Cycling in Bhutan

15 days
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£4,899
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Challenging
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Trip code: 
MIB
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–15

Cycle through Bhutan, one of the most culturally rich Himalayan Kingdoms

Bicycles and Bhutan are a perfect fit. The tiny remote mystical Kingdom of Bhutan is probably the most culturally rich of all the Himalayan Kingdoms and is one of the most inaccessible. Tucked away at the eastern end of the mighty Himalaya, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is a wonderful place for a bike trip with some good paved roads, forests, glacial rivers, wonderful mountain scenery and cultural diversity. The whole country feels serene and is united by its love of the King and GNH (Gross National Happiness) is more important than GNP. This new trip takes us from Paro in the west to Bumthang in central Bhutan. We visit the remote Haa Valley and the capital, Thimphu. Crossing several passes over 3000m, we get wonderful views over the Himalaya. A side trip to the beautiful Gangtey Valley and Punakha Dzong are added highlights as is a visit to one of the masked dance festivals (on certain departures). There are plenty of long mountain climbs and exhilarating descents so a good level of cycling fitness is required.

Highlights

  • Challenging cycling; high mountain passes and long descents
  • Visit the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Cycle through spectacular Himalayan scenery
  • Festival departures available

Key information

8 days cycling (plus one optional ride) with 100% vehicle support

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single supplement 
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request)
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

8

Days of Cycling
Terrain:

75% tarmac, 25% unpaved roads (some in poor condition)

Day by day breakdown
Day 329.0km/18.0miles
Day 467.0km/42.0miles
Day 581.0km/50.0miles
Day 633.0km/20.0miles
Day 772.0km/43.0miles
Day 875.0km/46.5miles
Day 971.0km/44.0miles
Day 1070.0km/43.5miles

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kathmandu
to
Kathmandu
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kathmandu.

    Start in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 3

    Fly to Paro; easy warm up cycle to Drukyul Dzong (depending on flight times).

    Today we fly to Paro. The flight is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world and takes us over the eastern Himalayas. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). Today’s schedule depends on the flight timings. We will sort the bikes out, have a full briefing and hopefully there will be time for a short and easy cycle ride up the Paro Valley to the ruins of Drukyel Dzong.

    (If the flight is delayed we may be able to fit in a short but steep ride to the National Museum in Paro. This ride is 12km round trip with 215m ascent and 209m of descent).

    Standard Hotel 

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Paro to Haa Valley via the Chelela Pass (3810m).

    Today is the first full day’s ride and it is a tough day. We will try and cycle from the hotel (for those who want to ease themselves into cycling at altitude they can drive out of Paro to approx. 20km short of the Chele La). The road condition is good and the route zigzags uphill for 38km to eventually reach the pass (3810m). It will take about six hours to the top with plenty of rest stops along the way. We will stop at the top for a quick cup of hot masala tea (it is usually windy and cold at the top). On a clear day it is possible to see Chomolhari and Jichudrake, the two most famous mountains in Bhutan. We put on our warm layers before the well-earned and exhilarating 29km descent down to Haa.

    Standard hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    A wonderful rolling ride down the beautiful Haa Valley

    The Haa Valley is one of the most picturesque in Bhutan. Only opened to foreigners in 2002 it is still rarely visited. The name means ‘Hidden Rice Valley’ and in the pre-Buddhist era it was well known for its animist traditions. The valley has its own guardian called Ap Chendu, who is still worshipped. It is culturally rich with temples and a dzong (a dzong is a cross between a monastery and fortress and today they are used for secular and religious activities). Almost every town has a dzong perched in a spectacular location and the one in Haa was built in 1915.

