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Ride Info

Ride Overview

Bhutan - The Last Buddhist Kingdom

  • Arrival
  • 11/13/2024
  • Departure
  • 11/23/2024
  • Ride Coordinator
  • Pamela Kelly
  • Tour Company
  • We Adventure Ltd
  • Starting Location
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Finishing Location
  • Paro, Bhutan
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $5900
  • Deposit
  • $2000
  • Number of Riders
  • 16 (min. 10 /max. 17)
  • Space Available
  • 1
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating

4B

Sorry, no map available.

† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $85 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

Ride Coordinator Comments

Have opening for a male room-mate.

Ride Description

The tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan is often described as the Switzerland of Asia, with rugged and breathtaking natural beauty rivalled only by a deep spirituality.  It’s no wonder that the tiny mystical nation is synonymous with dragons. The defining principle of Bhutanese government is the concept of Gross National Happiness, and puts the happiness of the people above all other considerations.  This idea has been copied by fortune 500 companies seeking to replicate the unique environment of one of the happiest nations in the world.

In order to meet visa conditions, the adventure starts on Wednesday, November 13, 2024 in Bangkok (BKK), before flying together to Paro (PBH), and continuing for 11 days/ 10 nights. Our fully supported and guided adventure takes us on a journey through the culture, religion and nature of Bhutan, both by bike and on foot, crossing a number of the highest passes (including the country's highest motorable road, now made accessible following a 3 year total renovation of the road system).  Our route crosses glacial rivers, passes through bucolic villages and explores traditional mountain monasteries frozen in time.  To enjoy the best lodges and roads, we remain in the western and central parts of Bhutan.  Our circuitous journey offers a cross section of Bhutanese life, ending at the kingdom's most religious site, the Tiger’s Nest.  On Saturday, November 23, 2024 in Paro (PBH), our Bhutan adventure ends with a group transfer to Paro airport . There are multiple onward international options from Paro, including return flights to the US, or onwards to destinations in Asia and Europe.

Our Bhutan ride is supported by WeAdventure, a specialist adventure travel company, with the experience, knowledge and expertise to carry out this once in a lifetime experience.  We will each be contributing to the Gross National Happiness. As the ride cost includes a sustainable development contribution of US$900/Person. This goes towards the country's healthcare, environmental and education efforts/projects. Healthcare and education are free of charge in the Kingdom.  Bhutan is a carbon negative country.

Daily Breakdown (Meals Provided (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, HH=Happy Hour)) 

Day 1 (Wed Nov 13th) - Arrival in Bangkok, City of Angels

Check in today at the Novotel Suvarnabhumi, take a dip in the pool, or ride on the world class cycling track just minutes from your door. Bike rentals are available at the free track facility with a passport or ID card.  In the evening we will meet for a Welcome Happy Hour and introductions.

●      Distance: (Cycle Track 23kms/14.2 miles per lap)

●      Hotel: Novotel Suvarnabhumi

●      Meals:(-/-/-/HH)

Day 2 (Thu Nov 14th) Flight to Paro, Dzong Tour & Bike fitting

Our adventure starts right away, as we fly into the Himalayas and the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.  The flight to Paro alone offers views of the world's highest peaks. The airport sits at an altitude of 2280m/7,500ft ASL.  Our team will meet us on arrival and transfer us to check in at our hotel.

The unique architecture of Bhutan is expressed in the form of Dzongs, colossal structures used as a fortress or monastery and the seat of the ruler in former times.  Despite the simple construction methods, these gigantic citadels continue to function as both the centre of religion and government. In the afternoon, we take a tour of the city's famous Dzongs, including Taa Dzong (where the national museum showcases its finest specimens). As a former watchtower, the building offers panoramic views across the valley. Later we visit the Rinpung Dzong, the fortress/monastery of Paro, known as the fortress of the jewel heap, where we will get our first glimpse into the spirituality that is so prevalent in Bhutan.

After the end of the day's activities, we return to our hotel for a bike fitting ahead of our ride tomorrow. This evening we will get to know our team, ask any questions, and hear about the adventure awaiting us over a happy hour and hearty welcome meal.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 2,200m / 7,200ft

●      Hotel: Gangtey Palace

●      Meals: (B/L/D/HH)

Day 3 (Fri Nov 15th) -  Ride to Thimpu

After breakfast, we ride our bikes to the capital of Bhutan. Thimphu is a fascinating combination of traditional and contemporary life. With a population of only 100,000, the town is made up of just three streets of shops. It is the only capital in the world without traffic lights and, at 2300m, it is also one of the highest capital cities on the planet.

