Amankora’s minimalist design and comfortable rooms philosophy lets luxury sit alongside the gentle Himalayan Buddhism of Bhutan.
Our journey from Paro to Punakha, past Thimphu and across the Black Mountains has taken two days. But we are travelling further east, deep into the remote part of Bhutan to explore the Bumthang valley in Central Bhutan. Having arrived, there is a tranquil feeling about the place as if not much is happening here. Which is true and it fits into the laid-back atmosphere of the place. Perfect for me but may be boring for some. According to our guide, “Each part of Bhutan is different and you are missing something if you don’t travel this far east.”
Look Adjacent to the Wangdichholing Palace in Bumthang, stands the 16-suite Amankora Bumthang lodge surrounded by an apple orchard. The hallway, in Buddhist architecture and colours is grand. At the end of the hall is a library with comfy chairs and an internet. It’s like entering a beautiful Dzong but I am both, confused and amazed. I am travelling not in distance but in time.
Stay The rooms are elegant, with just the right amount of style for the location. Each suite features wood-panelled interiors, a traditional bukhari, king size bed, terrazzo-clad bath, shower, twin vanities and daybed overlooking the courtyard and nearby Wangdicholing Palace and monastery.
I sit at the edge of my chair and watch through the large floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the pristine scenery of the valley outside. The lodge complements its quiet Bhutanese location through the use of natural materials, which create a calm ambience. And I am fast asleep.
Dine Dining in Aman resorts is on demand. In most cases you have a suggested menu but the chef discusses with you what you like and the cuisine is tailored to your liking. There are no fixed timing and you can eat when you like and where you like.
Adventure Next day we trek across the valley to visit its ancient monasteries. Almost all richly adorned altars and decorated with vibrant wall paintings and thankas (wall hangings) with mystical stories. Trekking high up into the forest we break for a picnic. But a chance encounter with a Himalayan bear and her cubs forces us to change our plans. We retreat in haste but excited into a nearby monastery.
We are welcomed with a smile by the monks who offer us tea and I am excited by the experience of being amongst some of the happiest people on earth. I have travelled to many parts of the world but this particular journey; from the 21st century luxury of Amankora Bumthang lodge into the Buddhist monasteries where young monks chant their prayers in a form unchanged for hundreds of years, is for me the longest walk through time.
Relax Ease the strains of the day's journey through the mountains with a variety of holistic treatments at Amankora Bumthang. The spa specialises in customised oil massages which focus on specific areas of tension or provide for overall relaxation. Guests can also enjoy the complimentary steam facilities offered.
Flights to Bhutan are either from Bangkok or New Delhi. You will need to buy a return ticket before you can apply for a visa. Bangkok is the best place to connect if you are coming from North America, Australia or Asia. Delhi is the best place to connect if you are coming from Europe, Middle East or UK. You can also fly to Bhutan from Kathmandu.
We will arrange your flight tickets and visa clearance details and forward them to the Druk office at which the flight originates. All flights arrive at Paro from where it takes about 1-hour drive to Thimphu. Transfers within Bhutan can be arranged by AwimAway with an English speaking guide. Our representative will meet you at the Paro airport and transfer you to the hotel (additional cost).
Aman Villa Accessed through an impressive stone-clad hallway, the guest Suites are situated in four separate structures, each containing two suites on the ground floor and two on the upper floor. Each suite features wood-panelled interiors, a traditional bukhari, and a daybed overlooking the courtyard and nearby Wangdichholing Palace and monastery. Rooms feature a King Size or Twin beds with mountain or valley views. The spacious bathroom has open plan terrazzo-clad bath, shower with twin vanities. Total: 16 villas, Size: 52 sqm
Taxes and fees:
Check in & Check out:
Experiences The lodge is located next to the dilapidated old royal palace, which is a beautiful place to wander around.
Archery is a national sport and there is an archery field in every town and village. There is one next to the lodge where you may find locals practicing. Ask the hotel concierge and they will organise an archery lesson or arrange for you to participate in the local competition. You may have to wear the ‘Gho’, the traditional kilt like dress, dance and cheer like the locals.Take a hike up in the mountains but go along with your guide who knows the area. You will see the many birds and regional owls. Or go mountain biking down the valley, which has some beautiful scenery.
If you like Bhutanese food, then request your hotel concierge to arrange lunch at a local organic farm. You will not only appreciate the warmth and hospitality of a local family but taste the authentic local food. This is not to be missed if you like Bhutanese food.
Some of the best textiles are made in Bumthang Request the hotel concierge to arrange visits to the local cottage industries or beer tasting at the Red Panda brewery.
When not out exploring the surrounding valleys on foot and bicycle, Visit the monastery next door in the evening to hear the young monks' devotional chanting. It will be quite an experience.
What to See
Monasteries: The valley is full of monasteries and you will never be able to see them all on a single visit. However it is best to see a few.
Jambey Lhakhang, was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, Kurje Lhakhang, located further along the valley was built in 1652 near a place where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. Across the river from here is Tamshing Lhakhang with very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which were restored at the end of the 19th century. Jakar Dzong, the closest to your hotel is now an administrative centre for Bumthang valley and houses the regional monk body.
Ura Valley: About 45km and one and a half hour drive is the wide open Ura valley with sheep pastures that line the road that goes over the Ura pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of the Himalayas. Villages here have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan.
Tang Valley: Like the Ura, people here raise sheep and yaks at higher elevation, as the soil in this region is not so rich for agricultural activities. At the centre is a wide open lake, considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan.
When to go Winter in Bhutan is from mid-November till mid-March, and at this time of the year the climate is dry and sunny for the most part, temperatures peaking at around 15c. in the daytime and falling below zero at night. During the spring months of March, April and May, Bhutan offers warm days and cool nights. It is a great time for treks and to watch the flora and the many birds of Bhutan.
By the middle of June, clouds begin to build up for the monsoon that arrives in July. By mid-September the monsoon clouds have all but dried and the skies begin to clear. The two-month window between October and November offers clear skies but it can be cold in the night. It is also a good time for trekking deep into the Himalayas, sitting around a camp fire and seeing the high Himalayas in the morning and evening golden light.
Tipping Hotel and restaurant bills include service charges amounting to 20%. There is no need to add anything further to this. Tipping of your guide, driver and trek crew is a purely personal matter. The bottom line in determining whether or how much to tip is to ask yourself how much our representatives did to make your Bhutan travel experience more enjoyable.
Visa & Health British nationals require visa and this is generally arranged by our country agent in Bhutan. Individuals who are travelling to Bhutan from an endemic area will require yellow fever certificate. We recommend that you contact your doctor to check for any inoculations required.