Cycling Tour in Bhutan

Cycling Tour in Bhutan
Mr. & Mrs Korjavine from Russia at Dochula Pass.

Tour Bhutan has the cycling tour for you – swap the city streets for mountain roads and glorious scenery, no matter your level of cycling expertise. Princely Bhutan Cycling Trip crafted by cycling experts. Ultimately we want to empower all of our cyclists to achieve their pro-riding dreams. From the best road cycling tours in cities of Bhutan to exotic road bike holidays in the off-the-beaten paths, in the Mountains of Bhutan.

Trip Facts

  • Trip Duration: 13Nights and 14 Days Cycling Tour in Bhutan
  • Trip Starting/Ending: Paro to Paro
  • Trip Cost: US$ 3140 per person
  • Accommodation: 3-star Hotel approved by TCB
  • Max Altitude: 3800M
  • Tour Activity: Cycling, Cultural and Short Hikes.
  • Trip Route: Paro-Haa-Thimphu-Punakha-Wangdi-Phobjikha-Trongsa-Bumthang-Paro

Trip Highlight

  • Discover Amazing Bhutan by Cycling.
  • Explore Phobjikha Valley.
  • Hike the popular Tiger Nest Temple.
  • Ride in the cities of Bhutan.
  • Visit the remote Haa valley.
  • Challenge yourself by cycling Chelela Pass Bhutan’s highest road point.
  • Discover the Culture and Tradition of Bhutan.

Cycling Tour Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Arrival at Paro Airport for Cycling Tour, Acclimatisation.
  • Day 02: Paro to Haa Cycling
  • Day 03: Haa to Thimphu Cycling
  • Day 04: Thimphu City Ride,Kuenselphodrang Cycling.
  • Day 05: Thimphu to Punakha Ride.
  • Day 06: Punakha to Phobjikha Cycling
  • Day 07: Rest Day at Phobjikha/ Village Walking Tour
  • Day 08: Phobjikha to Trongsa Cycling
  • Day 09: Trongsa to Bumthang Cycling
  • Day 10: Bumthang to Ura Village excursion
  • Day 11: Bumthang to Paro Via 25 minutes flight.
  • Day 12: Paro Tiger Nest
  • Day 13: Paro to Chelela and Farm House Tour
  • Day 14: Paro Tour
  • Day 15: Paro to Airport and see Off

Details Tour Program

Day 01 Land at Paro International Airport

Today we land in Paro, a valley town and gateway to the last Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan as it houses this country’s only international airport.

Paro, with its multicolored shop fronts and restaurants, is one of the best Bhutanese towns to explore on the saddle. Today is reserved for our acclimatization, so we will either explore on foot or if the weather allows, ride on a short and easy route leading to the National Museum. If time permits, we can even visit 16th century Drukyel Dzong (14 km one way).

But if the Paro Tsechu festival celebrations are on, it being one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan, we will skip the ride! This annual religious festival features various dance performances by trained monks and laymen in elaborate masks and costumes.

Cycle approx. 40km

Duration 5 hours.

Ascent: 365m

Descent: 365m.

Roads: 100% paved

Accommodation: Standard Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner

 

Ride Distance: ~40 km/25 mi

Cumulative Elevation Gain: 365 m/ 1,200 ft

Day 02 Paro to Haa Valley

To avoid cycling on the highway, we will drive out of Paro and start our ride approximately 20 km short of Chele La (pass) at an elevation 13000 ft. We get to test our endurance on the pedal on a zig zag uphill ride on paved roads until we reach one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan, Chele la. We guarantee you will fall in love with the beautiful roads of today that pass through lush valleys, pine and rhododendron forest. We halt at the pass to soak in the stunning views of the sacred mountains – Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. We end the ride with an invigorating and refreshing 27km descent down to the Haa Valley.

FACT OF THE DAY: Many seekers of occult and alternative magic visit the HAA Valley for its tantric symbolism and before the 8th century, animal sacrifices were common here which were later subdued by Padmasambhava, one of the major Buddhist religious icons.

