Bhutan – Thunder Dragon Marathon

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  • Duration: 5 / 7 / 9 Days
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Ace Adventure Expeditions – Singapore Partner of Thunder Dragon Marathon

The Thunder Dragon Marathon is one of the world’s most exclusive marathons. The race route is through the beautiful Paro Valley. Runners will get to see fantastic mountain scenery and iconic landmarks, such as Taktsang Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest), Paro Dzong and many religious chorten (shrines). It is truly a unique and memorable race filled with mountain and cultural experience.

Ace Adventure Expeditions is honoured to be the Singapore partner of the Thunder Dragon Marathon. The 7th edition race day is on 24 May 2020.

Charity Support

The 2020 Thunder Dragon Marathon is supporting Opening Your Heart to Bhutan.  The charity is a UK-based charity, which brings children with special needs joy and the opportunity to build meaningful lives. Through simple, practical acts of compassion, the charity provides access to safe medical care, disability aids and basic amenities in the isolated rural areas of East Bhutan.

Bonus Inclusions (for those based in Singapore) – Complimentary Group Training Sessions with Running Coach, Liew Wei Yong.

Voted by Run Society as one of the best 16 running coaches in Singapore, Liew Wei Yong is certified in everything from sports management to personality/behavioural assessment, she has been training runners for more than 15 years while competing in killer marathons like the Elite Ultra, Gobi and Sahara Desert runs. She is also overseeing training for the Four Seasons Hotel, HP, SWEAT and NTUC running groups. This feisty trainer always finishes marathons within the top 16 and prides herself on being placed first in the Women’s Endurance category at the 2015 Sports Hub Stepper Challenge.

The 3 complimentary group training sessions cover:

  • Principal of Training and Gait Analysis
  • Fitness Assessment plus Strength & Conditioning
  • Hill training session at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

 

Stand A Chance to WIN A Pair of Salomon Sense Running Shoes !

A BIG thank you to Liv Activ for sponsoring 2 pairs of Salomon Sense road running shoes! All our 2020 running participants will stand a chance to win a pair! The lucky winners will be notified via email, after the lucky draw at the end of 2020!

About Bhutan

Bhutan – the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ – perched among the peaks of Eastern Himalayas has been described as the last Shangri-La. The tiny kingdom, second least populous nation in South Asia, shrouded in centuries of mystery, is only beginning to open up in recent years to welcome more visitors. Landlocked, it is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the west and south. Being a Buddhist kingdom, it is well known for its monasteries and fortresses (known as dzongs) and offers a fascinating insight into Buddhist culture. Coupled with its dramatic Himalayan landscapes range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys, Bhutan feels like a tranquil place, where time has stood still amidst landscapes of astounding and untouched beauty.

 

The Importance of Acclimatization – Thunder Dragon Marathon Packages

Bhutan’s valleys are mostly just under 2500m and mountain passes are generally above 3000m. The total elevation gain on the full marathon is 995m and for the half marathon is 450m. The altitude at the start point is 2400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2200m. It is, therefore, paramount to arrive a few days prior to the race day to acclimatize to the high altitude.

One of the best approaches to acclimatization is to keep active and Bhutan has some of the best trekking in the world. We highly recommend an easy trek through the scenic lower part of the Himalayan mountains ahead of the run. Trek & run Bhutan!

  • 9D Druk (Dragon) Path Trek with Marathon

If you have more time to spare, you can also consider a trek in Nepal before the marathon. We can customize the itinerary for you.

For those who cannot afford so many days but would still like to join the marathon, these are the 2 more options:

  • 7D Bhutan Day Hikes with Marathon
  • 5D Bhutan Weekend with Marathon

Participants have the options to join these races:

  • Full Marathon – 42.195km
  • Half Marathon – 21.1km

The cut-off time for the race is 8 hours but has some flexibility depending upon the weather conditions.  All runners who do not achieve the cut-off will be picked up and driven to the finish line.

About Druk Path Trek

The Druk Path Trek is one of the most popular and shortest trek in the country. It is also a fairly easy trek that is a great introduction to trekking in Bhutan.

The trail passes through a gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes with stunning views of Mt Jomolhari (7326m) and Mt Gangkar Puensum (7570m the highest unscaled peak in the world). At the same time, it offers the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages.

