Mountain biking in Bhutan is popular recreation that has gradually gained a reputation amongst the Bhutanese and tourists alike. The topography of Bhutan provides an awful lot more thrilling challenges for mountain cycling in Bhutan. Mountain biking offers you close up proximity to nature and develops an intimate relationship with you.
Biking is now turning into a very unique and authentic manner of seeing and interacting with the country, people and the natural environment. You can now find better roads replacing the antique and the increasingly wide variety of off-road trails.
Most biking trips undergo on nicely-paved roads while others path on to farm roads and trails. The traffic is still relatively light and the ride is very intimately refreshing. You can find the “street much less traveled” all across the country.
Bhutan; paro Airport
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.
The National Museum boasts a rich variety of exhibits collected from all over the country and belonging to different eras, some as early as 2000 B.C. A visit through the galleries shows the country’s transition from the later Stone Age to a modern Mahayanist Buddhist kingdom.
Paro Dzong, built to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion, is also known as Rinpung Dzong, which means ‘the fortress of a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro district.
Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom, dating back to the 7th century when the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Paro offers several attractive opportunities for shopping and experiencing the local fare. Among them, Cane and Jewels should be the first stop if you are interested in some genuine antiques and the Vajrayana Art Gallery offers an interesting collection of contemporary Bhutanese paintings. On the way you could stop at Sonam Trophel for tea and momos. The Glass House Bar at the Gangtey Palace offers the best views of the Dzong over an evening drink.
Being the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture and traditions in depth. Whether you are interested in spirituality, Buddhism or astrology, experiencing different aspects of the local culture such as weaving, sacred paintings or the local markets, or would like to gain an insight into the abundant flora and fauna of Bhutan, we will arrange that your curiosity and interests are satisfied.
Due to the high altitude, the sun is relatively strong and we would therefore recommend you carry sunscreen whenever you are outdoors. The Bhutanese are required to wear their national dress at all times, especially when visiting monasteries or government bodies, and are proud to do so as it is a reflection of their culture and way of life. This rule does not apply to foreigners; however admission may be refused if you are wearing clothes that expose your shoulders and legs.
Because some activities, hikes and excursions require planning, we recommend that you discuss what you might be interested in doing with your guide or with one of our tour planners at least one day in advance.
Cycling in Thimphu
We invite you to see the sights of the Kingdom?s capital with us.
Seeing Thimphu from a bike is a great alternative to touring the town in a car. The bike rides described below, tour around town and end up at strategic locations in the middle of town for those who want to continue exploring by foot after the ride. The routes take you on trafficked roads; however the traffic you will experience is usually minimal compared to that of other cities in the modern world. Even on the two-lane highway, there is plenty of space for vehicles to pass, and the number of vehicles passing is low considering that you are on the most trafficked road in the country. Both routes below follow paved roads only.
OPTION 1: Short Town Loop
From the Hotel start cycling towards Zilukha Nunnery, a private goemba housing 55 nuns. As you cross the valley floor, you will pass the Indian Embassy before turning right on the old road to Lhazophakha. You will pass Trashi Chhoe Dzong on your right before continuing towards town. Trashi Chhoe Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong, and is the seat of the government and the centre of all religious affairs of the Kingdom. It houses the office of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Bike through Chubachu roundabout and continue on the Expressway to the National Memorial Chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to bike around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck before completing the ride in the parking area next to the Chorten.
Time: 1 – 1 hour Difficulty level – Easy
OPTION 2: Long Town Loop
From the hotel ride to Chubachu roundabout and follow the road towards the Trashi Chhoe Dzong. Cross the bridge by the Lingkhana Palace, the Palace of the 5th King, and then take the old roadway towards Lungtenphu, the army camp. In Simtokha, you can see the oldest dzong in Bhutan before continuing to Babesa, passing the Botanical Garden on the left. Shortly after, turn onto the highway to Paro and follow it all the way to the Clock Tower in the middle of town.
