Get an inside look at the fascinating culture of Bhutan on this two-week cycling adventure. Closed to foreign visitors until the 1970s, the Buddhist kingdom offers a glimpse into the past with exquisitely preserved traditions, monuments, and natural wonders. You'll traverse the story-book landscape of this Himalayan gem, experience authentic rural life, and visit the cultural highlights.

Highlights

  • Cycle around the Bhutanese countryside
  • Hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Go camping in lush valleys
  • Enjoy gorgeous views of the Himalayas

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paro Paro
Day 2 Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery Paro
Day 3 Chele La Pass and bike to Ha Ha homestay
Day 4 Cycling in Ha Valley Ha homestay
Day 5 Bike to Dobji Dzong Dobji Dzong campsite
Day 6 Bike to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 7 Bike to Punakha Punakha or river campsite
Day 8 Cycling around Punakha Valley Punakha or river campsite
Day 9 Bike to Chuzomza Chuzomza
Day 10 Bike to Phobjikha Valley Phobjikha Valley campsite
Day 11 Cycling in Phobjikha Valley Phobjikha Valley campsite
Day 12 Bike to Khotokha Valley Khotokha Valley campsite
Day 13 Bike to Wangdue Phodrang Wangdue Prodang
Day 14 Return to Paro Paro
Day 15 Departure  

Day 1: Arrive in Paro

The town of Paro, Bhutan

You'll arrive in Paro, home to Bhutan's only international airport. Meet your guide there and then make your way to your hotel. Hop on your bike and spend the rest of the day cycling around this valley town, home to several sacred sights. Stop by Khyichu Lhakhang between the rice paddies just outside town. This beautiful 7th century Buddhist temple is believed to be Bhutan's oldest.

Day 2: Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Prayer flags lead the way to the Tiger's Nest Monastery

Today you'll hike up to one of Bhutan's most famous and most sacred sites: Taktshang Goemba, also called the Tiger's Nest Monastery. This fascinating temple is perched high up on a cliff about 2,952 feet (900m) above the Paro Valley. You'll climb up through shady pine forests and explore the monastery, taking a total of 6 hours roundtrip. In the afternoon you'll visit the stunning fortress, Paro Dzong, one of the best examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture. Then check out the National Museum in the watchtower above Paro Dzong to get an inside look at Bhutan's history, culture, and customs.

Day 3: Drive to Chele La and Bike to Ha

Chele La Pass
The view from the Chele La Pass

This morning marks your first bike ride in the mountains! First you'll drive up to the Chele La Pass to an elevation of 12,467 feet (3,800m), where you'll take in wonderful views of the snow-capped Himalayas to the north. Then cycle downhill to the remote farming town of Ha, about 18.6 miles (30km) away. You'll have excellent road conditions for biking, with a paved lane and little traffic. Spend the night with a host family in Ha.

Day 4: Bike Ride in Ha Valley

Ha Valley
The verdant Ha Valley

The Ha Valley is one of the most picturesque of the Bhutanese countryside. You'll come across farm houses, potato and barley fields, and several Buddhist temples as you cycle around today. Stay on small paved roads today as you clock 21.75 miles (35km) on your roundtrip ride from Ha to the village of Haatoe on the other side of the valley and back. Spend a second night with your host family.

Day 5: Cycle to Dobji Dzong

Dobji Dzong is nestled high up in the hills

You'll leave the Ha Valley today and start pedaling towards Dobji Dzong, about 34 miles (55km) away. You'll cycle along a small, paved road with almost no traffic to reach the peaceful, hilltop fortress. This dzong is thought to be one of the oldest in the country, and once served as Bhutan's main prison. It has since been returned to its spiritual roots and currently functions as a school for monks. Set up camp for the night in a quiet spot in the valley.

Day 6: Bike to Thimphu

Thimphu
Monks walk in the garden of a dzong in Thimphu

Head out from Dobji Dzong towards Chozom Bridge, where you'll get on the West-East Highway to the capital city, Thimphu. Although this is the busiest stretch of road in the country, traffic is still relatively light. However, if you find it too crowded, feel free to hop into your guide's support vehicle and drive to Thimphu. Today's cycling distance is 31 miles (50km), and if you arrive in the capital early enough, you can bike around the north side of the valley above the dzong for another loop of 21.7 miles (35km).