    A long but spectacular ride today of approximately 81km, which will take between 6-7 hours depending on the pace of the group. The road is paved (watch out for potholes) and is mostly downhill with some undulating sections. The riding is easy after the exertion of yesterday. It is one of the most stunning rides of the trip. The Haa Valley is quiet and is populated by farming communities. We pass beautiful farmhouses, built in traditional Bhutanese style and fields of rice and potatoes. There is plenty of time to stop and take photographs. We have lunch along the way and then there is some climbing to do in and out of side valleys before a wonderful descent to Chuzom Sa, at the point where the roads join, between Paro, Haa, Thimphu and south to Phuntsoling. Three beautiful stupas in Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese style lie just above the Pa Chu. Once we reach the river and the main highway the road and traffic becomes much busier, so we will take a van transfer for the final 30km or so to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Morning cycle to Cheri, afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu.

    We spend the morning exploring the outskirts of Thimphu by bike. We head out of town past the Tashichho Dzong. A very steep but short climb brings us to a nice quiet road towards Cheri. The road undulates through a wonderful forest with a couple more steep but short climbs. We pass a large painted stone depicting Guru Rinpoche before a final descent and ascent to a chorten at Cheri. A welcome break and snack stop allows us to refuel before the cycle back to town for lunch. In the afternoon we visit several of the sights in Thimphu by bus. The Memorial Chorten is one of the most visible structures in Thimphu and if it is open we can visit the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the Bhutanese government. Late afternoon we drive up to Buddha Point, a 51m high Buddha statue with great views overlooking the whole of the Thimphu Valley.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Thimphu to Punakha via the Dochu La (3015m) passing 108 stupas with their prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

    An early start today so we can get out of Thimphu before the morning rush hour. The ride starts with a short section of ‘Bhutanese flat’ (i.e. undulating terrain!) for 5km as a warm-up. Across the valley we can see Simthoka dzong and the climb to the pass starts just beyond here. We enter the forest and a great black top road climbs all the way to the pass. Climbing in Bhutan is all about getting into a slow rhythmic pace with time to enjoy the views and stopping for plenty of rests and refreshment breaks. The climb averages 4.8% gradient, so not too steep. Finally, we emerge at the top of the pass, where 108 stupas sit, and thousands of prayer flags flutter in the wind. If the weather is good we may get a glimpse of Gankar Punsum (7570m) which is the highest peak in Bhutan. The top of the pass is 21km into the ride, and the rest of the day is mainly downhill. It is a great 39km descent on good road to Lobesa, where we have lunch. As we descend the scenery and temperature changes as we enter the more sub-tropical Punakha valley. From Lobesa we can see the Chimmi Lhakhang below. This temple was built to honour one of the more folkloric saints of the Bhutanese tradition; Lama Drukpa Kunley. The lama was known for his foul-mouth, alcohol-smelling breath, and insatiable lust towards women, yet he is revered as a great saint by most Bhutanese. It is believed that women who cannot conceive will get pregnant if they are blessed by the wooden phallus in the temple and the phallic paintings on many of the Bhutanese houses are symbolic of him. After lunch it is another 12km undulating ride to Punakha dzong. We will need to change our clothes before visiting this impressive building. Punakha’s small size defies its importance and long history. The dzong in Punakha is used as the government’s winter base due to its lower altitude and warmer weather. It sits at the confluence of the Po and Mo Rivers and is an imposing building dating from the 15th Century. From the dzong we have a short 10 minute drive to our hotel.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Punakha to Phobjikha in the Gangtay Valley (2388m) across the Lawa La Pass (3285m).

    Today is probably the toughest cycling day and the road conditions can be variable. We start cycling from the hotel and the first 13km are undulating to the main road (some of this road was narrow and rough in spring 2018). Once on the main road we head east on the new tarmac road. The next 10km undulates easily to a bridge, from where the long climb towards the Pele La starts. The road climbs constantly as it winds its way up through thick tropical forest with great views of the hills all around us and the buzz of cicadas in the air.. Most of the road is great tarmac up past Nobding. A few kilometres further on we pass the last houses at Dungding Nesa. To the left we can see the trail of the old road which was destroyed by a landslip. We head towards the right on the new road which is partly rough and partly tarmac. 4km from Dungding Nesa we come to a small junction – ahead the main road goes to the top of the Pele La. We turn off the main road here and it is a final steep 1.5km to the top of the Lawa La (65km from Punakha), marked by a large white chorten.  It is probably quite late afternoon by the time we reach the pass and we will need to put some warm layers on for the final hours ride which brings us right down into the Gangtay Valley to Phobjikha; a beautiful glacial area where the rare Black-necked cranes from Tibet spend the winter.

