Bhutan Group Bicycle Tours in 2015

IMG_9268If you have contemplated bicycle touring Bhutan in 2015, this is your chance to join one of our scheduled departures in the spring. Both in April, the first is a 10 day itinerary and the second a 7 day itinerary. The second may be overall slightly easier than the first but the rating is relative as all tours in Bhutan are fully supported and should the cycling get too tough for you, you can always get off the bike and ride in the comfort of our support vehicle. For more info, see the following pages:

Paro to Bumthang, Bhutan Biking Tour
April 1 – 11, 2015

Bhutan cycling tour to Rhododendron Festival
April 14 – 21, 2015

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BHUTAN BY BICYCLE: Cycling Across Land of the Thunder Dragon

BHUTAN BY BICYCLE: Cycling Across Land of the Thunder Dragon

This is a straightforward guide to cycling across Bhutan. It describes the journey starting from Siliguri in West Bengal, a day’s ride from Phuentsholing, the south-western gateway to Bhutan, and ending the trip in Guwahati, the capital of Assam, a day’s ride from Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan’s border town in the extreme south-eastern corner of the country.

Available at Amazon, Kindle Edition.

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Bhutan Festivals 2015

Below please find an update on 2015 Tentative Festival Dates in Bhutan. The dates updated are Thanbi Mani and Pema Gathsel Tsechu. Added were Peling Tsechu, to be held from 29th – 31st March 2015 at Wangdichoeling Palace in Bumthang. Highlighted are the most popular festivals and events we recommend.

Bhutan Festival Dates 2015 Festival or Event Location
21 FEB Takin Festival Gasa
22 FEB Nomad Festival Bumthang
23 FEB Bhutan Marathon Gasa to Punakha Dzong
23-27 FEB Punakha Drubchen Punakha
28 FEB-2 MAR Punakha Tshechu Punakha
5 MAR Tharpaling Thongdrol Chummi, Bumthang
5 & 20 MAR Chhorten Kora Trashi Yangtse
27-29 MAR Gomphukora Trashigang
27-29 MAR Talo Tshechu Talo Punakha
27-30 MAR Gasa Tshechu Gasa
27-30 MAR Zhemgang Tshechu Zhemgang
29-31 MAR Peling Tshechu Choekhor, Bumthang
31 MAR-4 APR Paro Tshechu Paro
18-20 APR Rhododendron Festival Dochu La
28-30 APR Domkhar Tshechu Chummi, Bumthang
30 APR-4 MAY Ura Yakchoe Ura, Bumthang
24-26 JUN Nimalung Tshechu Chummi, Bumthang
26 JUN Kurjey Tshechu Choekhor, Bumthang
5 JUL Haa Summer Festival Haa
22-23 AUG Masutaki Mushroom Festival Ura, Bumthang
5 SEP Tour Of The Dragon (bicycle race) Bumthang to Thimphu
19 SEP Thimphu Drubchen Thimphu
21-23 SEP Wangdue Tshechu Wangduephodrang
26-28 SEP Gangtey Tshechu Phobjikha
23-25 SEP Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Choekhor, Bumthang
23-25 SEP Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu 
27-29 SEP Thangbi Mani Choekhor, Bumthang
20-22 OCT Chhukha Tshechu Chhukha
21-23 OCT Jakar Tshechu Choekhor, Bumthang
25-27 OCT Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel
27-30 OCT Jambay Lhakhang Drup Choekhor, Bumthang
28-30 OCT Prakhar Duchhoed Chummi, Bumthang
11 NOV Crane Festival Phobjikha
18-21 NOV Mongar Tshechu Mongar
19-22 NOV Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang
25 NOV Jambay Lakhang Singye Cham Choekhor, Bumthang
25-27 NOV Nalakhar Tshechu Choekhor, Bumthang
13 DEC Druk Wangyel Tshechu Dochu La
20-22 DEC Trongsa Tshechu Trongsa
20-22 DEC Lhuntse Tshechu Lhuntse
25-27 DEC Nabji Lhakhang Drup Nabji, Trongsa

More on the main Tsechu and Dromche festivals in Bhutan:

Punakha Dromche
Punakha Tsechu
Chorten Kora
Gom Kora
Paro Tsechu
Ura Yakchoe
Nimalung & Kurjey Tsechu
Tamshing Phala Festival
Thimphu Dromche
Thimphu Tsechu
Wangdue Tsechu
Tangbi Mani
Jambay Lhakang Drub
Mongar Tshechu
Tashigang Tshechu
Trongsa Tshechu

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Road passes on Bhutan cycling traverse

Crossing Shertang La

There are 13 passes to cross cycling from Phuensholing to Samdrup Jogkhar. The highest pass is Chele La, almost 4,000 meters ASL, but the road is excellent and thus the pass may not seem as being terribly difficult to scale. That designation belongs to Pele La, the thirds highest pass in Bhutan, namely on account of the bad road leading up to it.

While there is a high pass to cross on almost every stage, it is not just the climbs to deal with. The descents are often equally as exhausting on account of the constant braking necessary. Additionally, once in Eastern Bhutan, the descents after the passes bring you to a lot lower elevations than at the starting points.

For example, cycling from Ura to Mongar you start at 3,161 m ASL, cross Thrumshing La at 3,774 m ASL, then go downhill to mere 561m ASL at Kuri Zampa bridge and back uphill to Mongar at 1,585 m ASL from there. Similarly the next day you ascent to 2,422 m ASL at top of Kori La, from there drop down to only 597 m ASL at Sherichu bridge and then still have to climb to Trashigang at 1,237 m ASL. In other words, while what goes up must come down and what goes down must come up applies, the differences in altitude are often very brutal. But of course, the landscape is magnificent and the experience cycling Bhutan is simply awesome!

The average altitude of the passes is 3,000 meters. In the table below you can see which stages these passes are on as well as the elevations at the start and finish of each stage.

1-Siliguri to Phuentsholing 135 240
2-Phuentsholing to Tsimasham 240 2245
3-Tsimasham to Paro 2245 2250 2500 Chapcha La
4-Around Paro Valley 2250 2250
5-Paro to Haa Valley 2250 2750 3998 Chele La
6-Haa to Thimphu 2750 2325
7-Around Thimphu 2325 2325
8-Thimphu via Punakha to Wandue 2325 1229 3139 Dochu La
9-Wangdue to Phobjikha Valley 1229 2923 3356 Lawa La
10-Phobjikha Valley to Trongsa 2923 2033 3416 Pele La
11-Trongsa to Bumthang 2033 2547 3429 Yotong La
2872 Kiki La
12-Around Bumthang 2547 2547
13-Bumthang to Ura 2547 3161 3592 Shertang La
14-Ura to Mongar 3161 1585 3774 Thrumshing La
15-Mongar to Trashigang 1585 1237 2422 Kori La
16-Trashigang to Rangjung and back 1237 1237
17-Trashigang to Wamrong 1237 2187 2400 Yonphu La
2450 Kharung La
18-Wamrong to Samdrup Jongkhar 2187 159 1889 Narphung La


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