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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • An English-speaking Bhutanese guide
  • Bike hire
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (Flight inclusive option)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • Flights between Kathmanu and...

Cultural Cycling Tour of Bhutan Festivals

Cycling Tour

Paro, Bhutan | Cycling Tours

Cultural Cycling Tour of Bhutan
  • Grade:

    Moderate

  • Duration: 18 days from the UK
  • Cycling on: 9 or 10 days Walks on: 2 days

Flight inclusive from £4840, Land only from £3965

A fascinating cultural tour of Bhutan on two wheels, with a visit to a Bhutanese festival

Highlights

  • Climb stunning passes and be rewarded by exhilarating descents
  • Ride from Paro to Bumthang on a tremendously varied route
  • Visit villages, dzongs and the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery
  • Spend two nights in a traditional village homestay
  • Join the celebrations at a Bhutanese festival

Reviews          

I really enjoyed the whole experience of cycling, seeing the country and the sights, and learning about Bhutan from our guide who was very informative. I enjoyed going to a country which is still off-the-beaten-track and seeing its culture and how it is developing.

Miss M, Newcastle

Next

For me, cycling is a fantastic way to see the country, get off the beaten track and have the opportunity to interact with some of the people that you meet on the way. The other tourists are welcome to their air conditioned vehicles – I will keep on pedalling!

Ms P, Berkshire

Next

All the arrangements went well. Good choice of hotels with some local characteristics.

Mr H, Newcastle

Next

...the walk to Tiger’s Nest Monastery on our return to Paro was another highlight. It is the iconic sight of Bhutan for me and it lived up to expectations.

Ms P, Berkshire

Next

I very recently cycled the majority of this fantastic cycling adventure. From the first few minutes to the very end it was just brilliant fun! The bikes we provide in Bhutan are modern mountain bikes with disk brakes and good gear ratios. This cycling holiday is not a non-stop endurance exercise. It combines exciting cycling with meeting local Bhutanese people, seeing their culture and daily...

Steve Berry, MD, Mountain Kingdoms

Next

I very recently cycled the majority of this fantastic cycling adventure. From the first few minutes to the very end it was just brilliant fun! The bikes we provide in Bhutan are modern mountain bikes with disk brakes and good gear ratios. This cycling holiday is not a non-stop endurance exercise. It combines exciting cycling with meeting local Bhutanese people, seeing their culture and daily...

Steve Berry

Next

I really enjoyed the whole experience of cycling, seeing the country and the sights, and learning about Bhutan from our guide who was very informative. I enjoyed going to a country which is still off-the-beaten-track and seeing its culture and how it is developing.

Miss M

Next

All the arrangements went well. Good choice of hotels with some local characteristics.

Mr H

Next

...the walk to TigerÕs Nest Monastery on our return to Paro was another highlight. It is the iconic sight of Bhutan for me and it lived up to expectations.

Ms P

Next

For me, cycling is a fantastic way to see the country, get off the beaten track and have the opportunity to interact with some of the people that you meet on the way. The other tourists are welcome to their air conditioned vehicles - I will keep on pedalling!

Ms P

Next

View All

Before the early 1960s the only means of travel within Bhutan was on foot or horseback. Recently cycling has become more popular - even the royal family are keen cyclists and it’s not unusual to find the fourth king riding his bike across the hills of Thimphu.

This relaxed pace cycling holiday has a back up vehicle on hand everyday, so you can enjoy the riding safe in the knowledge you can always get a lift if you fancy a rest. Our route takes us from Paro all the way across to the remote region of Bumthang. On the way we will visit Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, Punakha, Gangtey and Jakar. These towns and cities all have their own unique charm and fascinating cultural attractions. This is a tremendously varied route on which we will see the high peaks of the eastern Himalaya, conquer a challenging pass and enjoy hours of freewheeling descents. We'll cycle over ancient bridges, through virgin forests and along ridges, and visit remote valleys, villages, hilltop Dzongs, and atmospheric Monasteries. We'll even stay in a traditional farmhouse homestay for two nights for an authentic glimpse into Bhutanese life. This route combines excellent cycling with the culture, people and places of the ‘Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon’ and gives you a unique perspective that only travelling by bike allows.

We also include a visit to a festival for the complete Bhutanese experience.


At a glance

Grade:

Moderate

Duration: 18 days from the UK

Cycling on: 9 or 10 days Walks on: 2 days

Max. Altitude: 3,990m/13,090ft, Cheli La, Day 14

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Kathmandu

Accommodation types: Hotels, Homestay

Festival:

The April departure attends the Paro Tsechu

The November departure attends the Black-necked crane festival

Meal arrangements: All meals included except lunch and dinner in Kathmandu: 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 13 dinners

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-3 (This is the itinerary for our November departure. Detailed itineraries for all departures an be downloaded below). Fly to Kathmandu. Fly to Paro. Visit Paro Tsechu.
4-5 Cycling in Paro valley and on to Thimphu
6-7 Cycling and sightseeing in Thimphu and ride over to Punakha via the Dochu La.
8-9 Visit Punakha Dzong. Cycle/drive to Gangtey. Loop ride in Gangtey Valley.
10-11 Attend the Black-necked Crane Festival. Cycle down from Pele La to Trongsa. Cycle to Bumthang.
12-13 Cycle to local monasteries and Dzongs around Bumthang. Fly back to Paro.
14 Drive to Cheli La Pass. Walk to Kila Gompa. Time at leisure.
15 Walk up to Taktsang Monastery.
16-18 Fly to Kathmandu. Sightseeing tour. Fly to London.
Leader: Local Leader, Cycling