    Simple guesthouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Phobjikha to Pele La (3353m), then a long downhill to Trongsa (2200m).

    This morning we start the day in the bus and drive the 10km to the top of the Lawa La. We get on our bikes at the top of the pass and start with 1.5km downhill to the junction. Joining the main road it is an easy 2.5km, 30 minute climb up to the top of the Pele La at 3353m. This pass crosses the Black Mountains and is the border between Western Bhutan, where we have cycled for the past few days, and Central Bhutan which we now enter. The next 26km is a great winding downhill mostly on good road but with some rougher sections, to Chendebji, where there is a large chorten, modelled on Bodnath in Nepal.  We are now in warmer regions, with lush vegetation and waterfalls by the road. The road continues undulating easily down the valley, mostly on rough but wide road, passing a few settlements to a viewpoint, from where we can see Trongsa right across the valley. The valley is very narrow with the road cut into steep-sided walls with the river far below - it certainly is a dramatic ride. After a stop at a viewpoint it is only 13km more to our hotel (the sting in the tail today is that the last 7km are uphill!).

    Please note that parts of the road from the Pele La have not been finished yet. If there have been heavy rains then parts of the road may be impassable; the leader will determine at what points the group will need to travel in the van but we will attempt to cycle as much as possible. In spring 2018 the group cycled the whole route easily.

    Simple guesthouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Trongsa to Bumthang. Cycle over the Yotong La (3425m) into the Chumey Valley and over the Keke La (2700m) into the spectacular Bumthang Valley (2488m).

    Our last full days cycling, with our final two passes and a great sense of satisfaction as we ride into Bumthang and the end of our journey having ridden halfway across the country. We cycle from the hotel and the climb starts immediately as the road zig zags up into the mountains. It is 28km to the top of the Yotong La at 3425m, and it will take us about 4.5hrs, from where we get great views of the mountains surrounding us and ahead down into the Chumey Valley. We now have 24km of descent into the valley. Dotted with beautiful Bhutanese farmhouses this is a wonderful ride. The valley here is famous for weaving and we may well see some of the locals at their looms. At the end of the valley we come to a junction. Taking the left hand fork the road now winds easily for 4km through a pleasant pine forest to the Keke La, our final pass. From here we have a wonderful descent into the stunning Bumthang Valley. We cycle down through the town of Jakar, with its interesting bazaar and cross the river by bridge. The final 4km takes us easily up the valley to our hotel.

    Please note this section of the road was being worked on in spring 2018. The ascent to the Yotong La was a mixture of good tarmac and rough road. The descent into the Chumey Vally was mostly rough. The ascent of the Keke La and descent into Bumthang was paved old road. By autumn 2018 most of the section to the Yotong La and down should be completed.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Day in Bumthang. Optional festival visit and/or cycle ride depending on the trip departure date.

    Today we have a whole day to explore the Bumthang Valley; by bike and by bus. There is also an opportunity to witness one of Bhutan's famous festivals (specific dates only). The spring departures feature Domkhar or Ura and the early autumn departure features the Jakar festival. Festivals in Bhutan are very colourful affairs and are a celebration of the country's greatest Buddhist saint, Guru Rimpoche. Bhutanese come together during festivals to watch various dances such as the black hat dance or the treasure dance which normally have a long history and tradition going back centuries. Most of these are masked dances and the masks themselves have an important significance. Please note that the festivals in the Bumthang Valley are more local festivals, rather than the larger ones at Paro or Thimphu. Dates, timings and dancing can be changed at the whim of the monks or locals. Please note that we cannot guarantee any local festival.

