AMANKORA (link) (instagram)

This is one of the most exciting trips I’ve been on that I’ve been anticipating the most because I finally got the chance to visit Bhutan! Located in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a Buddhist country that requires an extensive visa process, so it’s crucial that you research the different visas that are required before you go. Make sure you get your visa first before booking your flight since there are different fees, for example, there is a minimum spend each day per visitor, or if you’re traveling by car, certain permits are required to go through certain areas. Because I stayed at AMANKORA, they helped make the journey much simpler by providing help every step of the way. Before I delve into the beautiful property, it’s worth noting why I was so excited to visit Bhutan. The country, most known for the phrase coined by king Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is measured by Gross Domestic Happiness, not Gross Domestic Product. GNH is the philosophy of the Bhutanese government that uses an index to measure the happiness and well-being of the country. The index is based on four pillars – sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, cultural promotion, and good governance.

At AMANKORA, there are five lodges scattered across the area, and each provides a different experience. Surrounded by forests and orchards, each lodge is modern yet rustic using traditional architecture of wooden interiors and slanted roofs. It’s a popular location for trekkers who travel for 2-3 weeks at a time with a guide. The different lodges allow visitors to go from lodge to lodge to experience the different areas of Bhutan in the comfort of Aman resorts. I got to stay at the Paro lodge and the Thimphu lodge. Each lodge boasts a different experience along with different cuisine served to encourage the traveler to go from lodge to lodge and get to know the different parts of Bhutan. At the Paro Lodge, they served Bhutanese and international cuisine while the Thimphu Lodge had a great Thai and Asian-influenced menu. The Canadian chef there made a charred cabbage that we absolutely loved. Highly recommend staying at three different lodges for a comprehensive experience.

The excursions we went on were all spiritually uplifting, and that feeling has stuck with me ever since. From hiking Tiger’s Nest with our helpful and sweet guide and driver to lunching at a local farmhouse, everything was wholesome, beautiful and felt like meditation, a true insider’s perspective on Bhutan. The hike was a great look at Bhutan’s beauty and scenery, and our guide even packed a light lunch for us while they hiked by our side. Our traditional lunch was cooked by the lady of the house, using all locally-sourced and organic ingredients. While traveling from the Paro Lodge to the Thimphu Lodge, we also made a stop at the Buddha point. There was a special gathering happening there with thousands of monks and people from all around Bhutan, and being able to witness it was a powerful and exhilarating experience. Once we arrived at the lodge, we did our best to take everything in – from the bathhouse to the sap and the fresh air all around – each part of Bhutan was a meditative experience. This was definitely one of my top trips of the year – visit Bhutan and do everything like the locals!