Ride Distance: ~45 km/28 mi

Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1,200 m/ 4,100 ft

Day 03 Haa to Thimphu

We ride towards the home of the Royal Family and the capital of Bhutan – Thimpu. It is also the largest and the only city of Bhutan that is home to several historic treasures. Thus, amidst all signs of modernization, Thimphu’s cultural values and identity will be hard to miss.

Although a long ride, we enjoy the smooth and cemented roads of Bhutan passing villages and fields of rice, potatoes, and chilies. En route to the capital town, we pass by Chuzom Sa which is the confluence of Thimphu (Wong-Chu) and Paro (Pa Chu) rivers. Once we reach the river, that is, about 30 km short of Thimphu, we touch the busier highways. Hence, we cover the rest of the distance with the help of a support van.

DID YOU KNOW: In Chuzom – Chu means river and zom means join. For many traditional Bhutanese, this confluence is considered the union of a father and mother river.

Ride Distance: ~75 km/47 mi

Elevation Gain: 400 m/1,300 ft

Day 04 Thimphu City Ride

A cyclist is always rewarded with stunning views, pristine nature and rich cultural heritage when exploring Bhutan on a bicycle. Today we head into the town and enjoy a heritage ride of the city of Thimphu starting with Memorial Chorten and then pedal uphill to the Cheri Monastery.

We ride on thoroughly kempt roads but may experience some traffic en route. At various road junctions, we will be directed by the exaggerated hand motions of traffic policemen standing in small, elaborately decorated pavilions. You’ll be surprised to know that Thimphu is the only capital city in the world that does not use traffic lights.

The ride takes us past the Queen Mother’s Palace and we pass through several small villages and pine forests along the Wangchu Rider. We park our bikes here and go on a short trek up to the 16th century Cheri Monastery. The walk up is steep but not too long.

We now embark on our return ride which is mainly downhill and easy. But if anyone wants to they can ride up for another 5 km to the Buddha Point that mounts a 51m high Buddha Statue and offers breathtaking views of the whole of the Thikphu Valley.

Ride Distance: ~35 km/22 mi

Elevation Gain: 400 m/ 1,000 ft

Optional ride: 10 km round trip off-road

Day 05 Thimphu to Punakha

We drive out of Thimphu for about 20 kms to reach Duchu La at 3015m. From here we ride on a flat terrain and warm our legs before reaching the forest where on an intense climb awaits us. We don’t just climb to test our endurance on the pedal but also take sufficient refreshment breaks to soak in Bhutan’s magnificence and replenish our energies. At the top of the pass, 108 stupas with numerous fluttering prayer flags welcome us in their abode. On a clear day, we may get a glimpse of the Gankar Punsum, the highest peak in Bhutan standing tall at 7497 m.

From here easily descend through a scenic route leading towards Punakha district that houses the Punakha dzong, “the palace of great happiness or bliss”, their administrative center. We experience a cooler weather as we enter the more sub-tropical Punakha valley. If time permits, we will visit the Dzong before checking into our hotels.

Ride Distance: ~65 km/40 mi

Elevation Gain: 800 m/2,600 ft

Day 06 Punakha to Phobjikha via Lawala Pass

The condition of roads leading from Punakha to Phobjikha may vary and hence we prepare ourselves for a surprising as well as challenging ride today. After breakfast, we hit the road early enough to be able to visit a monastery called Chimi Lhakhang built in honor one of the most folkloric saints of Bhutanese tradition – Drukpa Kunley, popular as the ‘Mad Saint’ or ‘Divine Madman’ for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism.

 

Fun fact: Drukpa Kinley was known for his foul-mouth, alcohol –smelling breath, and insatiable lust towards women, yet he is revered as a great saint by most Bhutanese. It is believed that women who cannot conceive will get pregnant if they are blessed by the wooden phallus in the temple.

