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Thunder Dragon Marathon

Nestling between Tibet and India it is a country of raw natural beauty; from stunning mountain scenery to tropical plains. This pristine scenery is home to exotic wildlife and is one of the last refuges of species like the Black-Necked Crane, the Golden Langur and even the Royal Bengal tiger.

The Bhutanese people with their Buddhist beliefs have a strong sense of identity and of the interdependence between man and nature. This is expressed in the national policy of Gross National Happiness and concern for the environment.

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 scenery and passes many iconic landmark like the Tiger's Nest, Monastery, Paro Dzong and many religious Chorten. A true mountain and cultural experience.

The Thunder Dragon Marathon is run 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 Thunder Dragon Marathon is a fully hosted tour.
The Thunder Dragon Marathon was previously known as the Himalayan Kingdom Mountain Marathon. 


  • Marathon
  • Half Marathon


Starting at Zhiwa Ling, the first few kilometres are downhill, before crossing a bridge festooned in prayer flags. Following the Paro Chu River downstream, 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, the Half Marathoners will reach the finish line. 

The marthon then climbs steadily for 4km, passing above Paro Dzong (temple) and continuing to Zueray Dzong at the highest point of the race (2530m). From this point you start to drop back into the valley, passing by the luxurious Uma Resort (2413m). 

Dropping back to the river, you cross the ornate Paro Bridge, in front of Paro Dzong. The course then rises up for 3km to 2400m, before picking up forest trails along a line of Chortens festooned with prayer flags. A short but steep climg at 30km, on the road, takes you onto a trail around a spur before dropping and rising on a number of valleys. At 32km there is an amazing section through paddy fields, before a final loop with incredible views of the Tigers Nest as you approach the finish line back at Zhiwa Ling. 

The rist half of the marathon is easier than the second half, with long section of flat, undulating running on the gravel trail of the river banks. There is a longish climb between 15 and 20km where runners are rewarded with fabulous views up the valley before the drop to the finish line. 

Cut off time for the marathon is 8hrs but with some flexibility depending on weather conditions. There is no cutoff for the Half Marathon Transportation from the finish back to the start is provided for half marathon runners and spectators. The marathon starts and finishes at the same place (Zhiwa Ling).


The route is a mixture of gravel road, farm fields and mountain tracks with a few sections of tarmac road through Paro town. Trail running shoes are recommended.


Drink stations will have bottled mineral water, bananas and rice every 5km. If you require gels or electrolytes we recommend you take them with you.


The event will be fully supported by local guides and horses, water stations plus medical back up from doctors and local first aiders (there is a modern hospital 500m from the start/finish line in case of emergency). There are evacuation points on the mountain in case of emergency accessed by 4-wheel drive to nearby roads and mobile phones have connectivity on the full route making communication easy.


May is the end of the festival season and marks the change from Spring to Summer. There are two main seasons for visiting Bhutan.  The first is in the Spring (March to May). This is the season for wonderful flowers and birds, the days are warm and the mountain peaks are still visible for much of the time.  Daytime temperatures in the main centres you are likely to be visiting are around 17 to 22 degrees Celsius, increasing through the season and by May evening temperatures are very pleasantly warm as well.


Visas are issued by the incoming tour company in Bhutan and we will take care of this process for you.


The mystical Kingdom of Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas bordering India and Tibet. The local name of Druk Yul means ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, which, perhaps, frames the way we think of this magical Buddhist country.

The size of Switzerland but with a population of only 700,000 living in mostly rural communities farming rice on the lower levels and herding yak as the altitude climbs, Bhutan remains a Kingdom steeped in history, mysticism and tradition.

The comparison with Switzerland is not just in size. Unlike many Himalayan areas the Kingdom has protected the mountains from deforestation and tourist exploitation leaving the countryside pristine.

Tourism is controlled and you must be on an organised itinerary booked with a local travel agent to get permission to enter Bhutan – you cannot enter and wander around unguided or back pack through the country.

Itinerary Thunder Dragon Marathon 2018

We are pleased to offer a range of options that allow runners to acclimatise to the altitude, with long and short trips to suit your sense of adventure and the time you have available. The treks are fantastic with magnificent views of the high Himalayas and are moderate in difficulty, reaching altitudes of 4,000 to 4,200m, or enjoy a cultural west-to-east tour by private minibus after the marathon to experience the differences across Bhutan. For those on a short time scale the 4 night tour offers enough time to acclimatise and see some of the area including the walk up to the incredible Tigers Nest Monastery and a visit to the capital Thimphu.