Mountain Kingdoms have been working with the same partner in Bhutan since 1986.Their guides are some of the best in the Kingdom.They speak fluent English, as this is taught in all Bhutanese schools, and are fully qualified guides.The Tourism Authority of Bhutan insists that a Bhutanese tour leader must pass his/her guiding exams in Thimphu before accompanying groups of foreign visitors.

Phub Tshering ‘PT’

PT is our main cycling guide in Bhutan, his knowledge of flora and fauna is second to none. PT lives in Thimphu with his wife and child and has been guiding for over 13 years so he has great experience and you’ll be hard pressed to find a fact he doesn’t know.

Local Leader, Cycling

Holiday Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart London

Depart London on your overnight flight to Kathmandu.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight.

Day 2 - Arrive Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel.

On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred to the Dwarika's Hotel, a luxurious and stylish hotel built in a traditional palace style and furnished with Nepalese antiques, carvings and statues. The hotel has a pleasant courtyard garden with a swimming pool, bar and several restaurants. The Toran restaurant serves very good continental, Indian and Nepalese food while the flagship Krishnarpan is a superb restaurant for a special occasion where you can enjoy a multi course menu of real Nepalese food served in delightful surroundings. Dwarika's is a peaceful haven away from the noise and pollution of the city and is an excellent place to unwind.

Overnight icon Overnight: Dwarika's Hotel, Kathmandu

Day 3 - Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Allocation of bikes and warm up ride.

Transfer for the flight to Paro in Bhutan. The flight often gives fantastic views of the Himalaya, including Everest, and particularly exciting is the section through the Bhutanese foothills and the thrilling landing. Try to sit on the left hand side of the plane for the best views. You will be met on arrival by your Bhutanese guide and then transferred to your hotel. If you have brought your own bike then this is a good time to assemble it, if renting a bike it will be adjusted to fit you. Depending on flight schedules, there might be time for a warm up ride for you to get acquainted with your steed.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 4 - Cycle along Paro Valley to Drugyel Dzong and back to Paro - 32km, 3 hours.

Today's ride is designed to get you used to your bike and the roads of Bhutan, luckily the Bhutanese drive on the left hand side of the road so there shouldn't be any issues there! You will start the day by freewheeling down the hill from your hotel, with beautiful views across the lush paddy fields to the impressive Paro Dzong. From the bottom of the valley you will head through the quaint town of Paro, with its traditional Bhutanese architecture and archery fields. It is a gentle incline that will lead you up to the junction where the road splits for Taktsang or Drugyel Dzong. Today you will be visiting Drugyel Dzong but the dramatic view of Taktsang from here will whet your appetite for your later visit.

The road gets a little bit steeper here as you make your way up the valley but it shouldn't prove to be too much of a challenge as long as you take your time and get used to the fact that the air is a bit thinner up there. The dzong itself is a fascinating building with a rich history. Until recently the building was a complete ruin after a fire destroyed it in 1951, but it has now been largely restored. This is the point where a lot of our treks start from, including our epic Lunana Snowman trek. When you finish exploring you will have a picnic lunch and cycle back down the valley to Paro, stopping en route to visit the interesting Druk Home Museum.

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 250m Descent: 250m

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 5 - Cycle to Thimphu, 2,320m/7,611ft - 50km, 3-4 hours. Visit Thimphu Dzong.

This morning you will cycle down into Paro and across the traditional wooden covered bridge and to the foot of Paro Dzong (Rinchen Pung Dzong). You will be visiting inside this incredible building on your return to Paro but for now your guide will give you a brief history of one of Bhutan's finest examples of architecture. From here you will follow the river along the valley floor on quiet dirt roads before a short climb takes you up to join the smooth tarmac that will take you down to the junction at Chuzom where the road forks between the roads to the Ha valley, the border with India at Phuntsholing and also your road to the capital of Bhutan,Thimphu.

From here the road undulates as it makes its way up to the big gates that mark the start of Thimphu. All the way along the road there are fantastic views of the lush green valleys stretching away on your left hand side. As you enter Thimphu you will notice that there are new buildings appearing on the outskirts of the town, it's interesting to note that even the new buildings follow the traditional styles of architecture. Lunch will be taken in a restaurant in Thimphu. After lunch you will cycle to your hotel to freshen up and then you will visit the beautiful Thimphu Dzong. This is a perfect time to visit as the soft light of the late afternoon casts long shadows across the Dochey (central courtyard) as the monks can be heard chanting inside the Utse (central tower).

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 550m Descent: 611m

Overnight icon Overnight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel Or Similar, Thimphu Or Similar

Day 6 - Cirucit ride with stop at Guru Lhakhang - approximately 3 hours.

