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SIX SENSES

Bhutan

Phobjikha Valley
Six Senses Bhutan

14-night journey

Reservations from November 3, 2018 for the lodges in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro Valleys are now being accepted, while the lodges in Gangtey and Bumthang are targeting openings by March 2019.

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 14-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 country’s largest city. 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. After checking in to Six Senses Thimphu, enjoy a light lunch as you acclimatize to the altitude change with the captivating view of Thimphu Valley and a glimpse across to the giant Buddha Dordenma standing 170 feet (52 meters) tall. 

After lunch, set out for a drive to Zorig Chusum (National Institute of Arts and Crafts), where students learn skills such as sculpting, painting, embroidery, gold and silversmithing, carving and more followed by a visit to the Institute of Traditional Medicine where the museum details roughly 300 herbs, minerals, and animal parts used by the Bhutanese. One particular item of interest is the Yartsa Goenbub, most commonly known as Cordyceps, a high-altitude remedy labeled as the “Himalayan Viagra” which is actuality a caterpillar that has been mummified as a fungus. Continue to Thimphu Dzong (fortress), the traditional seat of the Druk Desi, the 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). Return to the lodge for dinner and enjoy exploring the facilities of your “Palace in the Sky” while further acclimating.

Buddha Dordenma

Pay a visit to Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, a 16th century monastic school of astrology located in the north of the valley and learn classic tales about Zhabdrung, the unifier of Bhutan. After honing your clairvoyance skills, drive back to town for lunch. Stop at the Folk Heritage Museum, where you will gain insight into Bhutanese life by viewing recreated traditional households. Explore the capital’s cottage industries ranging from hand rolled incense to papermaking. The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory shows the ancient and traditional methods of producing De zo (Bhutanese handmade paper) that has been passed on for generations. The same papers are used for manuscripts and prayer books. Another point of interest is the Weaving Center, where a variety of handwoven clothes and garments are available for purchase, ranging from scarves, belts and jackets.  A finely embroidered kira (traditional Bhutanese female dress) can take up to nine months to complete and can cost from USD 70 to 2,000. 

You’ll next stop at Buddha Point where the giant Buddha Dordenma sits and then spend the rest of the afternoon around town for browsing and light shopping. Head back to the lodge to enjoy seasonal refreshments at the Living Room or by the reflecting ponds, followed by dinner at the lodge restaurant.

Chortens at Dochula Pass

Have an early breakfast at the lodge’s Apple Shed and savor 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 along your journey. An early departure is recommended on a clear sunny day to capture dramatic views of the Himalayan peaks at Dochula Mountain Pass. High above at 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), you’ll see striking cloud-capped valley views and 108 hillside chortens (Buddhist shrines) and colorful prayer flags surrounding the area. Continuing your adventure, we descend into Punakha Valley.  Because of the warmer climate, and lower altitude of 4,265 feet (1,300 meters), Punakha is the preferred winter happiness destination for many Bhutanese. Arrive at Six Senses Punakha and have a light light lunch according to your appetite. 

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

Your Punakha adventure continues with a hike to Chorten Ningpo, which dates back to the 17th century. Here you can discover a statue of the Maitreya, the future Buddha, with images trailing the lineage of the great lamas (gurus) and the story of the blazing log thrown by the “Divine Madman”.  Continue to Khabasa Village where a small Buddhist educational institution was founded and in AD 2005 started housing orphans and began teaching Buddhist scriptures, as well as Western subjects.

Enjoy a picnic lunch, then head onward to visit Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means “the Palace of Great Happiness”. This well-preserved fortress serves as the administrative center of Punakha District. 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. 

One-bedroom Villa at Six Senses Punakha

Today, hike up to another landmark of Bhutan, the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is a shrine built by the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, in honor of the King and the Bhutanese people. Continue with a visit to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, a meditation center for nuns and Nobgang Monastery, a former residence of a famous Tibetan lama, both located in Talo Nobgang Village.  Hike up and visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in AD 1499 and dedicated to the “Divine Madman”. This hike is known to be a pilgrimage for couples planning to start a family and where they can receive a blessing. Before returning to the lodge, make a quick stopover at Dho Jhaga Lam Lhakhang to see the split stone.  Enjoy relaxing the rest of the afternoon and complete the day with drinks and dinner.

Six Senses Gangtey

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.

Lodge Suite at 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 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.

Phobjikha Valley

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 to enjoy amazing views of the 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 early with dinner and preparation for the drive towards Bumthang the next morning.

Yaks in Bhutan

Your journey continues deeper into the Kingdom as you travel to Bumthang, a thrilling drive with striking landscapes of natural beauty, mountains, farmlands, and rivers. Enjoy a brief stop at the picturesque Chendebji Chorten, which is said to have been built to cover the remains of a demon spirit. Continue on to Trongsa, the original home to the Royal Family, where you’ll stop for a light lunch and tea. Visit the Trongsa Dzong and museum and stroll through the charming village.