Our support team of riding guides, mechanics and support drivers will offer assistance, refreshments and encouragement throughout the trip. We will make regular stops along the way to enjoy the scenery of rice fields, apple orchards and wayside markets framed by snowy peaks in the distance, We arrive in Thimphu just in time for a traditional lunch.

The afternoon is spent off the bikes, on a cultural sightseeing excursion of the capital sights, including the largest seated statue of the buddha in the world, the walled fortress of Thimphu and the national memorial stupa.  Later in the evening there will be time to take a stroll in the town and experience the pleasant calm of Bhutanese life.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 2,300m / 7,500ft

●      Distance: 35 miles +492 ft cycle / 1 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Thimphu Towers

●      Meals:(B/L/D/-)

Day 4 (Sat Nov 16th) - Thimpu to Punaka over the Dochula Pass

Our first Himalayan challenge today will ease us into the mountains as we embark on a  scenic ride to Punakha over the Dochula pass (3050m/10,000ft). Weather permitting, this pass offers panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan ranges. At the pinnacle, we visit a site of 108 stupas, built to honor His Majesty the King, world peace and for the benefit of all living beings.

Following the conquest of Dochula we are rewarded with an exciting 40km downhill through a nature reserve all the way to the alluvial Punakha Valley.  We'll stop by wayside farmers' markets to sample fresh organic produce and take lunch at a café popular for its locally sourced vegetables. After lunch we take a short walk to chimi lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the divine madman.  Drukpa Kinleyis the saint of fertility, and inherited the divine madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism of the time and for the unusual teaching methods he practiced. The saint is highly revered across the country as a symbol of fertility; even to this day most childless couples visit this temple to seek blessings. On our return we explore the surrounding villages to experience slow life in a farming village.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 1200m / 3,900ft

●      Distance: 46 miles +2670 ft cycle / 1 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Four Boutique Hotel

●      Meals:(B/L/D/HH)

Day 5 (Sun Nov 17th) - Bike & Hike Punakha

We begin today with a short ride offering spectacular views of the river valley below, where life along the riverside is unchanged.   Next we must cross over the longest and highest suspension footbridge in the country, 200m above the Pho River.

Leaving our bikes, we then explore the architectural grandeur of the Punakha Dzong, known as the “castle of great happiness”. The fortress comprises a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers, Phochu (male river) and Mochu (female river). Punakha served as capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan`s first king was crowned in this Dzong in 1907 and it continues to be the venue of choice for all historic national events, such as coronations and royal weddings.

After a picnic lunch by the tranquil Punakha riverside, we will hike to the Khamsum Yuley namgay chorten.  A temple located in the idyllic countryside north of Punakha.

The temple was built by the Queen mother as a dedication for world peace and to benefit all living beings.  It is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture and iconography. Our return walk traces along the riverside, following an ancient trail through farmlands and the countryside homes of Sonagasa village.

For thrill seekers, there is an alternative optional activity to the afternoon hike, spending the afternoon rafting on the Punakha river. The Pho Chu, with its approx 16 km course has about 15 rapids of class 2-4 is the most popular for rafting in Bhutan.

●      Altitude : 1200m / 3,900ft

●      Distance: 13 miles +580 ft cycle / 1 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Four Boutique

●      Meals:(B/L/D/HH)

Day 6 (Mon Nov 18th) Gangtey - Valley of the Cranes

Today we climb on our bikes to Lawala Pass at 3,300m/10,800ft. Our support vans and guides will be on hand for assistance and encouragement along the way.  We stop briefly at the pass for refreshments before an exhilarating descent into the enchanting glacial geography of Gangtey Valley.

