A Bhutan tour is a very special experience. Bhutan is locally known as Druk Yul or Land of the Thunder Dragon and it’s a fascinating and extremely picturesque country. Bhutan is a Buddhist country where some 20 percent of the country’s tiny population of around 800,000 live as monks. The Himalayan landscape is predominantly forested mountains, giving way to fertile valleys full of rice paddies and chilli fields.
This breathtaking landscape is punctuated by equally breathtaking architecture. The Dzongs, which are kind of traditional fortresses, and the monasteries dominate every town and some are in amazing locations. This architecture has changed very little in 4 or 5 centuries and even today new monasteries are built in the same style. The farmhouses are very charismatic and even the modern airport at Paro has been built with exceptional style and respect for traditional architecture.
Any Bhutan tour has to take in some of these great sites such as the Dzong at Punakha or the world famous Tigers Nest monastery at Paro. The capital Thimphu also has magnificent fortresses and palaces as well as a school for traditional painting, pottery, textiles and other arts and crafts which is open to visitors. These are in the west of the country and can be included in a relatively short trip to Bhutan. If you have a little longer then head to the centre of the country to Trongsa and the Bumthang valleys.
This is also a trekker’s paradise with amazing opportunities for anything from a few hours to a few weeks trekking. It’s 5 hours to Tigers Nest or there’s the ‘snowman trek’ which takes you from one side of the country to the other across the Himalayas and takes about a month. But of course there is everything in between and one-day to 3-day treks are very popular. If you’re up for some adventure activities there is also plenty of opportunity for white water rafting and mountain biking. So whether you want a cultural tour or an active adventure holiday, Bhutan has a lot to offer. Tribes will tailor make a trip to your requirements with the balance of emphasis you want.
Bhutan is slowly opening up to the modern world and is doing so in a very unique way. The Bhutanese place a huge emphasis on sustainability, on the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage and diversity, and the tenets of environmentalism. It is an extraordinary country where success is measured by gross national happiness rather than our more conventional gross national product.
As part of the principle of sustainability the Bhutanese have decided that they want quality tourism not mass-market tourism. To achieve this they have put a system in place that means any tourist has to pay a minimum of £170 per person per day. That starting price will buy you all your food, standard accommodation, guiding and transport, but there are also some fairly impressive luxury hotels and even spas which will cost more than this minimum. Those fortunate enough to visit Bhutan describe it as a unique, deeply spiritual and mystical experience. This kingdom is an adventure like no other.
Uma Paro by COMO is a luxury resort near Paro town and airport with stunning views of the Paro Valley.
Just 30 minutes from Paro international airport. Facilities include a spa with sauna, steam room and outdoor hot stone baths.
Set in a blue pine forest in the Thimphu Valley, this is a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of Bhutan’s commercial centre
The lodge is in the town of Jakar and is located adjacent to the palace of the first and second king of Bhutan.
Uma Punakha is a small luxury lodge set at the western end of the beautiful Punakha Valley and a great base from which to explore.