The last great Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan is shrouded in secrecy. This eleven-day journey will unlock the door to this devoutly Buddhist land, one of the world’s most mysterious countries.

If smiles were a currency, then Bhutan would be among the wealthiest nations on the planet. It’s no surprise when you consider that it’s the world’s only carbon-negative country (something SevenTravel certainly applauds), something you’ll realise when you smell the fresh pine upon arrival in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. On one of our luxury holidays to Bhutan, you’ll spend a few days in the city understanding how entwined Buddhism is in Bhutanese culture, from witnessing monks learning about the night skies at the Pangrizampa Astrology Institute to visiting the grand Trashi Chho Dzong, one of the most important dzongs (Buddhist forts) in the country.

Before you leave Thimphu to continue your enriching journey, nothing nourishes the soul quite like an outdoor yoga lesson – especially in Bhutan under a giant bronze Buddha statue. Once you’ve found your zen, you’ll move onto the glacial Phobjikha Valley. Buddhist culture is everywhere in Bhutan but nowhere does it feel more charming than here. You’ll spot over one hundred chortens (monuments) in the Dochula Pass, before meeting monks and lighting a butter lamp at Gangtey Goenpa, a remote hill-perched seventeenth-century monastery. But the Phobijkha Valley is prime Bhutanese countryside and crying out to be explored, so lace up and hit its hiking trails to spot its rare black-necked cranes, wild boar and sambar deer.

More pristine wilderness lies further afield in Punakha and you’ll be accompanied on your drive there with snow-dusted views of the eastern Himalayas. This wild region is not only a pretty mosaic of forested hills, mountains and paddy fields, but it’s also studded with tiny villages and some of Bhutan’s most eye-catching Buddhist temples and dzongs. A leisurely rafting adventure will serve up another perspective of this emblematic landscape while a visit to the appropriately named Happiness Fields farmhouse will reveal Bhutan’s answer to field-to-fork cuisine.

On this trip, Bhutan’s mysteries keep unravelling and its surprises keep delighting right until the very end. Your final port of call is the slumbersome town of Paro, another hotbed of atmospheric temples and dzongs but also where you’ll test your aim with a lesson in Bhutan’s national sport of archery. Paro is also the perfect base for what will surely be the golden-topped highlight of your holiday – the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Somehow defying gravity to cling to a granite cliff face around three thousand feet above the Paro Valley, this is Bhutan’s holiest – and most dramatic – sight. It takes some legwork to get there, but we reckon you’ll think it was more than worth it.

If you’re looking to indulge in a luxury holiday, Bhutan should be high on your itinerary.


Experience highlights

  • Familiarise yourself with this mysterious land with a guided tour of Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. See how Buddhist traditions are slowly embracing modern influences as dzongs sit beside a burgeoning café culture and also enjoy a private introduction to Buddhism with spiritual leader Mynak Tulku Rinpoche.
  • Your introduction to Buddhism culture in Thimphu will culminate with a visit to Trashi Chho Dzong, which hosted the lavish coronation of the current King of Bhutan.
  • Meet monks at the seventeenth-century monastery Gangtey Goenpa. You’ll also get the chance to light a butter lamp, which is one of the main offerings that Buddhists practise.
  • Hike through pea-green rice paddies and remote villages to Chimi Lhakhang, a Buddhist temple dedicated to fifteenth-century Bhutanese saint Lama Drupka Kunley.
  • Go on a tranquil rafting journey through the leafy Punakha Valley, spying its vertinginuous mountains and lush meadows. You’ll finish in Changyuel with the towering whitewashed walls of Punakha Dzong in your eyeline.
  • Pay a visit to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, which gives the one hundred-plus women and girls that call it home vital educational opportunities and the chance to learn traditional arts and music.
  • Spend the morning at the Happiness Fields farmhouse, where you can help milk a cow and see how cheese is traditionally made. You’ll get to try some authentic Bhutanese food, too, grown right there on the farm.
  • Climb to the gravity-defying Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which clings to the cliffs high above the Paro Valley. Visit its chapels, hear monks chanting sacred texts and soak up the widescreen vistas of the Himalaya.
  • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang, where annual rituals are held to pray for Bhutan’s wellbeing. Dating back to the seventh century, it’s one of the country’s oldest temples.
Plan your trip to Bhutan

