Bhutan Cycling Tour – 13 Days
Bhutan’s mountainous terrain offers a fascinating adventure for cycling enthusiasts. The roads wind up and down mountains with exhilarating drops of thousands of meters, and of course the challenge of surmounting equally high passes of over 3000 meters. The route is accompanied by mixed forests, pastureland, rich meadows and valleys dotted with medieval villages and towns rich in culture.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
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 representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong and Rimpong Dzong.
DAY 02: PARO – THIMPHU (Cycling)
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.
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.
DAY 03: 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.
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.
DAY 04: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (Cycling)
The road to Punakha begins with a 22 km ride and a height gain of 670m up to Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters). 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’.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – TRONGSA
Enjoy exploring the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang before visiting Wangduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1639 the strategically located Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
DAY 06: TRONGSA – BUMTHANG (Cycling)
After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa has the largest Dzong in Bhutan and its foundations were laid in the 16th Century. After passing through cultivated fields and forested hillsides you will reach the Yutung La Pass (3400m).
From here ride down through a dense, beautiful coniferous forest to a wide, cultivated valley known as Chummey valley before continuing on in the soft afternoon light to the town of Jakar. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
DAY 07: BUMTHANG
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples.
After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Afterwards enjoy exploring the village of Jakar, Bumthang’s main township. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
DAY 08: BUMTHANG – URA – BUMTHANG (Cycling)
Cycle to the Ura Valley, approx 69 kms from Jakar. The ride begins with a height gain of 900 metres over almost 40 kilometres to the Shertang La pass. The Ura Valley, on the far side, is the highest of the Bumthang Valleys.
Extensive pastures line the road and just before the pass there is a panoramic view of the mountains of Lunana. Descend from the pass on long looping roads through pastureland and fields to Ura village. Enjoy some sightseeing in Ura Valley before driving back to Bumthang. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
DAY 09: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA
Drive back to Punakha, stopping at Trongsa for lunch. There will be opportunities to ride along various stretches of road if desired. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
DAY 10: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU (Cycling)
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.
DAY 11: THIMPHU – PARO
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.
DAY 12: 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).
In the afternoon drive or ride the relatively flat road to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. On the return drive to Paro, visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 13: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.