    If there is a festival we normally visit in the morning and in the afternoon (and for the non-festival departure), for those that wish to join, we will plan an optional cycle ride to Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) which is named after the legend of Pema Lingpa who entered the lake with a butter lamp and returned with treasures and holy books, and the lamp still alight. This holy site, with its bright prayer flags, is a pilgrimage place for many Bhutanese. The round trip is approximately 28km, with 100% paved road. There is also a local brewery to visit, which makes the Red Panda Weiss beer.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Flight to Paro.

    Today we will take an early 25 minute flight to Paro. There are spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain ranges during the flight. (Please note that flights from Bumthang are weather dependent). In Paro we will transfer to our hotel and in the afternoon we can visit Paro dzong and the National Museum. There will also be time to wander round the market.

    Standard Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery.

    On our final full day in Bhutan we will enjoy a hike to one of the most iconic of the countries buildings; the Taktsang (or 'Tiger's Nest') Monastery. This spectacular place is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley and is still today an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Partly destroyed by a fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike to the monastery; enjoying the fantastic views as we ascend. The trail climbs on a rough trail through the forest to the cafeteria, from where we get our first good views of Takstang. After a cup of tea we continue on up. The views get even more spectacular as we get closer. Finally a steep staircase brings us to the entrance. We can visit the temples that are hewn out of cliffs and wonder at how the monastery was built. Descending to the cafeteria, we have lunch before walking down to our bus for the short drive back to Paro. The walk is approximately 12km round trip. You need trainers or walking shoes for the walk. Sticks are available to buy at the car park.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Fly to Kathmandu.

    We transfer to the airport to check in for our flight back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing or shopping. The iconic sights to see in and around Kathmandu include the famous Durbar Square in the heart of the old city, the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, the Hindu temple at Pashupatinath or the large Buddhist stupa, 'Boudha Stupa' at Boudhanath. Further afield is Bhaktapur, a mediaeval city a few miles east of the capital. Bhaktapur has its own Durbar Square with many temples and statues and a maze of narrow streets, which are generally quieter than the capital.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Fly to London.

    End Kathmandu after breakfast. For those on group flights, these depart in the morning and will arrive in the UK the same day.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa is included in the price of the trip (USD40). You will need to send us a clear copy of your passport on booking. We need this in order to organise your Bhutan visa in advance of your arrival. Please make sure that we have a copy no later than 8 weeks before departure. The passport copy can either be sent by post or scanned, in which case it has to be very clear and in colour. If you need to get a new passport for the journey, please apply for this immediately, and send us the copy/scan as soon as you receive your new passport. It is VERY important that the information you give us is 100% correct, and that the copy of the passport you send us is the one on which you will be travelling to Bhutan. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Nepal

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry. If you wish to apply before departure the current visa cost is £20 for a 15-day visa and £35 for a 30-day visa for UK passport holders. The current cost of a visa on arrival is US$25 for 15 days, US$40 for 30 days or if extending your stay $100 for 90 days. All are multiple entry. The visa on arrival fee can be paid for in cash in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros. Application forms are available in the immigration hall (or for electronic passports, there are visa registration machines which, after inserting your passport, automatically fill out a form for you. If you use the machine you will not need a passport photo). You must first join the queue to pay the visa fee and then go to the relevant immigration desk to obtain your 15, 30 or 90-day visa stamp.  If you use the paper form to obtain a visa on arrival then you will also need one passport photo (a photo is not required if you use the electronic registration machines but we recommend you bring one with you anyway in case, for any reason, the machines cannot read your passport). There can be long queues for visas on arrival.

Non UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

Vaccinations

Bhutan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

Eating and Drinking

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 11 lunches and 11 dinners whilst in Bhutan.

The meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. However you will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese) so there will be plenty of nutrients for your cycle rides! 

Breakfasts are an assortment of hot food and fruit, and lunches will either be a hot picnic or taken at a nearby restaurant.

Please allow approximately £20-25 ($30-40) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Weather

You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day temperatures will be approx 10ºC-20ºC. At night temperatures will drop to about 3ºC-4ºC. Although these departures do not fall inside the normal monsoon season there is always a chance of rain in Bhutan and you should be prepared for this. The weather can be much colder on the high passes and it is important to be prepared with extra layers for this.

