No visit to Bhutan would be complete without experiencing the ultimate wellness ritual of a hot stone bath, so make sure you include this in your itinerary – your body will thank you for it.
For centuries, the ancient tradition of a hot stone bath has been at the heart of Tibetan medicine and Indian Ayurvedic practices. In the majestic country of Bhutan, the healing power of these baths come from heated rocks taken from rivers, which release powerful minerals while they crackle and steam. Whether you’re looking to relax after a long trek or simply savour the beauty of this Himalayan land, taking a hot stone bath is a perfect way to do so – feel the aches and pains slowly drift away as you dip into the healing waters.
A hot stone bath is a ritual of its own, best enjoyed near a river where the most suitable stones can be found. These days, you can experience the bliss of hot stone baths across the country, be it the luxurious amenities of the Gangtey Lodge, or a more rustic and rooted experience in a farmhouse.
The process of a Bhutanese hot stone bath is quite something else. Unlike regular baths, this ancient traditional method involves the use of Menchu, a special concoction of river water and Artemisia leaves that are heated to perfection with fiery red river stones. You can easily increase the temperature of the water by sliding hot stones down the wooden chamber, which is ingeniously crafted to connect to the main tub so you can stay safe from the blazing hot stones. But the real fun lies in the holes that allow the heat to penetrate the bath, releasing minerals believed to have therapeutic benefits.
Spend an hour or two in the warm water, sip on a hot beverage, and give your skin some TLC with a salt scrub to eliminate dead skin cells. To complete the experience, relax your muscles with an aromatic oil massage and feel totally rejuvenated.
Why Hot Stone Baths are Such a Miracle Cure?
For centuries, this traditional healing practice of hot stone baths has been the ultimate escape for Bhutanese families from the hard work of winter farming, offering a remedy for more than 50 skin ailments. If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you can find rocks near farm sheds and riverbeds that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. For those preferring a bit of luxury, there are plenty of resorts and hotels where you can indulge in a soothing bath, with temperatures ranging from a toasty 35 to 45 degrees Celsius. To amp it up even more, they add herbs like lemongrass and eucalyptus to the pool for an even more luxurious experience – a perfect way to relax and revive both body and mind.
Slip away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and retreat to the tranquil bliss of a hot stone bath. Lose yourself in the luxurious warmth and let it flush out toxins as you drift away into a world of serenity. Feel the pure warmth of the stones penetrate your muscles, melting away tension and promoting fresh circulation. With a blend of oils and herbs, your body is cleansed, detoxified and fortified with minerals to boost your immune system, reduce stress and soothe your nervous system.
Try it at Amankora, Gangtey Lodge, Sherab Dema, and Uma Paro
The 8-suite Amankora Lodge perched on a forested knoll in the picturesque Phobjikha Valley near the idyllic village of Gangtey offers spectacular views of the Black Mountains National Park, the 16th-century Gangtey Goemba monastery, and the 300 endangered black-neck cranes that flock to this valley each winter. Gangtey Lodge offers a unique journey into the ancient Bhutanese culture with their signature hot stone bathhouse. Constructed with local pinewood, the bath is filled with heated river stones, and cold spring water and topped with a sprinkle of Artemisia leaves. To enhance your stay even further, the new Bhutanese bathhouse is now open for business, offering guests a luxurious foot scrub followed by a traditional massage.
Nestled in the heart of Bumthang, Sherab Dema Farmhouse Homestay is the place to experience the real Bhutanese culture—complete with a hot stone bath, traditionally done without any fancy frills—all with a stunning view! But the real delight here is asking the host for their speciality drink, Ara, made with fermented rice—a must-try if you’re in the area!
Discover the ultimate luxury experience at this exquisite hotel, with two locations in Paro and Punakha. Immerse yourself in a 90-minute hot stone bath at Uma Paro and Uma Punakha, surrounded by a vivid array of wildflowers, Artemisia leaves, and gorgeous views of the surrounding landscapes. Seeking even deeper relaxation? Indulge in a Shambala massage, which will exfoliate and soften your skin to perfection. But be warned – this is one of the pricier options out there.
Price: Prices start from around BTN 800 and can go up depending on the array of amenities and extra comforts that come with it.
So, if you’re looking for a unique and relaxing way to enjoy Bhutan, a hot stone bath is a great way to go. Enjoy the therapeutic benefits, take in the stunning views, and experience the country in a way you never thought possible.
Written by Veidehi Gite.
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