●Amankora Bumthang – Jakar; 011-975-8-272-333; amanresorts.com; in Bumthang Valley's center, adjacent to Wandichholing Palace; accessed through impressive stone-clad hallway; 16 suites in 4 separate dwellings, each featuring traditional bukhari (wood-burning stove), king-size bed, terrazzo-clad bath, shower, twin vanities, and daybed; dining room provides Western and special Bumthang-inspired, Bhutanese set menu; library; internet station, as well as wireless access for laptops; cozy spa with 3 treatment rooms, steam room, and changing areas.
Sights & Sites
●Tamshing Lhakhang – tamshing.org; dark, atmospheric temple; built in 1501.
●Wandichholing Palace – Jakar; extensive palace built in 1857 on battle camp site; Bhutan's 1st palace not designed as fortress; King Ugyen Wangchuck (Bhutan's 1st king) chose as principal residence; Wangdichholing inherited by Ashi Choeki Wangchuck, present king's aunt; grand but rather neglected building now used as lobdra (younger novice school); 5 giant prayer wheels inside square chortens just to north.
●Amankora Gangtey – 011-975-8-272-333; amanresorts.com; in Phobjikha Valley, among Bhutan’s most important wildlife reserves (valley home each winter to endangered black-neck crane); 8 suites, each offering open-plan bedroom and bathing area; living room overlooks valley and Gangtey Goemba Monastery; family style dining experience, Western and Bhutanese food; small spa.
Sights & Sites
●Gangtey Goemba – 16th Century monastery.
●Amankora Paro – 011-975-8-272-333; amanresorts.com; 30 minutes from international airport; on clear mornings, uninterrupted Mount Jumolhari view; in lime-washed, stone pavilion; 24 suites with king-size beds, traditional bukharis, and large terrazzo-clad baths; dining and living rooms have incredible views and Western and Indian food; boutique next door provides local fabrics and goods; library; spa with hot stone baths, changing rooms and glass-walled yoga suite.
●Uma Paro – 011-975-8-271-597; comohotels.com; luxurious boutique; great onsite restaurant.
●Druykel Dzong – bhutan2008.bt; 17th Century ruins; fortress and Buddhist monastery, now in ruins, located in Paro Valley's upper part; probably built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's behest (to commemorate victory over invasion from Tibet), in early 1950s, almost completely destroyed by fire.
●Taktsang Monastery – 3K' above valley floor.
●Amankora Punakha – 011-975-8-272-333; amanresorts.com; accessed by crossing suspension bridge over Mo Chhu River; centered by traditional Bhutanese farmhouse built by former Je Kempo (Bhutan Chief Abbot); 8 suites in 3 rammed earth dwellings; each includes traditional bukhari, king-size bed, terrazzo-clad bath, and daybed; suites are individually heated during cooler winter months and air-conditioned in summer; in dining room, both Western and Bhutanese cuisine served; 1st floor features living room and library, as well as an internet connection; also features traditional altar room for meditation and prayer; courtyard for alfresco dining and tea pavilion; spa.
Sights & Sites
●Chimi Lhakhang – Sopsokha (Lobesa); Buddhist monastery since 1499.
●Punakha Dzong – among Bhutan’s most impressive monastery fortresses; means "Great Happiness (or bliss) Palace"; constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637-38; Bhutan's 2nd largest and oldest dzong; houses southern Drukpa Kagyu school's sacred relics, including Rangjung Kasarpani and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's and Terton Padma Lingpa's remains.
●Amankora Thimphu – 011-975-8-272-333; amanresorts.com; in Motithang area's upper reaches; 2 dwellings house 16 suites that provide views across landscaped courtyard or directly onto nearby stream and pine forest; each room features king-size bed, bukhari, and terrazzo-clad bath; suites are individually heated during cold winter months; living and dining rooms feature soaring ceilings and outdoor dining deck with nearby stream and surrounding forest views; menu features both Western and Thai cuisine served in relaxing atmosphere; library; boutique offers Bhutanese textiles, Himalayan art, and jewelry; spa.
●Taj Tashi – Samtem Lam (Chubachu); 011-975-233-6699; tajhotels.com; blend of Bhutan’s dzong architecture and modern design; adorned with classical hand-drawn Buddhist murals; 66 elegant rooms; breathtaking mountain views.
Sights & Sites
●Pangri Zampa Monastery – 20 minutes outside Thimphu; 2 16th Century buildings that house monastery at which can have astrological charts prepared.