There are few places more spiritual than the Himalayas, and few kingdoms more mysterious than Bhutan. One of the last pristine mountain cultures on earth, this ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ between India and Tibet is a country riven with deep, pine-clad valleys, where ancient monasteries cling to steep hillsides and snow-tipped ranges wrapped in mist rise dramatically into the crystal clear air.
Expect to stumble across orange-robed Buddhist monks, making their way past colourful prayer flags to monasteries known locally as Dzongs. A trip to Thimphu, home to the cherished royal family, is a must, as is a trek up to Tiger’s Nest monastery, which sits precariously on the high slopes of the beautiful Paro Valley. En route, pass grazing yaks on slopes carpeted with wild flowers, terraced paddy fields and ornately painted farmhouses in remote villages ever alive with colourful celebrations, dancing and music.
These are the vistas afforded by Bhutan’s ravishing selection of mountain lodges and retreats, where the traveller has the opportunity to unwind in the hands of therapists trained in Bhutanese treatments such as hot stone baths – perfect after a brisk walk to a local village to see a way of life virtually unchanged for centuries. Looking down on the world from such a height instils a deep sensation of tranquillity and inner calm.
Bhutan can be visited year-round, although the most pleasant weather occurs from March to May and from October to November. The winter months between December and February are particularly magical, characterised by refreshingly crisp days and blue skies with occasional snowfall, whilst the temperature drops further at night. The lush summer months are an ideal time to view the wildflowers.
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