which is held at the beautiful village of Laya located at an altitude of 3,800 meters above the sea level. After two days of trekking from Gasa, we reached beautiful village of Laya surrounded by soaring high mountains which looked so sacred and magical, the view was just breathtaking.

The Layaps or the people of Laya have their own unique clothes which made us feel as if we were in a completely different world even inside of the distinctive kingdom of Bhutan. The atmosphere of the festival was joyous and vibrant. We spent two nights at Laya so we randomly visited local homes there and the people there were so welcoming and hospitable which was really touching.

We would highly recommend anyone visitng Bhutan to experience this UNIQUE PLACE (LAYA) and the Royal Highland Festival.

James & Michelle