Bhutan Thunder Dragon Marathon & Half

Nights
from 8
Date
May 25, 2025
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon

If you have questions regarding Marathon Tours & Travel’s Bhutan Packages please: EMAIL OUR TRIP DESIGNER or CALL 617-242-7845

Bhutan or Druk Yul (the land of the Thunder Dragon) as it is known in Bhutanese, is mystical, enchanting and like nowhere you have ever been. Remote and isolated it is the last great Himalayan kingdom. Although completely cut off for centuries it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its customs and traditions.

The Bhutanese people with their Buddhist beliefs have a strong sense of identity and of the interdependence between man and nature, expressed through the national policy of Gross National Happiness and concern for the environment. Its environment is wild and pristine and it is home to some of the world’s highest unclimbed mountains, the last great undestroyed forests of the Himalayas and exotic wildlife.

Regularly voted one of the world’s top travel destinations, Bhutan still remains accessible only to the privileged few. The Thunder Dragon Marathon is your chance to see the country at ground level, to immerse yourself in its unique culture and enjoy an unforgettable running and travel experience.

The Thunder Dragon Marathon highlights all of the aspects of Bhutan that make it so special. Running through the beautiful Paro Valley, the route takes in fantastic mountain scenery and features many iconic landmarks, such as the Tigers Taktsang Monastery (also known as Tigers Nest), Paro Dzong and many religious Chorten or shrines. It is a true mountain and cultural experience.

Meals Included

Meals Included

Most meals included (see itinerary)

Guide

Guide

English speaking guide included with activities

Transfers

Transfers

Airport transfers included (walk or hotel shuttle)

Trip Extension

Trip Extension

The Dragon Challenge - China and Bhutan!

Accommodation

Accommodation

Accommodations as outlined in the itinerary

Entry

Entry

Guaranteed entry

Celebration Party

Celebration Party

Post-race celebration dinner included

Excursions

Excursions

Tours & hikes as per the itinerary

Medal Bling

Medal Bling

Finisher medal presented at post-race dinner

Travel Package Information

  • Itinerary

    • Culture Package | Bangkok, Punakha and Paro/8 Nights/May 19 - 27, 2025

      Monday, May 19
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      A cultural tour that captures the variety and beauty of Bhutan. The Paro Valley with its surrounding pine clad mountainsides, Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan and the Punakha Valley, a lower lying valley with a semi-tropical climate. (This tour is combined with the Great Wall Marathon tour to create the Dragon Challenge referenced below.)

      Arrive in Bangkok and transfer (walk or hotel shuttle) to the Novotel Bangkok Airport hotel. We recommend booking your international flights for morning or afternoon arrivals into Bangkok, our flights to Bhutan the following morning typically have very early departures.

      Tuesday, May 20
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      We will have an early morning flight to Paro, Bhutan. Drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass (approx 2 1/2 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 Punakha. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Wednesday, May 21
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      Today we start our acclimatization activity with a hike Soela Gompa via Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. The recommended hike is approximately 20km with a high degree of difficulty (elevation gain and altitude) and will take approximately eight (8) hours. This will definitely provide you with a beautiful Himalayan trekking experience and bragging rights. An option to return after visiting the Chorten for a shorter hike can be arranged. Overnight in Punakha. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Thursday, May 22
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      Drive to the Capital City Thimphu (2 1/2 hours). Tour 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 Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Friday, May 23
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      Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) six (6) hours. On the way back visit Kyichu Lhakhang Monastery. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Saturday, May 24
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      Free time for shopping in Paro. Race day briefing. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Sunday, May 25
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      Thunder Dragon Marathon and Half-Marathon RACE DAY!

      Early breakfast before the 9:00 am start of both races. Celebration dinner and Cultural show at Olathang Hotel. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Monday, May 26
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      We will enjoy a final day in Paro before a late afternoon transfer to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. Arrive in Bangkok at 10 pm and transfer to the Novotel Bangkok Airport hotel. (Breakfast and lunch included)

      Tuesday, May 27
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      Depart for home.