All tours are available as a 3, 4 or 5 star option this this is a fully hosted tour.

Great Wall and Himalayan Kingdom Marathon Double!

For an extraordinary trip, it is possible to double up on your Great Wall Marathon experience with the Thunder Dragon trip for the ultimate cultural experience. Leaving Beijing behind on the Monday, fly to Bangkok (not included) and overnight at an airport hotel (not included) before taking the included flight to Paro. Contact us for details. 

fr $2,720pp twin share

Get a taste of the beautiful and mystical country that is Bhutan. This long weekend option takes you to the famous Tigers Nest and a day visit to the capital city Thimphu.

Day 1 – Thu 24 May

Arrival from Kathmandu.
Arrivals from Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok also available at a supplement.
Overnight Paro

Day 2 - Fri 25 May

Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest) 6hrs.
On the way back visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang.
Overnight Paro

Day 3 - Sat 26 May

Excursion to the Capital City Thimphu (1 hr journey by coach). Visit the painting school, folk heritage museum, textile museum, Budda Point, Takin Reserve.
Afternoon visit to craft bazaar and weekend market.
Overnight Paro

Day 4- Day Sun 27 May

Race day! Marathon and Half Marathon.
Celebration Dinner and Cultural show at Olanthang Hotel.
Overnight Paro

Day 5 - Mon 28 May

Fly out to Kathmandu, Delhi, Singapore or Bangkok.

Note: flights from Kathmandu, Bangkok,Singapore and Delhi depart early in the morning to Paro and we strongly recommend you to booking overnight accommodation before your flight.

fr $3,560pp twin share

A tour that captures the variety and culture 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 which gives a semi-tropical climate. This tour can be combined with the Great Wall Marathon by adding flights from Beijing to Bankok with an overnight before your early morning flight to Paro. 

Day 1 – Tue 22 May

Arrival from Kathmandu.
Arrivals from Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok also available at a supplement.
Drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass (approx. 2½ hrs). Afternoon sightseeing in Punakha; visit the Divine Mad Monks Temple (Temple of Fertility) and the remarkable Punakha Dzong, past home to the King of Bhutan. 
Overnight Paro. L,D.

Day 2 – Wed 23 May

Today we start our acclimatisation with a hike to Soela Gompa via Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten. The hike is approx. 20km at moderate difficulty and will take around 8hrs. 
Overnight Punakha. B,L,D

Day 3 - Thu 24 May

Drive to the capital, Thimphu (2½ hrs). Hike up to Buddha Point and the giant seated Buddha, the Takin Reserve (national animal), Thimphu Dzong and craft workshops. 
After lunch, drive to Paro (1hr) visiting the National Museum with the chance to hike part of the marathon route before visiting Paro Dzong.
Overnight Paro. B,L,D

Day 4 - Fri 25 May

Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest - 6hrs).
On the return, visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.
Overnight Paro, B,L,D

Day 5- Day Sat 26 May

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

Day 6- Day Sun 27 May

Race day! Marathon and Half Marathon.
Early breakfast before the 8am start of both races. 
Celebration Dinner and Cultural show at Olanthang Hotel.
Overnight Paro.B,D

Day 7 - Mon 28 May

Fly out to Kathmandu, Delhi, Singapore or Bangkok.


fr $4,450pp twin share

Bhutan has some of the best trekking in the World and here we offer a fully supported 4 day trek on the famous Druk (or Thunder Dragon) Trail. With much of the hike up and around 4,000m, this will also help you acclimatise for the race (which has an average atlititude of 2,300m). The 9d itinerary also takes in a visit to the famous Tigers Nest and an overnight stopover in the capital Thimphu. 

Day 1 – Sun 20 May

Arrival from Kathmandu.
Arrivals from Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok also available at a supplement.
Overnight Paro

Day 2 – Mon 21 May

Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest) 6hrs. On the way back visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang.
Overnight Paro

Day 3 – Tue 22 May

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 through Forest. 20km.
Overnight camping

Day 4 – Wed 23 May

Druk Path Trek – Day 2
On leaving the camp we climb fairly steeply for 1hr then follow a ridge with views of Mt Jomolhari. A steep descent takes you to the campsite next to a beautiful lake. 15km.
Overnight camping

Day 5 – Thu 24 May

Druk Path Trek – Day 3
Today is a tough day of ascents and descents up to 4150m. 11km.
Overnight camping

Day 6 – Fri 25 May

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

Day 7 – Sat 26 May

In Thimphu. Visit the painting school, folk heritage museum, textile museum, Budda Point, Takin Reserve.
Afternoon visit to craft bazaar and weekend market.
Overnight Paro

Day 8 - Day Sun 27 May

Race day! Marathon and Half Marathon.
Celebration Dinner and Cultural show.
Overnight Paro

Day 9 - Mon 28 May

Fly out to Kathmandu, Delhi, Singapore or Bangkok.