We begin our tour of Gangtey with the exquisite Gangtey monastery, a 16th century structure exemplifying traditional craftsmanship and architecture at its best. In the afternoon we visit the crane observation center to learn about these majestic cranes and their association with local folklore. There will be time this afternoon to enjoy a walk around the enchanting valley and immerse in tranquility.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 3000m / 9,800ft

●      Distance: 37 miles +5200 ft cycle / 1/2 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Dewachen

●      Meals:(B/L/D/-)

Day 7 (Tue Nov 19th) Crane Trek & Traditional Spa 

Gangtey is famed for its pristine environment, quaint villages and scenic walking trails. Today we stay mainly on nature trails traversing the ecologically diverse roosting area of highly endangered black necked cranes. The cranes flock to this valley during the winter months and stay until April before returning to the Tibetan plateau.  For lunch, we will enjoy a picnic prepared with fresh ingredients from nearby farms.  Afterwards, we will explore the farms towards the southern end of the valley before returning to the hotel to prepare for a special evening. As the sun sets, we will experience soaking in a traditional herbal hot stone bath to soothe and relax tired muscles from the hiking and riding.

●      Altitude : 3000m / 9,800ft

●      Distance: 15 miles +720 ft cycle / 1 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Dewachen

●      Meals:(B/L/D/-)

Day 8 (Wed Nov 20th) Ride to Wangdiphodrang & descent to Paro 

Today we ride to Wangdiphodrang, then retrace our steps by vehicle to the Dochula pass, where we will disembark and enjoy a downhill ride all the way to Paro. We cover around 43 miles in total, and as always will make plenty of stops for rest and refreshments before arriving in Paro in the early afternoon.

Today, we will be heading to one of the only craft breweries in the country. We'll learn about the art of Bhutanese beer making, followed a sampling of the craft beverages on offer, such as the red rice beer, IPA, pilsner and cider.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 2200m / 7,200ft

●      Distance: 45 miles +1220 ft cycle / 1/2 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Gangtey Palace

●      Meals:(B/L/D/HH)

Day 9 (Thu Nov 21st) Chelela Pass Hike & Downhill from Highest Motorable Road

Today we take a short nature drive to the Chelela pass, located at an elevation of 3900m, the highest motorable road in Bhutan. The Chelai la region is a pristine area known for its luxuriant forests, mountain views, birds and wildlife. After exploring the alpine environment of the pass, we take a short hike to a nunnery in the vicinity.  From Chelai la we start our ride on a 32 Km downhill road, this section is often quoted as one of the best 1 day rides in the world, and showcases the variation in climate and environment afforded by such a mountainous region.

This evening, we can take a stroll at leisure.  Explore the town or enjoy some quiet reflection ahead of the spiritual adventure coming tomorrow.

●      Altitude : 2200m / 7,200ft

●      Distance: 21 miles +500 ft cycle to 39 miles +4300 ft cycle / 1/2 hrs walk

●      Hotel: Gangtey Palace

●      Meals:(B/L/D/-)

Day 10 (Fri Nov 22nd) The Tiger's Nest

After breakfast today we will enjoy one of the absolute highlights of our adventure, and of Bhutan.  After a short drive north, we set off on a hike to Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger's Nest), Bhutan's most recognizable cultural icon, perched 800m (2640ft) up a seemingly sheer cliff.  According to legend, in the 8th Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Bhutan arrived at the spot on the back of a tigress and meditated there in a cave. The site is recognized as the most spiritual among all the sites in Bhutan and many eminent saints have meditated in this power-spot. It is visited by most Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime and is a popular pilgrimage site of the himalayas.

Before heading back to the valley, we will take lunch at a scenic viewpoint, offering a view out across the clouds or the valleys below.

Tonight, we will share a celebratory farewell dinner and reminisce deeply on our adventures and experiences.

●      Sleeping Altitude : 2200m 

●      Distance:  5 hrs walk/ 2.5Miles / 2,460ft

●      Hotel: Gangtey Palace

●      Meals:(B/L/D/HH)

Day 11 (Sat Nov 23rd) Farewell Bhutan, Departure

After breakfast we will transfer to the airport. It is recommended to check in at least two hours prior to flight departure, to ensure the best seats on board to take in the panoramic views of the Himalayas.

●      Distance: NA

●      Hotel: NA

●      Meals:(B/-)

 Entry Conditions

Visas are issued on arrival, but a preclearance must be obtained via WeAdventure.  At the time of writing visa procedures have returned to pre pandemic status.  As usual, all nationalities require a passport, valid for at least 6 months from date of entry.

