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SIX SENSES

Bhutan

Yak
Six Senses Bhutan

11-night journey

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 that 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 11-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”.

Six Senses Thimphu

Your journey begins with a drive to Thimphu, the capital and largest city in the country. At an altitude of 7,710 feet (2,350 meters), the capital lies in a steep valley surrounded by rich forested mountains dotted with ancient monasteries and lhakhangs (temples), and is to this day, the only capital city in the world without traffic lights. The uniqueness of Thimphu Valley comes with its urban lifestyle and being virtually the only area of Bhutan for travelers to experience an urban-type environment. 

After checking in to Six Senses Thimphu, enjoy a light lunch of your choice. With the abrupt altitude change, we recommend minor activities so as not to overexert your body. Spend the afternoon relaxing by the swimming pool and enjoying the captivating view of Thimphu Valley and a glimpse across to the giant Buddha Dordenma standing 170 feet (52 meters) tall.  Stretch your muscles with a yoga session or relax by the pool and take a short walk around the lodge’s apple orchards.  

Buddha Dordenma

Rise up to Thimphu morning and enjoy a hearty breakfast, as well as the view of Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. After breakfast, visit Buddha Point for a much closer view. Housed inside the statue are thousands of smaller bronze buddhas ranging from eight to 12 inches tall. Once done, proceed to the Folk Heritage Museum, where you gain insights into Bhutanese life by viewing the recreated settings of traditional households.

Lunch can be arranged depending on your culinary preferences at several local eateries. A number of shops are also scattered throughout Thimphu to satisfy any shopping urges. Depart to Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, a 16th century monastic school of astrology located in the north of the valley and learn basic anecdotes about Zhabdrung, the unifier of Bhutan. After honing your clairvoyance skills, perhaps you would like to experience an archery match with your GEM at a select location. Don’t forget to ask for a practice round first! As the day comes to a close, carry on to Thimphu Dzong (fortress), the traditional seat of the Druk Desi, head of Bhutan’s civil government. Also known as Tashichho Dzong, it presently houses the throne room and offices of the Druk Gyalpo (the Dragon King of Bhutan). You may also enjoy the illuminated dzong from a distance in the evening before returning to the lodge for seasonal refreshments and experience a royal Bhutanese dinner.

Dochula Pass

Have an early breakfast at the lodge’s Apple Shed and capture the enchanting sunrise in Thimphu. Before leaving for Punakha, receive prayers and blessings from our Six Senses Resident Monk at the lodge’s Prayer Pavilion for a safe and enlightening passage on your journey. An early departure is recommended on a clear sunny day to capture dramatic views of the Himalayan peaks at Dochula Mountain Pass. At 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), you’ll see striking cloud-capped valley views, 108 hillside chortens (Buddhist shrines) and colorful prayer flags throughout the vicinity.

Continuing your adventure, you will descend into Punakha Valley. Because of the warmer climate, owing to the lower altitude of 4,265 feet (1,300 meters), Punakha is the preferred winter happiness destination for many Bhutanese. After your two-and-a-half-hour transfer, arrive at Six Senses Punakha and have a light late lunch. Select from one of the spa treatments at the lodge’s Spa, then choose to relax by the swimming pool or test and improve your archery skills with your GEM. You may also learn about the history of Drukpa Kuenley, known as Punakha’s “Divine Madman” while being captivated by the lodge’s view of Punakha Valley from the library or Living Room. Select from the delicious items featured on the dinner menu and enjoy the other facilities of the lodge.

Six Senses Punakha

Start your day by cycling along the river valley discovering the natural beauty of Punakha. A special picnic lunch can be arranged for you on the riverside as you take a rest from your ride. After your meal, pay a visit to Punakha Dzong, known as Pungtang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means “the Palace of Great Happiness”. Located at the junction of Pho (father) Chhu (river) and Mo (mother) Chhu in the Punakha-Wangdue Valleys, its majestic structure stands six stories high and was constructed as an embodiment of Buddhist values. 