Time: 2 – 3 hours Difficulty level – Moderate
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley. The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Pho Chhu Biking (Department of Tourism Biking Trail)
This is the trail for those who have already covered a few miles on the top of a two-wheeler and are up for a challenging ride! The roughest part of the trail is the first section from Punakha Dzong as you start climbing on the narrow rocky pathway leading up to the top of the mountain ridge along the left part of river. When you reach the top, the narrow path continues on a steep ledge along the mountainside with a straight drop to Pho Chhu far below. There are sections in the first part of the trail where you might have to get off and push your bike. The path flattens out through peaceful forest landscape, as it gets closer down towards the riverside. Just before you reach Samdingkha, there is a nice little sandy area by the river perfect for a well-deserved break and some refreshments. Continue below Tempakha village and the rice paddies before crossing the suspension bridge taking you to the opposite side of the river back towards Khuruthang on dirt road. After crossing the Khuruthang Bridge, continue on the paved main road until you reach the dzong parking. If you still have energy left, you can continue pedaling all the way back to the Hotel / Resort
Time: Dzong – Samdingkha – Khuruthang – Dzong: 3-4 hours (18 km round trip).
The Punakha Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one thousand Buddha’s.
Overnight at the hotel/RESORT IN PUNAKHA
Paro Cultural Tour should always start with a casual browse through the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (Watch Tower) of the Rinpung Dzong, where an intriguing collection of artifacts serves as a great introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short stroll below lies the dominating Paro Dzong, a premier example of Bhutan?s architecture. From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into town crosses the scenic Nyamai Azmpa, a unique model of Bhutan?s traditional cantilever bridge. Continue to the town temples, Tshongdue Lhakhang and Drukchholing Lhakhang, with its fascinating altar and paintings. The wall paintings and unique design of Dungtse Lhakhang plus a visit to the revered Kyichu Lhakhang, which pins down the left foot of a treacherous Ogress, are a great finish to this day of cultural immersion.
Insight to Bhutanese Farming Traditions
Paro Valley is often known as the “rice bowl? of the Kingdom as it produces a bulk of red rice from its fertile terraced fields. Paro is also known for production of wheat, millet, potatoes, apples and seasonal vegetables, which are grown mostly on a commercial scale. To experience how farming is done without the use of machines and modern technology, we can take you to our friend?s farmhouse, where you can practice your traditional farming skills. During the month of May, you can join the locals in rice or maybe chili planting. In the autumn months of October and November, you can help harvest the season?s crops. Throughout the year, the fields need to be ploughed and a helping hand is always appreciated. Should you also wish to try Bhutanese food in authentic surroundings, the locals will proudly prepare lunch for you to give you a real taste of the local cuisine.
Dzongdrakha by Bike
Follow the 14-kilometre main road from the Drukgyel to town. Continue past the airport and take a right towards Chele La. On the way you can enjoy beautiful views of Paro Valley. The ascent to Dzongdrakha will certainly get your heart pumping as you climb turn after turn for about one hour until reaching the turn off to the temple. The last part to the temple has to be walked as it is too steep and narrow for a bike. From the turn-off, the walk to the temple and back, including a visit to the temple will take about 1 . to 2 hours. The chorten at the turn-off is a nice place to enjoy a picnic lunch before letting yourself roll down the hills and back into town where you can enjoy a well deserved beer in one of the local bars. Dzongdrakha is considered the second Tiger?s Nest. Along with the two temples Dra Karpo and Taktshang (Tiger?s Nest) it was prophesised and blessed by Guru Rinpoche on the same day in the 8th century. The beautiful temple was built in the 13th century by Lama Gyem Dorji. During the first and last day of the Paro Tshetchu, a very important relic – the temple?s hidden treasure, is displayed along with the Statue of Longevity. These temple relics were once brought out of the temple, however an unknown power instructed them to be brought back.
Time: 1 hour ride from town to the Dzongdrakha turn-off, 1 – 2 hour walk roundtrip to Dzongdrakha, 30 min ride back to town. Difficulty level – Strenuous
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.
There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only – Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator. A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all the necessary arrangements
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in the country.