The trek connects the valley of Paro to the valley of Thimpu. The 4-day trek begins by walking up through apple orchards and pine forest past the restored Jele Dzong (fortress) on a high grassy ridge with breathtaking views of Mount Jomolhari to the north and camping at Jangchulakha (3760m) – a pasture for yaks. Day 1 is the longest day of the trek of about 7 hours. The next 3 days are short trekking days of around 4-5 hours. Day 2 and 3, we climb above the tree line and cross several high ridges above 4000m, camping near alpine lakes – Jimilang Tsho (3870m) and Semkotha Tsho (3834m), with splendid views of the Himalayas along the Bhutan – Tibet border. On the final day of the trek, descend through pine and juniper forests via Phajoding Gompa to Thimphu.

Experience Required to Trek Druk Path

No trekking experience is required. Anyone with a good level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an altitudes ranging between 2400-4200m in undulating mountain terrain. You will be trekking for 4 days with a 5-6kg backpack load and sleeping for 3 nights at camps above 3000m. The average trekking hours are around 4 hours, except for Day 1, which is the longest trekking day of around 7 hours. [Copied to Requirements tab]

Experience Required

Good to have some high altitude trekking experiences. You will be crossing high passes of above 4000m – Bhonte La (4890m) and Takhung La (4520m) and trekking at above 3000m in undulating mountain terrain with a personal backpack load of 5-6kg for the 6 days trek.

About The Thunder Dragon Marathon Race Route

The race route starts at Udumwara, underneath the cliff that the Tiger’s Nest is built on. The route is approximately half road surface, half farm trails, and on the full marathon, there is a 4km section of single track.

The first 8km is on road surfaces and slightly downhill alongside the Paro Chu (river). At 8km, the half marathon splits off to the right and makes its way up and behind Paro Dzong (Fort). The full marathon carries straight on with a long and gradual climb alongside the Wang Chu (river) on farm tracks above rice fields.

At 18km the marathon route crosses the river and returns towards Paro on the other side on a gentle downhill gradient to 25km. Here, the route has the toughest climb, for about 4km on road, rising above the Paro National Museum, then on single track for 1km to the highest point of the race at 2560m.

Dropping back down to the Paro Chu, the full marathon and half marathon re-join beneath Paro Dzong to cross the famous wooden bridge. The last 10km for both distances are on a gradual but long uphill climb on a mix of road and wide farm track, rising above Paro Chu, with views of the river and rice fields, before dropping into the finish back at Udumwara.

The total height gain on the marathon is 995m and for the half 450m. The altitude at the start is 2400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2200m. [Repeated]

 

Experience Required to Trek Druk Path

No trekking experience is required. Anyone with a good level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an altitudes ranging between 2400-4200m in undulating mountain terrain. You will be trekking for 4 days with a 5-6kg backpack load and sleeping for 3 nights at camps above 3000m. The average trekking hours are around 4 hours, except for Day 1, which is the longest trekking day of around 7 hours.

9D Druk Path Trek with Marathon

DAY DESCRIPTION MEALS
1

Arrive Paro.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

-/-/D
2

Acclimatisation hike to Taktsang Monastery a.k.a Tiger’s Nest (3120m). On the way back, visit other places of interest like Dumtse Lhakhang temple.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
3-6

Trek the famous Druk Path. Day 6 transfer to Thimphu.

Overnight: Tents at Jangchulakha (3760m), Jimilang Lake (3870m), Semkotha Lake (3830m), Thimphu hotel (2330m)

B/L/D
7

Rest and sight-seeing day in Thimphu. Transfer to Paro. Race briefing in Paro.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
8

Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
9 Depart Paro B/-/-


7D Thimphu and Punakha with Marathon

DAY DESCRIPTION MEALS
1

Arrive Paro. Drive to Punakha.

Overnight: Punakha hotel (1240m)

-/-/D
2

Acclimatization hike in Punakha.

Overnight: Punakha hotel (1240m)

B/L/D
3

Drive to Thimphu. Acclimatization hike up to Buddha Point and the giant seated Buddha. Sight-seeing around Thimphu.

Overnight: Thimphu hotel (2330m)

B/L/D
4

Acclimatisation hike to Taktsang Monastery a.k.a Tiger’s Nest (3120m).. On the way to Paro visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
5

Free & easy day to explore Paro. Race briefing.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
6

Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
7 Depart Paro B/-/-


5D Bhutan Weekend with Marathon

DAY DESCRIPTION MEALS
1

Arrive Paro.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

-/-/D
2

Acclimatization hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest/3120m). Acclimatisation hike to Taktsang Monastery a.k.a Tiger’s Nest (3120m). On the way to Paro visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
3

