Luxury hotels and suppliers are counting down the days until the reopening of Bhutan on 23 September 2022, when the kingdom will welcome tourists for the first time in two and a half years.
The country closed its borders to tourists at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, and is now preparing to welcome the first wave of post-pandemic visitors.
Como Hotels and Resorts is marking the reopening with the launch of the seven-night Jewels of Bhutan itinerary. Guests will stay at Como Uma Paro and Como Uma Punakha, and their trip will include a range of dining, spiritual and wellness experiences.
They will visit the Taktsang Monastery, known as the Tiger’s Nest; meet young monks at Chorten Ningpo, a 17th-century educational institution; walk across farms to reach Chimmi Lhakhang, an ancient fertility temple; and enjoy views of the Himalayas from the Dochu La mountain pass.
The itinerary includes guided hikes along the newly restored Trans-Bhutan Trail, which has been restored during a sweeping three-year project. It now connects 250 miles of valleys and districts along ancient pathways and is at the heart of the country’s sustainable tourism ambitions.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has set out a plan to promote sustainable high-value, low impact tourism, which includes a raft of initiatives. Prior to the pandemic the TCB charged tourists a daily fee of $65 per person, which will increase to $200 in September. Known as the Sustainable Development Fee, it’s designed to offset visitors’ carbon impact
Among the first visitors to the country will be three members of staff from Audley Travel, who are set to depart in September. Trade sales manager Greg Thurston said: “Audley Travel is excited for the upcoming reopening of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Clients with existing bookings are extremely keen and will start travelling from October. We can see how the planned changes will help to secure this very special land for many years to come.”
Independent 12-suite boutique lodge Gangtey Lodge will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023, and has created several new wellbeing experiences to welcome guests, including massages and herbal baths.
Owner Khin Omar Win, said: “After two and a half years of closure, we are absolutely thrilled to re-open. Our Gangtey Lodge family are excited to be back together again and are ready to celebrate the return to travel with our guests. We cannot wait to share the new wellbeing experiences that we have developed, to immerse guests into the nature, culture and traditions of our beautiful valley.”
For those looking to travel in 2024, Four Seasons Private Jet Experience has launched the 16-day Asia Unveiled itinerary which stops in Bhutan, alongside calls in Tokyo, Bali, the Maldives, Hoi An, Angkor Wat and Bangkok.