    • Trek and Culture Package | Bangkok, Paro, Druk Trail Trek and Thimphu/10 Nights/May 17 - 27, 2025

      Saturday, May 17
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      Bhutan has some of the best trekking in the world and as part of our ten night package we offer a fully supported four day trek on the famous Druk (or Thunder Dragon) Trail. With much of the hike up and around 4,000m will also help you acclimatize for the race (which has an average altitude of 2,300m). The ten night itinerary also takes in a visit to the famous Tigers Nest and an overnight stopover in the capital Thimphu.

      (Please note: This package is hosted by 209 Events staff)

      Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to the Novotel Bangkok Airport hotel. We recommend booking your international flights for morning or afternoon arrivals into Bangkok, our flights to Bhutan the following morning typically have very early departures.

      Sunday, May 18
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      Today starts with an early morning flight to Paro, Bhutan. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Monday, May 19
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      Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest), which will take approx. six (6) hours. On the way back visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Tuesday, May 20
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      Druk Path Trek – Day 1. Climb gradually upwards from the Paro Valley to the camp at 3650m. Most of the altitude gain is done today along forest trails. 20km Overnight camping. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Wednesday, May 21
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      Druk Path Trek – Day 2. Leaving the camp, it will be a fairly steep climb for about one (1) hour, you will then follow a ridge with views of Mt Jomolhari. A steep descent takes you to the campsite next to a beautiful lake. The total hike is 15km. Overnight camping. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Thursday, May 22
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      Druk Path Trek – Day 3. Today is a short but tough day of ascents and descents up to 4150m. Total distance is 11km. Overnight camping. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Friday, May 23
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      Druk Path Trek – Day 4. The day begins with a gradual climb with views of Mt Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan’s highest mountain before dropping into Thimphu. Overnight Thimphu. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Saturday, May 24
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      In Thimphu. Visit the painting school, folk heritage museum, textile museum, Bhudda Point, Takin Reserve. Afternoon visit to craft bazaar and weekend market. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Sunday, May 25
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      RACE DAY!

      Early breakfast before the 9:00 am start of both races. Celebration dinner and Cultural show. Overnight Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Monday, May 26
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      We will enjoy a final day in Paro before a late afternoon transfer to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. Arrive in Bangkok at 10 pm and transfer to the Novotel Bangkok Airport hotel. (Breakfast and lunch included)

      Tuesday, May 27
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      Depart for home. (Breakfast included)


      Make it a tour of a lifetime by combining our Great Wall and Bhutan Thunder Dragon packages. Compare two historic cultures, from the bustle of China to the quiet tranquility of Bhutan.  The Dragon Challenge is two (2) challenging races separated by 1800 miles and eight (8) days!

       

  • Extensions

    • Make it a tour of a lifetime by combining our Great Wall and Bhutan Thunder Dragon packages. Compare two historic cultures, from the bustle of China to the quiet tranquility of Bhutan.  The Dragon Challenge is two (2) challenging races separated by 1800 miles and eight (8) days!

       

  • Packages & Rates

    • Bhutan Thunder Dragon Tour | Eight-Night Culture Package: May 19 – 27, 2025

      Bhutan Thunder Dragon Tour | Ten-Night Trek and Culture Package: May 17 – 27, 2025

      Thailand Features:

      • Two night accommodation at the Novotel Bangkok Airport Hotel
      • Meals as outlined on the itinerary
      • All hotel taxes
      • Airport transfers (walk or hotel shuttle)
      • Services of Marathon & Travel Staff for the eight night package

      Bhutan Features:

      • Bhutan Travel Visa
      • Bhutan Sustainable Development Fund fee
      • Roundtrip flight from Bangkok to Paro Bhutan
      • Airport transfers
      • Accommodations as outlined on the itineraries
      • Meals as outlined on the itineraries
      • All hotel taxes
      • Tours per the itineraries with English-speaking guides
      • Admission and fees for activities on the itineraries
      • Tips for guides and drivers
      • Guaranteed entry into the Thunder Dragon Marathon or Half Marathon
      • Post-race celebration dinner
      • Services of Marathon & Travel Staff for the eight night package
      Not Included:
      • Incidentals
      • Meals not outlined on the itinerary
      • Travel Insurance
      • International flights from home airport to and from Bangkok Thailand

      Airfare: Flights should be booked to fly in and out of Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). Please call 617-242-7845 with questions.

      Travel Insurance

      Travel Insurance for U.S. Residents

      Travel Insurance for Canadian Residents

      2024 Rates (all prices are per person and in US dollars)  – 2025 Rates Coming Soon

      PackageDouble OccupancySingle Occupancy
      Eight-Night Culture Package$5995 per person$6560
      Ten-Night Trek and Culture Package$6650 per person$7350
      Thirteen-Night Dragon Challenge Package$8960 per person$10,175
  • Hotels

    • Bangkok
      Novotel Bangkok Airport

      Designed with an intriguing Thai influence and a complete understanding of guests’ needs. Novotel is situated right next to the airport terminal. A leisurely five (5) minutes stroll via the air-conditioned underground walkway or a short ride in the complimentary airport shuttle van service. With an abundance of facilities that include seven (7) restaurants and bars, VOUS Spa, a swimming pool surrounded in tropical gardens with pool bar, well equipped fitness center with sauna and steam-room it is the perfect place to recharge.

      Paro, Bhutan
      Raven’s Nest

      One of the newest hotels in Paro with 21 guest rooms conveniently located by both the race start and finish. The 4-star compound boasts of hundreds of varieties of flowers, herbs, nourishing fruit trees and vegetables all grown organically. Each of the rooms offer a majestic view of the snowcapped peaks, the beautiful Paro valley and the meandering stream. Built of handcrafted stones, wood from the high Himalayas and local mud, the buildings remind you of the ruggedness of the environment.

  • Event Information

    • Race Date: May 25, 2025

      Race Time: 9:00 AM

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

      The first 8K are 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 18K the marathon route crosses the river and returns towards Paro on the other side on a gentle downhill gradient to 25K. 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 2.560m.

      Dropping back down to the Paro Chu the marathon and half marathon re-join beneath Paro Dzong to cross the famous wooden bridge. The last 10K 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 2.400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2,200.

      Temperature: Expected temperatures range from 60F to 70F degrees. Humidity is comfortable in May and light rain is a possibility.

      Entry Fee: All tour packages include the race entry fee, race t-shirt, pre-race pasta dinner, finisher medal and post-race celebration dinner. Your entry is guaranteed after receipt of a completed tour application form and deposit.

      Time Limit: The Marathon course time limit is eight (8) hours. There is no time limit for the Half-Marathon.

      Difficulty:​ Difficult, if you do not have experience running at altitude and/or on hilly course that include some single track trail. More information here.

  • Registration & Booking

    • Rates: All prices are based on current exchange rates may change due to currency fluctuations.

      Race entry: Guaranteed entry is included in the package cost. There is a limit of two (2) entries per room reservation.

      Reservations and Payments:  A completed tour application together with an initial non-refundable deposit of $600.00 per person must be received before confirming your reservations. Final payment is due on or before January 15, 2025.

      Cancellations: All payments, including your deposit, are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Non-transferrable includes applying your balance to another person, another year or another trip. Should you cancel for any reason, you will forfeit your trip investment. Therefore, travel insurance for every trip is highly recommended. All cancellations must be received in writing.

      Not included in price: All items not specifically listed under package features.

      Insurance: For your protection, trip cancellation, baggage, health and accident insurance is highly recommended for all participants. However, no representation or description of the insurance made by our staff constitutes a binding assurance or promise about the insurance.

