After arriving at Paro International Airport, your journey begins with a one-hour drive, passing rich, forested mountains dotted with monasteries and temples on route to Thimphu, the capital.
At an altitude of 7,700 feet (2,200 meters), Thimphu lies in a steep valley and is the only city in the world without a single traffic light.
Six Senses Thimphu, our “Palace in the Sky’ is situated high above the valley floor, overlooking apple orchards and young pine forests. With captivating views over the world’s tallest seated Buddha, the location provides a perfect escape from the capital and yet is close enough to explore its many attractions.
We recommend slower paced activities on your first day as you adjust to the altitude. If energy levels allow, head down the valley to the town and wander with your GEM through Thimphu’s lively streets and markets. Stop in at Zorig Chusum (The National Institute of 13 Arts and Crafts) to discover Bhutan’s numerous art forms before crossing the road to visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which offers insights into Bhutanese daily life in the past.
Don’t miss a visit to the Tashi Chho Dzong, Thimphu’s impressive Buddhist monastery and fortress, which presently houses the throne room and offices of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan, as well as the head of the country’s religious order.
Return to the lodge and ease your tired muscles with a Dotsho (Bhutanese hot stone bath with herbs) in the spa followed by a jet lag massage before dinner at signature restaurant Namkha which offers views over the lodge’s reflecting ponds to the glittering lights of the valley below. Settle into the comfort of your suite or villa for a well-deserved night’s rest.
Rise to the Thimphu morning with an optional yoga or meditation class before heading out across the valley to visit the majestic Buddha Dordenma statue (170 feet/52 meters), perched high above the capital. From here an optional two-hour hike takes you to Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Thimphu, with sweeping views across the valley. (The monastery can also be accessed by car for those who choose not to hike).
Next look into the future at Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, a 16th-century monastic school of astrology where you can see what the stars have in store for you with a reading by one of the resident monks (by prior arrangement). From there it’s only a short distance to the Royal Textile Museum, which showcases the intricate art of Bhutanese weaving. Afterwards create your own stamp at the National Post Office before returning home for a Bhutanese afternoon tea at Lunsigang, our picnic spot high above the lodge with views to the surrounding peaks.
Today’s journey takes you towards Punakha over the iconic Dochula Pass. On a clear, sunny day, you’ll enjoy dramatic views of the Himalayan peaks as you ascend towards the pass. At a height of 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), there are striking cloud-capped valley views and 108 hillside chortens (Buddhist shrines).
Your guide will find a tranquil spot to enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature on the way. Continuing your adventure, descend into beautiful Punakha Valley.
Owing to its lower altitude (4,265 feet/1,300 meters), Punakha offers a warmer climate and is the preferred winter destination for many Bhutanese. Mark your arrival in the valley by spinning a prayer wheel for good luck before crossing over a dramatic suspension bridge hung with colorful Buddhist prayer flags. Stop mid-way for a meditative moment and take in the sound of the rushing river far below.
From the bridge you can opt to indulge in late afternoon cocktails riverside in a rice field. Whether you prefer yours shaken or stirred, you’ll want to toast your arrival to this beautiful valley with pomegranate martinis served up with views to the impressive Punakha Dzong. Watch the sun set and snack on local delicacies like fresh spring rolls and dzao, (popped Bhutanese rice).
Afterwards, it’s a short 20-minute drive through lush scenery as you ascend to the Six Senses lodge.
Check in at Six Senses Punakha’s cozy ‘Flying Farmhouse’, a cantilevered wooden structure that serves as a lounge with gorgeous views over the lodge’s heated swimming pool and terraced rice fields below.
Treat tired muscles with your choice of a deeply-relaxing, 60-minute massage at the spa. We recommend the Marma Massage, which uses long and firm flowing movements of varying pressure to eliminate stress-related tension and to balance and align vital energy centers. Enriching oils with powerful active benefits are applied to balance the heart chakra and enhance one’s overall sense of well-being. Part of the ritual involves refocusing the mind with a walking meditation exercise. OHM! Weather permitting, dinner will be served poolside this evening.
This morning begins with a hike through terraced rice fields as you ascend towards Chorten Ningpo, a monastery which dates to the 17th century. (2.5 hr. moderate hike). Visit Kabasa village on the way with its school, monastery and typical Bhutanese farmhouses.
Continue to climb towards Chorten Ningpo where in addition to the dramatic views, you can discover a statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, with images trailing the lineage of the great lamas (gurus). Your guide will recount for you the legend of the blazing log thrown by the “Divine Madman”, Drukpa Kunley, a brilliant but philandering 14th century monk with a penchant for wine and women.
Reward yourself with a steaming cup of chai served in an open sala. If the timing is right, you may come across a blessing ritual in progress and experience the otherworldly sounds of monks chanting in unison accompanied by the rhythmic thumping of drums and trumpeting horns.