This morning there will be a short transfer of around 30 mins up to the start point of today's ride, this means that you will miss out on some of the climbing for today but will still get to freewheel down to town at the end of the ride. There is also the option to cycle this section if you would like.

As you begin cycling the road undulates and before long you will reach a large image of Guru Rinpoche that has been carved into the rock face. Just round the corner from here there is a great view up towards the high mountains of the Himalaya. Continuing for a few more minutes you will arrive at Guru Lhakhang - a small temple built in 1959 by Tibetan refugees - which you will stop to explore. Riding on, the next sight you see is Cheri Gompa, perched on the hillside straight in front of you and with Tango Gompa to the right, also precariously placed. Cheri Gompa, the oldest in Bhutan, is now closed for refurbishment so sadly you won't be able to enter. However, if you cross the old cantilever bridge you will find a grassy area, with a large prayer wheel and chorten which makes an ideal lunch spot.

After you have enjoyed your picnic lunch, it's time to hop back on your bikes as you head off on your return journey to Thimphu. The riding in the afternoon starts off on a beautiful quiet forest dirt road that passes through the remote villages of this area, don't be put off by the short sharp climb at the start, it's a lot easier after this! You will eventually rejoin where you were dropped off this morning and all that remains is to follow the winding road down to Thimphu to complete what has surely been a fantastic day.

Cycling elevation and descent - Ascent: 421m Descent: 595m

Overnight icon Overnight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel Or Similar, Thimphu Or Similar

Day 7 - Cycle to Punakha via the Dochu La, 3,140m/10,302ft - 72km, 6 hours.

Today is the big challenge of the holiday, the Dochu La at 3,140m/10,302ft. There is no getting around the fact that this is a big climb at over 800m higher than where you start from, but the good news is that the gradient is a steady 4% all the way up the 21km climb and at no point does it become too steep to cycle. However, if at any time you find the climb too tough, the back up vehicle can always give you a lift!

The scenery is the most breathtaking part of this climb. On your right hand side you will have excellent views back down to Thimphu, and all around you is the lush green forest which only gets better and better as you enter a national botanical park, roughly half way. When you start to see the prayer flags fluttering in the wind ahead, you know you are nearly there and the sense of accomplishment is huge. There is time to take a well deserved break and enjoy the fantastic vista, on a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalaya, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 7,550m/24,770ft. From here there is only one direction to go, down! You will make your way to a nice restaurant about ten minutes ride away where you will enjoy a buffet lunch and more great views of the mountains in the distance.

After you have refuelled and impressed your fellow diners with stories of your ascent it's time to start your 45km descent. From the top you get an idea of just how far you have to go down. It takes around 2-3 hours to make your way to the bottom, which when you consider you don't need to pedal the whole way it really is incredible. If you hadn't aready realised you were in the high country, you will by the end. As you head down through the varied forest on the windy road, with the trees clinging to the hillside, you will have to choose your spots to stop and enjoy the views carefully as if you stopped every time you saw great views, you would still be cycling the next morning. As you finally approach the bottom of the descent and Punakha you will notice that the temperature has risen quite a lot and the wind has picked up especially as you cycle past Wangdue Phodrang (or Windy Phodrang as the locals call it).

Upon reaching the valley floor it's a short ride up to visit Drukpa Kunley's temple. Built in the centre of the Punakha Valley and called Chimi Lhakhang, this temple was built by the "Divine Madman" to celebrate his victory over the demoness of the Dochu La. It is famed for the many phallic symbols that can be found here and as you should be visiting late in the afternoon there is a good chance that the young monks will be relaxing by playing football in the grounds. They also enjoy cycling on your bikes if you're willing to pedal your bike up the short climb to the temple.

The 'Divine Madman' - Drukpa Kunley (1455-1520) In Bhutanese mythology, Drukpa Kunley is one of the most beloved and revered sages of Tibetan Buddhism. Many are the legends that surround him and he followed a wandering lifestyle and was both an eccentric and highly regarded saint. He was renowned for his shocking behaviour and his ability to perform miracles. He taught a form of Tantric Buddhism and advocated that sexual freedom was at the centre of Truth. The wooden phalluses that hang from the corners of Bhutanese houses and the paintings of penises that you often see on either side of the front door of houses are a relic of his teachings.

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 989m Descent: 2,100m

Overnight icon Overnight: Zhingkham Resort or Damchen Resort or Similar, Punakha

Day 8 - Visit Punakha Dzong. Drive/cycle to Gangtey, 2,900m/9,514ft - 83km, 3 hours. Visit Gangtey Dzong.

There will be time this morning for a visit to Punakha Dzong. This really is an incredible structure. Standing outside the main entrance you are struck by the sheer scale of the building. The inside is even more impressive.

After your visit to the dzong you will cycle down the valley to Wangdiphodrang (23km), taking the less busy road on the left hand side of the river, and then continue just a short distance up the valley towards the Pele La. To ride all the way would really be a very challenging proposition as the distance is 70km, all steeply uphill, so instead, at the Kyichu Lodge you will climb aboard the back-up vehicle to drive up to the Pele La and from there it is mostly downhill cycling to reach Gangtey. The views on the way up are fantastic but then you will have begun to expect nothing less by now.

