Highlights of this exhilarating expedition

  • The scenic route along the Paro Valley will be your first encounter with the stunning natural landscape of Bhutan.
  • Monasteries, temples, scenic spots, local food shops, and the famous Taktsang Dzong are one of the most majestic, mesmerising and memorable places you will ever see; these places altogether give Paro Valley a significant mention.
  • A short hike to Chimi Lhakhang monastery, also known as the Temple of Fertility, in Punakha.
  • An overnight stay in the capital city of Bhutan is amazing in its own way. The local markets, handicrafts, tantalising local food and the small little cafes will make your stay wonderful.
  • A Ride to Phobjikha, which is the winter nesting grounds of the endangered Black Necked Cranes. Catching a glimpse of this stunning species is a must-do on your trip.

img_20180917_154737As I entered the mystical land of Bhutan, it seemed the old traditions and customs were still preserved like the olden times. The unspoiled terrain made me wonder on the existence of such a place in this contemporary era. If you are in the mood for a road trip, here’s a tip – the Kingdom of Bhutan is best experienced from the seat of a motorbike. I drove past vibrant monasteries and unique houses, surreal panorama, and stopped for lip-smacking local food. As I reached the high mountains it enveloped me in all its loftiness.

Bhutan Himalayas
Bhutan Himalayas

I embarked on my journey to the Mystical Land of the Thunder Dragon from West Bengal, and entered the scenic territory of Bhutan. I planned the trip with two of my best buddies. Brimming with excitement, we booked a flight to Siliguri, and on reaching, checked-in at our hotel to get freshened up after our journey. Soon after, we set out to try some of the delicious local cuisine. There were so many dishes we wanted to try, but narrowed it down to Kewa datshi, which is a dish made of thin slices of potato fried in cheese and lots of butter, and Jasha maru – a delightful chicken curry which has the distinct taste of ginger. All this was eaten with Himalayan red rice, making up a simple, mouth watering feast! With full stomachs, we settled in for the night.

The next day, we started our Bhutan bike expedition and got ready to leave behind all our worries in the dust.

Paro Valley

We crossed the international border of India on the way to Phuentsholing. Leaving behind the plains and riding towards the mountains made us feel great. The many scenic tea gardens and a couple of wildlife sanctuaries kept us hooked throughout the journey. After some hours of riding on pin-bend roads, we reached Jaigaon in the evening to complete the migration formalities. After the green signal from the verification authorities, we crossed the border and reached the hotel to check-in. And then went for a little exploration of the town. With a late dinner at night and some chit-chat, we dozed off by 11 to wake up fresh for the next day’s adventure.

Taktsang Palphug

In the morning, after a scrumptious breakfast, we left for the beautiful Paro Valley. The charming town spelled beauty with its colourfully painted and antiquated-wooden shop fronts, restaurants, and numerous monasteries and museums. With two-three halt points for tea breaks, we reach the valley and checked-in at our hotel. After keeping our belongings we rushed out to explore the town. We went to Taktsang Monastery and to the national museum of Bhutan. As we were exploring the museum, I saw one of my friends talking to the guide about the history of Bhutan. My other friend, a die-hard foodie, wanted to try the local cuisine. So, we went to Sonam Trophel restaurant located in the heart of the city and ordered three bowls of hot and steamy Thukpa and a plate of dumplings.

Comfort FoodThe next morning, we left for the capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu, followed by Punakha the same day. The nation’s largest city, Thimphu boasts of city-like vibe laden with modern infrastructure and new-lined streets. After a bike check-up in the capital city, we zoomed towards the valley of Punakha. In the afternoon, after lunch, we hiked towards the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, also known as the temple of fertility. Impressed by the beauty of this nation, Bhutan’s hospitality radiate purity and peace. Now we know why it is called the Land of Happiness!

bhutanAs soon as the morning unfolded, we drove around 80 km towards Phobijkha Valley post breakfast. The valley is quite famous for Trongsa Dzong, which is the largest Dzong Fortress of Bhutan. It played an important role during the 17th and 19th century in regards to the unity of the nation. Then we went to Ta Dzong, which has been converted into a museum. The wilderness of flora and fauna at the Phobijkha valley was phenomenal. As we rode towards the valley, we could see countless birds and animals on our way.

bhutan mountainsWell, after taking this surreal road trip, there is one thing I can say – no blog, or for that matter even this blog, cannot describe the glory and the contentment the Kingdom of Bhutan offers. One has to take the Thunder Dragon Motorbike Tour to see what a gem of a place this country is and why everyone falls in love with this mystical land.