Please note that the weather chart shown gives averages only and actual temperatures and rainfall may be above or below the figures shown.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified: Road

We have made the decision to classify this trip as a 'road' cycling trip. The majority of the cycling is on paved road (75% tarmac and 25% unpaved) but the unpaved roads are often in poor condition and can be heavily affected by weather conditions.

Most of the riding you will experience will be largely on a road shared with other vehicles. 

Road improvements in Bhutan

Please be aware Bhutan is undergoing a general road project to improve and widen the highway from West to East. Whilst there will be works and the occasional delay (in particular between Trongsa and Bumthang) during the months we run this trip, we do not anticipate that any of the roads will be closed to traffic at any time. Bad weather can often affect the roads and cause delays; these will be communicated to you by your leaders and we will attempt to keep any delay to a minimum. Road conditions can be changeable, and it is important to come with an open mind and flexibility when cycling in Bhutan. If the weather has been bad, and parts of the roads are too muddy, the leader will reserve the right to miss out sections and take the van instead. We will avoid doing this as much as possible, but there may be some circumstances where this is the only realistic option.

Activity Level: 5 (Challenging) 8 days cycling, average 62km/day (38.5 miles), 100% vehicle support.

This is a Challenging bike trip with 8 days cycling (including 1 optional ride). There are 5 passes over 3000m and some of the climbs are long, although the gradients are mostly between 4% and 5%, so making it up the passes is about riding slow and steady. There are plenty of great descents and we have a support vehicle at all times. You will need a good level of cycling fitness to be able to enjoy this tour. The trip starts in Paro, which sits at an altitude of 2195m. There are many days of climbs and descents, and whilst you will not be sleeping at altitude some of the passes are just under 4000m. It is important to take this into consideration when booking on this trip. Each ride is fully vehicle supported so if at any time you struggle with the altitude you can take a break.

Travelling in Bhutan

Travelling in Bhutan is still in its infancy. All foreigners must travel through an official travel agent and be accompanied by a Bhutanese guide. Exodus uses well trained Bhutanese guides, but please be aware that the guides are sometimes restricted in what they are allowed to do and where they are allowed to take you. Bhutan is a beautiful and special place to visit. The daily rate is relatively expensive but a large proportion of this goes to the government in the form of a tax which provides free education and healthcare for all Bhutanese people. Please do not expect luxury just because a trip to Bhutan is a more expensive destination.

The hotels we use are simple and clean with heaters, hot water and attached bathrooms. At times we use small guesthouse-type accommodation which we feel is more representative of the area you are travelling in. Many of the hotels and restaurants we will visit offer a buffet lunch with a mix of Bhutanese and Continental food. Some visitors do find the food a little bland; please ask your leader if you would like to try other food and they can try and accommodate your wishes.

Tiger's Nest Hike

This half-day hike (approx. 12km) is up to an elevation of just over 3000 metres. The total ascent is around 900m. The path is good, but when it is/has been wet it can get slippy; good walking shoes are recommended (i.e. with good grip). 

Bhutan’s Festivals

Tibetan Buddhism is the religion practised by most of the people in Bhutan. This religion puts emphasis on the role of teachers or ‘lamas’ and the importance of ritual, and is imbued with a rich visual symbolism which is clearly seen at festivals. The main religious festivals are known as ‘Tsechus’ and many of the major monasteries throughout Bhutan have their own annual Tsechu. They are held in honour of the Guru Rinpoche, generally accepted as the great teacher who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, and they typically last for 3 to 5 days. Each of the Tsechus includes a number of dances involving large numbers of participants dressed in ornate silk costumes. Each dance has a special significance and some are intended to give moral instruction, others are designed to drive away evil spirits, while others simply celebrate the Buddhist faith in its many guises. Each departure of this itinerary will visit a different festival and try and take in as much of the local festivities as possible. See the detailed itinerary for more information.

