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Travel back in time and take a journey that few people have had the opportunity to experience. Druk Yul, Bhutan’s official name, is known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon 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 meet you upon arrival and accompany you on your khamsa ‘royal stroll’ through the Kingdom, sharing insights into the culture, history and local life of each valley as you go.
Discover the country’s breathtaking natural beauty, meet and mingle with our Bhutanese friends as you embrace the philosophy of a nation that is guided by the principles of ‘Gross National Happiness’. Our khamsas are designed with just the right balance of meaningful encounters and experiences in mind along with a healthy dose of fun.
The following is only a guideline. Your GEM will help to tailor your Bhutan itinerary to your needs and interests each day.
After arriving at Paro International Airport, your journey begins with a one-hour drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. At an altitude of 7,700 ft (2,200 meters), Thimphu lies in a steep valley and is the only city in the world without a single traffic light.
Settle in at Six Senses Thimphu situated at 9,040 feet (2,755 meters) for a day on the property’s 15 acres as you adjust to the altitude. The lodge is situated high above the valley floor, overlooking apple orchards and young pine forests. With captivating views over the Buddha Dordenma, the world’s tallest seated Buddha, the location provides a perfect escape from the capital and yet is close enough to explore its many attractions. Take a dip in the indoor pool, walk around the lodge’s grounds or relax on your balcony.
Dine outdoors at our sunken terrace and sample some of the delectable dishes prepared by our team of chefs. Made with organic ingredients picked fresh from our own gardens, our menus are tasty, healthy and inspired by our Eat With Six Senses philosophy.
If energy levels allow, visit the 52-meter Buddha Dordenma statue in Thimphu. Step inside and discover the 125,000 smaller Buddhas. You can opt for a gentle hike to Changangkha Lhakhang to walk off your jetlag.
Visit Six Senses Spa for a relaxing Jet Lag Massage or one of the many other therapies on offer and ease into your stay. (All suggested spa therapies are optional and may be booked in advance through our reservations team).
Start your first full morning in Bhutan with a rejuvenating wellness activity at the spa. There is a rotating schedule of join-in activities such as yoga and meditation available each morning.
After breakfast, head out with your guide for a day of touring around the valley. Visit local sites including the Simply Bhutan Museum, Zorig Chusom (The National Institute for 13 Arts and Crafts) and the National Textile Museum before strolling through town to visit local artisan shops. Join Thimphu residents for koras, circumambulations, at the Memorial Chorten.
End the day at Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu’s impressive fortress housing the throne room and offices of His Majesty the King as well as the head of the country’s religious order.
If time allows, take a quick hike upon returning to the lodge to Lungsigang, a simple but charming picnic spot for late afternoon tea served with a selection of Bhutanese snacks. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing)
Begin your travels to Punakha with a stop at iconic Dochula Pass, which on clear days offers stunning views of the Himalayan range. Take a moment to pause during your journey for circumambulations of the 108 hillside chortens.
Descend from the pass into lush, subtropical Punakha valley with its charming farmhouses and terraced rice fields.
From the bridge you can opt to indulge in late afternoon pomegranate martinis riverside in a rice field with the impressive dzong as a backdrop. Watch the sun set and snack on local delicacies like fresh spring rolls and dzao, (popped Bhutanese rice). (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing)
Relax after checking in at Six Senses Punakha’s cozy ‘Flying Farmhouse’ a cantilevered wooden structure that serves as a lounge with gorgeous views over the lodge’s heated swimming pool and terraced rice fields below. Our lowest lodge sits at 5,140 feet (1,565 meters).
Hike across the valley to a monastery to join the young novice monks for a traditional monastic breakfast. Afterwards, spend some time engaging with them and the chief abbot to learn more about their daily lives. (*Breakfast is optional on a donation basis. See Activities Menu for pricing. To join for breakfast, you must arrive by 8:30 AM).
On the way back to the lodge stop off to at a farmhouse to sample homemade ara (Bhutanese moonshine). Have lunch poolside at Six Senses Punakha. Our Bhutanese Thali set is highly recommended!
In the afternoon, cross the country’s longest suspension bridge on foot before visiting Punakha Dzong, one of the Kingdom’s most impressive. Located at the junction of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers, the dzong’s majestic structure stands six stories high.