Tips and Tricks to Venture the Bhutan Thunder Dragon

  • Other than Indians, Maldivians and Bangladeshis, all nationalities must have a pre-planned itinerary and also have to pay $200 to $250 for Visa, depending upon the season you are travelling. Peak seasons (March-May and September-November) and non-peak seasons (December-February and June-August). Indians, Maldivians and Bangladeshis can easily venture into Bhutan solo, as a couple or in a group, with their passport or identity card that has 6-months of validity left.
  • The best time to visit Bhutan is during spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). If you’re planning to visit Bhutan in March, April, October and November, you must book the tour package and flight tickets at least three months before.
  • If you are planning to go alone or as a couple,  take note of the surcharges that you have to pay. Solo traveler- US $40 per night, group of 2 travelers- US $30 per person/per night, group of 3 travelers or more- no surcharge. So gather two of your friends to save money for your tour.
  • The best time to visit the land of Bhutanese and experience their traditions and customs performed during the festivals. Popular festivals are Paro and Thimphu Tshechu that happen during peak season. If you are seeking for more intimate experience, festivals like Royal Highlander Festival, Ura Matsutake Mushroom Festival, Rhododendron Festival, Black Necked Crane Festival, and Haa Summer Festival should be on your to-do list.
  • Pack only the necessary stuff. Do not forget to carry warm clothes as the temperature goes down at night while the weather can change drastically. Also, pack certain emergency medicines for motion sickness as you would be driving on curvy mountain roads for long duration.

“When we talk about a country that truly favors happiness in all manners, it is undoubtedly Bhutan. A country that lags far behind the modern world, giving travelers and riders a taste of what unspoiled nature looks like. The beauty of the emerald mountains, glimmering and gushing rivers, exhilarating roads and happy faces; a ride in such a country will be a blissful experience for each traveler who plans a trip to Bhutan.”

Beautifully nestled in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, Bir Billing is the hub of all kinds of adventure activities. Famously called, “Paragliding capital of India”, Bir attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year. Bir is a part of Billing Valley. The paragliders are launched from Billing and land down at the stunning site in Bir, after covering the distance of around 18 km. The landscape of Bir Billing features deep gorges, impressive snow peaks, misty woods, flowery meadows, lush green valleys, glistening lakes, gushing waterfalls and enthralling lakes.

A melting point of cultures


Amidst the scenic and serene settings, striking temples, soulful monasteries and stupas represent a perfect blend of Himachali and Tibetan culture. Not only Himachalis, a sizable community of Tibetan refugees also resides in the village. The Bir Tibetan Colony features several monasteries and local restaurants, where travelers can enjoy lip-smacking delicacies with an essence of the friendly culture that Bir offers. The incredible sight of bhikkhus and Tibetan monks offering prayers in the monasteries give a sense of peace to one’s soul.

Many-splendoured Tea Gardens 
Famed for organic tea farms, the Bir Tea Factory is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bir. As the tea factory remains open to the public travelers, visit the place along with their children to learn about the plantation skills of India’s most consumed hot beverage. Hills are always suitable for tea production and this is why one can find various kind of tea that are grown in the garden and processed in the Bir Tea Factory.

The factory is located in close proximity to Bir Bazaar, from where one can buy a selection of dry fruits, fragrant tea, handmade articles etc. In the tea garden, a sight of men and women labours dressed in traditional attires with a beautiful basket on their back is a great capture to the cameras of photographers.

Paragliding, Hand-gliding, Motorbiking, River rafting, Trekking and Camping: Bir Billing has it all! 

  • Soaring High: Tandem Paragliding
    One of the major highlights of Bir Billing is Paragliding. Nothing could be more eventful than flying under the sky from where you can see a whole different world around. Remarkably, Bir is considered as the world’s second best site for paragliding after Lake Como in Italy. Paragliders are launched from a lush green valley of Billing, which is situated at a height of about 2400 metres. And these paragliders land in the grassland at the western edge of the Bir Tibetan Colony in Chowgan.
    Landing at Bir Billing grounds
    Landing at Bir Billing grounds

    Keeping the protection in mind, beginners get a chance to enjoy an adventure-packed ride in a two-seater glider with a skilled trainer. Bir witnesses a huge crowd in October as it hosts the event of ‘paragliding pre-world cup’ every year.