Excursion to Thimphu (1 hr drive). Visit the painting school, folk heritage museum, textile museum, Buddha Point, Takin Reserve. Afternoon visit to craft bazaar and weekend market before driving to Paro. Race briefing in Paro.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
4

Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
5 Depart Paro B/-/-
DATES PRICE
17-25 May 2020 (Druk Path Trek + Marathon) $6,050.00 (SGD)  / person
19-25 May 2020 (Day Hikes + Marathon) $5,230.00 (SGD)  / person
21-25 May 2020 (Bhutan Weekend + Marathon) $4,280.00 (SGD)  / person

Packages listed are for open international groups

Inclusions
  • Return BKK/PRO/BKK air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Bhutan tourist visa fee
  • Return airport transfer and all land transfer as in itinerary
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees including Thunder Dragon Marathon’s race fee
  • Race t-shirt
  • Meals as indicated in itinerary
  • Boiled drinking water, tea and coffee during meals on trek
  • Accommodation: Standard local hotels in Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha (twin/triple sharing);  sleeping tents during trek (twin sharing)
  • Camping equipment: Sleeping mats and bags, sleeping tents, dining tents with tables and chairs, and toilet tents
  • Trek support: Climbing guide, assistant climbing guide and horses for portage support
  • Permits & fees: Trekking permit fee
  • Emergency support: Comprehensive first aid kit carried by guide
  • Complimentary training sessions with a professional running coach
Exclusions
  • International air tickets for other routes, except SIN/PRO/SIN
  • Single supplement
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • All tipping
  • Personal porters
  • Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover travel agent insolvency, race and trekking up to 4500m)
  • Personal expenses like shopping, laundry, etc.
  • Personal travel & trekking gear – warm clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc.
  • Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (eg: climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items, etc.)
  • Emergency evacuation and medical expenses
  • Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay

3x Complimentary Group Run Training Sessions with Running Coach, Liew Wei Yong.

Voted by Run Society as one of the best 16 running coaches in Singapore, Liew Wei Yong is certified in everything from sports management to personality/behavioural assessment, she has been training runners for more than 15 years while competing in killer marathons like the Elite Ultra, Gobi and Sahara Desert runs. She is also overseeing training for the Four Seasons Hotel, HP, SWEAT and NTUC running groups. This feisty trainer always finishes marathons within the top 16 and prides herself on being placed first in the Women’s Endurance category at the 2015 Sports Hub Stepper Challenge.

The 3 sessions of group training will consist of:
• Principal of Training and Gait Analysis
• Fitness Assessment plus Strength & Conditioning
• Hill training session at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Pre-trip Support

1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Complimentary group training sessions
4. Rope skill workshop (for climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)

Local Support

We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local trek operator to ensure safe participation by everyone.

Our local climbing guides have extensive experience in guiding treks in all regions in Bhutan, possess  intimate knowledge of the local surroundings, conditions and culture. They carry a comprehensive first aid kit for emergency purpose.

Our local operator is the organiser of the Thunder Dragon Marathon.

Visa

Participants for Ace Adventure Expeditions’ organised trips, you will be assisted with your visa application.

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all visitors travelling to Bhutan need a visa. 

Indian, Bangladeshis and  Maldivian nationals can obtain a permit at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).  

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior the travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by our licensed Bhutanese partner directly.

You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to us and we will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within 1 month prior to your travel date.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

For latest updates and details of visa application, please visit https://www.mfa.gov.bt/?page_id=220.

Money

The Bhutanese ngultrum (Nu) is pegged to the Indian rupee and not available outside Bhutan.

You can spend Indian Rupees in Bhutan. Bring US dollars, as they are the easiest currency to change. You receive better exchange rates for high value (USD100) notes and also in some of the luxury hotels. Euros and GBP are also accepted throughout. ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard.

Major hotels, restaurants and handicrafts shops in Bhutan accept credit cards. Otherwise, in smaller shops, and in rural areas, it is best to use cash.

Electricity

Bhutan’s electricity is 230V and 50HZ. There are mainly 2 types of plugs used in Bhutan. Two narrow round pins (Type F) is the most common, useable with most European plugs; and three-pronged thick round pins (Type D).

Language

The national language is Dzongkha, the native language of the Ngalops of western Bhutan. Dzongkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs, massive fortresses that serve as the administrative centres and monasteries. Besides this, Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken, differentiated by the geographical locations of the various ethnic groups.

English is the medium of instruction in schools so it is widely spoken, especially those working in the tourist service industry.

Drinking Water

It is not advisable to drink untreated water in Bhutan. Bottled water is provided in the car during the day of your travel. You can also buy bottled water for consumption in your hotel room. On the trek, boiled drinking water is provided at camp.