On the way back to the lodge stop off to visit the home of Aum Tshewang and sample her homemade ara (Bhutanese moonshine). We suggest no more than two shots! Lunch today is a delicious Bhutanese Thali set served outdoors on the patio at the lodge. If you have never tried emi datshi, Bhutan’s incendiary national dish of chili and cheese, now is your chance.
This afternoon, explore the beautiful Punakha Dzong, known officially as Pungtang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, or “The Palace of Great Happiness.” Located at the junction of the Pho Chuu (father) and Mo Chuu (mother) rivers in the Punakha-Wangdue Valley, the dzong’s majestic structure stands six stories high. Bhutan’s second oldest dzong, it served as the seat of the Kingdom’s government until the time of the second King and today is the winter home of the Je Khempo, head abbot of Bhutan, along with a retinue of about 1,000 monks.
Afterwards you can choose to bicycle or try white water rafting along the river next to the dzong or relax back at the lodge.
This evening, our chefs will prepare a delicious Indian menu at Ari, the lodge’s signature restaurant, or you can opt for a poolside barbecue.
Start your day with a bicycle ride along the river valley discovering the natural beauty of Punakha. A special picnic lunch is arranged for you on the riverside as you rest. After your meal, enjoy the ride to Talo Nobgang Village and visit Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, a meditation center for nuns and Nobgang Monastery, the former residence of a famous Tibetan lama. Talo is also the birthplace of the Kingdom’s four Queen Mothers.
Continue the afternoon with a visit to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in AD 1499 dedicated to the “Divine Madman”. This walk is renowned as a pilgrimage for couples planning to start a family and hoping to receive a blessing from the saint.
Drukpa Kunley, a brilliant but philandering 14th century monk with a penchant for wine and women. This temple is renowned as a ‘must-visit’ for couples planning to start a family, who come hoping to receive a blessing. The adjacent village has some of the most surprisingly graphic phallus paintings in honor of the saint on its homes and shops.
Return to the lodge for an optional afternoon yoga session or perhaps rejuvenate with a relaxing footbath at the spa. Ask about walking meditation practice, a surefire way to reconnect with yourself and your surroundings. Continue to unwind with gorgeous view of Punakha Valley from the “Flying Farmhouse” Living Room before having dinner at your convenience.
This morning retrace your steps back to Paro by heading west back over the Dochula Pass towards Simtokha Dzong, the first dzong in the Kingdom, built on a strategic ridge overlooking Thimphu Valley in AD 1629. This small, often overlooked dzong is an art lover’s delight with its beautifully-decorated inner sanctum showcasing colorful religious flags, mural paintings and ornate altar offerings.
Continue down to Chuzom Bridge at the confluence of the Wang Chhu and Pha Chhu rivers, and view three nearby shrines featuring Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepali architecture.
Arriving in Paro, visit Rinpung Dzong the “fortress on heaps of jewels”. This dzong is an impressive example of classic Bhutanese architecture and is also where the annual Paro Tshechu (festival) is held.
From here it’s a short downhill walk to Nyamai Zampa (a traditional cantilevered bridge) built in AD 1525 to connect the dzong with Paro town. Cross the bridge trail over the Paro river and proceed to Paro National Museum, which displays a collection of ancient and modern thangkas (Buddhist paintings on cotton) as well as a collection of fearsome festival masks.
Afterwards take a stroll down to the river with your GEM and test your strength and skills with archery, Bhutan’s colorful national sport. Don’t forget to adopt the local custom of singing, dancing and distracting your opponent to gain the upper hand. Celebrate your victory afterwards with a cold brew at the Namgay Artisanal Brewery, where a local entrepreneur is successfully bringing micro-brewing to Bhutan. From here, it’s a 20-minute drive up a high mountain road past stunning valley views on the way to our lodge.
Six Senses Paro is situated at an elevation of 9,500 feet/2,900 meters, next to a 15th century ruined fortress. The stone ruins and breathtaking views of the valley below provide a dramatic backdrop to your stay. There are pleasant walks through pine forests as well as small and little-known monasteries well worth a visit just a few minutes’ walk from the lodge. This evening enjoy a cocktail on the patio at sunset before dinner at Jangkho, where we’ll serve a delicious menu that incorporates ingredients from our Six Senses organic farm.
Your day begins with an energy boosting breakfast before departing for Taktsang Goemba monastery, more famously known as “Tiger’s Nest”. One of the most significant cultural icons of the Kingdom, this highly revered monastery was built on a sheer cliff face roughly 2,950 feet (900 meters) above Paro and is visible from the valley floor.
Your GEM will hike up with you to the monastery and share stories of its history along the way. Enjoy the wonderful scenery through pine forests that are colorfully decorated with moss and prayer flags. Listen to the sound of prayer wheels turning and leave your good intentions by tying your own prayer-flag and let the wind carry blessings and prayers across Bhutan. During cooler weather, clouds often shroud the monastery, highlighting its sanctity and remoteness. For lunch, a picnic can be arranged and enjoyed outdoors.