Your day starts with a gentle bike ride alongside the river or a hike from the riverbank to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a temple built by Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon to bring peace to the world.
Continue by car to Talo Nobgang village, the village in which the four Queen Mothers grew up, to visit a meditation center for nuns and Nobgang Monastery. You can also choose to bike part of the way to Talo village.
Visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple to learn about Drukpa Kinley, the revered ‘Divine Madman’ of Buddhist ‘crazy wisdom.’ The adjacent village is renowned for its graphic phallus paintings on its homes and shops in honor of the saint.
Back at the lodge, visit Six Senses Spa for a shirodhara session, a stress-releasing treatment that involves pouring a stream of warm oil over the third eye to soothe and calm the nervous system. (All suggested spa therapies are optional and may be booked in advance through our reservations department)
Transiting from Punakha to Gangtey, your route climbs through the bamboo and oak forests of Nobding Valley, eventually leading you to Lawa La Pass.
Proceed directly to Six Senses Gangtey at 9,395 feet or 2,865 meters in Phobjikha Valley to check in. Over lunch, revel in the views from the cantilevered ‘Birdwatching Bridge,’ drawing the eye across the wetlands sprinkled with tiny monasteries and temples.
Explore the valley by bike or on foot with a visit to the Black-necked Crane Visitor Centre dedicated to protecting Thrung Trung Karmo, located directly below our lodge. The valley is the winter residence for approximately 400 of these cranes who migrate from Tibet.
After, bike from the valley through local villages and farmland on the way to our buckwheat hut, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch with mesmerizing views of the valley. This experience is optional and may be booked in advance upon request.
Return to the lodge by bike or on foot, stopping along the way at Khewang Lhakhang on the valley floor to see the temple’s unique Buddha statues and original painted walls. Maybe join the young monks for a game of football.
Back at the lodge, indulge in a nourishing Swedana steam ritual designed for rejuvenating and cleansing your body, mind and soul at the end of the day. (All suggested spa therapies are optional and may be booked in advance through our reservations department)
This morning head out for one of the Kingdom’s classic hikes, the Loma Longtey trail, which begins at Pele La Pass and winds through a small village where the yak herders put up their camps during winter. The trail carries you up to Kayche La Pass at 12,140 feet (3,700 meters), where stunning views of Phobjikha Valley and Gangtey Village await. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.
Pay an afternoon visit to Gangtey Village to explore the quaint shops of this one street town and visit the 16th century golden topped Gangtey Goemba at the head of the valley. The monastery encompasses a school, meditation facilities and quarters for monks, and is home to the mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, one of the region's important Buddhist treasure ‘discoverers’.
Return to the lodge and sample a few of our crafted cocktails at sunset on the stone terrace, warmed by a blazing firepit.
In the early evening, bike or drive to a beautiful 7th century temple nearby for a blessing. An intimate dinner awaits in the cowshed next door to the temple where your meal is cooked over a fire and the room is illuminated only by candlelight. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing)
Your journey continues deeper into the Kingdom as you travel to Bumthang, amongst striking landscapes of natural beauty.
Along the way, stop in Trongsa, the original seat of the Royal Family. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong in Bhutan and the nearby museum before strolling through the charming town. Stop for a picnic lunch overlooking the valley.
Continue your journey with a visit to Chumey village, known for its brightly-colored woven wool items called Yathra.
Complete your journey as you pass through the forests and arrive into Jakar Valley, home to Six Senses Bumthang at an elevation of 8,575 feet (2,615 meters). Settle into the serene atmosphere at the ‘Forest Within a Forest’ surrounded by blue pine trees and adjacent to the rushing Chamkhar Chhu river.
Start your day with a visit to Jakar Dzong, the district’s main fortress next to Jakar town.
After, visit Wangdichholing Palace, home to the First and Second Kings of Bhutan before the royal court was moved to Punakha under the Third King. The palace is being restored before eventually becoming a museum.
Next you have a choice to embark on a Bumthang pilgrimage on foot or by bike. Bumthang is home to some of the Kingdom’s oldest and most important religious sites. First visit Jambay Lhakhang where you can circumambulate the temple with locals. Continue to Kurjey Lhakhang to drink holy spring water to cleanse your body, speech and mind. Your last stop will be to Tamzhing Lhakhang built by Terton Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer.
