Day 01: Arrive Paro
If you are flying in from Delhi-Kathmandu, you will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other Himalayan peaks including Bhutan’s sacred Mount Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake. Upon arrival at the Paro National Airport, a representative of BHUTAN BY EXPERTS will receive and escort you to the hotel.
Day 02: Paro
In the morning, we drive to Drukgyal Dzong, a ruined fortress 16km away from Paro town. Although in ruins, this dzong is of great historical importance since it was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans, driving them back to Tibet. On a clear day, you can see Mount Jhomolhari, abode of the Goddess Jumo. Mount Jhomolhari rises 7,329 metres high. On the way back, you’ll have an opportunity to visit a typical Bhutanese farm house. The entire Paro valley floor is relatively flat, and this is a great way to start your first day of bicycling. Lunch at the hotel.
In the afternoon, we visit Ta Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan. This was the watchtower of the Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong). The watchtower was converted to the National Museum in 1968, and it is located on a hill above the Paro Dzong, providing a great view of the Paro valley. After, we visit Rinpung Dzong. This massive fortress is approached both by a gently sloping flagstone road from the hill and by a beautiful covered wooden cantilever bridge from the valley floor roadside. Today the dzong is the administrative seat for the district of Paro, and it also contains the state’s monastic community of approximately 200 monks. The central tower (Utse) of the dzong, with its superb wood work, is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. This dzong was built in 1645 AD. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, you will have the choice to either be driven or bicycle to Thimphu, the capital city. The drive meanders along the Paro and Thimphu river and takes 1.5 hours (65km). The gradient of the road is excellent for bicycling as there are no steep climbs or descents. Once in Thimphu, we guide you to the hotel where you will have lunch.
In the afternoon, we visit the National Memorial Chorten (stupa). The chorten was built in the memory of the third King of Bhutan, HRH King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who reigned from 1952-1972. We also visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 04: Thimphu
In the morning, you bicycle to the Semtokha Dzong, the oldest fort in the country (built in 1629 AD). This will provide an opportunity to visit with some of the monks and observe life within the monastery. In the olden days, the eldest son of every family was offered to a monastery where the child grew up as a monk. Even today, it is not uncommon for some families to continue this practice. Then, we visit the Handicrafts Emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other handicrafts are displayed and can be purchased. Lunch at the hotel.
In the afternoon, we visit Tashichhoe Dzong, the main governmental administrative building. This massive structure houses part of the Ministries, the offices of the King and his Throne Room. It also houses the state’s Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot. We also visit the “Painting School” (Zorig Chusum) where traditional art is still practiced through the instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist scrolls).
You will also bicycle to Pangri Zampa Monastery which is just beyond Dechencholing (5km from Thimphu). This monastery was the residence of the founder of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel when he arrived here in 1616 AD. Dinner at the hotel and enjoy a free evening.
Day 05: Thimphu – Punakha
After an early breakfast, we set out for Punakha and Wangdue. On the way, we stop at Dochu La pass (10,000ft) for a hot cup of tea/coffee. On a clear day, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the eastern Himalayan mountain ranges. From Dochu La, you bicycle down into Wangdue which is located (51km) from the pass. It is an exhilarating ride. Check into the hotel and have lunch.
After lunch, we visit the Punakha Dzong which houses the district administration offices. It is also the winter residence of the state’s Monastic Body and its Chief Abbot, the Je-Khenpo. Punakha was the former capital of Bhutan. The dzong lies between two rivers, Pho Chhu (male river) and Mo Chhu (female river) and was built in 1637 AD. We also visit Wangduephodrang Dzong which is 13km from Punakha. The dzong is perched on a hill between two rivers and has a spectacular view. The dzong was built in 1638 AD, a year after the Punakha Dzong was built.
Please note that a tour vehicle will follow the bicycle group at all times in case of emergency or general weariness.
Day 06: Punakha – Trongsa
After breakfast, we drive to Trongsa, and on the way, you can bicycle certain stretches of the road. The terrain has steep ascents and descents, producing some spectacular scenery. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 07: Trongsa – Bumthang
After breakfast, we visit the ancient watchtower (Ta Dzong) in Trongsa. This structure sits atop a hillock overlooking the Trongsa Dzong and town. Ancient armors are displayed in the watchtower. Then, we visit the Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the present Royal Family of Bhutan. The fort was built in 1648 AD, and it is one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. It is presently the administrative seat of the Trongsa district and home to the monastic school. Built split levels on a narrow spur, this dzong is an architectural marvel. The view from the dzong is spectacular, and one can see for many miles. In the olden days, the fort was not only strategically important for defense but also for the vigilance point of both the eastern and western trade routes. After lunch at the hotel, we drive to Bumthang. En route, we will cross a high pass which then you can bicycle all the way to Bumthang. The road is broad and all downhill after the pass.
Day 08: Bumthang Valley
After breakfast, you bicycle around the beautiful valley of Bumthang. It is possible to bicycle a radius of 60km around the valley.
Day 09: Bumthang – Ura
After breakfast, you bicycle to Ura valley some 69km from Bumthang. Ura is another beautiful valley. We will go sightseeing in Ura valley, and afterwards, we drive back to Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang – Wangdue (197km)
On the way when it is safe and possible, you can bicycle certain stretches of the road. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Wangdue – Thimphu
After breakfast, we drive to Thimphu. After crossing Dochu La pass, you can bicycle all the way to Thimphu (26km downhill). We will go sightseeing and shopping in Thimphu. If the day falls on a weekend, we will visit the famous weekend market in Thimphu where the local populace gather for their weekly shopping for produce, grains, meat, etc.
Day 12: Thimphu – Paro
After breakrfast, you can either be driven or bicycle to Paro. Have lunch at the hotel. Afterwards, we hike up to the viewpoint of the famous Taktshang Monastery. The hike takes about 4 hours round trip. In the evening, we stroll around Paro town, see local town life, and do your final round of shopping.
Day 13: Depart Paro
After breakfast, we drive you to the airport for onward destination.