Things To See On A Bhutan Bike Trip

Bhutan. The last Himalayan kingdom, with a picturesque landscape that combines shadowy forests with snow-capped mountains. A place where traditional Buddhist culture meets amazing fortress-like dzongs and monasteries. A country that measures its success according to the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. If you are lucky enough to be planning a Bhutan bike trip sometime in the near future, these are some of the top destinations to include in your itinerary:

1. Thimpu

The capital of Bhutan, Thimpu is nestled in the higher ranges of the Himalayas and offers some truly astonishing views. Some of the top attractions in the city include the Buddha Dordenma statue, National Memorial Chorten (a Buddhist shrine), Dechencholing Palace, Clock Tower Square, Motithang Takin Preserve (the takin is the country’s national animal), as well as the various nearby dzongs and monasteries.

2. Paro

The location of Bhutan’s only international airport, Paro is also a popular destination to spend some time either before or after your motorbike trip has commenced. The top attractions include Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery), Ugyen Pelri Palace, Bondey Lhakhang, Khangkhu Lhakhang, Druk Choeding and the National Museum. A historic town, a visit to Paro gives you a better understanding of the country’s history.

3. Trongsa

Conveniently located in the centre of Bhutan, the sleepy little town of Trongsa connects travellers to every corner of the country. It is home to the Trongsa Dzong, one of the most beautiful Buddhist monasteries (featuring red roofs and whitewashed walls).

4. Punakha

The destination of choice for adventure seekers, Punakha often appears on the itineraries of Bhutan bike trips. Many like to give river rafting in the Mo or Pho Rivers a try, but there are plenty of attractions for the non-adrenaline junkies – Punakha Dzong (a 17th-century fortress), Punakha Tshechu (a religious festival held in March), Chimi Lhakhang (known as the ‘Fertility Temple’) and Namgyal Chorten.

5. Jakar

Known locally as Chamkhar, the Jakar region is mostly known for its trading centre. It’s most popular attraction is the Jakar Dzong, which is probably the largest in Bhutan. Other interesting attractions include the Wangdicholing Palace (which was built in 1857), Bumthang Brewery, LhodrakKharchuGoemba, and the cheese factory (the only commercial cheese factory in the country).

6. Wangdue Phodrang

A beautiful and calm town, Wangdue Phodrang is known for its bamboo products, slate and stone carvings. A noteworthy attraction is the Wangdue Phodrang dzong, which is only open to visitors during the Wangdue PhodrangTshechu celebration (held each autumn).

7. Phobjikha

An enormous U-shaped valley that borders the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Phobjikha is a picturesque and quiet place. It is also home to the Tsechu Festival and the Crane Festival (the latter of which welcomes the black-necked cranes every November). It’s the place to visit if you want to see some wildlife on Bhutan motorcycle tours – Himalayan black bears, leopards, muntjacs (barking deer), red foxes, sambars, serows and wild boar.

8. Jigme Dorji National Park

The second largest national park in Bhutan, Jigme Dorji is said to combine the best of both worlds for Bhutan motorcycle tours – it's home to plenty of wildlife, as well as encompassing some significant historical sites. There are about 37 known species of mammals living here, including endangered species (like the clouded leopard, Bengal tiger, Himalayan blue sheep and red panda), and more than 300 species of bird.

9. Phuentsholing
The entry point to Bhutan for Indian travellers coming by road, Phuentsholing is the second largest town in the country. It is home to numerous tourist attractions, including Amo Chuu, Bhutan Gate, the Karbandi Monastery and Zangthopelri Lhakhang.

10. Mount Chomolhari/Jomolhari
Spread along the border between Tibet, China and Bhutan, this mountain is considered a sacred place among Tibetan Buddhists (it is believed to be the Goddess Jomo’s home, who is the protector of both Tibet and Bhutan). Whilst this is not an experience Bhutan motorcycle tours can take you on, we highly recommend including a trek as a part of your itinerary so that you can experience the mountain in all its glory.

11. Bumthang
Known as the spiritual heartland of the country, Bumthang is home to several ancient monasteries and Buddhist temples (which is why it’s so popular amongst those interested in spirituality and religion). There are four picturesque valleys to visit – Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor – which are flanked by glaciers that have been transformed into cascading green fields. We also recommend Kurjey and Tamshing Lhakhang.

If you’re planning a Bhutan bike trip, we’re sure that your itinerary is now bursting with destinations that you want to visit and attractions that you want to see. As Bhutan is a relatively small country, we’re sure that you’ll be able to pack in as much as possible and have a trip to remember. Just remember that you must be booked with a tour group or guide in order to obtain an entry permit; many of these will organise a custom motorbike tour for you.