Head back to the lodge for a light lunch. In the late afternoon drive to the base of Bumthang’s ‘Mini Tiger’s Nest.’ Take a short hike to the temple to visit the altar room and its enchanting surroundings.
Relax this evening with dinner at Tongtshang, the lodge’s cozy signature restaurant or opt to immerse yourself in local Bhutanese life with an invitation from Six Senses Thimphu Lodge Sous Chef, Dechen Yangzom, to visit her familial home for a farmhouse dinner of traditional Bumthang cuisine. Try your hand a noodle-making with Dechen’s family and sample their homemade ara. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing)
Start the day with a visit to the fifth King’s temple to pay your respects.
After, stop off at Membertsho (the Burning Lake), where Terton Pema Lingpa dove into the river carrying a burning lamp in his hands and returned with treasures and relics with the lamp still burning.
If time allows, visit the nearby nunnery before starting the Bushman hike. The hike begins in a lovely village before winding through a pristine forest with mountain and farmland views along the way. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.
In the afternoon, you can stop by the Red Panda Brewery to sample the local beer and cheese. Afterwards enjoy a leisurely stroll at nearby Jakar Village with its central bazaar and lined street of wooden houses.
Return to the lodge for a traditional Bhutanese dotsho, hot stone bath, a relaxing and soothing method to overcome ailments, where water is heated using extremely hot river stones placed in wooden bathtubs. (All suggested spa therapies are optional and may be booked in advance through our reservations team)
After an early breakfast, transfer to the Bumthang Airport for a short domestic flight back to Paro.
Rinpung Dzong greets you on your arrival into Paro town. Visit the fortress before crossing Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilevered bridge. Stop at the Paro National Museum, displaying a collection of fascinating Bhutanese relics.
On your way to the lodge, stop at a local farmhouse for lunch with a Bhutanese family. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing)
Check into Six Senses Paro. Six Senses Paro is situated at an elevation of 9,415 feet or 2,870 meters, next to the ruins of a 15th century fortress. The stone ruins and breathtaking views of the valley below provide a dramatic backdrop to your stay. Challenge your guide and driver to an onsite game of archery, Bhutan’s national sport, before spending the remainder of the day at leisure.
One of the most significant monasteries in Bhutan, a hike to Taktsang Goemba, better known as Tiger’s Nest, is an iconic pilgrimage for visitors to the Kingdom. Your guide will delight you with stories of Guru Rinpoche, an 8th century Tibetan saint who arrived on the spot where the monastery is located on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to the region. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.
Along the way before Paro town, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th-century temple nearby with two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year.
After returning to the lodge, take a dip in the pool or visit Six Senses Spa for a pampering Marma massage to relax and rejuvenate after a strenuous day of activity. (All suggested spa therapies are optional and may be booked in advance through the reservations department)
Start your morning with a join-in wellness activity at the spa.
Head downhill to Paro town by foot, following the local trail through pine forests with stops along the way at the local meditation center, Goemdra and nearby fortress, Zurig Dzong.
Stroll Paro town’s charming main street lined with shops selling handicrafts and local restaurants.
In the evening, visit our neighboring Samtenling Monastery for a Buddhist blessing ceremony where you light 108 butter lamps to share your blessings with all sentient beings, a fitting and auspicious way to bring your time in Bhutan to a close. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing and details)
For a truly memorable experience, dine under a canopy of stars next to the ruins for our Chubjakha Ruins Regales dinner. Dress in the national dress as you enjoy live music, folk dances and a traditional Bhutanese menu cooked on an outdoor stone grill. (Optional, see Activities Menu for pricing and details)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Consider this five-valley khamsa as a starting point to your time in the Kingdom. It offers a mix of some of Bhutan’s not-to-be missed sites as well as visits to lesser known places.
We have designed it to encourage you to participate and to interact in meaningful ways with the people you meet along the way. Every part of your journey can be customized, and we will be delighted to suggest activities and experiences to match your interests.
*Please note that some of the activities we have included in this program are optional with additional charges. This will all be clearly explained to you.
To book Six Senses Bhutan Thirteen-Night Khamsa, please contact the reservations team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.