Where else can one walk through ancient pine forests, without encountering another soul, following a trail which emits a deeply haunting and beautiful chant before stumbling upon a small shrine, where a priest and his pupil chant the mantras in an effort to reach nirvana?
This breathtakingly beautiful kingdom of Bhutan, home to only 765 000 inhabitants, is a wonderful example of how a country could and should be run. With philanthropy emanating from King Wangchuk and the embodiment of their thirteen arts and crafts, around which much of the employment of this kingdom revolves, one can only marvel at such a template of a democratic country.
A holiday to Bhutan encompasses so many different experiences. For the active, there is the most phenomenal mountain biking, hiking and walking – especially in the forests surrounding Paro.
For family holidays, this is the perfect place to consider – as one can camp out during the milder months, walking from place to place and camping out in the evenings, or cycling, walking and white water rafting on the River Pho in Punakha. Archery is the national sport and its great fun trying one’s hand at that, too!
The dzongs, or monasteries are built in the most beautiful vernacular style, incorporating many of the arts and crafts and with special access for our company, one can witness the lives of the monks and perhaps be invited to a lively debate (the abbots have completed 9 years of philosophy) – and it’s a fascinating scene to observe through your translator and guide.
There are a number of key experiences that can be arranged, through invitation only – not open to the general public – that will simply transcend your Bhutan vacation to the extraordinary! From weddings, to special blessings for anniversaries or any other celebration, these incredible experiences can be arranged for you, involving local villages, monks and royalty.
Thimphu the capital, is the perfect place to learn about the arts and crafts and see examples of where they are all made – such as watching ladies weave an intricate gold wedding kho (the national dress for a woman) which takes six months to weave, or the rough woollen weaves of Jakar, perfect for keeping one warm!
See how cider and apple juice are produced in the rural regions of Jakar and watch the magnificent black neck cranes migrate to Gangtey from the Tibetan steppes. Each place is so different from one another – each experience new and invigorating!
The greatest news is that the tiger population in Bhutan is on the increase too because there is less threat for them living at higher altitudes. Some wildlife can be seen in Jigme Dorji National Park.
With the advent of Como Hotels and Aman and the new Six Senses group about to open its hotels this year, one can now travel through Bhutan in style, for those searching for a luxury holiday in Bhutan.
Small, personal, with extraordinary food and service, these establishments cleverly mould themselves into the landscapes – and aesthetically are beautiful. For the best holidays to Bhutan, one can stay in these hotels in each of the cities without feeling removed from the entire experience – in fact, in my opinion, staying at these hotels enhances your overall experience!
With all of this on offer, it seems the perfect endorsement before westernisation takes hold!