 

From here the route leads mainly uphill hence, after the temple visit we will use the support van to drive up a certain distance and start riding about 25 km short of our destination. However, this may also vary depending upon the weather and road conditions. The last few miles may seem hard but stick with it for you will be rewarded by mesmerizing views of the mountains and thick forests on the sides. The ride may not get easier but it may get faster if langur monkeys and red pandas start chasing you and your machine!

 

Finally, we arrive at the Lawa La pass at 3030m and from hear on we get to enjoy the cool breeze on our face as we descend effortlessly for the next 10kms. But if it starts getting dark we will cover these last few miles on the support van to get to our hotel in the Gangey in the Phobjikha Valley.

Ride distance: ~35km/20miles

Duration: 6/7 hours (total van and cycle duration)

Terrain: Ascent 1280m, descent 450m

Road condition: 30% paved, 70% unpaved road.

Day 07 Rest Day at Phobjikha

Phobjikha Valley is a beautiful glacial area where the rare Black-necked Cranes from Tibet spend the winter. Although today is reserved to get some rest, the enthusiasts could still enjoy a loop ride in the nearby areas & go on an off-road ride deeper into the wilds of this glacial valley.

Ride Distance: ~35 km/22 mi

Elevation: 1,280 m/ 4,200 ft

Day 08 Phobjikha to Trongsa Via Lelela Pass

A long, up and down journey awaits us today! We’ll ride downhill in the valley to visit the Black Neck Crane sanctuary in wee hours of the morning. Every year the Bhutanese celebrate the arrival of these black necked bird species with the annual Crane Festival. This conservation area houses more than 13 vulnerable species and we get to learn about them all!

From here we ascend for about 10kms to Lawa La once again and descend few miles until we climb up to the highest of the day, Pele La at 3390m. This pass marks the western border of black Mountain National Park and the gateway to central Bhutan. We can notice the landscape and vegetation change from deciduous forests to Weeping Himalayan pine as we enter a town of shrubs and bushes.

From here, although a long ride, we don’t feel the pressure because most of it is pedal free on a downhill road to the Chendebji Chorten. The weather gets bit warmer and we ride alongside lush green vegetation and waterfalls. We continue our downhill journey into the Mangde Chhu (valley) where an imposing Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan, sits across a deep canyon.

We halt at a viewpoint to get some clicks of the town and the dzong and start the final lap towards an exotic hotel!

Ride Distance: ~80 km/50 mi

Total Elevation Gain: 550 m/1,800 ft

Stay: Hotel

Day 09 Trongsa to Bumthang Via Yutongla Pass

As we start our ride out from Trongsa the zig-zag road immediately starts leading you uphill. You could call this the final lap of our journey because by now we have covered almost half the country on our saddle and today we climb the highest pass of our trip Yotong La at 3425m. We reach Yotong La and reward ourselves with breathtaking views of the mountains and allow the cool breeze to refresh our energies. From here we descend into the Chumay Valley and ride through few uphill sections to arrive at Keke La at 2700m. We take another short refreshment break, click pictures and spend quality time in the lap of gigantic mountains until we pedal downhill without need of much power to retire at our hotel in the beautiful Bumthang Valley.

OPTIONAL: We can go on a walking tour of the Red Panda Brewery which includes a walk through the manufacturing plant and ends with tasting some freshly brewed beer that is of top quality.

Ride Distance: ~65 km/40 mi

Total Elevation Gain: 1,200 m/ 4,000 ft

Stay: Hotel

Day 10 Bumthang to Paro Via Domestic Flight

Today we will take a short 25 minutes flight to Paro and after checking-in to our hotels try to hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. It is one of the most recognized landmarks of Bhutan and a hiker’s paradise. The hiking trail is steep and sometimes it can be slippery due to lose gravel, sand or mud. It can take one and a half hour going up, down a bit shorter.

