Monks running - Bhutan has been closed to the outside world for two years.
Aman’s luxury Amankora network of lodges in Bhutan, the happiest country on earth, is set to welcome back travellers.
Bhutan, the only remaining Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom, has now set a date to reopen its borders to international travellers after a two-year closure.
The auspicious opening day, September 23, is ‘Blessed Rainy Day’ and marks the end of the monsoon season. It’s a celebration of rain, regarded as sanctifying and holy, that has cleansed the earth and humanity.
If you’re hoping to visit the kingdom, it should be noted that Bhutan will also be introducing a daily Sustainable Development Fee of US$200. A fee of US$65 was originally introduced in 1991 to support the kingdom’s ‘low volume, high value’ tourism concept.
This is the first increase in the daily SDF in 30 years, as Bhutan determines to preserve its natural environment and wildlife, maintain its carbon-negative status and conserve its cultural heritage. Bhutan is home to hundreds of ancient sites, historic monasteries and fortresses as well as communities untouched by modernity. The increased SDF will help preserve this heritage and will also be used to protect the two pillars of the country’s Gross National Happiness index, the country’s free healthcare system (for citizens and visitors) and accessible, quality education.
Ancient monuments and heritage
Amankora’s lodges are nestled in the valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang and will also welcome visitors from September 23. Guests can enjoy a seven- to 13-day Amankora Journey, taking in the lodges and Bhutan’s renowned sites. Bespoke itineraries can include a cultural visit to the capital Thimphu, archery practice on the banks of the Mo Chhu River, exploration of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and a flight to Paro’s clifftop Tiger’s Nest.
The various Amanjora itineraries include the three-night ‘Tiger’s Odyssey’ journey, staying at Amankora Paro and taking in Paro Valley by bike, the seventeenth century Drukyel Dzong temple, a visit to the National Museum at Kyichu Lhakhang, as well as daily open-air yoga to start the day and picnic and farmhouse lunches. The journey finishes with a hike and tour of the cliffside Tiger’s Nest temple complex followed by a spa treatment and barbecue lunch.
Dive deeper into Bhutanese culture with the six-night ‘Cultural Sojourn’ journey staying at three lodges, or take-on the five-night ‘Return to the Kingdom’ journey, designed for visitors who have travelled to Bhutan before and want to explore beyond the western and central valleys.
Amankora journeys include all meals, picnics and in-house drinks, along with transfers, daily excursions in a private car with driver and guide and all monument passes and road permits.
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