Cycling in Bhutan

Mountain biking in Bhutan is a whole new sport that is steadily gaining popularity amongst the Bhutanese and visitors alike. The country’s topography, especially in the western, central and eastern regions, are not the most cycle-friendly but that is precisely why mountain biking is gaining momentum amongst more and more visitors. The mode of transport itself calls for a certain intimacy seldom experienced in vehicles. With better roads replacing the old and the increasing number of off-road roads, biking is now becoming a very unique and original way of seeing and interacting with the country, people and the Bhutanese environment.

Most biking trips go through well paved roads while others trail on to dirt roads and trails. The traffic is still relatively very light and the experience very intimate. This is the “Road Less Travelled.” The more adventurous have the option of making side excursions for more “off-the-road” ventures if preferred. The surface accommodates most types of frame styles: from MTB, Hybrid, and Road, depending on your cycling style and experience. Biking trails mostly meander through small towns and villages and rural areas; it’s just you, your bike, the tour group and the agrarian and natural scenery.

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our BTB representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past.

Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge still in use. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

After breakfast guest will begin a full day’s ride to Thimphu till the point guest can ride. The average gradient of the road is excellent for cycling, as there are few steep climbs or descents. Enjoy riding beside rivers and through a mixture of rice fields, coniferous forests and hills dotted with chortens and monasteries.

After enjoying a picnic lunch at a wayside spot, continue riding via a narrow gorge through to the widening valley at Namseling. Finally, the quaint suburbs of Thimphu begin to appear and you will see the impressive Semtokha Dzong, built in 1627. The ‘Bridge of Prophecy’ decorated with many prayer flags welcomes you to downtown Thimphu where you will continue down the main street to your hotel. Enjoy remainder of day at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Enjoy sightseeing in Thimphu beginning with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernization. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the third King who passed away in the year 1972.

Other highlights include the 12th Century Changangkha Temple, Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha nunnery, the School for Arts and Crafts where the students are taught to master the 13 types of Bhutanese art, the National Library housing a collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. If there is time, you may also visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. And Tashichhodzong. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

The road to Punakha begins with a 22km ride and a height gain of 670m up to Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters). The hillsides are covered in a luxuriant temperate forest of abundant rhododendron and magnolia and several species of deer and monkeys make their home in this forest. Stop for lunch at Dochu La where on a clear day you will have a spectacular view of the Himalayan Mountains.

The downhill ride from the Dochu La into the Punakha valley will leave you speechless as you glide through lush forest spread over a distance of 50 kilometres.

After refreshing in the hotel in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu in the colder months. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

Enjoy a leisurely ride of about 12 kms to reach Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten situated on a beautiful hillock. It houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before riding back to Punakha. Afterwards, drive for Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

After breakfast you can either begin riding back to Paro, or elect to drive there later to allow time to stroll around Thimphu. If it’s the weekend, you can walk through the market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.

In the afternoon drive or ride the relatively flat road to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate a victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.

Alternatively, day 12 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. On the return to Paro, you may choose to ride the exhilirating downhill run from Chelila Pass. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

Tashi Delek!

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis (in standard hotels).
  • All meals (buffet system /include evening tea/snacks per person each day).
  • All hotel tax & service charges.
  • Bhutan visa processing.
  • Mountain Bikes
  • All inland travel permits.
  • Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) Royalties and taxes.
  • Inland transfers: SUV Vehicles (Hyundai Tucson /Hyundai Santa Fe/ Toyota Sedans), Toyota Hiace, Toyota Coaster, Hyundai Motor Buses – based on group strength.
  • Local sightseeing with entrance fees where applicable.
  • Services of an English speaking local guide.
  • Druk air fares and taxes.
  • Travel & Medical insurance coverage.
  • Drinks/Beverages.
  • Communication charges, laundry, tips, porters at hotels.
  • Other expenses of personal nature.

 

It is difficult to accurately generalize the climate of Bhutan due to its variations in elevations and seasons. Generally From June to September is the Monsoon season in Bhutan, with heavy rains and high humidity, it is the hottest in the south. During this period the temperatures can go up to 20 -25 °C during the day, and fall to 15-18 °C at night. From mid September to November is Autumn, basically sunny with some snow at higher altitudes. Late November to early March can be very cold across much of the country. Mid March to May is Spring and Mid April to June you will find beautiful flower blooming and pre monsoon showers starting in June.

Best times to visit Bhutan are March to Mid June and September to November when it's basically warm, dry and sunny. Temperatures are usually around 20 °C, however the nights can be relatively cool, so bring along some clothes.

Comfortable and warm clothing is recommended clothing and sturdy, soft-soled shoes are necessary for your Bhutan trip. Down jackets and woolen sweaters are advised all year round except for summer month; heavy cottons and lightweight woolens is appropriate in summer.

Huge temperature disparity from day to night is the case in Bhutan all year round due to altitudinal difference. Therefore layering system on clothing is suggested to better adapt to the changing conditions; you can start with thermal underwear and add to a shirt, pile jacket and windbreaker or parka as necessary. Make sure you are packed with below items before you set out for a Bhutan Trip:

  • Back pack
  • Woolen/Cotton trousers (warm clothes for mornings and evenings)
  • Down jacket (wind stopper) - especially for higher altitudes
  • T - shirts or long sleeved shirts (not sleeveless)
  • Sandals or flip flops
  • Sun hat
  • Comfortable shoes (sneakers)
  • Pairs of socks and vests
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Sunglasses, spare glasses and contact lenses
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Insect repellent cream and your personal medical kit
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sun cream and some lip protection - you will be outside a lot where strong sun and wind are quite usual.

Reviews

Be first to add review.

Trip-Code: WPP-002-CIB
Destination: Bhutan
Region: Bhutan
Altitude: 7314 M
Season: Spring / Autumn
Difficulty: Medium
Accommodation: Guest House
Duration: 8

Similar Trips

JOURNEY TO DRUK-YUL

Ready to talk?

Start Planning My Trip