The annual matsutake festival is held at the fourth week of August on Ura valley in Bumthang in the central part of Bhutan. Matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake), or Sangay Shamu in the local language is a ground fungi and is also known as pine mushroom because it mostly grows under pine trees. This mushroom only grows in abundance in Ura valley.
Every year since 2008, when the festival was first initiated, hundreds of people including tourists gather at Ura valley to observe the festival. Tourists from all over the world, especially from Japan, come to participate in mushroom picking activity during the annual three-day mushroom festival.
The fabled wild fungi, Matsutake is highly sought after due to its spicy-aromatic odour. Head to the festival to learn more about these mushrooms and identify and harvest them through excursions around the forests and hills. Enjoy a day sampling the delicious dishes while singing and dancing alongside the locals. This mushroom only grows in abundance in Ura valley. The mushroom is well-known for its delicious taste and several nutritional values and aphrodisiac properties. The mushroom is also proven to have effective medicinal properties that help in fighting different cancers. The mushroom is also being exported to other countries, particularly to Japan.
What is included in the tour
- Private guided tour
- Visas for Bhutan
- Airport transfers
- Daily 3 meals (B/L/D) at designated restaurants or hotels
- Accommodation at 3 star hotel
- A qualified & licensed English-speaking guide
- An experienced driver
- A tour vehicle
- Entry fees & road permits
- Government fee, royalty, taxes & surcharges
- Mineral bottled water
- Set of traditional costume (to be return at the end of your stay)
- Full service & assistance before, during and after your Bhutan trip
- Free Local Sim
- Excited Trip Gift exclusively from Arisedev Tours and Treks
What is NOT included in the tour
- Flight into Bhutan via Drukair (can be arranged with us)
- Flight on other airline to catch Drukair Flight
- Meals at 4-5 stars restaurants
- Hotel stay outside of Bhutan
- Expenditure of personal nature
- Travel Insurance (can be arranged with us)
- Tips for the guide and driver
- Alcoholic drink
- Guaranteed Visa approval. We have yet to disappoint a single of our travellers in term of Visa issuance.
- Your choice of hotels will be confirmed for your inspection before your arrival. We only book you on hotels which we love and would love again.
- We will be happy to change your guide, driver or vehicle on the first two days of arrival in Thimphu if you are not satisfied with our selection. Drop us a note and our hospitality team be on the spot to assist you.
- We’re here to help. Our world-class member services team is available by phone or email — there's no automated system or call center; you'll communicate with a real person.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN PARO, BHUTAN
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatize to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and let’s have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some light sightseeing in Thimphu if possible.
Heritage Museum – Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artefacts used in rural households.
Thimphu Dzong – The largest Dzong, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
National Memorial Chorten – Which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
DAY 2:THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA
Dochula Pass – The 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate of the souls lost.
Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Chhimi Lhakhang – A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.
DAY 3:PUNAKHA TO BUMTHANG
Passing Wangdue Phodrang, one of the major towns and district capital of Western Bhutan. Located south of Punakha, Wangdue is the last town before central Bhutan. The district is famous for its fine bamboo work and its slate and stone carving. We will pause to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Built in 1638, Wangdue Dzong is dramatically perched on the spur of a hill and overlooks the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers.
In the morning, we will hike to the Tamshing Goemba, built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. We will also visit Kurjey Lhakhang (left-bottom), one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon Shelging Karpo who had taken the form of a white lion.
We will also visit Jambay Lhakhang, built in 659 by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Come October, the Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the most colourful festivals in Bhutan.
DAY 4: URA MATSUTAKE FESTIVAL
he Matsutake Festival gives the cheerful Uraps a reason for celebration and to have some fun. After an exciting day of picking mushrooms with the people of Ura, sampling some truly delicious meals, learning about their art and crafts, their traditional lifestyle, folk songs and dances, regional food and drink. Participate in the song and dance, glitter and gaiety as the villagers gather in the festival arena, in full costume to cultivate a deeper insight into the rhythms of Bhutanese village life. Sample freshly gathered mushrooms; try some wild honey or high altitude medicinal herbs and potions, along with other local dishes of wheat and barley. Shop for textiles, cane, bamboo and other regional products.
DAY 5: BUMTHANG TO GANGTEY
The Valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black Necked Crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black-necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goempa. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century.
Gangtey Monastery is one of the main seats of the religious tradition based on Pema Lingpa’s revelations and one of the two main centres of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism in the country. The well-known Terton Pema Lingpa makes the Monastery in the late 15th century.
DAY 6: GANGTEY TO THIMPHU
Thimphu the modern capital of Bhutan is made up of just three main streets. It is only one of 2 capitals in the world without traffic lights. As the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu offers a rich cultural heritage with places of interest as listed below.
Textile Museum – Witnesses the art of traditional weaving.
Tashichhodzong (Thimphu Dzong) – The largest Dzong, also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
Paper Making Factory – Witnesses the art of papermaking
Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Semtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.
DAY 7: THIMPHU to PARO
Paro Valley – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.
Paro Dzong – This 15th century massive fortress/monastery is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag. It is also known as Rinpung Dzong.
Ta Dzong – Built as a watchtower the Ta Dzong has since been turned into the national museum.
DAY 8: Paro to Haa via Chelela
Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988m). From the pass you can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. You can also have a picnic at Chele La if you like to. In Haa, some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visiting the Katso Lhakhang.
The valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped in keeping Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley so we return back to Paro for the night.
DAY 9: PARO
A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.
Beyond Satsam Chorten, we hike up to the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The 1.5-hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. Prayer flags adorn the cliffs and this is also where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After a sumptuous local lunch, we will retrace our steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
DAY 10: PARO AIRPORT
A car will be ready to take you to Paro Airport. Transfer time is approximately 30 minutes and you are advised to arrive at the airport an hour before your international flight departure.
Today we will bid fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country. We hope by now you would have made some friends and also kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments! Tashi Delek!