Health and Safety: Vaccinations for Covid are recommended, but not required. Prior to the Covid19 outbreak, no additional vaccinations were required to visit Bhutan. Post covid, it is always possible that a vaccination certificate or at least negative covid test requirement could be reinstated, but at the time of writing there is no such requirement. When travelling to Bhutan you should consider making sure that Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Tetanus shots are up to date. Rabies could be considered as a very high level of caution, however it is extremely unlikely.

Participants are expected to come to the tour in good health and ready to ride. Should someone's health become compromised and the group’s health and safety placed in jeopardy, a plan will be developed by the ride leader(s) and communicated to all individuals.  The plan will identify possible actions for dealing with persons with an infectious disease on the tour that could affect their ability to ride or the health of others in the group. The plan will include items such as isolation protocols, testing, masking, distancing, and leaving the tour. The expectation is for the group to work together to mitigate any spread of infection or illness as a means to ensure the tour can continue as planned.

Rating, Pacing and Terrain: This ride is rated ‘4B’. In total, we cover just over 200miles, and climb +18,500ft, over 6 riding days and several hikes.  Bike rental is included in the cost, thus saving additional logistics.  Rides are achievable for an experienced cyclist with a good level of fitness.  The terrain is all on quiet roads in good condition. Bhutan is a Himalayan Kingdom, and as such we will cover several iconic climbs, but grades are usually not over 6%.  Throughout the ride we will have vehicle support available and riding guides on hand.  On several nights, the group will sleep at higher altitudes, however the itinerary slowly acclimates over time. 

Cue sheets, maps, GPS files: GPS files will be provided prior to the ride. 

Weather: November is one of the best months to visit Bhutan, with temperatures in Paro and Thimpu between 70 and 55°F. At higher altitudes the temperatures are noticeably cooler, ranging from 65 to 50°F. For riding, layers to start rides in the morning, and peel off in the warmth of the day is the best strategy. Windproof jackets are essential for downhill rides.  Carry a light windproof or showerproof jacket at all times.  Sturdy shoes for hiking are also recommended Support vehicles are always on hand to carry day bags which can be accessed easily.

Lodging & Meals: Included will be daily breakfast, 9 group lunches and 9 group dinners.  There will be 6 Happy Hours. Accommodation Our adventure in Bhutan uses a range of accommodations, from our deluxe hotel in Bangkok, to family run accommodations and guesthouses. The accommodations are often small, local and family-run and always friendly and with a personal touch. Their style varies from simple to boutique.

Meals: Bhutanese food is hearty and includes stews and a range of cooked vegetables.  Much of the country is vegetarian, but we will always have some meat or chicken available with our meals.  Chilli and Cheese is a national dish and adds a little spice to the proceedings.

Logistics: The tour will begin Wednesday November 13th, 2024 at Happy Hour at 6pm in Bangkok at our first hotel and end after breakfast in Paro, Bhutan on Saturday November 23rd 2024. Transfers from the airport in Bangko are available at the Novotel desk by Gate 4.  Transfer to Paro airport is included after breakfast on the last day only. Bike rental is included in the cost, but for those bringing their own bikes, bike box storage is available at the start and end hotel in Bhutan.

Bikes: Due to the logistics of this ride and flight, our trip cost includes rental of a Cannondale CX3 hybrid bike, with Shimano gears, disc brakes and a touring front shock.  Following the recently completed renovation of the country's entire road network, the hybrid bike is the ideal machine to balance climbing gears and safe descending capabilities on the quiet mountain roads.

If you insist upon bringing your own bike, this should be requested in advance.  In which case, a lightweight Touring or Hybrid bike, or Gravel bike would be suitable. Tandems can be accomodated, but advance notification is required. Limited ebike rentals are available on special request, at an cost of approx 750USD for the whole trip. If bringing your own bike, please make sure that you bring sufficient parts to maintain the bike in good order throughout the ride. 

N.B. WeAdventure requests that all riders bring their own helmets for hygiene reasons.

Trekking Equipment: Trekkers should have good quality hard soled trekking boots/shoes, light rain gear, swimwear, sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen and a 30–40 litre daysack. Walking sticks are recommended, but wooden sticks are available for rent at the Tiger's Nest.

Cost & Administration, Inclusions, Payments & Cancellations: Total tour cost is $ 5900 USD per person, based on sharing a room. $2000 is due at tour sign-up and a second payment of $2000 is due April 5, 2024. Final payment is due August 5, 2024 for $1900. The final payment may be reduced as participation levels increase over the minimum required.

