Rugged ❖ Historic fortresses and royal farmhouses dot the Himalayan peaks and valleys in this “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” where forested trails worn by yak herders and monks serve as paths to adventure. Hikers trekking to Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest, Monastery must climb more than 1,000 feet above the Paro Valley to arrive at the holy site’s sacred doors. Cyclists can mountain bike through wheat fields and forests filled with pink rhododendrons, or pedal the 166-mile route from the valleys of Bumthang to the capital city of Thimphu. Bhutan’s rivers also offer thrills, with white-water rapids and turbulent alpine rivulets ideal for kayaking. For an extreme Himalayan challenge, the Snowman Trek is a nearly month-long journey crossing 11 passes along the Tibetan and Bhutanese borders.
Refined ❖ Since opening its doors to foreign tourism investment more than a decade ago, Bhutan has welcomed a small but significant group of upscale resorts. Amankora (amanresorts.com), which comprises five high-end hotels spread throughout the country’s central and western valleys, can arrange lodge-to-lodge hiking excursions ranging from seven to 11 nights. In the Paro and Punakha Valleys, Uma by COMO, Bhutan (comohotels.com), consists of two sister properties with expansive villa accommodations. Farther afield, the 12-suite Gangtey Goenpa Lodge (gglbhutan.com) in the Gangtey Valley is introducing hot-air balloon rides over pine forests and ancient villages.