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Cycling holidays in Bhutan

With only fifty years since the first tourist arrived in Bhutan, the country still maintains an aura of mystery. A country with a deeply traditional way of life, Bhutan offers visitors unspoiled villages in deep valleys and journeys over high mountain passes. Reclusive and mysterious, it is a Buddhist fairy tale land tucked away in one of the world’s most spectacular natural environments. Magnanimous mountains, waterfalls, flora and fauna, clean air.

Bicycling in Bhutan

A cycling holiday in Bhutan rewards you with stunning views and pristine nature on good roads with little traffic. It is truly adventurous, with unrivaled scenery and a cultural experience so extraordinary, it surprises even the most well-traveled. It is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the country’s nature and culture, from following remote tracks through the mountains to experiencing cultural festivals. The challenging rides make for a one-of-a-kind travel experience. With cycling holidays in Bhutan, you’re sure to reach the parts that walkers and drivers simply can't.


That being said, the cycling rides across Bhutan are one of the world's most challenging cycling holidays. A single spectacular road runs west to east across the country, traversing a succession of high, steep-sided, heavily wooded ridges and natural streams. Presenting long climbs on easy-angled switchbacks, as well as mind-blowing descents that seem to last for hours, the amazing roads provide the basis for one of the world's great rides. Varying in difficulty levels, cycling in Bhutan is not for the faint-hearted. A certain level of fitness and determination is expected. This being Bhutan, there are more than a few long climbs involved with several passes being 3,000m and 4,000m high in altitude. Visit dzongs (fortresses), monasteries, and temples while absorbing the Buddhist culture and cycling through quaint little villages and towns.


Weather-wise, from September to November, the climate is mild and the skies are clear. In March through to May, wildflowers bloom across the valleys. In the other months, rainfall occurs however it will vary depending on where you want to go.


Wondering where you can get the bicycles? Contact a local tour operator or book online via specialized tour operators who are specialized in taking guests on cycling holidays. Also note that apart from cycles, you can also rent e-bikes on request.

Popular trails and destinations:

1. Gangtey

Also known as Phobjikha, this glacial valley will take you on some steep slopes. It's completely snowed under the winter months when most of its residents head to warmer Wangdue. The whole area is a hugely important wildlife preserve, home to muntjacs, wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bears, and leopards, too.


2. Bumthang

Actually made up of four valleys, Bumthang is also the spiritual heart of the nation, home to some of the country’s oldest temples, monasteries, and landmarks, as well as quiet roads that are perfect for cycling. The ‘Burning Lake’ is also another notable sacred site of pilgrimage.


3. Haa  

Pedaling your way through the spectacular Haa Valley is unforgettable. You’ll pass through vivid green fields of rice and potatoes, past traditional Bhutanese-style farmhouses, and stop at peaceful villages and towns, almost all of which have their own, dramatically located dzong.


4. Paro

Home of the National Museum, the country’s only airport, and a cluster of independent shops and restaurants, Paro is easy to negotiate by bike. A ride out along the Paro Valley to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong is a must if you have the time. The city’s star attraction is Rinpung Dzong, a distinctive fortress characterized by huge buttressed walls that peer over the town and are visible throughout the valley.


5. Thimphu

Thimphu is a vibrant introduction to both the most advanced and most spiritual aspects of the kingdom. You can cycle in the town or follow more strenuous mountain bike trails that head out into the valley and back. It has nightclubs and bars, for example, but it’s also the only world capital without traffic lights, where temples, dzongs, and parks make for a peaceful and contemplative atmosphere.


6. Tiger’s Nest

One can cycle to a point after which you’ll have to leave your bike behind to make the 900m trek up to Tiger’s Nest (or Taktsang Palphug), a hike of around four hours. Perched on the side of a sheer cliff overlooking the Paro Valley, it’s the country’s most iconic sight. It’s said that Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Buddhism in Bhutan, arrived at the monastery on the back of a winged tigress and meditated there for three months straight, hence its more pronounceable moniker, Tiger’s Nest.


7. Divine Madman Trail

The Divine Madman Trail is a stretch of rich forest that begins in Dochula’s conifers before dropping dramatically into cool broadleaf, then warm broadleaf, and finally subtropical vegetation. This expanse of area is home to a huge diversity of plants, birds, and mammals. With an estimated 250 species of birds, including the exotic Ward’s Trogan, and some 20 species of mammals such as the endangered red panda, even the royal Bengal tiger has been sighted there. Although 21 km long, the trail is broken up into several segments with the national highway crisscrossing at several points. This makes entry and exit to different segments convenient.

Diverse trails and experiences


The best part of Bhutan? It has all kinds of roads to offer. The majority of rides take place on well-paved roads, while others take place on dirt roads and trails. It is perfect for people who enjoy a peaceful ride around the city with their friends or want an adventure on a mountain bike. The experience is still quite intimate because the traffic is fairly light within the city.


It’s just you and your cycle meandering through tiny towns and villages. Feel the thrill of speeding up your cycle on the way to the top of the hill and toying with wind and speed while taking in the breathtaking views. Now do you agree that it’s the best way to explore the ‘Land of Happiness’? Plan a trip and experience moments that will last a lifetime!

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