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Change your perspective in Bhutan

August 30, 2019 - Newly emerging onto the world stage, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is calling. The Six-Night Khamsa (royal stroll) around three Six Senses Bhutan lodges balances meaningful encounters and experiences with a healthy dose of fun.

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Discover the country’s breathtaking natural beauty and embrace the philosophy of a nation that is guided by the principles of Gross National Happiness. Your Six Senses GEM (Guest Experience Maker) will meet you upon arrival and accompany you on your Six-Night Khamsa through the Kingdom, sharing insights into the culture, history and local life of each valley as you go.

This three-valley journey offers a mix of some of Bhutan’s not-to-be-missed sites as well as visits to lesser-known places. Here are just some of the highlights.

Day 1 and 2

Paro Airport -Six Senses Thimphu “Palace in the Sky”

Arriving into Paro International Airport is an experience in itself, with the plane descending through the majestic Himalayas at an angle that gives you a whole new perspective on life. From there, it is a one-hour drive through rich, forested mountains dotted with monasteries and temples to Thimphu, the capital and 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. Shake off any jet lag with a visit to Zorig Chusum (The National Institute of 13 Arts and Crafts) and Tashi Chho Dzong, Thimphu’s impressive Buddhist monastery.

Return to the lodge and ease your tired muscles with a Dotsho (Bhutanese hot stone bath with herbs) followed by a Jet Lag Massage in the spa, both of which may be booked in advance of arrival. Dinner is at our 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.

On the second day, rise to the Thimphu morning with an optional yoga or meditation class before heading out across the valley to visit the majestic Buddha Dordenma, the world’s tallest seated Buddha at 170 feet (52 meters) perched high above the capital.

From here there is a two-hour hike that takes you to Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Thimphu. You can also visit Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, a 16th-century monastic school of astrology where you can have a reading by one of the resident monks.  

You can also opt to hike 20 minutes up to Lunsigang, a simple but charming picnic spot for a late afternoon butter tea or masala chai with Bhutanese snacks. This experience can be booked in advance.

Day 3 and 4

Six Senses Punakha “Flying Farmhouse Amidst Rice Fields”

Today’s journey takes you towards Punakha over the iconic Dochula Pass. At a height of 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), there are striking views of the cloud-capped Himalayan peaks and 108 hillside chortens (Buddhist shrines).

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. From the bridge, you can indulge in late afternoon pomegranate martinis served up with views to the impressive Punakha Dzong.

Ascend to our cozy Flying Farmhouse, which is a cantilevered wooden structure that serves as a lounge set over the lodge’s heated swimming pool with views to the terraced rice fields below. This afternoon you can treat yourself to an optional deeply-relaxing Marma Massage. Part of the ritual involves refocusing the mind with walking meditation. OHM! Weather permitting; dinner will be served poolside this evening.

The next morning begins with a moderate 2.5-hour hike through terraced rice fields as you ascend towards Chorten Ningpo, a monastery dating back to the 17th century. You’ll visit Kabasa village on the way with its school, monastery and typical Bhutanese farmhouses and reach Chorten Ningpo and statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha.

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 peppers 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. 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 plan a poolside barbecue with prior arrangement.

Day 5 and 6

Six Senses Paro “Stone Ruins”

This morning re-trace 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.

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 afternoon next to the stone ruins, you can test your strength and skills with an archery session. 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 or a shot of ara on the terrace of the lodge.

After checking in, head to the spa for an optional Tension Soother Massage, the perfect antidote to any accumulated travel aches and great for relieving muscle tension and for restoring mobility. This evening, treat yourself to a cocktail on the patio at sunset before dinner at Jangkho, where we’ll serve a delicious menu that incorporates ingredients from our organic farm.

The next day begins with an energy-boosting breakfast before departing for Taktsang Goemba (monastery), more famously known as Tiger’s Nest. If energy levels and time permit after your descent, visit the colorful Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th-century sanctuary and one of the oldest religious structures in the Kingdom.

Return to the lodge and take a short stroll over to the 15th-century Samteling Monastery situated just next to our lodge. The one-story temple was built in the traditional Bhutanese style using stone and woodwork and features statues as well as beautiful wall paintings of the Buddhist saints. Reflect on your time in the Kingdom as you light auspicious butter lamps and receive blessings from the resident monks. Later this afternoon, prepare your body for the onward journey with an optional 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 with our Chubjakha Regale Ruins Dinner, an optional experience which can be booked in advance. 

For this special occasion, you can 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.

Departure

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.

Some of the activities we have included in this program are optional and available with prior arrangement and at an additional charge. This will all be clearly explained to you.

Six Senses Thimphu, Six Senses Punakha and Six Senses Paro are open and accepting reservations.

Six Senses Gangtey is scheduled to open in late summer 2019 and is accepting reservations from October 1, 2019. Six Senses Bumthang is scheduled to open in early 2020.

For reservations or more information about this program, please call +975 2 350 773 or email [email protected].

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