Tipping

Tipping is not traditionally a culture in Bhutan. However, with the growth of tourism, tipping in Bhutan has become an expected thing among guides and drivers.

Your meals are included in the tour package, except drinks. You can tip a 10% to the drink bill (if any), or do not have to tip if there is a 10% service charge, along with 10% Bhutan sales tax added to your bill.

Culture and Customs 

The Bhutanese are generally tolerant of Westerners and don’t expect that they will necessarily follow, or understand local customs, so they are not quick to take offence, but it is worth bearing in mind the following:

  • Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully especially on a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn when visiting such places. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.
  • Follow your guide’s lead on this – it is customary to remove your shoes on entering the important rooms of temples (and indeed private houses).
  • Don’t point at people or religious objects or pictures. If you are indicating something in a painting, use your whole hand, palm upwards, pointing the tips of your fingers in the relevant direction. If you are waving someone towards you use your hand palm downwards.
  • Remember that you should always turn prayer wheels or navigate round a chorten, religious monument or temple in a clockwise direction. 

  • Photography and filming inside temples is not allowed. Please ask if they mind before taking pictures of local people.
  • It is polite to take any items offered to you (or to hold something out to another person) with two hands. This is also often done when shaking hands. If you only use one hand to take something from someone make sure it is the right hand.
  • Don’t touch people on the head or feet (although this rule does not apply to small children), and don’t point your feet at anyone. If you are sitting on the floor try to sit cross-legged or kneel with your feet behind you.
  • Don’t give money or candy to local children. It will encourage them to beg whenever they see foreigners. Instead you could leave small donations to schools or the village development fund so that the money can be used to benefit the whole community.
  • In an effort to become the first smoke free nation, Bhutan has prohibited the sale of tobacco and smoking in public areas. However, tourists are allowed to bring a limited quantity of tobacco products for their personal consumptions & subject to payment of 100% custom duty and 100% sales tax. Any excess quantity is subject to confiscation. Further, tourists are permitted to smoke at designated smoking areas only.
 
Travel Safety Advice

With evolving world situations that may occur unexpectedly due to natural disasters, pandemics/epidemics, conflicts and unrests, it is best to read up and keep tabs on news and developments at your destination country and region before the trip. Check on the country’s official website and/or your own foreign ministry website for any travel advisory or safety precautions to be taken while abroad.

As with traveling in anywhere in the world, regardless of the local crime rate, stay vigilant and take care of personal safety. Good to read up on any possible exposure in the country prior to departure.

It is a good practice to register with your respective foreign ministry if there is such a service provided to citizens, to contact you in order to make sure that you are safe and, if need be, assist you should an emergency (e.g. natural disasters, civil unrest, etc.) occur when you are overseas.

For Singaporeans, this is the link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ eRegister:
https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/eregisterportal/common/preLoginEregisterView.action.

 

Travel Insurance

It is highly recommended to purchase comprehensive travel insurance(s), upon payment of your trip, to cover adverse situations that may occur while you are overseas or even before departure. Ensure that the coverage is suitable for your destination and the activities that you are participating in. Be familiar with the terms and conditions before purchasing and travelling abroad.

 
Travel Immunization Advice 

There is no compulsory vaccine to be taken to enter Bhutan. You should, however, be up to date on routine vaccinations, especially vaccines against water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (examples: hepatitis, typhoid and tuberculosis) while traveling to any destination. You are encouraged to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

Recommended routine vaccinations for travellers in general:

Hepatitis A

Spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route. Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation are poor.

Hepatitis B

Spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse. Risk is higher for those at occupational risk, long stays or frequent travel, children (exposed through cuts and scratches) and individuals who may need, or request, surgical procedures abroad.

Rabies

 

Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, but also bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.

Tetanus

 

Spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A primary series of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine is recommended for life. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.

Typhoid Fever

Spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited.

Influenza

A vaccine specific for a given year to protect against the highly variable influenza virus.

For more information and professional advice on travel vaccinations, please consult your doctor or travel clinic.

For people residing in Singapore, you may visit The Travellers’ Health and Vaccination Clinic (THVC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital:

Travellers’ Health & Vaccination Clinic
Address: Level 4, Clinic 4B, Tan Tock Seng Hospital Medical Centre
Contact number: 6357 2222
Website : https://www.ttsh.com.sg/Patients-and-Visitors/Medical-Services/Travellers-Health-and-Vaccination-Clinic/Pages/default.aspx.