A few days ago, me and my friends sat down to talk about going to Bir and trying paragliding for the first time. Needless to say, I was excited as hell. That has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time.
Located in the Joginder Nagar valley of Himachal, Bir is a quaint little town located at a height of 5000 m. Home to a bustling Tibetan colony, it has several mesmerizing monasteries that make it an area of interest for tourists. Not only that, it is especially popular for having Asia’s highest paragliding site – Billing. Tandem paragliding is very popular here with travellers from around the country flocking here to experience it. It also sees many people take refuge here to learn paragliding and hang gliding. Surrounded by mountains of the Dhauladhar – Bir offers some of the greatest sunsets in all of Himachal Pradesh.
In all my excitement, I desperately started reading online about things to do in Bir. What kinda made me upset was that every blog and forum seemed to suggest that in order to truly enjoy the place – I had to trek here and climb that and hike 5 km into the woods. You know what? Not all travellers are avid trekkers or hikers. What about the ones that just want a few days of leisure and not swell their back muscles?
This is why I made a list of things to do in Bir for someone who wants to unwind, laze around as well as experience the culture and history of the place.
Keep reading 🙂
Bir has a plethora of beautiful, artistically painted and peaceful monasteries that one can totally make a day out of. According to me, one full day in Bir should totally be dedicated to visiting as many of the monasteries as possible.
It is the best place to experience more about the Tibetan culture, learn about the norms of the religion and meet people that can open your world view of things beyond the ordinary. On top of that, some of the monasteries also have cafes built into them that serve delicious yet super cheap food. Now come on! Who doesn’t want that?
Some of the must go monasteries are Sherabling, Chokling, Nyingma, Tsering Dzong, and Dzongsar Khyentse. But honestly, if you walk around long enough, you might just discover a few more.
When in Rome right? If you have made this entire 12-hour journey to come to the Paragliding capital of the country, it makes no sense to just leave without doing so. I have yet to meet a single person who says that the experience was not worth it.
The lift-off is from Billing, which is about an hour away from the Bir landing site. You can easily reach it via car. The twenty to thirty-minute ride from the cliff to the landing site is definitely one of the most thrilling things to do in Bir. No back breaking with a heavy backpack and kilometers of hiking. Just you, your companion, your GoPro and some mind-blowing views of the lands below and the mountains beside.
One of the best things about this is that the prices of flights are also very competitive. You might think that an adventure activity like this might set you behind a huge sum – but that is totally not the case. Go forth and fly my friend.
WATCH THE SUN GO DOWN –
One of the biggest reasons people travel is to admire nature, but I feel like not enough people understand that it is totally possible to admire nature and not have to walk 14,000 feet into the greater Himalayas. Bir has plenty of nature, greenery and fresh air to offer.
This is why watching the sun go down is one of the best things to do in Bir. Imagine seeing the golden sun dip behind the mountains, casting it’s orange and pink glow everywhere around you – while you slurp on some hot soupy noodles or cradle a cup of warm tea – such bliss!
One of the best places to catch the sunset is at the Bir landing site. Other areas that are equally great vantage points are the road that leads to the Sherabling Monastery and the nearby Keori village.
Honestly, paragliding is a must do but I am superbly excited to cycle around the mountains in my cute little mountain bike for sure! I went on Youtube and saw Tanya Khanijow doing it with a bunch of her friends and ever since then I’ve been smitten. I cannot wait to just swerve and course down those chilly, breezy and lush mountain roads.
There are plenty of great cycling routes in Bir, each offering great views and fresh air to breathe. I sometimes get envious of my friends who can hike all these long distances. I too wanna see that gorgeous view from the top or those flowers that only bloom along that one route they walked on. In Bir, you can just hop on a cycle and never fall prey to FOMO.
Some of the scenic routes to take while cycling would be toward the Sherabling Monastery, the Mukutnath temple route, the landing site route, Bhattu, and the Baijnath road.
CAFE HOPPING –
All my foodie travellers, you must in no way miss the opportunity to try the local cafes and restaurants in Bir Billing. Looking for things to do in Bir is all well and good, but if you come back to the city without getting a taste of the local cuisines – then what did you even go there for anyway?
Bir has plenty of comfy, cosy, beautifully decorated and homely cafes that you and your squad can explore. Garden Cafe, Silver Linings cafe (is it a reference to the movie tho?), 99 Not Out cafe, Nyingma Kitchen are some of the places I’ve seen mentioned the time and again.
Not only will you get to taste some scrumptious Tibetan cuisine like tingmo, thukpa, dumplings, and shapta – you will find many cafes that serve yummy continental treats like pancakes, sandwiches, pizzas, etc.
Writing this article has made me even more excited to go to Bir than before. I cannot wait to see the gorgeous monasteries, cycle along the great outdoors and eat some piping hot thukpa for lunch. The best part about this trip is that I can probably even paraglide 2 or 3 times if my heart desired.
How you ask? Cause my stay is so cheap. Me and my friends have chosen to book stays for ourselves at one of the best hostels in Bir. Budget-friendly, safe and with an amazing location. You can check it out here.
Well then, off I go to pack. See you in Bir 🙂