Reaching the Pele La at 3423m/11,230ft you will enjoy the views before taking to your bikes again to ride back down, turning off towards Gangtey. At the top of the valley is the impressive Gangtey Gompa which with its commanding views over the valley is a 'must-see' location. As you make your way down towards the valley floor you will be struck by how wide open this valley is - it's quite unlike anywhere else in Bhutan. In the winter months this valley is home to the Black-necked cranes, they should have arrived in time for your visit.

After your visit to Gangtey Gompa you will be met by your vehicle to drive to your hotel.

Overnight icon Overnight: Farmhouse Homestay, Gangtey Valley

Day 9 - Loop ride around Gangtey - 20km, 2-3 hours. Visit Black-necked Crane centre.

After breakfast you make this morning's loop ride which takes you in a clockwise direction around the valley. With beautiful forests up high, potato fields down low, wild flowers growing everywhere and prayer flags all around, it's easy to see why this stunning valley is a favourite amongst Mountain Kingdoms' clients. As the morning light shimmers on the tranquil streams at the bottom of the valley you will set off on your morning's ride. On the first half of the loop you will be following a dirt road on the opposite side of the valley from your hotel, contouring along the side of the valley you will soon reach the picturesque Domchoe Lhakhang, which dates back to the 7th century. From here the valley opens up before you with views along to the small hamlets in the distance. The trail then heads down to the valley floor again, and works its way back towards the hotel, passing through remote villages and timber yards. Lunch will be taken in the hotel.

In the afternoon you will head to the interesting Black-necked Crane Visitor Centre for an insightful visit. This centre has many interesting exhibits as well as a couple of high powered Swarovski scopes to enable you to get a nice close up of these graceful birds. There is also an interesting hand woven carpet factory nearby that is worth a visit if time permits.

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 370m Descent 370m

Overnight icon Overnight: Farmhouse Homestay, Gangtey Valley

Day 10 - Attend the Black-necked Crane Festival in the morning. Ride from Gangtey to Trongsa, 2,050m/6,726, 70km, 5-6 hours. Sightseeing as time permits.

Today you may see the Black necked cranes which should be in residence for your visit. It can be worthwhile arranging to go to see them before breakfast as they awake, and before they fly off to their feeding grounds for the day. Speak to your guide about this.

After breakfast you will attend the Black-necked crane Festival which takes place every year in Phobjikha. Initiated by the Bhutan Royal Society for Protection of Nature, the festival is now organised by the local community and celebrates the annual arrival of the cranes. The festival has a full day's programme of traditional masked dances and plays, including the 'crane dance'. Whilst it is not one of the more traditional tsechus, being of recent origin and more community based, the festival has the advantage of receiving relatively few western visitors and offers a real insight into the Bhutanese 'at play'. The festival takes place in the monastery courtyard and there are local food and handicraft stalls to buy from. A traditional archery competition is usually held nearby.

In the afternoon you will drive up to the top of the valley and unload your bikes at Gangtey Gompa. From here you will set off on today's bike ride as you make your way up to the top of the Pele La pass, 3,390m/11,122ft, this road is not too steep and is only a few kilometres long and before you know it you will be at the top taking pictures amongst the scattered prayer flags. The road then heads down the other side for another fantastic descent with more incredible scenery. Before you get too far there may be time for a break at a fantastically located café on the side of the road; with the views stretching away in front of you it's the perfect place to sit and relax. After your caffeine hit, it's time to get back on the bike and re-join the road as it weaves its way down the mountain for approximately 60km. The road is cut into the mountain in places and passes by several beautiful waterfalls, mani walls, gompas and roadside stalls. The wildlife spotters amongst you will also have a field day with abundant birdlife, yaks and monkeys along the way. After around three hours of enjoying the downhill you will be met by a fantastic view of Trongsa Dzong, this viewpoint looks directly across at the Dzong and the town of Trongsa, it's a great spot for pictures as you can see just how close to the edge of the rocky outcrop this Dzong is. There is a short downhill section to the bottom of the valley floor and then a short climb up to the town. Lunch will be taken in your hotel. In the afternoon there may be time to visit the fascinating museum which is inside the old watchtower that is perched high on the hillside overlooking the Dzong, this museum is well worth a visit and screens an interesting film that does a good job of summing up Bhutan's history and culture. The view from the top of the tower is incredible. After this visit you will head down to the vast Dzong for a visit and then maybe a leisurely walk around town and back to the hotel for dinner.

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 400m Descent: 1,750m

Overnight icon Overnight: Yangkhil Resort Or Similar, Trongsa

Day 11 - Transfer to the Yutong La. Cycle down to Bumthang, 2,580m/8,464ft - 45km, 3-4 hours (additional 4 hours if cycling to the top of the Yotong La)..

This morning there are two options, for those of you who are feeling fit and fancy another challenge there is the climb to the top of the Yotong La, this is a 30km climb that will take around four hours. The road is a gradual climb and provides excellent views on the way up, it is quite similar to the Dochu La climb from earlier in the trip. This is the highest point of the trip at 3,425m/11,237ft. For those of you who prefer to take it a little easier there is the option of a later start and taking the van to the top from where there is another long sweeping descent down to the valley floor where you will have a picnic lunch.