Day 11 Paro Cultural Tour

Cultural Tour of Paro. After Breakfast: Visit -1) View of Taktshang Monastery, 2) Kichulanka Monastery, 3) Ta Dzong, 4) Paro Rinpung Dzong (Museum), 5) Nya-mey Zam, 6) Dungtse Lhankhang, 7) Kila Gompa, 8) Druk Choeding. In Evening: Stroll Through the Market of Paro & Overnight Stay in Paro.

Day 12 Paro Tiger Nest Temple

Hike the amazing Tiger Nest temple. This morning, take a scenic hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) – the most sacred monastery in Bhutan, built on a steep cliff, offering you enchanting views of the Paro valley. Later get a glimpse of Bhutan’s history at the cylindrical Ta Dzong National Museum and visit Paro Dzong, maybe the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you’ll see, which is now used as an administrative center and school for monks.

Day 13 Paro to Chelela and Kili Goenpa Hike

Drive to Chelela Pass highest road point of Bhutan and hike down to Kiligoenpa Monastery.

Chele La (Pass) & Haa Valley Only (Border of the Bhutan and China):  At an elevation of 3,988 meters is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hour’s drive along a thickly-forested road is this Pass-a botanical paradise. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Here, visitors can see cascades of wild roses; purple and yellow primulas; and swathes of deep blue iris covering the forest floor. The top of the pass bloom with rhododendrons in a variety of colors-pale pink, deep pink, burnt orange, mauve, white and scarlet. Start the hike from the pass towards Kili Goenpa. It takes about 2 hours. An Evening Stroll Through the Market of Paro. Overnight Stay at Paro.  

Day 14 Paro Cultural Tour

Explore Paro valley on your own. Visit cafe and Handicrafts store.

Day 15 Paro to Airport and See OFF

See Off from Airport

Tour Cost: US$ 3140.00

Tour Cost Inclusion

Tour Cost Exclusion

What is expected from the Cyclers?

  • Intermediate to advanced cycling skill – experience in climbing / descending and long distance riding (contact us if you are not sure).
  • Ability to undertake basic bike maintenance (change your own tubes, pack and unpack your own bike)
  • Follow all road rules
  • Follow instructions from ride leader at all times
  • Ride safely
  • To understand that there is a daily time schedule which riders must stick to. If you are too fast you may have to wait or if too slow/ mechanical or other issue you may need to get into our vehicles to catch up with rest of group
  • To have undertaken adequate training before the ride so as to not excessively slow down the whole group (if this is the case you may be asked to get into the van/bus at various times to stay on schedule)

Talk to Our Experts

Bhutan Travel Guide

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Hotels Used for the Cycling Tour

Hotel in Paro

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Rema Resort in Paro. Rema Resort located on a hilltop Overlooking the stunningly picturesque Valley of Paro offers an ideal space for any visitors looking for a quiet Holiday in Bhutan. Read the Reviews.

Hotel in Thimphu

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Hotel Phuntsho Pelri in Thimphu. Hotel Phuntsho Pelri is a good choice for travelers looking for a 3-star hotel in Thimphu. It is located in Central Thimphu. Read the Reviews

Hotel in Haa

Ugyen Farm House in Haa

Deki Farm House. Deki Farm House will make your travel to Bhutan an authentic experience. Taste the local cuisine, Wine, and daily life of the Bhutanese locals.

Hotel in Gangtey

Hotel in Gangtey

Hotel Dewachen in Gangtey. Encircled by pine forests in the hidden valley of Phobjikha – Gantey Gompa, home to the very rare Black Necked Cranes, the Dewachen Hotel features the best accommodation in Gangtey. Read the Reviews.

Hotel in Bumthang

Hotel in Bumthang

Hotel Yugharling in Bumthang is the only hotel in Bumthang with 14 spacious rooms in the main building, 30 spacious rooms with balconies in separate cottages, boasting a total of 44 luxurious rooms. All rooms offer spectacular views of Chokhor Valley

Hotel in Trongsa

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Hotel Yangkhil Resort in Trongsa is the only 3-star hotel on the premises and offers the best view of Trongsa Dzong and Trongsa Valley. Read the Reviews