Across Bhutan Cycling Tour - 9 Days

Overview

The mountains terrains of Bhutan offer a great adventure cycling experience with majestic views of the snow-capped mountains. The biking trail winds up and down with exhilarating drops of thousands of meters and another exciting feature is the challenge of crossing the high mountain passes of over 3,000 meters. On such biking trips, you will pass through mixed forests, pasturelands, rich meadows, valleys dotted with age-old villages and towns rich in their cultural heritage. The tour covers all the major cities of Bhutan like the tiny capital – Thimphu, the old capital city of Punakha and the colorful Paro. The biking trip further extends to the valley of Bumthang, Trongsa, Mongar, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar.

Outline Itinerary for Across Bhutan Cycling Tour
Day 01 : Ride from Paro to Thimphu (2350m)
Day 02 : Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1310m) via Dochula Pass (3140m)
Day 03 : Ride from Punakha to Gangtey (2900m)
Day 04 : Ride from Gangtey to Trongsa (2300m)
Day 05 : Ride from Trongsa to Bumthang (2800m)
Day 06 : Sightseeing around Bumthang (2800m)
Day 07 : Ride from Bumthang to Mongar (1600m)
Day 08 : Ride from Mongar to Tashigang (1100m)
Day 09 : Ride from Tashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar (220m)

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle past mixed forests, pasturelands and beautiful valley with villages rich in culture.
  • Enjoy Biking trials with thrilling drops of thousands of meters.
  • Explore the high mountain passes of over 3,000 meters.
  • Discover Bhutan central valley’s with sacred Buddhist sites.
  • Witness spectacular snow-capped mountain views.
  • Travel through lush green valley’s to dense forests with beautiful landscapes.

Itinerary

Day 1
Ride from Paro to Thimphu (2350m)

Start up the ride towards Thimphu where the average gradient of the road is excellent for cycling. There are few steep climbs and descents as well. The trail passes thru rivers, mixture of rice fields, pine forests and hills dotted with Chortens & monasteries. Then appears a narrow gorge thru the widening valley of Namseling and finally reaches the suburbs of Thimphu and spotting of Semtokha Dzong built in 1627. At downtown Thimph, the ‘Bridge of Prophecy’ decorated with many prayer flags welcomes you where you continue down the main street.

Visit/drive to Buddha Terrance for spectacular view of the Thimphu Valley, then drive towards Takin Preserve to observe Bhutan’s national animal ‘Takin’ – a strange looking beast resembling a beestung moose as someone say. Also visit the Memorial Chorten – a monument built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Then move towards Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old traditional house now transferred into a museum. Overnight at Hotel (Thimphu).

Day 2
Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1310m) via Dochula Pass (3140m)

After breakfast drive towards Dochula Pass and from there on ride downhill to the Punakha Valley passing through lush forest spread over a distance of about 50 kilometers. After the pass, the trail descends thru varied forest and finally emerges the highly cultivated valley of Punakha.

En-route go for a short hike to the Chimi Lakhang passing thru rice fields. It’s a temple of Drukpa Kenley who is also known as ‘the Divine Madman’ in Bhutan and located on a hillside amid rice fields. The shrine is a pilgrimage site for childless couples. After the hike enjoy some tea & snacks overlooking the fields.

Afternoon: Visit Punakha Dzong located in the confluence of the Pho Chu ‘male river’ and Mo Chu ‘female river’. Punakha Dzong is considered arguably the most impressive Dzong of Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel (Punakha).

Day 3
Ride from Punakha to Gangtey (2900m)

After breakfast drive along a winding mountain road thru oak and rhododendron forest, crossing over a high pass down into the Phobijikha Valley considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. It’s also the winter home of black-necked cranes migrating from Tibetan plains. Also go for 2 hours Gangtey natural trail from the monastery crossing the jungle before emerging to the valley floor.

Option: Biking till Gangtey (The roads would not be easy as the whole roads are under construction where it could be really dusty, muddy and lots of pot holes along the highway.) Overnight at Hotel (Gangtey).

Day 4
Ride from Gangtey to Trongsa (2300m)

After breakfast, drive or take a bike ride to Trongsa (6 hrs.). The trail passes thru the valley with spectacular views of historical dzongs. It’s climbing all the way to Pele la pass at 3300 meters, en-route coming across yak herders’ camps especially in winter. Spot the high mountains like Rukubji and Chendebji. Here houses cluster at one place and fields in another. Then you will descend thru Rukubji village further down to Chendebji village. Here you will come across the 18th century Nepalese styled stupa built by Saint Shida.

Upon reaching Trongsa, visit the fortress at Trongsa or stop at the village known as Tshangkha and meet with the locals there. Tshangkha is one of the villages still practicing the Bon religion who worships trees and mountains as their good and goddess. If you are lucky you might encounter with one of such ritual being performed. Overnight at Hotel (Trongsa).