The afternoon's ride follows the valley floor on one of the flattest sections of riding on the whole trip, but this will change as you approach the last high pass of the trip; the Kiki La. This climb is shorter than the other passes on this holiday and shouldn't prove to be too difficult, but as always there is the support van behind for those with tired legs, and you will stop for tea along the way. The final hairpin descent of today heads down the bottom of the valley and joins the rushing water of the Chakhar Chu River as it makes its way to Bumthang. The pleasant ride to the hotel passes by the town centre with its one main street heading away to your right.

Cycling ascent and descent: Ascent: 282m Descent: 1,110m

Overnight icon Overnight: Ugyenling Hotel Or Similar, Jakar

Day 12 - Loop ride aroung the Bumthang Valley with stops at Ken Chu Sum Monastery and Kurjey Lhakhang - 20km, 2-3 hours.

Today's loop ride of the Bumthang valley is a fairly casual affair so there is time to have a nice relaxing breakfast before heading off on your bikes for the last time. The ride starts off with a gentle pedal through town passing traditional arts shops and cafes, before heading to Ken Chu Sum monastery, the main temple of this monastery is being rebuilt after it was ravaged by fire, it is fascinating to see the process of rebuilding and the amount of time and work that goes into each part of the temple.

Across the road from the monastery is the timber yard where all the wood is being prepared - from the slicing into planks to the fine detail carving, all the work is done on site. It's a fascinating place to walk around and the carpenters are friendly and happy to talk about their work. Just up the road is Tamshing Lhakhang: the most important Nyingma Gompa in the kingdom, established in 1501 by Pemalingpa. Inside you can see a suit of chain-mail armour, which Buddhists believe will bring good fortune if worn and then walked around the inner temple three times.

The next stop is Kurjey Lakhang, a series of three large temples. The oldest of the temples here houses a rock indented with the body shape of Guru Rinpoche, whilst the most recent dates back to 1984 when it was built for the Queen Mother - Ashi Kesang Wangchuck. It is at this monastery where the cremation takes place on the death of the kings of Bhutan. The final stop of today's ride is Jambay Lhakhang. This is one of the country's oldest temples, built in the mid-7th century. One interesting feature to look for is the set of three steps in the main temple. The first step, now hidden below floor level, is said to represent the time of the past or 'historical' Buddha. The second, very well worn, step represents the present Buddha, whilst the third step above, is said to represent the age of the future Buddha. The point at which the second step is worn down to ground level is held to be the time when the world as we currently know it will end. Lunch today will be a delicious picnic; its location will vary depending on the progress of today's ride.

The afternoon can be spent exploring the interesting town before returning to the hotel to relax.

Cycling ascent and descent - Ascent: 260m Descent: 260m

Overnight icon Overnight: Ugyenling Hotel Or Similar, Jakar

Day 13 - Fly to Paro. Visit Paro Museum and Kyich Lakhang.

After breakfast you will be transferred to the small Bumthang airport, after undergoing the stringent security checks (quick glance at your bags) you will board the small plane and enjoy the stunning views of the Bumthang valley before you climb high for great views of the high mountains off in the distance. This is only a 25 minute flight but it's incredibly scenic. Upon arrival at Paro airport you will visit the Paro Museum which is situated high up over-looking the Dzong, this is an interesting museum with some great exhibits. From here you will head down to the Dzong to take a look inside this impressive building.

After lunch you will also visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lhakhang which was one of 108 temples built by Songtsen Gampo, an important early Tibetan king, to pin down the Bon demon that was thought to hover over the whole of Tibet. The rest of the afternoon can be spent walking around the town searching through some of the great handicraft shops for the all important souvenirs, or simply relaxing in a café watching life go slowly by.

(If the flight to Paro is cancelled you will drive back to Paro over the next two days. Your sightseeing in Paro will then be rearranged accordingly).

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 14 - Drive to Cheli La Pass. Walk to Kila Gompa Nunnery. Time at leisure.

Today you will drive up to the Cheli La, a pass at 3,990m/13,090ft, a journey of about 1½ hours. In clear weather you will have wonderful views of the snow-capped mountains to the west which mark the border with Tibet. You then walk to the Kila Gompa nunnery. The gompa is surrounded by a lush forest dominated by tall firs and sparkling mountain streams tumble down slopes which are covered with a variety of wildflowers and plants. The Gompa is a peaceful retreat for Buddhist nuns who dedicate their lives to spiritual fulfilment. About 30 nuns live here, ranging in age from about 20 to 80 years. The community is one of the oldest of seven nunneries in Bhutan and was initially established in the early 9th century as a meditation site. The nuns live a life of contemplation and seclusion, with daily prayer and spiritual practice. The temple itself is surrounded by numerous meditation huts, and many hidden caves lie inside the rocky cliffs.

Following your walk you will return to Paro. The rest of the day will be at leisure.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 15 - Walk to Taktsang Monastery.

