Wellness Bhutan: Mystical Himalaya
10 days with Abercrombie & Kent Rating:
DAY 1 ARRIVE BANGKOK, THAILAND
Arrive in Bangkok, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
DAY 2 PARO & THIMPHU, BHUTAN | LAND OF THE STUPAS
Fly to Paro, in Bhutan, where you are greeted with a tashi khadda (traditional welcome). Known to locals as the “Land of the Peaceful Dragon,” Bhutan is a country of sprawling forests, venerated monasteries, lush green valleys, and age-old spiritual and medicinal practices. Its people are hardworking, vividly attired and deeply religious. Continue overland to Thimphu, past forests, fields and rivers, stopping en route to visit the Simtokha Dzong, a one-time monastery-fortress built in 1629 by the founder of Bhutan. Upon arrival, check in to your accommodations, a beautiful Bhutanese retreat in the heart of the city, where you savor a refreshing lunch. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure, taking in the sights and sounds of tranquil Thimphu, perusing colorful textiles in the local markets or luxuriating in the on-site spa. Afterward, gather for a welcome dinner at the hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 3 THIMPHU | INSIGHTS INTO TIBETAN MEDICINE
Set out today for the National Library of Bhutan to view its fascinating collection of precious texts and sacred manuscripts. Next, visit the Traditional Medicine Institute, where you enjoy a talk on Tibetan medicine, learning how the rich herbal remedies made up from the medicinal plants abundant in Bhutan are prepared and dispensed. Return to your hotel for lunch. Then, proceed to Pangri Zampa, a college for traditional astrology founded in the early 16th century, to learn how monks are trained in various areas of traditional astrology. Conclude your visit with the opportunity to practice meditation, guided by an expert, as the serene surroundings enhance this calming mindfulness technique. Later, return to your hotel, where you enjoy dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 4 PUNAKHA | LEGEND OF THE DIVINE MADMAN
Venture to Punakha, once the capital of Bhutan. Drive over Dochula Pass at an altitude of 10,200 feet, travelling through forests of pine festooned with hanging lichen, and stopping to take in awe-inspiring vistas of the snow-capped Himalaya. Hike up to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of the Divine Madman), built in 1499 to honor the Lama Drukpa Kunley. Adorned with fertility symbols, the monastery is a long-established pilgrimage destination, particularly for women and couples seeking a blessing for successful childbearing. Stroll through the temple grounds, free to speak with the monks who abide there. Afterward, proceed to your hotel, where you enjoy lunch followed by time at leisure. This evening, dine at your amazing resort, overlooking a verdant, terraced valley, as you sit around a warming fire. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 5 KHOTAKHA | TSHECHU FESTIVAL
Journey overland to Khotakha Valley, a ravine of almost magical beauty that is home to several sacred monasteries and hermitages. Venture through deep pine forests and countryside dotted by drupchus (water springs considered spiritually vital) and menchus (waters believed to have healing powers). Arrive at a remote village seldom visited by tourists to experience life as the locals live it. Visit a farmhouse to observe the lifestyle of Bhutanese people, from whom you learn about the region’s ancient traditions. Enjoy a warm greeting that includes a tashi khadda ceremony and welcome tea at a monastery, which you then tour. Next, gather for a private tshechu festival, held just for you. The tshechu brings together an entire community to share ritual dances that illustrate events in the life of eighth-century Buddhist master Guru Rinpoche, and is a glimpse into the true heart of this deeply spiritual people. After lunch, enjoy the opportunity to don traditional Bhutanese garments, a kira (dress) for women or a gho (robe) for men, and take part in a friendly archery match or dart game with village residents. After your full day of cultural and spiritual immersion, return to your lodge for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 6 PUNAKHA | DESIGN YOUR DAY
This morning, visit the majestic Punakha Dzong, also known as “the palace of great happiness.” Constructed in 1673, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. Return to your hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy one of these Design Your Day activities.
Hike or Drive to Chorten Nyingpo Lhakhang, passing through local villages and terraced rice paddies en route.
Visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery, a temple complex for higher learning and meditation center.
Trek to a Chorten (stupa) noted for its architecture, to enjoy breathtaking views of the Punakha Valley.
This evening, return to your resort for dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 7 PARO | INSPIRING RIVER VALLEYS
Today, experience the unique serenity of Bhutan’s rugged landscapes on a scenic drive to Paro, descending from Dochula Pass and stopping en route for lunch in Thimphu. Continue to Paro Valley, where glacial waters flow through alpine meadows, and check in to your resort, a serene haven set above the Paro valley and ancient dzong ruins. Relax at leisure this afternoon, taking advantage of your hotel’s integrated wellness offerings, such as a consultation with a doctor trained in traditional Bhutanese medicine, a massage, a hot-stone bath, a private yoga or meditation class, or other rejuvenating treatments. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 8 PARO | ASCENT TO THE “TIGER’S NEST”
Embark on a challenging hike to one of Bhutan’s most revered icons, Taktsang Monastery (“Tiger’s Nest”), which clings to a cliff 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Ascend to over 10,000 feet above sea level on a climb that Buddhists often make as a pilgrimage. Upon arrival, take in the views at this sacred site, where the great tantric mystic Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava) is believed to have flown on the back of the tiger to bring the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. Afterward, descend back down the mountain to enjoy a tented picnic lunch that includes Champagne, relaxing to the sounds of local musicians. Afterward, drive back to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure, resting from your climb or experiencing the many wellness-related amenities offered on site, which include massage and hot-oil compression. You may also consult with one of the hotel’s on-site Bhutanese traditional specialists about a well-being program that includes personalized nutritional, traditional therapeutic, and functional fitness recommendations. Or, elect to unwind by the pool. This evening, gather for a final dinner at your hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAYS 9-10 DEPART BANGKOK
On Day 9, either fly to Kathmandu to begin your post-tour extension or fly to Bangkok to enjoy the use of an executive room, available through Day 10, when you depart. (Breakfast)
All This Included
Immerse yourself in stunningly scenic Bhutan, experiencing its deeply spiritual culture alongside friendly locals for whom happiness is a national priority, as you share the excitement of a lively tshechu festival, learn about traditional medicines and ascend to the soaring “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery.
Bangkok: Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Thimphu: Taj Tashi
Punakha: COMO Uma Punakha
Paro: Six Senses Paro
Pre and Post Add-ons
Nepal & Dhulikhel Post-Tour Extension
4 days from $1,995
Single Supplement from $895
Internal air from $335
Explore Nepal, hike among terraced farm fields, learn about local cuisine, and enjoy yoga and other optional activities. Available to add to all departure dates.
Fly to Kathmandu, Nepal, to discover Boudhanath, a massive Buddhist stupa. Enter Kopan Nunnery and Monastery, for a private guided meditation session led by a monk or nun. Next, explore Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Journey to Dhulikhel, with its inspiring panoramas of the Himalaya, and check in to your relaxing retreat. (Lunch, Dinner)
Hotel: Dwarika's Resort, Dhulikhel
This morning, you may opt, at an additional cost, for a helicopter flight to view majestic Mount Everest. Enjoy one of the diverse activities available from your resort, such as birdwatching, hiking, yoga, meditation, painting and pottery lessons. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Hotel: Dwarika's Resort, Dhulikhel
After breakfast, again select from a range of activities or just relax. Later, gather for an exclusive Chef’s Table experience to learn about and taste Nepalese cuisine alongside the resort’s Chef. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Hotel: Dwarika's Resort, Dhulikhel
After breakfast, transfer to the Kathmandu airport and depart. (Breakfast)
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.