Bhutan Holidays: an Overview

Bhutan is about as unusual a country as you could hope to find. Tucked away between Tibet and India in the eastern Himalayas, the geography of this small, landlocked kingdom ensured its isolation from the rest of the world for centuries, in the process preserving the country's Buddhist culture and traditional lifestyle.

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Miranda and Rosie are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • Bhutan famously values Gross National Happiness above Gross National Product, and a few days in the fresh air and majestic scenery here should enhance your general net happiness
  • The food in the luxury hotels is yummy - try delicious cheese and pork-filled momo dumplings made from pigs fattened up by farmers on the plentiful Bhutanese marijuana
  • To go to Bhutan and not trek up to Tiger's Nest is like going to India and not seeing the Taj Mahal. We can arrange a wonderful overnight camping experience where you stay overnight high up the mountain on a sheltered plateau and then descend down in the morning - a very special experience

More on Travel to Bhutan...

Bhutan is wonderfully unspoilt by the outside world, and the Bhutanese set great store by their traditions and beliefs. Inevitably, however, the modern world is beginning to filter in to this Himalayan kingdom - a ban on TV was lifted in 1999, for example - but it remains a wonderfully unspoilt corner of the world to explore on a tailor made holiday. While Bhutan is slowly changing, the nation's government - recently transformed from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy - does its best to manage the transition. Hefty daily tariffs to visit the country keep tourist numbers low and help safeguard the nation's culture, identity and the pristine natural environment.

Did you know

  • The Bhutanese refer to their country as the 'Land of the Thunder Dragon', which has got a nice ring to it
  • Bhutan's national animal is the 'takin', a goat-antelope
  • All Bhutanese citizens become one year older on New Year's Day - this way no-one's birthday is forgotten
  • The countries national sports are archery… and darts

Travel to Bhutan generally begins and ends at Paro, where the country's only international airport is located. Paro is also the base from which to see probably the highest of Bhutan's many highlights, the fabulous Tiger's Nest monastery. Beyond Paro, and depending on how long you have, we can create an incredible tailor made Bhutan holiday itinerary to take in such wonders as the Wangdi Valley, famous for its extremely rare black cranes; the wonderful Dzongs (fortresses), temples and palaces in Bumthang; and Punakha, the one-time capital of Bhutan, built at the confluence of the mighty Phochu and Mochu Rivers.

Aside from simple immersion in a thoroughly alien but fascinating culture, trekking is one of the main activities, and keen walkers will be in their element here. Other activities include white-water rafting (from September to May), instruction in archery using traditional bamboo bows, and trout fishing in the many mountain streams and rivers, thanks to a British army officer who introduced trout as he missed the fishing of his homeland.

Most of Bhutan's population still wears the traditional national dress of knee or ankle-length robes and is occupied in agriculture of making traditional handicrafts which can be bought at the markets of the current capital, Thimphu.

Original Travel consultants know Bhutan well and can arrange for participation in archery tournaments, dancing at religious tsechus (festivals), trekking to fantastic monasteries, mountain-biking along 12,000 ft mountain passes or, between March and May, walks on hillsides ablaze with wildflowers.


Top picks for Bhutan

Amankora Paro

Amankora Paro

Bhutan

Amankora Paro, Aman Resorts’ first venture into Bhutan, is a 30-minute drive from the kingdom's only international airport and is the largest of the five Aman lodges, sitting in a pine forest nearly 9,000ft above sea level.

Where to stay

Taj Tashi

Taj Tashi

Bhutan

This seven-storey structure is a welcome addition to the emerging kingdom's small capital city.

Where to stay

Tiger's Nest

Tiger's Nest

Bhutan

Tatsang Palphug, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, is a Buddhist monastery clinging to the side of a steep cliff. A must see for anyone who is lucky enough to enter the world’s last remaining Shangri La, this temple complex lies 3000ft above the Paro Valley, where many long distance treks start from.

What to do

Festivals

Festivals

Bhutan

An integral part of Bhutanese culture are the festivals conveniently spaced throughout the year. These exotic and mysterious commemorations are calculated using the (highly complicated) Bhutanese lunar calendar.

What to do

Uma Paro

Uma Paro

Bhutan

An excellent five-star hotel on a 38-acre site on a forested mountainside, close to the town of Paro, designed to respect local aesthetics while including modern comforts.

Where to stay

Gangtey Lodge exterior and mountain view

Gangtey Lodge

Bhutan

Discover the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas, which remains greatly undiscovered due to its secluded location, and begin the adventure with a stay at Gangtey Lodge. The authentic wood and stone lodge provides visitors with a homely retreat, overlooking the striking Gangtey Valley and its 17th century monastery.

Where to stay

Amankora Punakha

Amankora Punakha

Bhutan

While some of the other Aman properties are based on designs from dzong fortress monasteries, Amankora Punakha is a lovingly converted Bhutanese farmhouse, with a correspondingly intimate feel, and set in orange orchards and farmland with the ever-present mountains as a backdrop.

Where to stay

Amankora Thimpu

Amankora Thimpu

Bhutan

Within easy reach of the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu (population 80,000 – think Weston-super-Mare. Actually, don’t) Amankora Thimpu is designed to resemble a dzong or fortress monastery.

Where to stay

Amankora Gangtey

Amankora Gangtey

Bhutan

Named after nearby Gangtey village, this is probably the most remote of the Aman properties, situated in the Phobjikha Valley area of the Black Mountains National Park.

Where to stay

Uma by COMO, Punakha (Uma Punakha)

Uma by COMO, Punakha (Uma Punakha)

Bhutan

COMO Hotels have recently opened Uma by COMO, Punakha, a sister property to Uma Paro (or Uma by COMO, Paro as it’s now supposed to be called. Catchy, no?)

Where to stay

Trekking in Bhutan

Trekking in Bhutan

Bhutan

Some of the best trekking on Earth is in the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, including both day treks and longer treks such as the six day Druk Path Trek, which follows the ancient trading route between Paro and Thimpu.

What to do

Amankora Bumthang

Amankora Bumthang

Bhutan

Amankora Bumthang is in exalted company, sharing the Choekhor Valley with 29 ancient temples and monasteries and sitting pretty next to the first two King of Bhutan’s Wangdichholing Palace in Jakar town.

Where to stay

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