A short drive beyond Paro town takes you to the trail head for the walk up to the famous Tiger's Nest, Taktsang Monastery. The monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. It's a steep uphill walk through woods, of about 1½-2hrs, to reach a tea house (an ascent of 340m/1,115ft.) Apart from offering welcome refreshment this tea house is one of the principle viewpoints of Taktsang, and those who prefer not to climb any further can relax here whilst others continue on. If there is a particular religious gathering or VIP visit in progress, you will not be able to enter the monastery but the further half an hour's ascent is well worth it in any case, as it brings you to another viewpoint directly across from Taktsang. If you are able to make a visit, the final section of the walk takes you from here steeply down 100m/330ft into the gorge that separates you from the monastery and then climbs back up again to reach the monastery gate. You return to the tea house for a delicious and well deserved lunch before you descend back to the valley floor by your outward route and then drive to your hotel.

The afternoon is free for simply relaxing or doing a little last minute souvenir shopping or sightseeing. If you have brought your own bike then now is a good time to get it packed up ready for your international flight.

This evening there will be a celebratory meal in the hotel, a great opportunity to relive the many great memories of this fantastic trip.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 16 - Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel.

This morning you will take the short and, when the skies are clear, very scenic flight back to Kathmandu. On arrival at the domestic terminal you will be met and transferred to your hotel. You will then have time to explore the city, do some souvenir shopping and of course, if you wish, just relax at the hotel and savour the many delights of Dwarika’s.

Overnight icon Overnight: Dwarika's Hotel, Kathmandu

Day 17 - Morning sightseeing tour of Kathmandu. Transfer to airport and depart for London.

Kathmandu is a fascinating city, a mixture of the modern and medieval. Rickshaws, taxis and hooting motorists add to the din and create the special atmosphere Kathmandu is so famous for.

In the morning you will have a half day guided sightseeing tour of some of the city's main sights. One of the most sacred Hindu temples of Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple, is located on both banks of the sacred Bagmati River on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. Pashupatinath is the most important temple dedicated to god Shiva. Later you will explore Boudhanath where you will visit the ancient Buddhist stupa. Here pilgrims from all over the Indian subcontinent circle the stupa clockwise, turning prayer wheels as they pass.

Later there will be a group transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to London.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight

Day 18 - Arrive London.

Map

Map Key

  • Airport Airport
  • Point of interest Point of interest
  • Mountain Peak Mountain Peak
  • Day walk in this area Day walk in this area
  • Flights Flights
  • Internal Transfers Internal Transfers
  • Trek Trek

2022

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Wed 2 Nov - Sat 19 Nov 2022 ! Available
Available
This departure attends the Black-necked Crane Festival
£3965 Book £4840 Book

2023

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 1 Apr - Tue 18 Apr 2023 Available Contact Us Contact Us
Thu 2 Nov - Sun 19 Nov 2023 Available Contact Us Contact Us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on +44 (0) 1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

Optional supplements
  • Single room supplement
    From £705
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £117
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

Booking your holiday
  • Deposit
    From £300

For the majority of our holidays, a deposit payment of £300.00 per person is required to secure your place(s), however a small number of holidays require a higher deposit - please refer to the holiday itinerary for more details. If the holiday departs within 60 days, a deposit of £750.00 per person is required.

Book now!
  1. Book your small group holiday securely online – click the ‘Book’ button next to your chosen departure or visit our How to Book page
  2. Complete and return a Booking Form available to download here.
  3. Call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 and one of our travel specialists will talk you through the booking process.

What’s included

  • An English-speaking Bhutanese guide
  • Bike hire
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (Flight inclusive option)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • Flights between Kathmanu and Paro and internal flights in Bhutan
  • Bhutan visa and Bhutan departure tax
  • Dwarika's hotel in Kathmandu, on a twin share and bed & breakfast basis
  • In Bhutan good standard hotel accommodation in main towns and best available hotels in outlying towns, on a twin share, full board basis
  • Two nights in a farmhouse homestay in Gangtey on a full board basis
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle
  • Carbon offsetting with the Ecoan Tree Planting Project (for clients taking our flight inclusive option)
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre-trip meet in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees for Nepal
  • Lunch and evening meals in Kathmandu
  • Optional trips
  • Tips


Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 6 reviews)

Just brilliant fun!          

I very recently cycled the majority of this fantastic cycling adventure. From the first few minutes to the very end it was just brilliant fun! The bikes we provide in Bhutan are modern mountain bikes with disk brakes and good gear ratios. This cycling holiday is not a non-stop endurance exercise. It combines exciting cycling with meeting local Bhutanese people, seeing their culture and daily traditions, and visiting some of the kingdom's famous sights. You also get off-the-beaten-track and really close up and personal with their amazing scenery. It is such a thrill to whistle down the long descents from high passes and see friendly people waving and bowing to you as you pass by. The air is clean in the mountains and every leg of the journey is a fresh challenge. We were lucky inasmuch as we enjoyed wall to wall sunshine every day but if you did encounter rain you can always scramble into the back-up vehicle/s which stays behind you at a respectful distance all the way. Your Guide leads the route and is there to show you around and be an interpreter as well. In the many days cycling he had to mend only one puncture. You can if you want avoid toiling up to the top of the big passes and simply ride all the downhills. For instance the road down from the Dochu La Pass is all of 40kms downhill and never boring!! The hotels are of a high standard and there is plenty of time to rest and relax. The people in their cars and buses look at you with envy. Of course the 4th king (now retired), and the 5th king are keen cyclists and are often seen cycling the tracks north of Thimphu. The present king is very much involved with the 'Tour of the Dragon' - the annual cycle race from Jakar to Thimphu. There is little in the way of really busy traffic in Bhutan and certainly going east from Punakha there is very little traffic at all. I never felt traffic was remotely a problem. I would give this trip my highest recommendation for sheer excitement and pleasure.

