10 Day Tour of the Dragon

Held on the first Saturday of September every year as the monsoons have just ended and the cool, crisp autumn weather is just starting to set in as the heat of summer fades, it is a perfect time to race. An extremely challenging mountain bike race that takes participants through central and western Bhutan, covering 268 kilometers of absolutely stunning Himalayan landscapes

Newspaper coverage: A Higher State of Being by Jody Rosen, NYT T Magazine

Arrival in Paro, Bhutan

Elevation 2,280 m | Weather in Paro


Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine before visiting Rinpung Dzong, the locals call the ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. Then, proceed to the first National Museum known as the Ta Dzong which is on a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong. Next, drive north of Paro Valley. We will be visiting Drukyal Dzong, built in 1647 by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan.

Hotels:

Tenzinling Resort

Metta Resort & Spa

Nak-Sel Boutique & Spa

Uma Paro

Paro to Bumthang

Elevation 2,600 m - 4,000 m | Weather in Bumthang


In the morning, take the domestic flight to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. A day hike to Tamshing Goemba, built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. Then, visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Head to Jambay Lhakhang, built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Thereafter, visit Jakar Dzong, built as a monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung.

Hotels:

Rinchen Ling Resort

Valley Resort

Jakar Village Lodge

Tour of the Dragon, Bumthang to Thimphu

Elevation 2,320 m | Weather in Thimphu


Today is the day for the Tour of the Dragon mountain bike race. Starting in Bumthang, Central Bhutan the race travels 268 kilometres across four high mountain passes ranging 1,200 m to 3,340 m before concluding at the clock tower in the capital of Thimphu, Western Bhutan. Follow the Bumthang Chhu 2,610 m and then climb to Kiki La 2,950 m to Yotongla 3,425 m and reach Pelela 3,390 m, followed by Dochula 3,116 m. After Dochula, it is all downhill to Thimphu 2, 320 m with a small climb only to the clock tower at Thimphu city square.

Hotels:

Dorji Elements

Hotel Norbuling

Le Meridien Thimphu

Taj Tashi Thimphu

Sightseeing in Thimphu

Elevation 2,320 m | Weather in Thimphu


In the morning, head to Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and admire the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha makes it one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world. Then, meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten, consecrated on July 28, 1974, in memory of the Third King. Chorten means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Next, visit Thimphu Dzong, the “fortress of the glorious religion”, constructed in 1641 and restored by the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Thereafter, head to Institute of Zorig Chusum, also commonly known as the school of the Thirteen Arts.

Hotels:

Dorji Elements

Hotel Norbuling

Namgay Heritage

Le Meridien Thimphu

Thimphu to Punakha

Elevation 1,300 m | Weather in Punakha


Dochula Pass - The 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.

Chhimi Lhakhang - A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.

Punakha Dzong - Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten - Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture.

 

Hotels:

Hotel Lobesa

Dhensa Boutique Resorts

Uma Punakha

Punakha to Gangtey to Punakha

Elevation 3,000 m | Weather in Gangtey


The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black-necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century. Today we will do some short hikes around the valley of Phobjikha. Head back to Punakha for the night stay over.

 

Hotels:

Hotel Lobesa

Dhensa Boutique Resorts

Uma Punakha

Punakha to Thimphu

Elevation 2,320 m | Weather in Thimphu


Head to Heritage Museum which was built to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artefacts used in rural households. Next, you will witnesses the art of papermaking at Papermaking Factory and witnesses the art of traditional weaving at Textile Museum. On the way to the viewpoint over Thimphu is the home of Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, a strange looking beast some say looks like a bee stung moose. Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Simtokha Dzong the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.

 

Hotels:

Dorji Elements

Hotel Norbuling

Namgay Heritage

Taj Tashi Thimphu

Le Meridien Thimphu

Thimphu to Haa to Paro

Elevation 2,280 m | Weather in Paro


Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988m). From the pass you can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. You can also have a picnic at Chele La if you like to. In Haa, some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visiting the Katso Lhakhang. The valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped in keeping Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley so we return back to Paro for the night.

After a day of hiking, perhaps its to explore the main street of Paro town and check out if there's anything you will like to pick up as a souvenir!

 

Hotels:

Tenzinling Resort

Metta Resort & Spa

Nak-Sel Boutique & Spa

Uma Paro

Paro

Elevation 2,280 m | Weather in Paro


An one hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the Taktsang Monastery. Prayer flags adorn the cliffs and this is also where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After a sumptuous local lunch, we will retrace our steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
 

Hotels:

Tenzinling Resort

Metta Resort & Spa

Nak-Sel Boutique & Spa

Uma Paro

Departure from Paro

Elevation 2,280 m | Weather in Paro


Today we will bid fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early flight back to Singapore. We hope by now you would have made some friends and also kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments! Tashi Delek!

 





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