Chart Your Path with Six Senses Bhutan
March 6, 2019 by Allison Reiber DiLiegro
Travelers are pulled to Bhutan for different reasons. Maybe it’s the deep spirituality, the sweeping Himalayan landscapes or the dedication to Gross National Happiness. Maybe it’s the allure of a country that was isolated from the outside world for centuries. Bhutan has all these things and more.
The five Six Senses Bhutan lodges are scattered across the Kingdom’s mountains and valleys. Each lodge is unique, designed to reflect its surroundings. But Bhutan is no place to rush. The journey to all five lodges takes about 14 days (not including travel time). If time is limited, however, you can still plan a trip that explores your interests. The lodges are the stepping stones – you get to chart your own path.
Six Senses Thimphu: The Dramatic Introduction
The location: Most journeys begin in Thimphu, the country’s capital. Thimphu offers a taste of urban life, but it’s no booming metropolis. Thimphu is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights. Begin your Bhutanese education with a trip to the Thimphu Dzong, the center of government. Shop for textiles, meet monks in a monastery and tour the local market. The lodge is a 90-minute drive from Paro Airport.
The lodge: Set high above the city, Six Senses Thimphu calls itself the “Palace in the Sky.” The 20 suites (721 sq. ft.) have sleek woods, cozy carpets and Himalayan views from every window. The one- to three-bedroom villas (1,453-3,358 sq. ft.), have private spas with traditional hot stone bathtubs, where water is warmed with fire-roasted river stones. The spa is the largest across the Six Senses lodges, with a spectacular swimming pool surrounded by glass.
Where it fits: Thimphu is an ideal starting point, with a fabulous spa for easing into the altitude. With the two- and three-bedroom villas, it’s a good fit for families.
Six Senses Punakha: The Lush Valley
The location: A 2.5-hour drive from Thimphu, Punakha is the warmest of the Six Senses lodges. The former capital of Bhutan, Punakha is home to the most beautiful dzong in the country. The valley offers beautiful hikes through terraced farmland, with opportunities to visit villages. From September to May, adventurous types can go white water rafting past the dzong.
The lodge: Nicknamed the “Flying Farmhouse Amidst Rice Fields,” the lodge feels like a chic farmhouse. The 16 suites (721 sq. ft.) are open plan, with sitting areas and terraces that overlook the valley. The one- to three-bedroom villas (1,312-2,949 sq. ft.) each come with a private pool. Surrounded by rice terraces, the “spa village” has freestanding treatment rooms and an open-air yoga pavilion.
Where it fits: Rich with history, culture and outdoor activities, Punakha is a must for most travelers in Bhutan. With the two- and three-bedroom villas, this lodge works well for families.
Six Senses Gangtey: The Natural Splendor
The location: From Punakha, travelers will either head back to Paro (4.5 hours) or continue eastward to Gangtey (3.5 hours). Gangtey is an idyllic hiking destination, with trails that lead through rhododendron forests. The valley is the winter home of the endangered black-necked cranes – a festival in their honor is held each November – and the site of the 16th-century monastery of Gangtey Goemba, one of the most important Buddhist sites in Bhutan.
The lodge: With eight suites and a two-bedroom villa each, Gangtey and Bumthang are the two most intimate lodges. Set to open in summer 2019, Gangtey calls itself the “Traditional Birdwatching Bridge.” The black-necked crane information center is a short stroll from the lodge. The eight suites (689 sq. ft.) and the two-bedroom villa (2,260 sq. ft.) offer green valley views. The spa features a unique Swedana steam treatment space and a pyramid meditation room.
Where it fits: Gangtey is ideal for hikers, birdwatchers and spiritual types. The lodge has a two-bedroom villa that can fit families, but the drive is a bit long for younger children.
Six Senses Bumthang: The Spiritual Heart
The location: Bumthang is the easternmost Six Senses lodge. The eight-hour drive from Gangtey leads through terraced farmland, river valleys and, maybe, herds of yak. The country out here feels wild, but it’s not just wilderness – Bumthang is home to many of the country’s most sacred, ancient temples. From here, most travelers will fly back to Paro via domestic airline or helicopter. The drive back is 12.5 hours.
The lodge: Set to open in summer 2019, this intimate lodge is one with its surroundings. Set inside a grove of trees, the lodge calls itself a “Forest within a Forest.” The eight spacious suites (780 sq. ft.) and one two-bedroom villa (2,422 sq. ft.) are outfitted with recycled wood furnishings and timber walls. The spa features a Bhutanese hot stone bath.
Where it fits: The most remote of the lodges, Bumthang is a highlight for travelers interested in Bhutanese culture and Buddhism. The drive from Gangtey is long, but for travelers with time, the journey is worth it.
Six Senses Paro: The Tiger’s Nest
The location: Best saved for last, Paro is among the most stunning settings in Bhutan. The valley is famous for Tiger’s Nest, the iconic monastery that clings to the cliffside. The hike to the top (about three to five hours roundtrip) is a highlight of a trip to Bhutan. Aside from Tiger’s Nest, the Paro Valley offers many hiking opportunities, from easy walks to overnight treks.
The lodge: The lodge is on sacred ground. It neighbors the ruins of a 12th-century stone temple (where you can have a candlelit dinner, if you wish), a monastery and a temple. The 16 suites (646 sq. ft.) and one- to three-bedroom villas (1,399-3,681 sq. ft.) feature some of the best Himalayan views of all the lodges. The spa has an expansive indoor pool and an outdoor sauna with cold plunge.
Where it fits: Flights leave Paro Airport in the morning, so all travelers should plan to finish at Six Senses Paro. With Tiger’s Nest nearby, Six Senses Paro is fabulous finale.
Six Senses Bhutan
Chunimeding, Babesa, Chang Gewog, Thimphu
Telephone: +975 2 350 773