The Amankora Bhutan is one of the world’s most isolated luxury accommodations. Take a closer look with us at each of the five beautiful retreats along the Amankora circuit.
In five separate valleys beneath the towering Himalayas, the Amankora lodges blend beautifully into their cultural and natural landscapes. Following the kora (circuit) of lodges will take you on a journey into the lush pine forests of the Bhutanese hills, onto the colorful streets of Bhutan’s small cities and villages, and on a pathway of personal wellness, rest, and self-discovery.
Most likely the first stop on your Bhutanase kora, Amankora Paro is situated in Balakha village – just a half hour drive from Paro international airport. The area is a hiker’s haven and the lodge’s 24 suites offer luxurious respite from a day of trekking.
The hotel combines rustic architecture and contemporary design, centered around a large courtyard. A lime-washed stone pavilion houses a living and dining room and there is also a library where guests are encouraged to relax and browse a range of Buddhist books. The dining room opens onto a terrace and on a clear day, views from the terrace extend all the way to the snow-capped Jhomolhari and the ruins of an ancient dzong (temple).
Treating yourself to a hot-stone bath treatment at the Amankora Paro’s famous spa is a must. There is also a sauna, steam room and glass-walled yoga studio on site which look out onto the lodge’s private herb garden.
Situated in a blue pine forest in the upper reaches of Thimphu valley, the Amankora Thimphu offers a quiet retreat from the bustle of the capital. The valley is dotted with ancient monasteries and temples and the dzong-inspired architecture of the 16-suite Amankora lodge fits in nicely. Soaring ceilings and wood paneled walls greet you on arrival and the entrance is an incredible enclosed dzong-style passageway.
Each of the 16 suites feature a traditional Bhutanese bukhari (wood-burning stove) and boast views of the surrounding area – whether it be a forest of pine trees or the perfectly landscaped gardens. Guests can listen to the sound of a nearby stream from an outdoor dining deck and enjoy a variety of treatments at the spa.
Visit monks at the local dzong and gain insight into why Bhutan has become so famous for its national happiness index.
Just a short drive from the 17th century Punakha Dzong, Amankora Punakha is a large compound designed around a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. The farmhouse was built by the former Chief Abbot of Bhutan to oversee the farming of crops and today the hotel is still surrounded by luscious rice paddies and fruit orchards.
Relaxation is a key theme throughout this lodge. There is a traditional alter room for prayer or meditation and a tea pavilion that was once the kitchen of the Royal Summer Palace.
The hotel’s 8 intimate suites are located in three, rammed-earth buildings. All of the buildings are set within an orange orchard and each suite boasts views across the rice paddies and up Punakha valley.
Explore the surrounding area of Punakha and visit the Punakha Dzong, wedged along the riverbank.
Located in the little-visited Phobjikha Valley, the Amankora Gangtey enjoys sweeping views of the broad valley and the 16th century Gangtey monastery. The area is a bird watcher’s paradise and the Amankora Gangtey sits in an important wildlife reserve which in winter, is home to a flock of 300 endangered black-neck cranes. An uninterrupted view of this incredible sight is maximized by floor to ceiling windows in all rooms.
Adjacent to the palace of the first and second king of Bhutan, Amnkora Bumthang is located in the town of Jakar, in the Choekhor valley. Guests pass alongside the former royal sports ground to reach the lodge and as one of Bhutan’s most fertile valleys, the area is famous for its farm produce. Be sure to try the local butter, cheese, honey, spirits and brandies to name just a few.
Fruit trees provide shade for those dining outside and the hotel’s 16 suites are located in four different buildings. Each of the hotel’s suites has a traditional bukhari (Bhutanese wood-burning stove) as well as a daybed overlooking the courtyard and nearby Wangdichholing Palace and monastery.
Conclude your Bhutanese Kora with an evening on the open terrace, contemplating your journey and gazing up at the stars.
More: Find out why someone would give up an idyllic life in Bali for the remote Kingdom of Bhutan in our interview with the Amankora’s GM.