Bhutan, for many (including some of our office’s most seasoned travelers), is still a Shangri-La of sorts: a mystical, possibly fictional place where the air is thick with incense and pristine hillside villages remain blissfully free of tourists. Thanks to the kingdom’s “High Value Low Impact” tourism policy, where visitors pay a daily fee, Bhutan has received-and educated-select guests each year, delivering guided, super-small group tours (5-10 people) around Bhutanese culture and values while remaining true to itself. Certified local guides double as the trip concierge. Itineraries and hotels are highly customized. Guests may choose to spend one night at a rustic local farmhouse, and the next at an exclusive resort (with upgrade costs) like one of Aman’s five lodges or the new Six Senses Bhutan, which has five individual resorts coming in 2019 that will start accepting reservations from February 1-one of the biggest and best reasons to visit next year. Activities range from visiting the massive dzong temple-fortresses that dot the country, to bird-watching in the many pine forests, to tackling the Snowman Trail, one of the Himalayas’ toughest treks. It’s all part of being in the Kingdom.
-Lester Ledesma and Laura Dannen Redman