      Travel Insurance for U.S. Residents
      Travel Insurance for Canadian Residents

      Security Policy: Marathon Tours & Travel’s security policy requires that anyone staying in our room block must be registered as part of our package. If a registered client attempts to house a non-registered guest and /or invite them to attend any of our scheduled activities, the registered guest’s tour package will be forfeited and parties may be denied access to future tours. Please note that no exceptions will be made as this policy will be strictly enforced.

      Responsibility: These tours are operated by Marathon Tours, Inc. of Chelsea, MA who acts only as an agent for the passenger to the companies offering such services and assumes no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity caused by any reason whatsoever by any party offering such services. All terms and conditions offered are governed by the laws of Massachusetts. The right is reserved to cancel the tour prior to departure with a refund, less applicable credit card and processing fees, made as full settlement to the passenger. The right is reserved by Marathon Tours, Inc. to deny acceptance of a booking application by any person. Marathon Tours, Inc. may make any changes or alterations in the itinerary as it deems necessary for the proper handling of the tour. The sole responsibility of any airline used is limited to that set out in the passenger contract evidenced by the ticket. The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time that the passengers are not on board their aircraft.

  • Testimonials

    • "Our group, the ease of itinerary, the trek..." - 2023

      Our group, the ease of itinerary, the trek, Bhutan – everything! I felt like we were on a very local and cultural trip that didn’t feel like a ‘tour’.

      "The location was incredible!" - 2023

      The location was incredible! The culture and activities/tours were fun and interesting. The tour guides were the best!! The tour group was a wonderful group of people. Ann was a great host!

      "We had a travel group that meshed very well..." - 2023

      We had a travel group that meshed very well. Many solo travelers, like myself, so that was reassuring from the start.

      "It was one of the best experiences of my life..." - 2023

      It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my first trip to Asia and I will not be deterred by the long flight to go again. I am so glad the cultural component of the trip was as rich and varied as it was and that it was presented to us by such a wonderful young man from Bhutan. He treated us like family and really helped me see the interweaving of Buddhism into all aspects of living in Bhutan. I tell everyone if they want a special experience they will always remember they need to travel to Bhutan. If they are a runner I emphasize how fantastic the marathon experience was as well.

      "A truly incredible experience!" - 2023

      A truly incredible experience! I would highly recommend a trip to Bhutan.

      "The guides and staff were phenomenal!" - 2023

      The guides and staff were phenomenal! They were extremely accommodating in insuring we had the best experience. I would highly recommend this group.

      COVID-19 - Messages of Client Support

      Thank you to Ms. Suter for her excellent piece on what to do if your race is cancelled. Her writing reminded me to refocus on mindfulness and to maintain the training plan for the Outback. Her counsel applies not only to running but to life in general. In line with something Ms. Suter writes, I recently resumed yoga to help deal with the Covid-19 stress. I had started following a Runner’s World yoga DVD in the months prior to Bhutan to prepare spiritually. Ironically I dropped yoga when we returned to the states because I felt too busy!

      That leads to my next thought. We were reminiscing the past two days about our wonderful time in Bhutan. Thank you to the great staff at Marathon Tours & Travel. These memories, plus Patagonia and the Big 5 tours, remind us of the beauty in the world. We greatly appreciate the work Ann and Stephanie have done for us. We look forward to traveling again.

      "You can't explain the country, you have to see it..." - 2019

      You can’t explain the country, you have to see it. People still can’t believe the course we ran.

      "If one wishes to experience a deep Buddhist culture..." - 2019

      If one wishes to experience a deep Buddhist culture, which is striving to maintain its true identity in the beauty of the Himalayas, with the bonus of a foot race, this is the life experience for you.

      "What did I like best? All aspects of the Druk Path Trek..." - 2019

      What did I like best? All aspects of the Druk Path Trek, visit to temples, Buddhist monks’ blessing before the race and local nature of the race. Hotels and van were comfortable, food good and communication excellent.

