Bhutan Cultural Cycling Tour -18 Days

Arrival On : Kathmandu Nepal
Max Altitude : 3,990m//13,090ft
Accommodation Types : Hotels, Homestay
Trip Duration : 20 Days
Meal Arrangement : Bed and breakfast in Kathmandu, all meals on trek and in Nepalganj.
Difficulty : Strenuous
Land Only Joining City : Kathmandu
Departure From : Kathmandu Nepal

Trip Overview

This great tour brings you some of the highlights of these two wonderful but contrasting Himalayan countries. Nepal has a laid back and chaotic charm which has made it a favourite with travellers and trekkers alike since the hippy era, while its wonderful mountains, vibrant culture and friendly people mean that for many people that once-in-a-lifetime visit’ has proved to be just the first of many. Bhutan has a quieter attraction but its unspoilt mountain scenery, living Buddhist culture and the wonderful architecture of its fabulous dzongs have made it always a great favourite with our clients.


In Nepal, after a day taking in the key sights of Kathmandu, you visit Bandipur, a typical and pretty Newari village that offers an authentic taste of everyday life. Next you travel to picturesque Pokhara, set on the shores of lake Phewa Tal and famous for its stupendous views of the Annapurna range. You have ample time for sightseeing here and to take a boat ride across the tranquil waters of the lake. You also visit Dhulikhel, perched on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, from where there is a vast panorama of mountains to enjoy stretching all the way to Everest.


From Nepal you fly east, passing Everest. You will feel the change in tempo as soon as you land at Paro airport. Arrival is delightfully unhurried and you will be greeted by smiling immigration and customs officials wearing the robes of Bhutanese national dress. The Paro valley, where you land, is green and forested and you will immediately be struck by the distinctive architecture of farm houses. Firstly you will drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, and will find it to be much less frenetic than Kathmandu. After time to explore in Thimphu you will travel over a high pass to visit the lush Punakha valley with its stunning dzong, situated in a scenic location at the confluence of two rivers. After visiting Punakha Dzong and the Chimi Lakhang temple you will return to Paro, where you will walk up to visit Taktsang, the famous Tigers Nest monastery, a highlight of any trip to Bhutan. Finally you return to busy Kathmandu for your flight home.



  • 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.


  • Spectacular scenery from start to finish.
  • Spend time in remote mountain village of Laya.
  • Enjoy first  camping facilities on trek.
  •  Attend the Chomolhari Mountain Festival on our autumn departure.
  • Look for rare tigers in the high mountains,Lost Land of the Tiger’.

Short Itinerary

Day 01-03:

(This is the itinerary for our November 2024 departure. Detailed itineraries for all departures an be downloaded below). Fly to Kathmandu. Fly to Paro. Visit Paro Tsechu.

Day 04-05:

Cycling in Paro valley and on to Thimphu

Day 06-07:

Cycling and sightseeing in Thimphu and ride over to Punakha via the Dochu La.

Day 08-09:

Visit Punakha Dzong. Cycle/drive to Gangtey. Loop ride in Gangtey Valley.

Day 10-11:

Attend the Black-necked Crane Festival. Cycle down from Pele La to Trongsa. Cycle to Bumthang.

Day 12-13:

Cycle to local monasteries and Dzongs around Bumthang. Fly back to Paro.

Day 14:

Drive to Cheli La Pass. Walk to Kila Gompa. Time at leisure.

Day 15:

Walk up to Taktsang Monastery.

Day 16-18:

Fly to Kathmandu. Sightseeing tour. Fly to your Home plece .


Day 01 Depart London
Overnight: In flight

Depart London on your overnight flight to Kathmandu.

Day 02 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 b 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.

Day 03 Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Sightseeing if time permits.

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.Depending on flight schedules, there might be time for a little sightseeing in the Paro Valley.

Day 04 Bikes assigned. 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 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 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.

Day 05 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 . 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 late afternoon casts long shadows across the Dochey (central courtyard) as the monks can be heard chanting inside the Utse (central tower).

Day 06 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 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 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.

Day 07 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 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 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).
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.

Day 08 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 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 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.

Day 09 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 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 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.

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 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 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.

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  how time 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  so nice 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.

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 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 a suit of chain-mail armour, which Buddhists believe will bring good fortune if worn and then walked around the inner temple three times.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

Day 16 Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel.

It’s time to wave farewell to your crew this morning as you board the plane for your flight to Kathmandu. This incredibly scenic flight is one to remember so make sure you have your cameras handy. Upon arrival in Kathmandu you will be met by our friendly Nepalese staff who will transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to do your own sightseeing or just to relax at the hotel.

Day 17 Morning sightseeing tour of Kathmandu. Transfer to airport and depart for your Home plece.

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.

Day 18 Arrive your Home plece.


  • Arrival & Departure Transport By private Car/Van/Bus.
  • Three meals a day during the Trekking (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation in Tea House during the Trekking.
  • Trekking Guide with Insurance
  • Kathmandu city and trekking maps.
  • Free use Company's duffel bag.
  • Day sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley, car/van/bus and tour guide
  • All needed Government fees.
  • Food in Kathmandu(City) lunch and dinner.
  • Tips for Guide and Porters
  • Extra night accommodation in Kathmandu (late departure or early arrival from the mountains.
  • Donation Items of personal expenses like hot shower, battery charge, telephone etc.




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