If energy allows this afternoon, visit the colorful Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century sanctuary and one of the oldest religious structures in the Kingdom. It is an absolute gem for historians and art connoisseurs and is said to have two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year. Take a stroll along Paro town’s charming shop-lined streets selling prayer wheels, local textiles and auspicious amulets.
Dinner this evening is at the lodge where you can relax and reflect on the day’s amazing adventures.
After a good night’s sleep, relax this morning on the terrace of the lodge’s Living Room and enjoy the Himalayan sunshine over a leisurely breakfast before taking a walk through the pine forests in the vicinity. Lunch today can be taken at a simple local farmhouse with a Bhutanese family.
For those who would like a more active challenge this morning there is also an uphill hike to Jele Dzong, a small fortress built strategically on a ridge back in the early 16th century to cater to travelers journeying between Paro and Thimphu. On a clear day, the northerly mountain views are truly stunning. (4-5 hr. hike)
This route is also frequented by nomads and yak herders during various times of the year. Your GEM will prepare a light picnic lunch for you to enjoy in nature.
Return to the lodge and take a short stroll over to the 15th-century Samteling Monastery situated just next to the grounds. The one-story temple was built in the traditional Bhutanese style using stone and wood work and features statues as well as beautiful wall paintings of the Buddhist saints and an elaborate altar.
Reflect on your time in the Kingdom as you light auspicious butter lamps and receive blessings from the resident monks. The light from the butter lamps represents the wisdom of the awakened mind and is said to dispel darkness: a meaningful way to bring your time in the Kingdom to a close.
Later this afternoon, prepare your body for the onward journey with a sauna, cold plunge and deep tissue massage at the spa.
This evening our chefs will prepare a special Indian menu for you or, for a truly memorable experience, you can dine under a canopy of stars next to the stone ruins of a 15th century dzong on the grounds of the lodge (upon request by prior arrangement).
Dress in traditional Bhutanese attire (a gho for a man and a kira for a woman) to compliment the atmosphere with candles casting shadows on the stone walls. Live music, folk dances and a traditional Bhutanese menu are highlights of the evening.
After an early breakfast, finalize your packing and say goodbye to your Bhutanese hosts before departing the lodge.
From here it is a 30-minute transfer to the airport. Your GEM will accompany you and assist with your departure arrangements.
Travel back in time and be mesmerized by Bhutan’s breathtaking landscape, a journey that few people have had the opportunity to experience. Druk Yul, Bhutan’s official name, is known as the land of the Dragon People with a rich cultural heritage has largely remained hidden until its recent emergence onto the world stage. Your Six Senses GEM (Guest Experience Maker) will greet you as you exit the airport’s arrival hall and will accompany you for the rest of your fascinating eight-night journey. Embrace the Kingdom’s natural beauty, mingle with the local people and understand why this country is referred to as the “Happiest Place on Earth”.
Yes, all of our tours are on private basis (unless specified otherwise) and you do not have to join another group.
Yes, we can customize the itineray for you to get the best of Bhutan during your trip. You can add a short trek, upgrade your hotel stays, coincide your travel to witness a festival, or even add a cooking class.
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan.
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator such as Drukair Holidays prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.
We will be applying for your Visa on your behalf if you are purchasing the tour package from us.
Bhutan has four distinct seasons and each season has its own beauty and charm. Bhutan is an year-round destination. So, it is entirely up to you to decide your travel period.
Spring (March, April and May) is a botanist’s delight as various flowers start to bloom.and plants start budding after their long dormancy in winter.Flowers such as rhododendron, wild azaleas, and edelweiss cover the meadows like carpet and add a new sense of wonder.to the Bhutan’s landscape.
Summer (June, July and August) is an abundant time of the year as flowers are in full bloom and valleys are covered in green, weeping willows sweep the banks of many of the river and pine cone glisten in the sun, so full with risen they are ready to plummet to the ground.
Autumn (September, October and November) is the time when the entire landscape turns into golden color. The farmers harvesting their crops in the golden colored paddy fields under the crisp blue skies is just an amazing view of Bhutan’s landscape in the Autumn season.
Winter (December, January & February) has its moments. The days are full of sunshine while evenings can turn chilly. Soft turfs of clouds drape lazily over mountain tops as if waiting for new life to blow it across the landscape. The winter season in Bhutan gives one a clear view of the world’s highest Himalayan mountain ranges covered in snow.
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that is not spicy.
Rice forms staple Bhutanese diet. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are consumed most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in the country. Some of the banks that you can use to change currencies to local local currency while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank.
In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most handicrafts stores (for your souvenir shopping) and other shops frequented by tourists.