Experience highlights

Built to resemble a dzong, your stay at Amankora Thimphu is like staying in traditional monks' quarters
Explore the fortresses, monasteries and café culture of Bhutan's capital Thimphu on a private guided tour
Get a fascinating private introduction to Buddhism with renowned spiritual leader Mynak Tulku Rinpoche
See the National Memorial Chorten, which is dedicated to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the monarch who opened Bhutan's doors to the world
Pay a visit to Trashi Chho Dzong, one of the most important dzongs in Bhutan
Find your zen with a yoga lesson at Buddha Point
Soak up the tranquil surrounds of Phobjikha Valley, one of the most peaceful places in Bhutan
Stay at Gangtey Lodge, a hotel akin to a traditional farmhouse with epic valley-wide views
You might spot Phobjikha Valley's elusive black-necked cranes
Witness Riwo Sangcho, a mountain smoke offering ceremony in Lawala Pass
Light a butter lamp on your visit to the seventeenth-century monastery Gangtey Goenpa
With its apricot-coloured walls and multi-eaved roof, COMO Uma Punakha looks just like a Buddhist fortress
Take a walk through rice paddies and villages to Chimi Lakhang, a Buddhist temple
See the majestic Punakha Dzong sitting serenely beside the Mo Chhu river
See over one hundred chortens (monuments) dotted along Dochula Pass
Paddle down the gently flowing Mo Chhu river on a peaceful rafting adventure
Get a taste for farm-to-fork cuisine, Bhutanese style, with a visit to the Happiness Fields farmhouse
Soak up the eye-popping landscapes of Paro Valley
Paro Valley is dotted with temples and dzongs, including Tachog Lhakhang, which can only be accessed via a prayer flag-strewn bridge
Dumtse Lhakhang will wow you with its intricately decorated murals
COMO Uma Paro dramatically clings to a Himalayan hillside
Enjoy a hot stone bath experience at COMO Uma Paro while looking out over the Himalayan countryside
Climb up to Tiger's Nest Monastery, undisputedly Bhutan's iconic sight
When you reach the monastery, you can sip tea, soak up the view and hear monks chanting sacred texts
Explore Kyichu Lhakhang, which dates back to the seventh century and is one of Bhutan's oldest temples
See if you're a budding sharpshooter with an archery lesson, Bhutan's national sport

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    Where you’ll stay


    Amankora Thimphu, Thimphu

    If you want a luxury snapshot of how a monk lives, Amankora Thimphu comes pretty close. Serenely situated on the outskirts of Bhutan’s capital amid sweet-smelling pines, the hotel is built in the image of a traditional dzong. Even the simple designed rooms and bukhari wood-burning stoves, resemble monks’ quarters. Tap into Bhutanese life here, from half-day hikes to a nearby monastery to archery classes and downtime in its cedar-scented spa.


    Gangtey Lodge, Gangtey

    There’s nowhere better suited to help you slide into the zen-like slipstream of Bhutanese life than Gangtey Lodge. A remote outpost nestled in the pristine Phobjikha Valley, this decadent take on a traditional farmhouse feels permanently set to a meditative tempo. There aren’t any TVs here but you won’t need them – the view from your room is like the Discovery Channel in high definition. Watch to your heart’s content as black-necked cranes soar silently overhead in a valley that is quite possibly the most tranquil place on Earth.


    COMO Uma Punakha, Punakha

    Resembling a Buddhist fortress, COMO Uma Punakha effortlessly blends in with the wild Himalayan landscape of the Punakha Valley. And what a location it is: floor-to-ceiling windows in every room give you a front-row seat presiding over tiered paddy fields and jade-hued hills tumbling into the Mo Chu river. This is Mother Nature at the top of her game. Hikes, rafting trips and local market visits are available but if you’re having trouble peeling yourself way from that view, the hotel’s spa has a Bhutanese hot stone bath overlooking the valley.


    COMO Uma Paro, Paro

    Clinging like a limpet to a pine-covered Himalayan hillside, each one of the standalone villas at COMO Uma Paro feels like an exclusive Bhutanese retreat. The main building was once the home of a nobleman and his heritage is reflected in the villages, which are bedecked in hand-carved woodwork, artisan-knitted rugs and bedcovers stitched with authentic Bhutanese patterns. COMO Uma Paro’s status as a swoon-worthy spa sanctuary only serves to amplify its peaceful wildflower-sprinkled setting.

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