Enjoyable experience          

I really enjoyed the whole experience of cycling, seeing the country and the sights, and learning about Bhutan from our guide who was very informative. I enjoyed going to a country which is still off-the-beaten-track and seeing its culture and how it is developing.

Cycling Bhutan          

All the arrangements went well. Good choice of hotels with some local characteristics.

Lived up to expectations          

...the walk to TigerÕs Nest Monastery on our return to Paro was another highlight. It is the iconic sight of Bhutan for me and it lived up to expectations.

Off-the-beaten-track Bhutan          

For me, cycling is a fantastic way to see the country, get off the beaten track and have the opportunity to interact with some of the people that you meet on the way. The other tourists are welcome to their air conditioned vehicles - I will keep on pedalling!


Extend your holiday

Everest Flight - extension

Everest Flight - extension
  • Fly within five nautical miles of Everest
  • As well as Everest, see views of other 8,000m giants; Makalu, Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu and Lhotse
  • Flights operate in the early morning, when weather conditions are at their best.
More Details

While in Kathmandu, why not experience the spectacular sight of Mount Everest? Instead of trekking into the region to gain a good view of this must-see landmark you could see it in under an hour! We fly with either Buddha Air or Mountain Air who both operate modern Raytheon Beechcraft 1900 aircraft. These hold between 16 and 18 people and as the seating is only two abreast everyone is guaranteed a window seat. The excursion includes hotel transfers, a celebratory glass of bubbly and a certificate signed by your captain after you land.

Bardia National Park extension

Bardia National Park extension
  • Jungle activities including an elephant experience, bird watching, rafting and nature walks
  • See wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Stay at the delightful Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge situated on the edge of the park
More Details

After your adventurous time in the Himalaya why not add a relaxing Jungle Safari to your trip? The Royal Bardia National Park is situated in the west of Nepal. We use Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, which is acknowledged to be the best lodge in the area. Bardia’s remote geographic location and the fact that the lodge has only 12 rooms, lends a degree of exclusivity to the experience, in comparison to other more popular parks. From the lodge you will be able to participate in safaris and have the chance of seeing some of the country’s wonderful wildlife, for instance, wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. There is also the possibility of visiting the villages of the Tharu tribal people that surround the lodge. With its abundant wildlife, relaxing lodge and first class service, our Bardia extension is an experience you will savour!

Chitwan National Park extension

Chitwan National Park extension
  • Activities include; bird watching, elephant washing, canoe ride, elephant experience, landrover safari and jungle walks
  • Choice of accommodation from budget to luxury
  • Suitable to add to any holiday flying in/out of Kathmandu
More Details

Why not extend your adventure in Nepal by visiting Nepal’s jungle region for a complete contrast to the high mountains and the Kathmandu Valley. Chitwan is home to a rich and varied wildlife. Here are found wild elephant, rhinos, leopard, sambar, chital (spotted) deer, wild boar and arguably the most magnificent of cats, the Royal Bengal Tiger. You may even see sloth bear, gaur (wild cattle) and crocodiles. Chitwan is also wonderful for birdlife especially in the spring, when the jungle rings day and night to the calls of several kinds of Asian cuckoo.

Shivapuri Heights Cottage extension

Shivapuri Heights Cottage extension
  • Escape the crowds and hustle and bustle of Kathmandu
  • Walks available from the cottage - explore the nearby countryside
  • Single and double rooms available, or exclusive hire of the entire cottage
  • Breakfast and dinner included, plus unlimited tea and coffee
More Details

While in Kathmandu, why not experience an exclusive, private, home away from home? Shivapuri Heights Cottage is a “home-stay-style” property that offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the City. It is located in 2 acres of land at an altitude of 6,000ft /1,830m on the edge of the protected Shivapuri Reserve, with beautiful views looking down into the Kathmandu Valley.

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge - Extension

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge - Extension
  • Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara in the Annapurna range of Nepal
  • The lodge is an ideal base for you to relax in a rural mountain setting
  • Beautiful outdoor swimming pool reflecting view of the Annapurna range
  • Delicious Nepali dishes & continental specialities made from local fresh ingredients, home-grown herbs & garden salads
More Details

Why not extend your adventure in Nepal by visiting the beautiful Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge. Tiger Mountain Pokhara lodge is a lovely place, situated on a ridge half an hour outside Pokhara and enjoying the most stunning mountain views over the Annapurna range of mountains.

