Originally visited by only the most dedicated, adventurous travelers, the lush landscape of Bhutan has recently attracted the jet-set crowd. Go while this destination is hot, yet still undiscovered. Located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, this small Buddhist state in South Asia is bordered by India and the People?s Republic of China. Rich geographical diversity from tropical plains to Sub-alpine Himalayan heights pack two experiences into one expansive trip filled with the peace and serenity that few destinations can match. Bhutan remains significantly less touched limiting the amount of tourists at any given time to maintain the kingdom?s cultural integrity. Travelers pay $200 per day of their trip; a small price to pay when discovering an exclusive new world.
Bhutan is about trekking so spend at least one day exploring the landscape. Even if hiking isn?t normally your cup of tea, it is a must-have experience in Bhutan. The lush greenery, breathtaking flora and incredible views are unlike any other in the world. You will also want to visit one of Bhutan?s dzongs, or castles as these structures feature Bhutan?s unique interpretation of architecture and are an important part of the region?s cultural history. Particularly beautiful is the Paro Dzong in Paro.
Thimphu is one of Bhutan?s more bustling cities, and is full of the area?s shops and general stores. The Weekend Market in Thimphu is a must-visit, offering not only an immersion in Bhutan?s culture but a dense collection of unique wares. On one side of the market, you will find fresh food and spices. Cross the Kuendeyling Bazaam, a cantilever footbridge, to find the other side offering clothing, crafts, home goods and fabrics. Bhutan is known for its vibrant and exquisite textiles, so indulge in the rich fabrics to bring memories of the region home. Bargaining is not only welcome in this and other markets, it?s part of the shopping experience. While in Thimphu, stop by the Changangkha Lhakhang, a temple and monastic school where you?ll find incredible statues and architecture as well as a peaceful and scenic courtyard.
For dining, head to nearby Seasons Restaurant, with a balcony overlooking the market. The restaurant is a favorite in the city, and is known for dishes ? like varieties of pasta ? that are more familiar worldwide. For indigenous cuisine and a local crowd, try Mid Point Restaurant ? offering Bhutanese and Indian dishes like dosas and a chance to mingle with Thimphu inhabitants ? or Benez Restaurant, another Thimphu staple where you can while away your evening with locals and expats in the dining room or the back bar, serving Bhutanese snacks and small plates.
Once you are convinced you want to stay in Thimphu by talk of rich history, scenic landscapes, bustling shopping and delicious local cuisine, you?ll need somewhere to lodge. Amankora is gorgeous and pristine. Spend your days in the lively center of town, before escaping to this peaceful hotel with stunning architecture resembling a dzong. The five-star resort employs a minimalist aesthetic to inspire calm and peace of mind to contemplate the surroundings. Indulge in the hotel?s restaurant and spa for the ultimate in pampering.