A New Beginning for Bhutan


Reopening to tourism for the first time since March 2020, the land of the thunder dragon will once again invite visitors to discover its awe-inspiring landscapes, nurturing people and incomparable spirit from 23 September 2022.

Immersing guests in the mystical essence of the nation, COMO Hotels and Resorts invites inquisitive travellers to rediscover its two luxury lodges, COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punakha, with a new seven-night experience incorporating the many jewels of Bhutan.

Taking guests on a journey to the heart of the ethereal land, the Jewels of Bhutan itinerary incorporates spectacular drives, unique nature walks and fascinating monastery visits, including a hike through the verdant Paro Valley to reach the Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery, one of Bhutan’s most important pieces of architecture. Highlights include the chance to engage with young monks at Chorten Ningpo, a 17th-century educational institution; walking across farmhouses to reach Chimmi Lhakhang, an ancient fertility temple; and enjoying spectacular views of the Himalayas from the Dochu La mountain pass.

The first night is spent at COMO Uma Paro, nestled above the emerald Paro Valley, overlooking rice paddies and ancient monasteries, where rooms combine traditional Bhutanese craftsmanship with modern amenities. A signature treatment is included at the hotel’s COMO Shambhala Retreat, home to two bathhouses and a large indoor pool facing the mountains across the valley.

Transferring to COMO Uma Punakha for the following three nights, the property offers intimate lodge-style accommodation with views of the Mo Chu River, local, seasonally led dining experiences at Bukhari restaurant and unrivalled access the best of the Himalayan Kingdom. After exploring Punakha, guests will return to Paro for three additional nights to complete their journey.

Marking the beginning of an unforgettable journey, the Jewels of Bhutan also includes a traditional butter lamp ceremony, a spiritual blessing which represents the eradication of darkness and ignorance with wisdom and light. A deeply spiritual destination, Bhutan’s population uplifts and encourages positivity for all visitors. On the nation’s spirituality, COMO’s long-serving activity guide, Ugyen Dendup, notes:

“Folklore has a very special significance among Bhutanese families. We share stories from generation to generation. It is widely believed that yetis exist in Brigdungla in Bumthang, as well as magical lakes such as Chumphu, or the Floating Goddess Lake.”

Visitors to Bhutan are enchanted by the country’s unique pace and peaceful rhythm, protected by the Gross Domestic Happiness concept that guides the government and measures collective wellbeing of the population. In line with the philosophy’s core pillar of ecological sustainability, Bhutan is the only carbon negative nation in the world, with 70 per cent of land covered by forests. COMO Bhutan is committed to operating sustainably, sourcing produce from a local Bhutanese farmer and its own vegetable garden, while also contributing to community upliftment: COMO Uma Paro recently helped a female entrepreneur set up the country’s first prayer flag printer and shop.

This year will also see the long-awaited opening of the Trans-Bhutan Trail, connecting 250 miles of valleys and districts along centuries-old pathways, much of which can be explored during COMO’s Jewels of Bhutan itinerary. Later in the year, acclaimed photographer Michael Turek, will lead a Himalayan film photography retreat (9-16 November) as part of the brand’s series of COMO Journeys, venturing into the remote reaches of the Kingdom to capture its natural and cultural beauty.

For more information, please visit www.comohotels.com.

Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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