Day 5
Ride from Trongsa to Bumthang (2800m)

After breakfast, ride or cycle to Bumthang. The trail climbs rapidly thru a series of hairpins after Traongsa with great views of dzongs and the valleys. You will re-enter the forest after passing thru cultivated fields and reaches Yotong La (3400m). The landscapes totally changes descending to a low point of 2650m at Chumye village to the wide open Bumthang Valley. You may bike downhill from the pass thru the historical old trade route which is not in use since the road has been built in these parts which is about 30 years, so the path is back to it’s complete wilderness form with nobody using it. It takes about an hour to get on the roadside at Chumey, the first four valleys of Bumthang.

Bumthang has four valleys (Chumey, Choekhor, Tang & Ura) with altitudes varying from 2600 to 4000 meters. In the morning, visit the Kurje Lakhang – one of the most sacred shrine in Bhuta where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. After Kurje Lakhang, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang- a temple built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century and one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.

After lunch is hike to the Tamshing Lakhang founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa which contains ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on visit the Swiss chess factory, Red panda (Swiss beer) factory and Bee farms. Overnight at Hotel (Bumthang).

Day 6
Sightseeing around Bumthang (2800m)

After breakfast, explore around the Bumthang valley riding along and visiting temples and monasteries which are yet to cover/see. Overnight at Hotel (Bumthang).

Day 7
Ride from Bumthang to Mongar (1600m)

Start-off early after breakfast and drive/ride to Mongar. En-route witness some of the most alluring views Bhutan has to offer. The hillside is covered with evergreen junipers and colorful rhododendrons with sounds of rushing streams and cascading waterfalls. Overnight at Hotel (Mongar)

Day 8
Ride from Mongar to Tashigang (1100m)

Early in the morning proceed drive with few hours of biking or continue all the way to Tashigang. It’s a 3 hours drive passing along Chir pine forest and rhododendron to ‘Yadi loops’, one of the Bhutan’s most beautiful road works. En-route pass Drametse Monastery, the biggest and most important monastery in the Eastern Bhutan and the monastery is also popular for it’s Nga Chham drum dance. Upon arrival at Tashigang, visit the Tashigang Dzong and also visit to see how local wine is brewed in a typical farm house. Overnight at Hotel (Tashigang).

Day 9
Ride from Tashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar (220m)

After breakfast, the bike ride is for about a few hours then continue the journey driving till reaching Samdrup Jongkhar. Upon arrival at the border, your escort will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind it’s guardian mountains with lots of memories to cherish.

Cost

What is Included

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
  • 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium).
  • Bhutan visa fee - including all necessary processing
  • Route Permit
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • All land transportation by private vehicle
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Monuments entrance fees where applicable
  • Drinking water
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable development fee of $65. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)

What is Not Included

  • Airfare & Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Trip Information

Bhutan Visa Information:
The citizen of Bangladesh, Maldives and India do not require VISA to enter Bhutan. People from other countries except from Bangladesh, Maldives and India need a VISA permit while traveling to Bhutan. The VISA processing for Bhutan requires a readable color copy of passport via email that has at least six month of validity from the date of exit from Bhutan. The file Scan Copy should be forwarded to via email in JPEG or PDF format. The passport number and picture of the applicant should be visible in the e-document.

The application should be processed at least 10 days prior to the date of entry to Bhutan. The tourism council of Bhutan then issues a VISA clearance letter and fax or email it to the local travel agent. Please note that the VISA service is not offered in Bhutan, travelers have to buy full service package from the local tour operator. Travelers traveling by air are required to produce a printed VISA clearance copy at the time of check-in for Druk Air flight. People traveling by land to enter Bhutan via Phuentshoking or Samdrup Jonkhar are required to produce a VISA clearance letter at the immigration center. The actual VISA is stamped in your passport on your arrival in Bhutan.

Flights to Bhutan:
There are several cities that have direct flights to Bhutan. There are two airlines Druk air and Bhutan airlines running the flights to Bhutan. Druk air is the national carrier of Bhutan. With its fleet of Airbuses A319-115 and ATR 42 the airlines fly from different Asian countries to the Paro international airport, Paro (PBH); which is only the international airport in Bhutan. There are daily direct flights from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu to Paro International Airport.

The flights from Indian cities to Paro International Airport with the airport name and their codes are listed below:
Bagdogra Airport, Bagdogra (IXB)
Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (DEL)
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata (CCU)
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai (BOM)

Likewise, there flights from other countries with the codes are as follows:
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand (BKK)
Shahjalal International Airport, Bangladesh (DAC)
Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore (SIN)

Note: The flight schedule and timings are subject to change. If you want to know more about the flight schedules and tour to Bhutan please feel free to contact us. We can also help to find you the cheapest fares available.

Best time to visit Bhutan:
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan lies in south Asia between China and India. Climate and weather vary according to the altitude, season and place of visit. Bhutan is open all year around for the visitors but it is better to make the travel arrangements as per your preference and nature of visit.

