Duration: 6 days and 5 nights
Nature of tour: Cycling and cultural sightseeing
Places covered: Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
Difficulty grading: Medium
Places covered: Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
Representative (guide and driver) from See Bhutan Travels will meet you at Paro international airport and guide you towards your hotel. Check into your hotel, get refreshed and enjoy your lunch.
After lunch we will ride around Paro valley and pay visit to Paro Ta Dzong (Museum) and Paro Rinpung Dzong
Paro Ta Dzong (national museum): Located on a spur above Rinpung Dzong, five and a half kilometers’ drive from Tshongdu town, the dzong was built in the mid-17th century as a watchtower overlooking Rinpung Dzong by Lanyongpa Tenzin Drukdra and Chogyal Migyur Tenpa. The circular dzong houses the National Museum of Bhutan
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Located on the bank of Pachu River, Paro Dzong, formally known as Rinchen Pung Dzong (shortened to Rinpung Dzong), was built in 1644 under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most beautiful and historically important dzongs in the country. Today, it houses both district administration and monastic body.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, ride till Taktsang base from where the hike begins.
Taktsang monastery: Depending on your pace and the time you spent in Monastery, hiking to this monastery will take around 5 to 6 hours (roundtrip).
The monastery is located 900 m above Paro valley on the face of a rocky cliff. Taktshang is perhaps the most famous monastery in the country. The monastery was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew there from Kurtoe Singay Dzong (Eastern Bhutan) riding on a tigress to subdue a demon. Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the secular head of the country (1680-1694) has begun the construction of the monastery at this site in 1692 and completed in the year 1694. The monastery houses many temples that contain sacred statues of eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Tshepame Yabyum and Bone relic of Pelgi Singay.
After coming back from Taktsang monastery, we will visit to Drugyal Dzong.
Drugyal Dzong: Located in Phongdey village in Paro, the Dzong was built as one of the principal Dra Dzong (defence dzongs). While some attribute the building of the Dzong to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1649 to commemorate a victory over Tibetan invasion, some attribute it to the second Druk Desi Tenzin Drukdra. But as its name suggests (Druk – Drukpa; gyal – victory), the Dzong was built to celebrate the victory over Tibetans. The Dzong was used as the summer residence of Rinpung Rabdey until 1951 when it was completely burnt down. The Dzong is currently being rebuilt to its former glory to celebrate the birth of crown prince Jigme Namgyel.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
Today we will depart to capital city of Bhutan, located 65 km east of Paro town. Thimphu amongst the world’s smallest capital city does not have traffic lights. It is a perfect hideaway from the hustles and bustles of big cities.
Road conditions between Thimphu and Paro are amongst the best for cycling in Bhutan. After arriving Thimphu, check into your hotel, enjoy your lunch, keep your bikes at the hotel and explore following sites by using your tour vehicle:
Memorial Chorten: Located in the heart of Thimphu city, it was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden in memory of her son, Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The three-storey choeten houses several relics such as Phurba Lhatshog, Kagay, Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa, Guru Tshengye, and Khenlop Chesum. The choeten is today the spiritual nerve centre of the city.
Buddha Statue: Located at Kuenselphodrang, facing Thimphu valley down bellow is the worlds’ largest and tallest Buddha statue standing at the height of 169 feet (52m). The statue houses one hundred thousand of smaller Buddha statues, the exact replica of the outer Buddha statue. From here one can have a 360 degree view of Thimphu valley.
Textile museum: Located near National library at Chubachu, it was established in the year 2001. The museum contains Bhutanese textiles, arts, crafts and more importantly the royal collections which includes first version of the Raven crown worn by first and second King of Bhutan, dresses and accessories worn by royal family and the bedding of his holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji.
Punakha district is located 77 km west of Thimphu. This district has played a vital role in shaping Bhutan’s history and its head quarter; Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungthang Dewa Chanpoi phodrang was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of modern Bhutan and is still used as winter residence for Jekhenpo (religious head of the country) and central monastic body.
Your ride from Thimphu to Punakha begins with an uphill riding towards Dochula pass (3140 m) located 23 km east of Thimphu city.
On this Dochula pass is 108 stupas called Druk Wangyal Chortens, built by Queen mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. There is also a temple called Druk Wangyal Lhakhang built in the honour of fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck for his service to his subjects. The front yard of this temple is a venue for Druk Wangyal festival which is conducted annually in the month of December. On the backdrop of this pass is the stunning view of snow capped mountain ranges and amongst which is Bhutan’s tallest mountain Mt. Gangkar Puensum(7570m).
From here to Punakha the road gradually descends down making it fairly an easy ride. Before reaching Punakha, we will pay visit to Khemae Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility dedicated to Buddhist saint named Drukpa Kuenley.
Khemae Lhakhang: Located on a hillock in Lobesa (Punakha), the temple was built in 1499 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the cousin of Lam Drukpa Kunley, on the spot where the latter subdued a demon who was running away in the form of a dog. Lam Drukpa Kunley buried the demon and said there was no dog now (khe – dog; mae – no). Hence, the temple came to be known as the “temple of no dog”. Today however it is pronounced as Chimi Lhakhang. The temple contains the bow and arrows of Lam Drukpa Kunley and a phallus to bless the visitor.
After reaching Punakha, we will pay visit to Punakha Dzong.
Punakha Dzong: The dzong is situated on a stretch of a land where two rivers – Phochu and Mochu – meet. The dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1937 and named it Pungthang Dewa Chenpai Phodrang, the palace of great bliss. Later it became the final retreat palace for him. The first monarch, King Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned there and it served as the capital of the country until 1955. Today it serves as the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body. The sacred relic Rangjung Kharsapani is also kept in the Machen Temple inside the dzong.
Overnight: At hotel in Punakha
Today we will be following back the same way that we came yesterday. You have an option to ride back to Thimphu or travel by tour vehicle.
Your cycling journey will come to an end at Thimphu. Towards evening we will drive towards Paro.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
After breakfast, your guide and driver will see you off at Paro International Airport.
One way to explore Bhutan is by riding a bicycle. Nestled at the foothills of Himalaya, Bhutan is amongst the most culturally and geographically diverse country in the world. Scenically breathtaking, with age-old culture and traditions preserved through generations, perfect way of discovering Bhutan is from the saddle of a bicycle. Be it beginners or professionals, riders of all level can enjoy cycling in Bhutan.
All the required accessories such as helmets and extra tubes are included in tour packages but it is advisable that you bring your own helmet, saddle and toe clips of your size.
A pickup truck or back up vehicle (for larger groups) and tour vehicle will be following you for your entire tour. For those who do not wish to ride for longer distance, uphill roads or those who cannot keep pace with their fellow riders can use the service of tour vehicle, while their bikes are carried by back up vehicles.
For longer duration tours, a guide and a separate mechanic will be following you for the entire tour and for shorter duration tours, guide with a mechanical knowledge will follow you. Extra charges will be levied for hiring bicycle, if you want your guide to ride alongside with you. Otherwise your guide will be travelling in the tour vehicle.
Except summer season (June, July and August) during which Bhutan receives heavy rainfall, rest of the year is suitable for cycling in Bhutan.
With cooler temperature and less rain; October, November, December, March and April are the best month to visit Bhutan for on-road bicycling tour.
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