Continue your journey with even more dramatic landscapes, herds of yaks and if you’re lucky, the occasional quick sightings of wild boar, deer, rare pheasants and other native animals. Should you desire an up close and personal encounter of the yaks, take a cautious visit. Yaks may feel threatened by your presence, especially the ones herding with the young calves. After taking selfies (from a safe distance), complete your journey as you pass through the forests and arrive into Jakar Valley, home to Six Senses Bumthang. Check-in, relax, and enjoy a rewarding dinner after the long drive.

Six Senses Bumthang

Start your day with a hike to Padseling Goemba, a fortress in Bumthang located on a hilltop that was built in AD 1769 with the support of the King and Governor of Bhutan. Explore the structure and interact with the resident monks. Upon returning, enjoy a leisurely walk around Chamkhar Village, located on a single lane street with a bazaar and wooden houses. You may want to consider having a look at the local products such as the brightly colored wool items known as Yathra.   

Return to the lodge for lunch and take a short stroll along the river. An afternoon spa treatment would be the perfect antidote for all the hikes that you have done. Enjoy sunset refreshments on the deck while relaxing to the soothing rhythm of river currents and whispering breeze. Dinner will be arranged at your convenience.

Lodge Suite at Six Senses Bumthang

Saddle up and test your equestrian skills as you go horseback riding to the Kencho Sum Lhakhang, an 8th century temple known to be one of the most beautifully decorated and designed monasteries in the Kingdom which is now become a Buddhist learning institute.  The temple houses the old monastery in the center, which suffered fire damage in AD 2010, and the three statues of Du Sum Sangay, the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.  Continue to Tamzhing Lhundrup Lhakhang, the most important ancient temple in the Kingdom, which was built in early 16th century. Its temple and monastery have a direct connection to Pema Lingpa and his teachings of over 500 years. It houses over 95 Buddhist monks and is tentatively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Cross the river to reach the Kurjey Lhakhang, built in 8th century, where the remains of the first three Kings of Bhutan rest along with the Royal Queen Grandmother. You then enjoy picnic on a lovely selected site near the river before returning to the lodge for a traditional Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath, a relaxing and soothing method to overcome ailments, where water is heated using extremely hot river stones placed in wooden bathtubs. After dinner, pack your bags in preparation for the flight back to Paro the next morning.

Six Senses Paro

Rise up to a new day and enjoy an al fresco breakfast by the forest. Today you are invited to go horseback riding down to Bathpalathang Airport for the short 45-minute flight back to Paro Valley.  Upon arrival at Paro Airport, proceed to Paro town and stop at a local coffee house for tea then take a leisurely walk around for a short session of shopping for souvenirs and local products.  

Before proceeding to the lodge, visit the Dungtshe Lhakhang, a temple in the form of a chorten (stupa), which is very rare in Bhutan, and was built by Thangtong Gyalpo in AD 1421.  Check in Six Senses Paro.  Enjoy lunch at the lodge and settle into your new home. Spend the afternoon relaxing with light refreshments in the Living Room, perusing the selection of books at the library, enjoying the view of Paro Valley as you take a dip in the pool, or indulging in a soothing sauna experience at the Spa and Wellness Center.  Complete your evening with a Bhutanese set menu dinner.

Body Treatment

After a good night’s sleep, start your day with a bicycle ride to Paro National Museum, which displays an impressive collection of ancient and modern thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton), a heritage gallery which houses a number of strange relics, as well as a collection of fearsome festival masks grouped according to their corresponding tshechu (festival) dances. Continue to the 15th century Rinpung Dzong which translates as a fortress with heaps of jewels, is also a great example of historic Bhutanese architecture. This is where the annual Paro Tshechu is held. 

When leaving the dzong, you will cross Paro Chhu via Nyamai Zampa (traditional cantilever bridge) built in AD 1525 which connects to Paro town.  Enjoy some authentic momos (dumplings) for lunch in the casual setting of a local town restaurant. After lunch, visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century sanctuary known to be an absolute gem for historians and art connoisseurs, is where you can light butter lamps as offering. It is said to have two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year. Return to the lodge to indulge in an afternoon spa treatment and conclude your evening with a delicious dinner.

Tiger's Nest

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 to the monastery with you, sharing stories of its colorful 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.  Choose to enjoy a picnic lunch or taste specialties at a local restaurant followed by some last-minute shopping in town. 

Return to the lodge for an afternoon meditation, relax at the swimming pool, or rejuvenate with a spa treatment after the long hike. A unique venue for your final Bhutan evening is to dine by the stone ruins of a 12th century dzong, which can be arranged at your convenience by your GEM. Dress in traditional Bhutanese attire, enjoy the enchanting atmosphere with candles casting shadows on the stone ruin walls, live musician, private folk dances and a meal fit for royalty. 

Bhutanese children

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.

14-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, Bumthang 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 14-night Journey, please contact the reservations department directly at reservations-bhutan@sixsenses.com.

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