Let’s be honest. Most of us make an inaudible sigh of longing when we hear the words hot stone bath in Bhutan. The imagery in our minds of a blissfully satisfying experience is so strong, imagine how much better it would be if you could take in spectacular views and breathe in clean fresh air while at it. The Hot stone bath in Bhutan offers a truly rejuvenating experience.
The bath, made of wood, is available almost throughout the country, but more so at places closer to the rivers. The process involves heating large river stones over fire. Once glowing red, they are dropped into a chamber in the wooden tubs to heat the river water. Artemesia leaves are strewn over the water. The fire-roasted stones heat the water and supposedly release minerals into it. The artemisia leaves (the same plant out of which absinthe is derived) combined with the minerals have a meditative effect on our body, and most of the time people use the local herbs. Interestingly, there are many types of Artemisia and hundreds of kinds of herbs in Bhutan that have medicinal effects, thus justifying the country’s ancient name ‘Menjung’ – The Land of Medicinal Herbs.
It is believed that the heat of the water, the minerals released from the rock, and the local herbs all combine to produce medicinal benefits for joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders and arthritis. Traditionally, the Bhutanese families would take turns soaking into these tubs after a long day’s work to relieve aches and pains.
Although ubiquitous in Bhutan, an authentic and traditional hot stone bath is very hard to find but for those interested, many resorts and farmhouses offer a luxurious version of the same. We highly recommend the hot stone bath at Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa at Paro. Of course they usually require an advance booking. Men can wear shorts and women in bikinis or a sports bra with shorts. The wooden tub is usually covered with a tent or has a bamboo sliding door for privacy. Alternatively, one could also experience a more authentic version of the bath at a local farm sans the frills and luxuries of big hotels.
Bhutanese for years practiced the method of soaking in Menchu (medicinal water) for the healing effect. Bhutan also has natural hot springs (Tshachu) scattered all over the country. The hot springs are believed to have lots of medicinal purposes depending on the location of the hot spring. Some well-known ones are the Gasa hot springs in Gasa Valley, Chuba hot springs on the banks of the Pho chu river (camping overnight recommended) and the Dur hot sping in the Bumthang Valley.
Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.
Rajesh & Gauri Natu
Graphic Designer, Apple
Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.
Absolute Networks, Mumbai
Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi. Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us.
Director, Webential, Australia
Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ...
Friends from SriLanka
After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.
The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury.
Clifford Chance, Delhi
We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.
Ashish & Neha Thadani
Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high.
Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai
Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!
We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.
Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.
Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore
We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards.
Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar
Manager L&T, Mumbai
Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!
Barclays Bank, Bangalore