The lodge is an ideal base for you to relax in a rural mountain setting, away from the bustle of town. With a central lodge, bar and dining room, the comfortable rooms are arranged in clusters of cottages resembling a Nepali village. All have attached bathrooms, private verandas and Himalayan views. Daily menus feature a range of Nepali dishes as well as continental specialities made from local fresh ingredients and home-grown herbs and garden salads. You may enjoy lovely walks through the forests and villages of the lovely countryside surrounding the lodge, escorted by trained local guides. The beautiful swimming pool reflects the distant white peaks of the Annapurna range. The lodge also offers a range of Ayurvedic and shiatsu therapy and yoga and meditation sessions are also available (at additional cost). You may also venture further afield to visit Pokhara, Nepal’s second city located on a lovely lake and also enjoying spectacular views.

Tibet Extension

Tibet Extension
  • Visit some of Tibet's most important historical and cultural sites and monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Offers a scenery completely different to that of Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Suitable to add to any holiday flying in/out of Kathmandu.
More Details

​A visit to Tibet offers an exciting extension to a visit to Nepal or Bhutan. Regular flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu make it possible to visit most of the major sights in and around Lhasa on an 8 day itinerary and a visit to Tibet will provide an exhilarating contrast to your trek or tour in Nepal or Bhutan. Tibet’s high plateau offers totally different and starker scenery to that of the other Himalayan countries. Here you will see some of the most important historical and cultural sites and monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism – the Potala Palace and Samye, Ganden and Drepung Monasteries.

If taking this extension you will need to spend an extra day beforehand in Kathmandu while our agents there process your Tibet visa. They will need your passport for the day for this purpose. You need to let us know in good time if you wish to take this extension as we need to put this process in hand and send your details to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu well before your departure date.

Koshi Tappu, Nepal

Koshi Tappu, Nepal
  • Koshi Tappu is home to over 500 species of birds
  • Look out for exciting wildlife like jungle cats, crocodiles and rare water buffalo
  • Explore the park by foot, raft and jeep
  • Stay in the pleasantly located Koshi Camp
More Details

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is one of the finest birdwatching and wildlife areas in all Asia. Located in south-east Nepal, the reserve covers 175 square kilometres with large expanses of open water created by the Koshi barrage, with marshes, lagoons, sandbanks and mudflats offering an outstanding wetland habitat. The reserve is home to over 500 species of birds, with the resident inhabitants being joined by large numbers of migratory species from Siberia and Tibet, which take up residence from November to February. The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve provides one of the best places in Nepal to view migratory water fowl, waders and shore birds with many species seen here which are not recorded elsewhere in the region.

There is also much wildlife to be seen in Koshi Tappu including blue bull, golden jackal, Bengal fox, fishing cat, jungle cat, mongoose, civet cat, porcupine, Indian flying foxes and rare Gangetic dolphins as well as rare Marsh Mugger crocodiles. In addition, Koshi Tappu is the last habitat of the endangered Arna, a type of wild water buffalo.

During your visit you will explore the park with bird and animal spotting from a raft trip on the Koshi River, birdwatching walks, jungle walks and jeep trips. You will also have the opportunity to visit a family in one of the very interesting nearby local villages for a taste of rural Nepalese life. The Koshi Camp offers simple but comfortable accommodation and an expert staff of naturalists and birdwatchers to give you a comprehensive introduction to this wonderful area.

Kathmandu Valley sightseeing, Nepal

Kathmandu Valley sightseeing, Nepal
  • Observe traditional crafts such as pottery, woodcarving and thangka painting
  • Choose from a selection of full and half day guided tours
  • Travel in a private car with a driver and an English-speaking guide
More Details

The Kathmandu Valley has a long and rich history and a vibrant culture and there is much that is worthwhile to see there - crowded bazaars, ancient temples, Buddhist stupas, crumbling shrines and picturesque palaces. The Malla kings who ruled in the valley created three major cities in the valley, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan and each of these cities has buildings that are showpieces for the art and architecture of local Newari craftsmen. We offer a selection of half day trips and full day trips to these sites the valley.

Bumdra Trek Extension, Bhutan

Bumdra Trek Extension, Bhutan
  • A two-day trek that can be added to the end of your holiday in Bhutan
  • Camp beneath Bumdra Monastery in a beautiful, scenic spot
  • Enjoy views of the High Himalayan mountains
  • Trek to Taktsang Monastery on a path that few others take
  • Full service camping experience experience with porterage
More Details

If you would like to experience a night under canvas in the mountains of Bhutan this short, two-day trek is the perfect opportunity. Setting out from the Paro Valley you walk up 900m to a beautiful, scenic spot by Bumdra Monastery with wonderful views across the high Himalaya. Here you camp for the night before a leisurely descent the following morning to reach iconic Takstsang Monastery - enjoying a vantage point that very few others get to see.

Bhutan Hotel Upgrades

Bhutan Hotel Upgrades
  • Upgrade your accommodation for your trip in Bhutan.
  • Choose from boutique and spa hotels in various destinations.
  • Stay in luxurious properties with first rate service and facilities
  • Enjoy fine dining and indulgent rooms
More Details

For our brochure trips to Bhutan we offer good standard tourist hotels and lodges, however, Bhutan also offers some lovely boutique and spa hotels which we are pleased to offer as upgrades on your trip. We offer a range of properties in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and other towns all of which provide excellent facilities and service as well as attractive locations.

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