Amankora Punakha is a valley retreat set in open countryside, amongst rice paddies and orange orchards. Pleasantly cut-off, the retreat feels blissfully exotic, aglow with the sound of songbirds and cicadas. Sitting at a lower altitude to its sisters lodges, its also warmer here – a nice change from all that crisp mountain air. Built around a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse, the resort offers spectacular views and the perfect ambience for those seeking isolation and tranquillity.
A windy 3-4 hours drive from the airport (long, but worth it), Punakha lies east to the great Dochu La Pass and just north of the magnificent Punakha Dzong (only the must-see dzong of Bhutan). Accessed by a swinging bridge decorated with prayer flags over the river Mo Chhu, the building was once owned by the Bhutanese Royal family to oversee the running of rice fields and fruit plantations. Walking distance to one of the King’s houses, its location also offers great chances for hiking, rafting, horse riding, and archery.
As you sip your welcome drink of lemon and pomegranate tea (each Amankora resort has a different drink, reflecting its surrounding environment) you’ll be taken to one of the eight lodges, each with spectacular views of Punakha valley. All lodges are identically designed featuring wood panelled interiors, a king-sized bed, terrazzo-clad bath and shower, a bukhari stove, internet, small library , and amazingly – mobile coverage.
Why we like it
The Punakha retreat has character, and lots of it. Its cosy setting allows you to bond instantly with the property as soon as you step foot into its compound. The food is traditional Bhutanese – sensational dishes of chicken and yak curry, wild mushrooms, mixed vegetables, red rice – it seemed endless. This is the sort of place that, when on a hike and you stop for a break, your driver magically appears with tea and cookies. It’s tempting to sit back, relax, and just soak up the valley. But remember, there’s a world of Bhutan out there.