If anyone’s up for some pleasant ride passing along lush green forests, the rolling hills, along creeks and far-flung villages, ancient monasteries then cycling tour in Bhutan certainly is the perfect choice.
Bhutan, besides being rich in its culture and traditions, is a mountainous country so it’s one stop destination for any cycling enthusiast exploring it’s mountainous terrains. Most of the winding roads of Bhutan go dramatically up and down with exhilarating drops of thousands of meters, and there’s always a challenge of crossing over high mountains passes of over 3,000 meters. The high routes often pass through mixed forests, pasturelands, rich meadows and hills dotted with age-old villages and towns rich in culture. Due to its geographical location and spectacular mountain beauty, Bhutan offers plenty of adventurous cycling opportunities. Ride through and discover the prominent cities and towns of Bhutan like the colorful Paro, the tiny capital – Thimphu and the ancient capital city of Punakha including Trongsa, Bumthang, Gangtey, Ura Valley, Haa Valley and Phobijikha Valley, considered the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan.
The flight into Paro provides one of the most stunning views of the mighty Himalayas. As you descend into Paro valley, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with its watchtower, now the national museum, to its north. We will be there to receive you at the airport and escort you to your hotel.
In the afternoon, you will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang the 7th century monastery and one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples. The temple was built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down the left foot of a giant ogress who was thwarting the spread of Buddhism.
In the evening, explore the small town of Paro, which is filled with handicraft and souvenir shops. If you like, you could visit a farmhouse and try out a local meal and sip on ara, a grain distilled alcoholic brew.
Today you bike to Thimphu on the highway. It is a 54 km ride with scenic views of the rugged landscape, paddy lands and farmhouses following the flow of the Paro and Thimphu rivers.
Your first stop, 10 kms out of Paro, is to view the magnificent Tachocho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. Ride further to reach Chuzom where the Paro Chu (river) meets the Wang Chu. From here you turn left to enter Thimphu valley riding up a gradient and then a climb and then a gentle descent. This pattern repeats all the way to the capital. You can stop along the way to sample fruits sold in the highway stalls.
Your pedal tour in Thimphu will be combined with visits to the National Memorial Chorten, a stupa dedicated to world peace and prosperity, built in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan; the National Library; the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students train in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts and Folk Heritage Museum which will provide insight into Bhutan’s rural past.
After lunch visits include Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress like temple, which lies perched on a ridge above Thimphu; Takin Preserve; the 138.6-foot-high Shakyamuni Buddha statue on the southern end of the valley.
Bike further bike towards Sangaygang and visit a nunnery temple. The last stop is Tashichho Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion”. We drive to this location. The 17th century fort houses the central administration offices and the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan.
Today you ride to the fertile valley of Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan going over the Dochu La pass (3050meters)
The ride from Thimphu valley ascends up to Dochula Pass (19 kms) can take more than an hour. Rest at Dochula and take in the panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan ranges and the 108 stupas built by the eldest queen mother. From it’s winding trail downhill that passes through forests of oak, fir, spurs, and rhododendron. Stop at Sopsokha village and visit the temple of fertility “Chimi Lhakhang” which is located atop hill.
Start biking to the majestic Punakha Dzong, which was built in 1637, and stands majestically at the junction of two rivers, Pho Chu and Mo Chu. It is the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan and the winter residence central monk body.
Enjoy the afternoon biking off road for about 3 hours along the Pho Chu river. You can also visit farm houses and walk along rice fields.
Early morning drive back to Paro or ride the journey with a designated stop at Dochula pass to rest and stretch out.
If you reach Paro early, you can visit the national museum housed in a 17th century watch tower and the Rinpung Dzong which serves as the district administrative centre.
After breakfast bike 10kms north through the beautiful Paro Valley to the starting point of the hike to Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest The hike, which is all the way uphill, takes about 2 hours at moderate pass. It passes through pine forests laden with Spanish moss, an indication of the pure atmosphere of the area. The monastery clings to a huge granite cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. It is believed that the great saint, Padmasambhava, came here on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave in Taktshang in the eighth century.
In the afternoon, ride further north to Drugyel Dzong, the fort that defended the Paro valley from the Tibetan invasions in the early 17th century. Then ride back to Paro town to visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang the sacred monastery built in the 7th century.
Early morning, drive to the airport for you onward journey.