      "Brutally difficult course, but very well marshaled..." - 2019

      Brutally difficult course, but very well marshaled. I was worried about the spacing between the water stops, but having full sized bottles of water to carry worked quite well.

      "If I could, I would give our guides an 11 out of 10..." - 2019

      If I could, I would give our guides an 11 out of 10. They were phenomenal — knowledgeable, personable, terrific.

      "Loved the course..." - 2018

      Loved the course… It was difficult but so so so enjoyable… The scenery was spectacular… The single track was FUN! Course markings were excellent, rest stops plentiful.

      "I was thrilled with the beauty of the country..." - 2018

      I was thrilled with the beauty of the country and being able to spend so much time hiking it. The camaraderie of most participants and staff added to the fun

      "This is a unique trip..." - 2018

      This is a unique trip because the run is actually secondary in the experience. Words really can’t describe it, I’m telling friends to go and then lets talk!

      "It was professionally organized..." - 2018

      It was professionally organized, the guides were great, every day was an adventure, the hikes, especially Tigers Nest was just awesome. Jeff’s attention to detail and his ability to connect with everyone on the trip makes it a great experience.

      "Inspirational, spiritual and unique." - 2018

      Inspirational, spiritual and unique.

      "Our tour guide was absolutely wonderful..." - 2018

      Our tour guide was absolutely wonderful. His organisational skills were second to none and he never missed a thing. During the trek he was always calm, kind and knowledgeable and looked after everyone. Once back in Thimphu and Paro he was on top of everything without having to be asked. He is probably the best guide we have had over the course of many trips. We cannot speak highly enough of him.

      "Very physically difficult..." - 2018

      Very physically difficult which led to an even deeper spiritual journey.

      "Jeff was terrific as were the local guides..." - 2018

      Jeff was terrific as were the local guides. I appreciate having a MTT representative on-site who is very knowledgeable, helpful and truly cared about my well-being. Also, the nicest and most enjoyable local guides and drivers of any tour I’ve ever taken.

Recommended Resources

Meet the Reps

Ann Haebler

Senior Trip Designer

Ann Haebler

Senior Trip Designer

Ann joined the Marathon Tours & Travel team after spending five years working as Group Sales Manager for a domestic tour operator specializing in train travel. She has now been a member of the team for eight years and hopes to continue to expand her knowledge of the world. Since her seventh grade world geography class, she has had an interest in learning about all the world has to offer.

During her time majoring in geography at the University of New Hampshire, her love of travel really kicked into high gear after spending a semester abroad in Australia. Let’s just say it was love at first flight! She has completed several half-marathons, 10K and 5K’s around the globe and in her local community.

Ann currently manages trips to Bhutan, Dragon Challenge, Comrades Ultra Marathon, Rio de Janeiro, Big Five, the Australian Outback, Sydney, Cape Town, Dublin and Patagonia in addition to being an Oceania Cruise Line Specialist.

 

Jeff Adams

President

Jeff Adams

President

Jeff first found Marathon Tours & Travel as a client while pursuing his interest for international adventure travel. He is respected for being an innovative corporate and philanthropic leader with a passion for helping clients accomplish their goals.

Prior to joining Marathon Tours & Travel, Jeff enjoyed a 28 year career in various client centric leadership roles at Morgan Stanley. Jeff is a middle of the pack runner who enjoys a good challenge – like earning the Abbott World Marathon Major Six Star Medal twice and becoming a Seven Continents Club Finisher at the 2019 Cape Town Marathon

In addition to completing 44 marathons, Jeff is also an avid climber, skier and paddler. Jeff is a proud member of the Oceanites Board of Directors, President of T.O.U.R.S. (Tour Operators United for Runners), a Founding Board Member and Past President of the Make A Wish Foundation in North Texas, and recently concluded ten years of service on the National Board of Back on My Feet.