East & South Bhutan Loop, 12 days

Tour highlights

  • Ride on robust Royal Enfield Himalayan
  • Reach till Mongar in eastern Bhutan
  • Loop through the southern Bhutan's Manas's region
  • Many scenic roads with moderate to low traffic
  • Hike to famous Tiger's Nest monastery
  • Highest motorable pass in Bhutan in 3850 m
# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival to Paro, drive to Thimphu Arrival to Paro by flight and drive to Thimphu with stop at Tachog lhakhang to see traditional bridge built using ancient iron chains. Optionally transfer from land border with India. Stroll in Thimphu town and optionally visit of Tashichho dzong, the seat of the king and government. Other sightseeing subject to arrival time.
2 Thimphu – Punakha Ride 86 km, ~3h30m. In the morning you will receive the motorbikes and will get to know with the machine. Then ride to Buddha point, the stunning city viewpoint. Ride over 3000 meters high Dochu-la pass. Descend to Wangdue/Punakha valley and visit Punakha dzong, the most intricately decorated castle in Bhutan and Chimmy lhakhang, the temple dedicated to 16th century “divine madman” Drukpa Kunley. Ride to nunnery with great views of the valley.
3 Punakha – Trongsa via Phobjikha Ride 165 km, ~8h. In the morning start riding from Punakha, gradually ascending to Phobjikha valley over Lawa-la pass (3350 m). Peek into the historical Gangtey monastery. Ride back to main highway and cross Pele-la pass (3450 m) where you can stop to see the various handicrafts sold by local yak herders. Start long and scenic descend to Trongsa in central part of Bhutan.
4 Trongsa – Bumthang Ride 75 km, ~3h. In the morning we will pay a visit to Trongsa dzoung, the castle from where the royal family of Bhutan had risen. Then ride over the Yotong-la pass (3350 m) to Bumthang, which is dubbed as historical heart of Bhutan. Visit Red Panda brewery, which is place where popular wheat beer is produced. Evening visit to the local bars.
5 Bumthang – Mongar Ride 165 km, ~8h. Today will be tough ride over two high passes to Mongar. It will take approximately 8 hours, many of which will be in high altitude with possibly cold weather. Shortly after leaving from Jakar, we will stop by so-called “Burning lake” or Membartsho, nice place by Tang chhu river. Ascend to Shertong La pass, before which you might spot the highest mountain of Bhutan, the Gangkhar Punesum (7540 m) in clear weather. Short stop at picturesque Ura village and then continue ascending to second-highest motorable pass in Bhutan, the Thrumshing La. From here scenic and long descent to Mongar starts. On the way see stunning Namgling waterfall. Ride carefully as the road is considered quite dangerous. Reach Mongar, slight ride above the valley, in the evening.
6 Mongar, excursion to Lhuentse (optionally excursion to Tashigang) Ride 135 km, ~6h. Start the day excursion to the to Lhuentse district int he morning. Visit the dzong (castle) and weaving village of Khoma. Local khatra fabric is considered as the best quality in Bhutan and even the royal family of Bhutan shops for their clothing here. Also visit Gangzur village and see the local production of traditinal pottery. On the way back, make a brief detour to Takey-la where the gigantic statue of the Guru Padmasambhava stands. This 8th century Buddhist saint is revered in Bhutan and according to legends, he visited many holy places of the country. Get back to Mongar.
Optionally you can make excursion to Tashigang instead. (Ride 180 km, ~7h. On the way we will stop at the Drametse gompa, the monastery famous for Drametse nga chham dance which is on the list of the UNESCO tangible heritage. The road to monastery is very scenic winding high above the valley with nice views. Reach to Tashigang. In the afternoon you can also make leisure ride further east to Rangjung with beautifully located temple. Return to Mongar.
7 Mongar - Tingtibi Ride 320 km, ~8h. From Mongar we will drive south towards Gyelposhing and further to Nganglam on the border of India. Scenic road with a lot of turns will finally lead us on the edge of Manas National Park in Pangbang town. From here we will take road north, ending the trip in Tingtibi town, famous birdewatching area. Accommodation in simple local hotel which serves delicious Bhutanese dishes.
8 Tingtibi - Tsirang Ride 200 km, ~5h. After Tingtibi, the climate, landscape, and culture will start gradually changing. Here you are arriving to the low altitudes of the southern Bhutan, which is dominantly inhabited by people of Nepali origin, who are mostly Hindus. Reach to Gelephu town. On the way, you can stop to see new Hindu temple. From Gelephu, the road will follow the border with India and only after some hour of riding, it will start ascending back to the mountains. You will be going through the dense jungles which are home to many species of birds. Finally reach to Damphu town located on the hilltop. Stroll in town and then ride bit down below to the hotel.
9 Tsirang - Thimphu Ride 180 km, 6h. We will drop to Sanksoh bazaar. Local vendors here sells various delicacies including pickled chili and other vegetables. Also, the honey from here is outstanding. Drive further north, passing around the Puntatsangchu hydro project and going through the first ever road tunnel built in Bhutan, until you reach Wangdue town and start driving on already familiar road to Thimphu. Cross the Dochu-la pass, with chances of view of Himalayan range. Descend to Thimphu. Enjoy the late afternoon and evening in capital with its bars or music clubs among which The Mojo Park is best.
10 Thimphu – Haa – Paro Ride 175 km, ~6h30m. In the morning you might like to make some shopping in Thimphu as you will be leaving the capital for good. After that, ride to Chuzom (Confluence) between Paro and Thimphu. From here the narrow road is winding up to the Haa. This is very scenic section with less traffic. You will pass around Dobji dzong, which used to serve as a prison. Today it is a Buddhist monastery. Reach to Haa and after short rest start long ascending to Chele-la pass (3850 m) which is the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. In clear weather you can see the Kanchejunga to the west from the pass summit. Short ride after the pass, the holy mountain Jomolhari can be seen to the north as well. It’s worth of stretching legs in the pass, hiking a bit up through the “forest” of the prayer flags. Start descending to Paro. Take a road above the airport and make a stop at the Airport viewpoint. Paro is considered as one of the most daring international airport in the world. Reach to Paro and optionally stroll in town. Rest in hotel.
11 Paro Ride 35 km, 1.5 hr. Today we will start with short ride below the famous Tiger's Nest monastery. We will park our motorbikes and will hike up to this most sacred point of Bhutan, and it's most famous tourist place. You will need to hike up elevation difference of 600 meters and same amount down. Whole trip takes 4–5 hours including the sightseeing in temples, time depends on your shape. After lunch, we will ride to Drukyel dzong castle, currently undergoing reconstruction. The summit of holy Jomolhari peak can be seen from here in clear weather. Ride back to Paro and give goodbye to your motorbikes. Enjoy the last evening in Bhutan.
12 Departure Morning drop to airport and departure from Bhutan.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Extend with visit of both Lhuentse and Tashigang (+1 day): Covering both main districts of eastern Bhutan.
  • Extend with Tashiyangtse, Pemagatshel, Merak-Sakteng (+2 and more days): Indulging more in visiting places less travelled in the eastern Bhutan.
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