Bhutan famously wrote the concept of Gross National Happiness into its constitution in 2008, but the recent opening of five lodges by wellness-focused hotelier Six Senses is upping visitors’ endorphins in a much more tangible way. The properties are spread over five distinct valleys, and each is stunning in its own right, but its lodge just outside the capital city of Thimphu may be the most spectacular.
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Layered into the mountainside some 7,710 feet up, Thimphu is like a Bhutanese castle in the sky. Hand-painted dragons cover the walls, and moatlike reflecting ponds mirror the clouds and stars in such a way you’d think you could step out onto them. But it’s not all Zen.
You can also heli-hike, mountain bike, or test your archery skills (the national sport) with Bhutanese masters. You can even whitewater raft on the Mo Chhu River or visit Paro Taktsang, a 17th-century monastery that erupts straight from a cliffside. Even if you don’t buy into the kingdom’s national happiness program, by the end of a visit, your personal enjoyment is bound to top out.
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