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Wellness and Wellbeing


The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is infused with a deep and all-encompassing spirituality. Although it is often connected to teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, spirituality here also includes the sense of connection with all living beings and the universal search for a higher truth.

Spirituality in Bhutan is unmistakable. It is seen in the care of street dogs, lighting butter lamps and care for the environment. Mountains, rivers, and woods are considered as the abodes of gods, goddesses, and guardian deities. Buddhist teachings preach harmony and hope for the well-being of all sentient beings.

With its pristine environment, peaceful people  and ancient spiritual roots, Bhutan is the ideal destination for recuperation and relief.

Popular activities for spiritual travelers include meditation, yoga, soaking in healing hot stone baths and using traditional medicine.

Meditation retreats are popular in Bhutan, known as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. Peaceful retreat centers are found all over the country. Devout Buddhists meditate for months and even years with some even taking a vow of silence to focus on their prayers.

Yoga is touted for its many health benefits. This ancient practice from India focuses on strengthening the body and calming the mind. There are yoga centers in cities like Thimphu that offer classes for all skill levels.

Traditional hot stone baths are another  popular wellness experience in Bhutan. The medicinal water containing herbal leaves is heated with hot stones. They can be enjoyed at local hotels, homestays and also at certain campsites after an exhausting trek.

Traditional medicine or so wai rigpa is a holistic alternative to mainstream treatment. In ancient times, Bhutan was known as ‘Menjung’ or ‘Land of Medicinal Herbs.’ The history of holistic medicine in Bhutan goes back to the 7th century and borrows heavily from Indian Ayurveda.

Besides those listed above, your spiritual journey to Bhutan can include prayer sessions, astrological readings, hoisting prayer flags and discussions with monks and nuns.

Of course, no trip to Bhutan would be complete without visiting some of the monasteries and lhakhangs, the strongholds of spirituality and religion in the country. Popular options include Taktsang Monastery, Chimi Lhakhang, Changangkha Lhakhang, Buddha Dordenma, Dechen Phodrang Monastery, Singye Dzong, Jakar Dzong and Membar Tsho lake.

Bhutan’s deep spirituality and faith are evident in everything from architecture to daily habits of the people. Whether it be with meditation classes, yoga, hot stone baths or simply visiting the many sacred sites in the country, those searching for a spiritual awakening in Bhutan need not look very far.

Hot Stone Baths

In ancient times, Bhutan was known as ‘Menjung’ or ‘Land of Medicinal Herbs.’ The history of holistic medicine in Bhutan goes back to the 7th century and borrows heavily from Indian Ayurveda. With this history, it should come as no surprise that the Bhutanese firmly believe in the healing properties of taking hot stone baths in medicinal water. In the past families would look forward to a relaxing soak in a wa (traditional wooden tub), especially after a long day in the fields. Many Bhutanese still visit hot stone baths to treat a variety of illnesses.

If you are looking to participate in this time-honoured tradition of healing and   rejuvenating, you must try Bhutan’s traditional hot stone baths. This is one of the most popular spa experiences and can be enjoyed at local hotels, homestays and also at certain campsites after an exhausting trek or hike.

What makes the bath different is that the water is heated by hot river stones that are roasted in open fires near the bath house. The minerals in the river stones are believed to be good for the body and the water is also soaked in fresh artemisia leaves.

The hot stone baths in Bhutan are distinct from those seen elsewhere in the world. This is because menchu or medicinal water is used. This water consists of leaves of the wormwood plant, Artemisia absinthium. River stones that have been roasting over a fire until they are scorching hot are used to heat the mixture. More heated stones are poured into the main tub through a funnel to raise the temperature of the water.

The Bhutanese use hot stone baths to treat over 50 different skin conditions as well as conditions like arthritis, hypertension, joint pain, stomach problems, and others. Above all, taking a bath is a fantastic way to decompress. The herb artemisia has a calming effect.

Although hot stone baths are typically found outside village houses, in the back garden or near a river, nowadays they are widely available. The hot stone and menchu baths are available in homestays, campsites resorts and hot stone bath centres.

For more information you can ask your travel agency to contact nearby homestays and resorts.

Spa and Massage

Even the most enthusiastic and experienced traveller needs a day off from sight seeing and trekking to rest and recuperate. This is especially true in a country like Bhutan where there are long car journeys and challenging climbs to some destinations. Those looking to unwind physically and mentally during their trip to Bhutan should try the massage and spa treatments offered in places like Thimphu, Paro and Punaka.

Spa and massage centres in Bhutan often use traditional healing practices to cure aches and pains in the body. These centres are usually run by energetic trained masseurs who offer a range of spa and massage services. Many four and five star hotels also offer these facilities.

Traditional Medicine

Bhutan was once known as Menjung or ‘The Land of Medicinal Herbs’ and its traditional medicine is one of the  most valuable cultural legacies. Known colloquially as so wai rigpa, this is one of the oldest medical traditions.

Traditional medicine is still popular among Bhutanese as it is based on the principles of Buddhism and offers a thorough understanding of the individual and their illness. Try traditional healing as a holistic alternative to mainstream treatment.

A system of traditional medicine was established in the 1960’s. So wai rigpa comes from the belief that the human body is composed of three elements (air, bile and phlegm) and an imbalance of these causes diseases.

Although influenced by Chinese herbal medicine and Indian ayurvedic practices, Bhutanese traditional medicine has its own distinct features. Treatment can include behavioural changes, herbal medicine, physiotherapy and spiritual healing. Healthcare in Bhutan is paid for by the government.

To try traditional medicine in Bhutan, visit the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services in Thimphu. Otherwise you can also get information from a nearby health centre or ask your tour operator for more information.


Yoga is a 5,000-year-old physical, mental, and spiritual practice that has its roots in India. Yoga has become hugely popular in Bhutan and many institutions, hotels, and schools now practise yoga on a regular basis.

With a variety of classes offered for all skill levels, visitors will be able to unlock their inner yogini in the peaceful setting of the Himalayan mountains. Feel your lungs and mind expand when breathing in the clean mountain, surrounded by the spirituality of Bhutan.

Bhutan is the ideal place to start or continue your yoga practice. Before a busy day of sightseeing, it is wonderful to spend some time with yourself. Bring your yoga mat and visit a local park or area with a great view like Buddha point. Beginners can visit yoga studios in the capital or avail the services of many trained yoga practitioners. With a refreshed mind and relaxed body, we are sure that your trip to Bhutan will be even more memorable and enjoyable.

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