Day 7: Bike to Punakha

The view from the Dochu La Pass

This morning you'll set out from the city center straight into pristine forests. Take your time on the climb up to the Dochu La Pass; the incline is gentle, but the altitude gain makes it challenging. Once you reach the top of the pass at 10,000 feet (3,050m), enjoy panoramic views of Bhutan's tallest mountains to the north. Then start on your descent to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. Take in the gorgeous scenery along the way and bask in the warmer temperatures of this region. The total cycling distance today is 38.5 miles (62km) along quiet, well-paved roads. Stay the night in a hotel in Punakha, or camp out by the river.

Day 8: Cycle around the Punakha Valley

Punakha
The magnificent Punakha Dzong

Today you'll ride around the atmospheric Punakha Valley, visiting several cultural sites along the way. Your first stop is Punakha Dzong, often referred to as the most beautiful dzong in the country. Continue on to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a gleaming temple that can only be reached by a short, steep hike up the hillside. From here you'll have sweeping views of the entire valley. Walk back down to the road and bike back towards the city. On the way, stop in at Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple in the village of Lobesa. Choose again between a hotel in Punakha, or camping by the river for the night.

Day 9: Bike to Chuzomza

Bike off-road around the mountains and villages around Chuzomza

Get right on the highway this morning and bike eastward for 10 miles (16km) to a riverside resort in remote Chuzomza. After an early lunch, drive up to the villages of Samtengang or Baylangdra and then bike downhill for about 15.5 miles (25km) on a dirt road through idyllic countryside and forests.

Day 10: Bike to Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha Valley
Pretty Phobjikha Valley is also a wildlife preserve

Today you'll set out towards the Lawa La Pass, the entry point into the lovely Phobjikha Valley. This scenic glacial valley is the winter home to rare black-necked cranes and is an important wildlife reserve for wild boars, Himalayan black bears, red foxes, and many other animals. You'll ride along a flat dirt road toward the Pele La Pass for 34.8 miles (56km) and camp out overnight.

Day 11: Cycle around Phobjikha Valley

The peaceful marshlands of Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha Valley (also called Gangtey Valley) is a U-shaped valley whose slopes are dotted with farmhouses, potato fields, and unspoiled pine forests. You'll ride into some of the more remote areas of Phobjikha today, visiting authentic villages and ancient monasteries. Clock a total of 15.5 miles (25km) along farm roads with no traffic. Spend another night camping out in nature.

Day 12: Bike to Khotokha

Bike through the forests to get to Khotokha Valley

Riding along the old Gangtey trekking trail (which is now a jeep road), you'll see just how remote this area of Bhutan really is. On your 15.5 miles (25km) of dirt road, you'll see just one village with barely 20 houses. Spend the rest of the day biking through the forest, traversing two mountain passes at an elevation of around 11,483 feet (3,500m) each. You'll stay the night at a campsite near a monastery in the Khotokha Valley.

Day 13: Bike to Wangdue Phodrang

Wangdue Valley
Rice paddies and villages in Wangdue Valley

Listen for the sound of morning prayers coming from the monastery before bicycling up to a small pass this morning. From there you'll have a breezy downhill ride to the Wangdue Valley, about 18.6 miles (30km) on off-road trails. Spend the night in a hotel in the town of Wangdue Phodrang.

Day 14: Return to Paro

The National Museum, Paro
The National Museum in Paro

Paro lies about 68.3 miles (110km) away from Wangdue. If you want to tackle one last bike ride, feel free to cycle part of the way, or kick back and enjoy being driven through the countryside. Get any souvenir shopping done in Paro in the afternoon before a farewell dinner with your guides and drivers. You'll stay in a hotel in town for the night.

Day 15: Departure

Buddhist prayer wheels

After breakfast, get ready to say goodbye to new friends and to Bhutan! Make your way to the airport for your departing flight.

Map

Map of Bike Tour of Bhutan - 15 Days
Map of Bike Tour of Bhutan - 15 Days