  • Trek To The Top
    Bir Billing offers a number of trekking options to the adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. This activity gives you an opportunity to explore the exotic Himalayan flora and fauna, stunning rivers, gushing streams and waterfalls. From easy to difficult and 1 day to 1-week treks are available near the Bir Billing. Some of the trekking destinations include Sach Pass to Pangi Kareri Lake, Manimahesh Lake and Chamba over Jalsu Pass.
  • Camping in Bir
    Staying at hotel becomes dull at times, especially when you’re surrounded by the mountains and lush greenery. To have a wonderful experience in the lap of nature, you need to avoid the option of hotel booking as Bir gives you a chance to spend a night under the glittery sky at some of the exquisite locations. While living in tents, you can enjoy the sights of splendid vistas of nature.

Plan a weekend in Bir
If you are on long holiday and have explored enough of Bir Billing, then you can opt any destination from the list of wonderful weekend getaways near Bir Billing.

There is no dearth of amazing weekend getaways from Bir Billing. Getaways like Manali, Leh, Ladakh, Kullu, Shimla, Dharamshala and McLeodganj offer peaceful surroundings that revitalize your mind and body with exciting activities. Other nearby attractions include: 

  • Deer Park Institute
  • Chokling Monastery
  • Dharmalaya Institute
  • Sherab Ling Monastery
  • Baijnath Temple
  • Drukpa Kagyu Monastery
  • Chowgan Tea Gardens
  • Tashi Jong Village
  • Chauntra Bazaar

If you’re looking for accommodation options at Bir Billing

  • Tatva Bir Camp
  • Siddhartha Greens Bir Billing
  • Hotel Paul Manor
  • Big Mountain Camps
  • Bir Resort
  • Camp Oak View

If you’re looking for some food joints…

  • Norgay Kitchen
  • Sterling Restaurant
  • Glider’s Pizzeria
  • Bruce House
  • Cafe Cloud Door

How to Reach this Amazing Holiday Destination?
Bir Billing is very well connected to other Indian states. As it is situated away from the hustle-bustle of city amidst the snow-capped mountains, one has to put an extra effort to reach there as there is no direct flight or train available from the major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. However, the travel journey to Bir is joyful and a one of its kind experience.

Flight: The Kangra Airport is situated at a distance of 68 km from Bir Billing. The airport is situated in Dharamshala and is very well connected to and from Delhi and Mumbai. However, passengers can board a non-stop flight from Delhi to Dharamshala and a connected flight from Mumbai. Notably, the air route remains closed due to bad weather, especially in winters. After reaching the airport, travelers have to hire a taxi or board a bus to reach Bir.

Train: At present, one can get a toy train that takes you to Bir Billing. Kangra valley railway runs a toy train from Pathankot, which covers the distance in 7 hours via Ahju. The distance between Pathankot and Bir is around 143 km.

Taxi or Bus: If you’re among those who always look for astounding vistas or adore long drive then you should visit Bir either by taxi or bus. You can board a bus from the Inter-state Bus Terminal (ISBT) and it takes around 12-14 hours to reach Bir. Notably, the distance between Delhi and Bir is around 520 km.

If you have decided to hit Bir Billing by road then you can follow these routes:

Route 1: Delhi>Ambala>Banur via Chandigarh bypass>Kiratpur>Anandpur Sahib>Nagal>Una>Kangra>Palampur>Baijnath>Bir

Route 2: Delhi>Ambala> Banur via Chandigarh bypass>Kharad>Kiratpur>Bilaspur>Mandi>Jogindernagar>Bir


Is Bir Billing Accessible throughout the Year?
The entire summer season is an ideal time to beat the heat of hot cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. Here, the weather remains pleasant and the temperature ranges between 10°C and 22°C. Notably, the monsoon season receives moderate to heavy rainfall and the region might become prone to landslides causing blockage of roads. So, this is not an advisable season for a visit.

Despite the harsh and cold weather in winters, Bir experiences a heavy flow of tourists. Also, the months of October and November are perfect for paragliding and the average temperature ranges from 4°C to 12°C. The temperature drops below freezing point at night in the months of December and January.

