Amankora is a collection of beautiful hideaways throughout Bhutan’s principal western and central valleys.
The tiny Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan awaits, nestled high in the Himalayas its isolation from the world has cultivated a culture rich in traditions, religion and a benevolent monarchy. The dramatic landscapes, from snow capped peaks and deeply forested slopes to raging, boulder strewn rivers, sit largely undisturbed as the endeared environmental initiatives and religious beliefs leave the Kingdom pristine and a jewel of nature. The program takes you into this ancient Kingdom for an adventure into the hearts and lands of charming farmers, fascinating weavers, enchanting monks and charismatic leaders.
Day 1: Arrival, Transfer to Thimphu
As your Druk Air flight weaves through the valley, arrival in Bhutan is like no other. As you touch down, keep your camera at the ready, as we have noticed how passengers slowly disembark and then stand on the tarmac totally bewildered. Then move through to immigration where you will present your Visa Approval letter and Passport for the official stamp. As you clear the Immigration check, please make your way to the baggage delivery area and here you will meet your Guide for the first time. The transfer to Thimphu is approximately 1½ hours and upon arrival and after settling in; you will have the choice of the National Memorial Chorten, National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, National Library to visit, and perhaps time to stroll the Main Street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles.
Day 2: Explore Thimphu Valley
This morning you will head to the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and Royal offices, and pay a visit to Pangri Zampa, two 16th century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers. At the head of the valley, should you wish to stretch your legs; a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom. Back in town you should be able to visit a few of the capital’s cottage industries ranging from traditional paper making to hand rolled incense.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha
We opt for an early departure for a dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La and on to the Punakha Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible. The descent down thru the Punakha Valley along the Kingdom’s only east-west highway will loop you through the Valley of Wangdi where you can visit the rustic Wangdiphodrang Dzong and perhaps the local town temple next door. Time will be afforded to walk this small village and explore its row of intimate shops before heading back into Punakha Valley. This afternoon you will have a choice to visit the village of Talo, home of the Queens’ and the valley’s protective deity lhakhang. Later in the afternoon a hike to an ancient monastery on the hilltop behind the lodge can be organized or time given to enjoy the farmhouse and spa of the lodge.
Day 4: Explore Punakha Valley
Your day in Punakha Valley begins with a hike up thru fields of chilies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the upper end of the valley to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by the Queens and consecrated in 1999. Returning down thru the valley you will have plenty of time to take in the impressive Punakha Dzong, home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler, Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal, and the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks. Later a picnic lunch will be served on the banks of the Punakha Chhu at a vantage point of the stunning Dzong and confluence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu. Following lunch a quick drive will take you to the village of Talo where you will stop to walk the stunning, quiet grounds of the village temple and perhaps visit the home village of the Kingdom’s four Queens. Further hikes or valley excursions can be organized.
Day 5: Punakha to Paro
After descending back down from Dochu La, you will follow your way back up the dramatic Wang Chu and Paro Chu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley. Here, set in a pine forest, you will find the Amankora lodge and its spa. In the afternoon, there is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, a visit to some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or a ramble down Paro’s main street. Evenings at Amankora may include informative lectures on the history, religion, flora and fauna of the region or an intriguing movie on the Himalayas.
Day 6: Exploring Paro Valle
The day starts with a visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lays the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge, and guests are then driven to the town temple, built in 1525, to view ancient wall paintings. Paro options include picturesque picnic spots or, perhaps, a visit to a traditional farmhouse to lunch with the family. This afternoon there will be choice of excursions with those wanting a further immersion into the culture and religion, visits to the Kyichu Lhakhang, Dumtse Lhakhang and the Drukgyel Dzong alter room can be organized. For the hikers, a beautiful trail can be taken up behind the lodge carrying on past Drukgyel Dzong, along the Paro Chhu, then across a suspension bridge and up thru terraced farmland and forests before looping back down the river to a second bridge and across the river, returning to the lodge.
Day 7: Tiger’s Nest Hike
This morning will begin with a hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. The balance of the day can be spend browsing shops in town, enjoying the spa around the lodge or taking on another hike into the rich forests that rise up behind the lodge.
Day 8: Departure Day
A car will be ready to take you to Paro Airport. Transfer time is approximately 30 minutes and you are advised to arrive at the airport an hour before your international flight departure.
» Private guided tour
» Visas for Bhutan
» Airport transfers
» Daily 3 meals (B/L/D) & house beverages at Aman
» Accommodation at Aman Resorts
» A qualified & licensed English-speaking guide
» An experienced driver
» A tour vehicle
» Entry fees & road permits
» Government fee, royalty, taxes & surcharges
» Mineral bottled water
» Laundry service on a daily basis
» A 60-minutes massage per person at Aman Spa
» Full service & assistance before, during and after your Bhutan trip
Whole year round
High Season: March-May and September-November
Low Season: December-February and June-August
For Travel during the months of: Dec-Feb and Jun-Aug
To be advised
For Travel during the months of: Mar-May and Sep-Nov
To be advised
» Flight into Bhutan via Drukair (can be arranged with us)
» Flight on other airline to catch Drukair Flight
» Hotel stay outside of Bhutan
» Travel Insurance (can be arranged with us)
» Meals at 4-5 stars restaurants
» Tips for the guide and driver
» Alcoholic drink
» Expenditure of personal nature
Guaranteed Visa approval. We have yet to disappoint a single of our travellers in term of Visa issuance.
Your choice of hotels will be confirmed for your inspection before your arrival. We only book you on hotels which we love and would love again.
We will be happy to change your guide, driver or vehicle on the first two days of arrival in Thimphu if you are not satisfied with our selection. Drop us a note and our hospitality team be on the spot to assist you.
We’re here to help. Our world-class member services team is available by phone or email — there’s no automated system or call center; you’ll communicate with a real person.