Bhutan

Bhutan by bike: overview

The ‘Last Shangri-La’ is a destination that is yet to be overrun by tourists since Bhutan limits entries to those on packages spending more than $100 per day. Entering the kingdom on a SpiceRoads tour affords you a unique opportunity to experience this remote mountainous country with its peaceful atmosphere.

Sandwiched between Tibet and India, Himalayan Bhutan is relatively small and has unique traditions owing to its rare, traditional Buddhist culture. It includes high mountains and dense forests and displays a character of rural Asian life that leaves a memorable impression on those privileged enough to visit. Very few other travel destinations are quite as undiluted as this hermit-like mountain Kingdom.

There are no traffic lights in this country of fewer than 700,000 and traffic jams are non-existent. Scattered across its wide and deep valleys are huge monasteries and fortresses, including that of the world famous Taktsang ‘Tiger Nest’ Monastery. Permits, which we take care of, are required to enter these.

Although parts of the country are closed off to tourists in order to retain the culture, there is an abundance of places to see on a variety of tours where ordinary folk and rare animals can be spotted. Traditional handicrafts can be had in towns during weekend markets, and while the food is quite variable and spicy, we make sure you eat at the best places.

Best attractions in Bhutan

Thimphu is the capital and main base from which to do tours of Bhutan. It is also gateway to the stunning Thimphu and Paro valleys, which are excellent for cycling. The Taktsang ‘Tiger Nest’ Monastery and the royal family’s palace lie within the former. There are also extensive national parks and wildlife reserves in Bhutan which we take in.

Weather and tourist seasons

Bhutan sits in the eastern end of the Himalayan range, although not all of it is highland terrain. The country experiences two quite different climates, depending whether you are in the mountainous north or the plains of the south. Temperatures can range from 30 degrees C in the lowlands in mid summer to sub zero in the highest villages during January. It’s generally warm in Thimpu though can get down to single figures on the coldest winter days, while Paro can be chilly even in the monsoon season. Bhutan gets drenched by the Southeast Asian Monsoon season and receives some of the most rainfall in the entire North of the Indian Sub continent. This lasts from June to October, after which it remains dry and warm through to the end of the year. This, therefore, is the best time to visit.