The ideal time to visit Bhutan is spring (March-May) and Autumn/fall (September-November). These are considered to be the best time to visit Bhutan to get the maximum adventure and trouble free experience. Summer and winter also have their own specialties that could draw the attention of tourists during these seasons. During the spring the weather mostly remains clear and climate is fantastic. It is also the best time to visit for the nature lovers to experience the mystifying beauty of nature. Varieties of flowers and plants bloom in this season that makes your adventure an exotic one. The route opens for Jomolhari and Druk Path treks from mid-April to May.

Summer (June-August) in the other hand could get tricky at times due to the early arrival of monsoon. The month of June would be great for traveling if the monsoon is pushed further. Usually monsoon is in full swing by early July. Travelers who would strive to get some trekking experience on muddy trail while witnessing swollen rivers, green forests and flourishing paddy field could choose late summer to plan their adventure. The view of open clear blue sky after the rain is something that strikes you with its mystifying beauty.

Fall (September-November) is another favorable and crowded season after spring. The weather gets mild despite cold mornings and evenings. Tourists from all around the world thong to Bhutan during this season to witness Black-Necked-Crane festival. The month of October has its own significance and the valley turn into a shade of gold as the farmers prepare to harvest their rice crops during this month.

Winter season (December to February) is not that crowded with tourists in comparison to other seasons. Planning your adventure during the winter could be a better idea if you want to avoid the hustle-bustle of the peak season. During the winter Bhutan may see some snow fall. The temperature level goes down (even below freezing point) during some winter days.

VACCINATION FOR BHUTAN:
No vaccinations are presently required However, the following vaccinations are recommended:
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a virus that infects the liver. The disease is distinctly unpleasant, with profound nausea, loss of appetite, and weakness.
Tetanus: Tetanus bacteria can infect small wounds and cause a fatal infection.
Typhoid Fever: Typhoid fever is caused by infection with Salmonella typhi bacteria, passed in human feces and acquired by eating contaminated food or water.

WEATHER IN BHUTAN:
Bhutan lies in South Asia between China and India in the Himalayas, weather in Bhutan depends upon the altitude. In the northern parts of the country where mountains rise up to 7,000m, weather conditions are similar to arctic. Southwards, closer to India, the weather is hot and humid in the summer and cool in winter. The monsoon rains are usually heavy. Winters can be a good time to visit the lower parts, but then the highest areas are freezing.

The best times to visit Bhutan are spring (March-May) and autumn (late September – November) when the weather is warm, dry and sunny but always throw in a couple of warm clothes into your travelling gear when you travel to Bhutan regardless of the season.

WHAT TO WEAR AND BRING:
Layering Clothing
Bring your clothes according to the season and region of your travel. Based on your activity and the weather, you can make quick adjustments, by putting on more clothing if it is cold or taking off layers as it warms up. In the summer time, days can be quite warm, especially in the lowlands of Punakha and Phuentsholing, light cotton clothing is recommended for day time. But in most of the tourist and trekking areas, light woolen clothes for evenings and heavy woollens / down jackets for winter are necessary. A waterproof windbreaker is important for trekking and outdoor activities.
Comfortable and Sturdy shoes.
You have a lot of opportunity to walk around in Bhutan, you will be glad you wore sturdy shoes that keep your feet comfortable. Good shoes will let you explore the rural and allow you to have a long day walk. Bring sandals or slip ons to take off easily when entering temples.
Long pants / skirts
Wear particularly conservative clothing in the towns, women should wear long pants or long skirts, men should wear long pants and shorts are not appropriate for anyone. In the dzongs and temples, the legs and arms must be covered, and even threequarter-length capri pants are not acceptable for women.
Rain gear
Be prepared for occasional shower. A folding umbrella is a good idea to bring with.
Hat, Sunglass, Sunscreen & lip protection.
The sun can be scorching in Bhutan. Be sure to apply sunscreen in the morning and throughout your day.

Other requirements:
A quality sleeping bag.
Waterproof gators.
A headlamp torch and a normal torch. (Including spare batteries.)
Binoculars and Camera.
Small day pack.
Water bottle
Towel
Small medical kit that includes aspirin, motion sickness tablets, diamox.(The guide carries a larger Medical kit but please bring own travel medications)
Antiseptic hand gel for disinfecting hands without water.
Mini-flashlight

DIFFERENT CURRENCY ACCEPTED BY BHUTAN BANK:
Credit cards are accepted only in major international hotels and high-end shops in Bhutan.

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Across Bhutan Cycling Tour

Trip Facts

  • Bhutan
  • 08 Nights/09 Days
  • Spring (March-May) & Autumn/fall (September-November)
  • Cycle/Private Vehicle
  • Taktsang Monastery (3,120m)
  • Moderate
  • Paro
  • Samdrup Jongkhar
  • Cycling/Sightseeing/Hiking
  • Biking & Sightseeing tour
  • Paro Ringpung Dzong. Thimphu City, Punakha Dzong, Trongsa Dzong, Bumthang
  • Government approved 3 stars and Above

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