What are you waiting for? Plan a trip to one of the most splendid tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh to explore the fun like never before!

Limitless deserts, thriving jungles, prosperous rivers and breathtaking views – with every step you take on the Markha Valley Trek you are introduced to nature, beauty, adventure and a heap of emotions felt never before.

With its trail taking you through the Hemis National Park where there’s a good chance you’ll spot a snow leopard to further heading to tiny Himalayan hamlets with huge parachute tents and a unique Buddhist culture to finally crossing high mountain passes that offer you views so enchanting that you almost never want to leave, the Markha Valley Trek has it all!

So if you’re planning your next trekking adventure, look no further! Here are 5 Unbeatable Reasons to do the Markha Valley Trek this summer.

Explore Diverse Landscapes
Unlike the numerous treks that take you through forests or arid deserts of the region, the Markha Valley trek introduces you to landscapes along flowing rivers, green pastures, scenic valleys, and flourishing national parks, and bone-dry desert expanses. On this trek, you will experience excitement – when you spot a snow leopard; hardship -when you cross stretches of the waist-deep Markha River; peace -when you take a stop at the confluence of Indus and Zinchen Rivers; thrill -when you conquer over 17,000 feet at Kongmaru La Pass.

Trek Ladakh Today
Trek Ladakh Today!

Discover Ancient Buddhist Villages
The Markha Valley Trek takes you through some diverse landscapes and while most of the hike is shadowed by wilderness, there will be days when you will stop by tiny mountain hamlets. Trek through scenic landscapes and pass along river banks; meet the region’s locals and come face-to- face with religious shrines at Lhatos and confront the Mani walls. Mani walls are stone structures that are formed by the compilation of intricately carved stone tablets mostly with the inscription of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ loosely meaning ‘ Hail to the jewel
in the lotus’.

Hike through the villages of Umlung and Hangskar. Much like an eagle nest perched on the tallest tree, the Techa Monastery in Umlung is one of the highest located monasteries and is easily a 1000 years old. Although Umlung offers the comforts of a monastery and a handful of homestays, a visit to Hangskar (the last hamlet in the valley) with its ever welcoming locals and their hot butter tea is a reward in itself. Some of the other villages that you will pass by during the Markha Valley Trek are Spituk, Shingo, and Siku among others.

An Encounter with the Wild
One of the best parts of about the Markha Valley trek is that it takes you through the charming Hemis National Park. Best known for having the highest density of snow leopard in any protected area in the world,
the Hemis National Park with its large population of rare species of wildlife is arguably one of the best parts of this trek. Tibetan wolves, red foxes, Eurasian brown bears and Asiatic ibexes – they are all here. But that’s not all – the region also boasts of being the only habitat of the Shapu in India and is also home to the mountain weasel and the Himalayan mouse. The park is also a bird watcher’s paradise and visitors are often lucky to spot the Lammergeier vulture, the fork-tailed swift, Fire-fronted serin and Tibetan snowfinch in their natural habitat.

Camping in Ladakh
Camping in Ladakh

Live in Parachute Tents
The Markha Valley trek is also known as the ‘tea house trek’, takes you through diverse terrains and arid deserts but that’s not the only fun part of this excursion. While the villages on the trail have ample homestays that provide the comfort of a home away from home, this adventure also lets you have the experience of camping in parachute
tents. These parachute tents are massive tents where you camp the night with your entire group. Fun much? Oh, you have to experience it to know how much!

Be an Achiever
The trek begins from the green landscapes of the Hemis National Park but don’t let the lush environs fool you, this is just the beginning. The Markha Valley trek takes you through striking contrasts. Trek through the land masses with powerful rivers that are knee-deep if not more and pass through rocky canyons to reach the towering peaks of
Ganda La at 15748 feet, and Kongmaru La at 17060 feet. Reach the top and be welcomed by breathtaking views of Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges. It’s a superlative achievement that feels a million times better
than it reads.

In Leh
In Leh

It’s not every day that you come across a trek that offers an out-an-out Ladakhi experience. Raw and natural beauty, exciting adventure, the Buddhist culture, the local food, and the warm hospitality of the people
– everything’s covered.

This trip is everything that dream vacations to Ladakh are made of, and if it resonates with your idea of adventure, let there be no place else you head this summer.