Thunder Dragon Marathon

  • Course
  • Itinerary
  • Packages
  • Gallery

Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, is mystical, enchanting and like nowhere you have ever been. Voted one of the world’s top travel destinations, Bhutan remains accessible only to the privileged few. The Himalayan Kingdom Mountain Marathon highlights all of the aspects of Bhutan that makes it so special. Running through the beautiful Paro Valley the route takes in fantastic scenery and passes many iconic landmarks, like the Tigers Nest Monastery, Paro
Dzong and many religious Chorten - a true mountain and cultural experience. Mostly on trails and mountain paths with some road sections, the route has a number of climbs but with an altitude variation that stays between 2,200m and 2,530m there are no tremendously difficult sections although it remains a suitable challenge.

The Route

From the start at Zhiwa Ling, the first few kilometres are downhill on the road before crossing a metal bridge festooned in prayer flags. It hen follows the Paro Chu River downstream where runners are at 2200m altitude. The route remains undulating along the Wang Chu tributary - going up one side for several kilometres, crossing a bridge and returning down the other side.

Arriving back on the road near Paro you will then climb steadily up the side of a valley passing above Paro Dzong, and up to Zueray Dzong at the highest point of the race (2530m) on a 4km road climb followed by 1km gently up hill on forest trails. From here you start to drop to the valley passing through Uma Resort (2413m).

Dropping back to the river, the 21km will finish after crossing the ornate Paro Bridge in front of Paro Dzong while the marathon continues across the valley on road.

Once across the valley the marathon route then rises up on the road for 3km on to 2,400m, followed by a short climb on a wide track before picking up forest trails along a line of Chortens festooned with prayer flags. A short but steep climb at 30km on road takes you onto trail around a spur before dropping and rising on a number of side valleys. At 32km there is an amazing section through paddy fields bringing you close to rural Bhutan before a final loop with incredible views of the Tigers Nest as you approach the finish line back at Zhiwa Ling.

The first half of the race is easier than the second half with long sections of flat to undulating running on the gravel trail of the river banks, with one longish climb between 15 and 20km (Marathon route 12-17km half marathon route), where runners are rewarded with fantastic views up the valley before the drop to the finish. This makes the 21km suitable for all runners and run/walkers regardless of pace as there is no cut off time.

Cut off time for the marathon is 8hrs but with some flexibility depending on weather conditions. Transportation from the finish back to the start is provided for 21km runners and spectators - the marathon starts and finishes at the same place at Zhiwa Ling. 



Arrival from Bangkok available at a supplement. Drive to Punakha via Dochu Pass (approx. 2.5 hours). Afternoon sightseeing in Punakha; visit the Devine Mad Monks Temple (Temple of Fertility) and the remarkable Punakha Dzong, past home to the King of Bhutan.
Overnight in Paro. Lunch, dinner


Today we start our acclimatization activity with a hike to Soela Gompa via Khamsum Yuelley Nagyel Chorten. This hike is approx. 20km with a moderate level of difficulty and will take around 8 hours.
Overnight in Punakha. Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Drive to the capital city Thimphu (2.5 hours). Hike up to Buddha Point and the giant seated Buddha, the Takin Reserve (National animal), Thimphu Dzong and craft workshops. After lunch drive on to Paro (1 hour) visiting the National Museum with the chance to hike part of the marathon route before visiting Paro Dzong.
Overnight in Paro. Breakfast, lunch, dinner

FRIDAY 25 MAY 2018

Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest) 6 hours. On the way back visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.
Overnight in Paro. Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Free time for shopping in Paro
Race day briefing 
Overnight in Paro


Early breakfast before 8am start of both races. Celebration dinner and cultural show at Olathang Hotel
Overnight in Paro

MONDAY 28 MAY 2018

Fly out to Bangkok

Tour Packages


Prices of tour packages are listed in Sin$

Below are a list of items that are included and excluded in the tour package:


  • Accommodation in choice of 3, 4 or 5-star hotels
  • Breakfast and dinner in hotels each day
  • Lunch in local restaurants as determined by the day's itinerary
  • Guides for each tour option throughout the tour from arrival to departure
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees
  • All ground transportation in Bhutan from arrival to departure in 22-seater Toyota Coaster buses or 8-seater Toyota Hiace bus
  • Visa for Bhutan
  • International airfares to tour starting point
  • Accommodation in Bangkok
  • Visa for Thailand
  • Travel & Personal Accident Insurance
  • Drinks (except water on the bus)
  • Personal items such as laundry and souvenirs
  • Tips for guides and drivers



  • Race Weekend & Cultural Tour

    3-star hotel @ $ 2,920 (per person)

    4-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 3,180 (per person)

    5-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 4,480 (per person)

    Race Fee @ $ 300 (per runner)

  • 5 Days 4 Nights

    Single Room
    Race Weekend & Cultural Tour

    3-star hotel @ $ 3,320

    4-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 3,680

    5-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 5,880

    Race Fee @ $ 300 (per runner)

  • 1


  • Cultural Tour including Thimphu & Punakha

    3-star hotel @ $ 3,880 (per person)

    4-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 4,280 (per person)

    5-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 6,280 (per person)

    Race Fee @ $ 300 (per runner)

  • 7 Days 6 Nights

    Single Room
    Cultural Tour including Thimphu & Punakha

    3-star hotel @ $ 4,380

    4-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 4,820

    5-star hotel (Junior Suite) @ $ 8,180

    Race Fee @ $ 300 (per runner)

  • 1


optional packages


Optional package: 

9 Days 8 Nights Druk Trail Trek with Race Weekend (Sun 20 May to Mon 28 May 2018)



 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.