The mountainous terrain and breathtaking views available make Bhutan a paradise for lovers of mountain biking, cycling around the world. The experience, while biking along the highways and byways of Bhutan that change in altitude and temperature is definitely like no other.
Biking in Bhutan
The good point of biking in Bhutan is its immense areas of undisturbed nature and even while cycling along Bhutan's "highways" one sees a lot of this. These highways usually have little traffic, especially east of Wangdue. The views are often stunning, but you are advised to stop before you look. None of the main roads are very steep. The average percentage seems to be around 7%. The climate in large parts of the country is quite pleasant for cycling, especially in spring and fall.
The best season to bike in Bhutan is during the months of Mar- April and Oct. – Nov. During these months the days are sunny and the nights chilly.
Flying into the country’s only international airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
Your guide will receive you and transfer you to the hotel. We have some time before the first sightseeing to put our bikes together, in preparation for the start of our journey.
Sightseeing in afternoon includes visit to Ta Dzong; once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum. Next is Rinpung (Paro) Dzong; which functions as the seat of the district administration, district court and the monastic body. The southern approach to the Dzong has a traditional roofed cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk across the bridge offers a wide view of splendor of the Dzong’s architecture and an opportunity to tread the same path as the ancient warriors.
Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops, or take refreshments at a local café or bar.
Hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest)
After breakfast, we finish off the bikes and gear up for the first day’s riding. Bike for about an hour to the trail head to hike up to the Taktsang Monastery. It is said that the Guru Rinpoche came to Taktsang on the back of a tigress and, whilst meditating in a cave, converted the Paro valley to Buddhism. A number of temples have now been built on the site, and these occupy precarious positions, clinging to a black cliff high above the Paro valley.
The visit involves a two-hour climb on a steep footpath through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. The views are well worth the effort. After spending some time at the monastery, we descend back to the road and bike to our hotel along the dirt farm road.
Haa Valley across the Chele La
Biking easily down to the Paro valley from our hotel, we pass through farmland and scattered hamlets to reach the start of our climb to the Chele La. Setting off on our first big climb, we gain height gradually and at some of the turns have glimpses to the north of the snowcapped peaks of the Bhutan Himalaya.
After approximately 36 kilometres, (about 5 hours) we reach the prayer flagged summit of the pass at 3822 meters. Anyone not feeling up to this challenge can opt to hitch a ride on the support vehicle at any time. At the pass, we will have a snack lunch and plenty to drink and brace ourselves for a breath- taking 20 kilometers descent.
After an initial cruise between the trees, we head down into the valley by way of a series of 10 extravagant hairpin turns. There is almost no traffic on this road.
Bike to Thimphu (5-6 hours)
Our destination today is the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. Thankfully, this is all on a good and fairly level road-with very little traffic. We follow the Ha river gently downhill. We head towards the southeast and then northwards to a junction at Chuzom (2068m). From here, we follow the Thim Chu upstream through a mixture of rice fields and coniferous forest. We find a suitable wayside spot for a lunch stop and then continue, via a narrow gorge section and a widening of the valley at Namseling.
Finally, the quaint suburbs of Thimphu begin to appear. Thimphu is the largest settlement in Bhutan and is spread out across a wide valley. Thimphu has a special charm and it is fascinating to sit and watch a gathering of local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress and going about their business in a typically unhurried Bhutanese way.
Across the Dochu La to Punakha (4-5hours)
Our stay in Thimphu is only a short one and we have breakfast in anticipation of the bike ride that lies ahead of us. The road up to the Dochu La (3050m) involves a 22km ride and a height gain of 670m. The hillsides on either side of road are covered in a luxuriant temperate forest, with an abundance of rhododendron and magnolia. The lower slopes are even lusher, with orange trees, bananas and bamboo. Several species of deer and monkeys make their home in this forest. We will meet our support vehicle at the pass and have a stop for rest and refreshment.
The pass is marked by many prayer flags and chortens and it offers a magnificent panorama of the Eastern Himalaya, including the all of the giant 7000 meter peaks of Lunana in northeastern Bhutan. The downhill from the Dochu La into the Punakha valley will leave you speechless - 1700 meters of descent, through lush forest and jungle and spread over a distance of 50 kilometers.
Punakha – Paro , 142 Km, 4hr Drive
The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following through Wang Chhu and Pa Chhu Rivers. Visit to Farm House: Picturesque farmhouses dot the valley amongst fields and hillsides. We welcome you to enjoy the hospitality of the Paro farmers. Thrill yourself as the farmers welcome you to their homes with genuine smiles.
The two to three-storied Bhutanese farmhouses are handsome in appearance, with colourfully decorated outer walls and lintels, and are traditionally built. A visit to a farmhouse gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family. (Overnight: Paro)
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.
DetailsEnquire about this itinerary
- All Accommodation in standard hotels (Double / twin sharing)
- Biking equipment
- All porters, basic camping equipment ( if on trek)
- All meals (but not beverages). Bottled water is complimentary in the car/coach
- All transfers (SUV/mini bus) and sightseeing within Bhutan
- Services of an accompanying English speaking local tour leader/ guide
- Fees for museums and permits to enter temples & monuments
- 35% government welfare levy (used for developmental projects) & tourism development fee
- Visa and processing fee
- Roundtrip Air tickets between Hong Kong and Bangkok (or other transit hub); and between Bangkok (or other transit hub) and Paro. Please contact our travel consultants for flight arrangements
- Bangkok (or other transit hub) Hotel for transit
- Accommodations in upscale properties
- Single supplement for hotel rooms
- Overnight camping
- Travel insurance (recommended, mandatory if on trek)
- Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
- Beverages (juice and alcohol)
- Tips and gratuities for staff (optional)