Return to the lodge to relax, meditate, and also experience a refreshing footbath at the spa. Complete the evening with dinner and drinks while savoring the beautiful view from the Farmhouse patio.

Yoga Cleanse

Located high on a hillside, your morning begins with a drive to Talo Nobgang Village to visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, a meditation center for nuns and Nobgang Monastery, a former residence of the famous Tibetan Lama. Talo is also the birthplace of the country’s four Queen Mothers. Enjoy an afternoon lunch then proceed to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in AD 1499 and dedicated to the “Divine Madman”. This walk is known to be a pilgrimage for couples planning to start a family. And for guests who wish to do so, they can receive a blessing while here. Return to the lodge for an afternoon yoga session. Continue to relax with the gorgeous view of Punakha Valley from the library or Living Room before dinner.

Phobjikha Valley

Transiting from Punakha to Gangtey, your route follows the trail of Mo Chhu and carries on to Dang Chhu then onwards through the bamboo and oak forests of Nobding Valley, eventually leading you to Lha Wang La Pass which gives you a preview of Phobjikha Valley, situated at 9,500 feet (2,900 meters). Proceed directly to Six Senses Gangtey to check in, refresh and enjoy a tasty lunch while reveling in the view from the Birdwatching Bridge. 

After lunch, we suggest a leisurely stroll or mountain biking to the valley floor where the Gangtey stream winds its way south through the expansive glacial valley. Take a moment for a deep breath and cherish the fresh air. Return to the lodge for a relaxing spa treatment at our Spa and Wellness Center or refreshments by the fire pit as the setting sun illuminates the valleys hillsides with golden rays.

Six Senses Gangtey

The morning begins with a pleasant walk to the Black-necked Crane Visitor Centre, a conservation center dedicated to protect Thrung Thrung Karmo, as these vulnerable birds are known in the Kingdom. This cherished valley is the wintering residence for approximately 300 cranes from October to March and the crane center provides a wonderful venue to observe this highly endangered species. Suggestion: For early risers we can pre-arrange a visit to the crane center before it opens.

From the crane center, enjoy a picturesque drive to Gangtey Goemba (monastery), identified as “the Gem of Phobjikha” and known to have prophecies made by the well-known terton (treasure finder) Pema Lingpa. After the monastery visit, proceed to hike along the Gangtey Nature Trail, ending your walk with a picnic lunch at a local farmhouse. This allows you to interact with the farmhouse’s family members and have an understanding of a typical day in their life. Upon returning to the lodge, try something completely different and experience additional sanctity within our Pyramid Meditation Room. Follow this by relaxing at the fire pit or the Birdwatching Bridge as the chef prepares your evening meal. You may also enjoy selected films or board games available at our Movie and Games Room.

Yaks in Bhutan

The Longtey hike trail begins at Pele La Pass and winds through a small village where the yak herders put up their camps during winter. You then continue towards a rhododendron forest, through thick dwarf bamboo growing all over the valley. During the hike through some farms you may witness locals going about their daily farming rituals. The trail carries you up to a ridgeline up to Kayche La Pass at 12,140 feet (3,700 meters), where stunning views of Phobjikha Valley and Gangtey Village await you. We recommend taking your time during this hike; enjoy the amazing views of rich forest and natural beauty that are in abundance. You are invited to hang prayer flags during your hike at a selected site and continue the downward trail, passing through the farms and the meadows. 

Return to the lodge for a late lunch and to rest your weary legs. The afternoon should be enjoyed within the spa while indulging in a nourishing Swedana steam treatment designed for rejuvenating and cleansing your body, mind, and soul. Finish the day with an early dinner in preparation for the drive back to Paro the next day.

Six Senses Paro

Indulge in a hearty breakfast while enjoying the morning views of Phobjikha Valley as the sun gently engulfs the stream basin. Begin your journey returning to Lha Wang La Pass and head west through Nobding Valley, passing by Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. You will then drive up towards Lamperi Botanical Park before reaching Dochula Mountain Pass where you will enjoy a stopover and refreshments. Suggestion: If you’re visiting from March to May this area is highly unique for viewing abundant rhododendron flowerings.