Smoking

Please note that smoking is technically banned in Bhutan. Tourists are permitted to smoke in certain designated areas but must bring their own cigarettes (up to 200 cigarettes). They must, however, pay duty on any tobacco product they import (up to 200% tax). Smoking in a public place can result in a fine as long you have proof of having paid the duty. If no proof of having paid the duty can be produced then there is the risk of a minimum 3 years imprisonment.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

13 nights tourist class hotels and guesthouses, all accommodation is en suite. The hotels are simple, local style hotels. All rooms have attached bathrooms and the rooms have heaters. All food is included at the hotels and local restaurants and is usually buffet style – it is simple and a mixture of Bhutanese, continental and Chinese.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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  • Reviewed August 2018
    Graham Brodie

    Brilliant biking in Bhutan.

    A wonderful trip through some amazing and unexpected countryside, with plenty of hills and friendly people, and a very rich culture.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Descending from misty heights of the Dochula pass into almost tropical conditions through the forests below.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were very fortunate in almost having two leaders, a very new leader who worked hard to make our trip good, and we were accompanied by a senior Exodus guide on the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were concerned about altitude sickness on the trip, but the maximum ascent of 4000m didn't seem to cause a problem, there were plenty of "snack breaks" on the way up the climbs. We were also concerned about dogs, and potential "rabies" threat. There were many dogs but during the day they seem to be docile , sleeping and uninterested, but after dark, in both town and countryside, they seem to hoard and then yelp and bark all night long, so you'll need quality ear plugs!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip was pricey, but that's how the country raises money for its social and healthcare systems, and pretty much everything was include, we felt well looked after.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Rosie Wych

    Bhutan

    Tremendous trip from start to finish. Fantastic country which was a privilege to visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No one thing as many aspects were memorable - some major like the scenery, buildings etc but rounded off by the friendliness of the people, dogs, lack of traffic and for a vegetarian - wonderful food.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All the Staff were great - it was a bonus to have both Valerie and the excellent Bhutanese leader - supported by the 2 drivers whose smiling support with endless tea and snacks along the way made cycling easy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling is hard work but can be done at an easy pace. The trip notes were being reviewed during the trip and will benefit from the update with accurate route details and other advice. Warm clothing certainly needed for long descents.Hotels were surprisingly good.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A very different type of Asia to the preconceived notion of poverty and squalor - brought home by passing through Kathmandu on the way home.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Richard Christie

    Bhutan - a cycle to savour

    Great cycling through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside on quiet roads - both wide and narrow. Some ups, some undulations and some superb descents. Despite the advent of technological ‘innovation’ such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi, Bhutan still retains the quiet serenity I remember from my first visit 14 years ago. Interspersed with the cycling there are opportunities to experience some fantastic Dzongs (temples), wonder at superb views and marvel at the colourful festival dancing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many moments which will stay with me for a while: reaching the top of the Chele la (pass); walking round the immense Buddha statue on the hill overlooking Thimpu; the visit to the very impressive Punakha Dzong; the cycle out from the Gangtey Valley - site of the most memorable hotel on the trip; visiting the festival dancing at Chhumey; the cycle back from Chhumey to Bumthang. Not forgetting the walk up to the Tigers Nest!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Bhutanese guide Sangay Dorji was excellent, demonstrating his immense knowledge of Bhutanese culture & history and ensuring we got the most of the trip. Being the first running of this trip he was assisted by additional staff from India, including Tapesh Choubisa as our cycling guide and Rajesh Razdan as head bike mechanic who were also very good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do read the Trip Notes! As they indicate you cycle over some high passes and you need to be a bit flexible regarding where the cycling starts and ends each day to take account of the ongoing road improvements across the country and weather conditions. For example one of our days was cut short whilst we waited for a landslide to be cleared.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is not a cheap trip thanks to the cost of spending any time in Bhutan however the benefit is quiet roads, fantastic views and meeting wonderful friendly people along the way. Don’t delay going too long. On the plus side the local beer in Bhutan is half the price of beer in Kathmandu!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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