Udumwara Hotel 3 star (Standard)

The resort has ten rooms at the main block and five cosy villas with four rooms in each villa, all of which are deluxe twin bedded rooms. The rooms are decorated in a traditional style with modern facilities like security boxes, TV and free wireless internet connection. Pakshing Bar is made wholly of bamboo and serves local drinks. There is a handicraft shop with antiques on display just next to the bar in the main block.

To add on to the existing natural beauty of the resort, a traditional bridge is constructed which passes over a small brook. The resort is a blend of traditional look with a touch of modern architecture.

Hotel in Thimphu after the Trek on 8-nt option will be Hotel Phutsho Perli or Similar. In Punakha for the 6nt tour the Zangto Perli or similar.


Raven's Nest Resort Hotel 4 star 

Raven's Nest Hotel is the latest addition to the hotels in Paro. It has 21 guest rooms with ensuite bathroom, private balcony, 42" cable LCD TV, kitchenette, fridge, desk and heating.

Bathroom amenities include shower and tub combination and rainfall shower head. Each room is provided with bathrobes, hair dryer, slippers, iron/board and complimentary toiletries. Complimentary bottled water and coffee/tea making facilities are also provided. 

Hotel in Thimphu after the Trek on 8nt option is the Druk Hotel (or similar). In Punakha on the 6nt tour, the Dhensa Punaka (or similar).


Zhiwa Ling Hotel 5 star

The 45-room Zhiwa Ling Hotel combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of 21st Century technology. Envisioned and created by a local Bhutanese company, the hotel's elaborate hand-carved wooden cornices and masterful stonework coexist beautifully with today's cutting-edge technology.

The spa offers all the amenities of a modern fitness centre - sauna, steam room, gym - as well as a traditional Bhutanese outdoor hot-stone bath. The hotel located amidst beautiful landscape and evergreen forest houses fully equipped business centre, a tea house, two fully-equipped conference rooms, a meditation house and multi cuisine restaurant.

Honouring the spiritual heritage of this ancient Buddhist kingdom, a temple has been built into the second floor of the hotel, made with 450-year-old timbers from the famous Gangtey Monastery, the crowning glory of this new ten-acre cultural landmark.


Hotel in Thimphu after the 8nt trek is the Taj Tashi Hotel (or similar). In Punakha for the 6nt tour the Uma Punaka (or similar)

2018 Thunder Dragon Marathon Packages 

Accommodation is available on a 3*, 4* or 5* basis. 

5d/4nt RACE WEEKEND AND CULTURE TOUR, fr $2,720pp twin share, $2,998 single

7d/6nt PUNAKHA and PARO, fr $3,560pp twin share, $3,990 single

9d/8nt 4d PARO, THIMPHU AND DRUK TRAIL, $4,450pp twin share, $4,940 single

Entry is available only in conjunction with a travel package from RunFun Travel. 

Your visa for Bhutan will be arranged on a group basis and is included in the tour cost. You should check the visa details of any other country you are visiting or transiting through on the way to Bhutan.


  • Fully hosted tour
  • Flights from Kathmandu to Paro (flights from Singapore, Delhi and Bangkok available, supplementary cost applies)
  • Visa costs (we will arrange this for you)
  • Accommodation in your choice of 3, 4 or 5 star hotels
  • Breakfast and dinner in hotels each day (except on trekking days), lunch in local restaurants as determined by the days 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
  • On treks – all facilities and staff required on trek including, guide, cook, helpers and horses to cart luggage and tents (sleeping bags are not provided)
  • Visa for Bhutan



RunFun Travel is a fully accredited travel agent and can assist you with:

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Overseas SIM (phone) card
  • Airport transfers (where not included)
  • Overseas car rental, driving routes, suggested stops along your way
  • Ongoing transfers and travel plans

Please contact us for an obligation free quote that will enhance your trip and we’ll make sure you run the time of your life!


A non-refundable payment of $600 is required to secure your Thunder Dragon Marathon travel, entry and accommodation package.
All prices are in Australian dollars and subject to change at any time, without notice, before final payment is made.




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