Retrace the path to Paro by heading westward towards Simtokha Dzong, the first dzong in the Kingdom built in AD 1629.  Proceeding further south towards Chuzom (confluence of rivers) Bridge where Wang Chhu and Pha Chhu meet.  From here, a leisurely drive brings you to the town of Paro and onward to Six Senses Paro. Once you arrive, settle in and enjoy a relaxing swim in the indoor heated swimming pool overlooking Paro Valley or perhaps enjoy a spa treatment to soothe your tired muscles from the long journey.

Spa treatment room at Six Senses Paro

After a good night’s sleep, start your day with a relaxing stroll around the lodge, surrounded by apple orchards and pine forests. You may continue your walk by hiking to Jele Dzong, perched on a mountain ridge and steeped with history. This small fortress was built strategically on a mountain ridge in early 16th century and catered to travelers who journeyed between Paro and Thimphu. This route is also frequented by nomads and yak herders. Your GEM will prepare a light picnic lunch for you or you may choose to return to the lodge for an afternoon tea on the patio or a massage treatment at the Spa and Wellness Center. Relaxing by the swimming pool or joining in an afternoon yoga session are wonderful options to consider. For a culinary change, you may indulge in a delicious Indian menu for dinner before relaxing beneath the starry sky.

Bhutanese children

Your day begins with an energy boosting breakfast before departing to see one of the most significant landmarks and cultural icons of the Kingdom, Taktsang Goemba, known as Tiger’s Nest. This highly revered monastery was built on a sheer cliff face roughly 2,950 feet (900 meters) above Paro Valley; it is visible from the valley floor. Your GEM will hike up with you to the monastery and share stories of its history. Enjoy the wonderful scenery through pine forests that are colorfully decorated with moss and prayer flags. During cooler weather, clouds often shroud the monastery, highlighting its sanctity and remoteness. 

For lunch, a picnic can be arranged or you may opt to dine at a local restaurant in Paro town followed by some last-minute shopping. If energy levels permit, visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century sanctuary that is an absolute gem for historians and art connoisseurs. It is said to have two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year. Return to the lodge for an afternoon meditation, relax at the swimming pool or enjoy a spa treatment after the long hike. A unique venue for your final Bhutan experience is dinner by the stone ruins of a 12th century dzong, which can be arranged at your convenience by your GEM. Dress in traditional Bhutanese attire and enjoy the enchanting atmosphere with candles casting shadows on the stone ruin walls, live musician, private folk dances and a meal fit for royalty. 

Tiger's Nest

Although it is sad to leave the “Happiest Place on Earth”, an early morning departure is necessary since all flights depart in the morning. After an early breakfast, your 30-minute transfer to the airport will be arranged by your GEM to coordinate with your flight schedule.

11-night journey is an itinerary with some suggested activities that we cherish as our special jewels. It is important that you experience things of personal interest, so please share with us what aspects of Bhutan you’re most curious about, whether it’s the cultural, natural, or spiritual beauty and we would be delighted to suggest a tailored approach for your visit.

Some of the activities we have included in this program do have an additional charge and we will clearly explain this to you. 

Aside from the experiences that we have included, there are many other hidden treasures to discover within Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Paro Valleys. We have further signature experiences to share with you depending on your interests and have prepared a directory of guest offerings for each valley, which we are happy to share.

Our objective is to nourish your soul and open the door of discovery to connect with this amazing Himalayan Kingdom we call home. We have designed your itineraries with a sense of time to encourage you to participate in the Bhutanese life, not view it from the vehicle’s window. Most importantly, one should not rush through life’s treasures, so we’d love you to return to discover more.

To book Six Senses Bhutan 11-night Journey, please contact the reservations department directly at reservations-bhutan@sixsenses.com.

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