Our tour cost already includes a sustainable development contribution of USD $900; This mandatory contribution goes to the country's healthcare, environmental and education efforts/projects.

Total tour cost is per person, based on sharing a room. If you do not have a riding partner, we will do our best to assign one to you. Singles are welcome, and solo rooms are available on request at a surcharge of USD $1150 per room.

The cost includes:

●      Bhutan Tourist Visa

●      Bhutan sustainable development contribution ($900 per person)

●      Arrival and departure drop off

●      Accommodation as listed

●      Flight ticket from Bangkok to Paro (flight ticket is one way, a return can usually be arranged for 550-750 USD est.)

●      10 nights accommodation with 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners

●      6 Happy Hours

●      Guiding and support services, transfers as listed

●      Bike rental of Cannondale CX3 or similar for entire trip

●      Entry fees when mentioned

●      Snacks & drinks whilst riding

The cost does not include:

●      International and domestic airfares not mentioned

●      Soft drinks with meals

●      Alcoholic beverages (outside of happy hours)

●      Gratuities and Tips for Guides and Drivers, Porters etc. (guidelines for tipping will be provided prior to departure)

●      Optional activities mentioned in the itinerary

Cancellation Policy: The BAC Ride Registration Fee and Payment Processing Fees are not refundable unless the entire tour is canceled because the number of participants registered is less than the minimum established for the tour. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations. If the canceling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. If the canceling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined as per the WeAdventure policy below. If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped the canceling roommate may also be liable for the solo supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour. BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.

●      120+ days : Admin Expenses Incurred*

●      46 – 119 days: 1,485 USD

●      8 – 45 days: 2,475 USD

●      0 – 7 days: No refund cancellation policy applies.

*Admin Expenses are generally calculated as 150 USD, to cover bank fees and admin, unless additional non recoverable supplier costs must also be deducted.

Money & Expenses: The local currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum.  It's a good idea to have some cash on you for incidentals, either in USD or better yet some local currency (BTN).  ATMs, are not common in Bhutan, and hotel money changers rates can fluctuate especially in remote areas. Most ATMs will accept foreign cards.  Having some US dollars in cash will enable you to change some money if needed. Local currency is accepted everywhere.

Thailand & Bhutan Entry Conditions: At the time of writing, Thailand is giving visa free arrivals for 45 days to citizens of most countries including USA & Canada.  Bhutan visas are issued on arrival, but a preclearance must be obtained via WeAdventure.  The WeAdventure office will contact riders in advance to complete the visa applications and request the various documents required (basic insurance, scanned passport, scanned photo & declaration.)  At the time of writing visa procedures have returned to pre pandemic status.  As usual, all nationalities require a passport, valid for at least 6 months from date of entry.

Singles & Solos Policy: It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until September 5, 2024 to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC Ride Registration Fee and Payment Processing Fee) or pay the Solo Supplement  of $ 1150 and stay on the ride. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match singles who apply for the ride. Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office by September 10, 2024. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check. They should be mailed to: Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193.

 

Ride Participant Responsibility: Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from the Ride Leader. While on the ride, support your Ride Leader with offers to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation and cleanup. Please do not interfere with the ride by inviting non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour. Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you might have and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.

Advisory – Outside USA Tours - Before participating in any BAC tour, you should assess whether your medical and travel insurance coverage is sufficient. BAC maintains insurance that covers expenses related to accidents, medical emergencies such as sudden and unexpected sickness, and repatriation. This coverage applies when touring outside the US and your home country, regardless of your nationality. It will cover you door-to-door for a maximum of 90 days but will expire if you make a side trip not related to the BAC tour for more than 7 days before or after. There is limited coverage for a family member to join a covered person in an emergency. The policy covers the cost of treatment for Covid and other unexpected illnesses, but not the quarantine. Coverage is subject to $1000 deductible. You should ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.

 Sign-up: To register for this ride, use the sign-up links just above the Ride Description. After preliminary acceptance, you will be moved to the pending list and receive an email requesting you to go back to the BAC site to digitally accept the terms of the Release of Liability (ROL) and pay the Tour Deposit and the non-refundable BAC Ride Registration Fee by credit card. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List. BAC members with questions may contact the Ride Director by "clicking" the name at the top of this Ride Description.

 


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