Hot stone baths: The bath culture of Bhutan

Email

Hot stone baths are healing, relaxation, and culture rolled into one.

Travellers to Bhutan have unanimously agreed that the tiny Himalayan country is the perfect place to recharge physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

The rejuvenation is yours to experience too, except you should take it one step further! By taking a dip at the hot stone baths of Bhutan. 

It is interesting to note that one of the ancient names of Bhutan is Menjung, which means “The Land of Medicinal Herbs”. The history of medicine in Bhutan dates back to Tibet in the 7th century, and has borrowed heavily from Indian Ayurvedic practices. 

Bhutanese hot baths are not like the other hot baths around the world. It uses Menchu, which means medicinal water. Menchu consists of fresh water and Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) leaves. The combination is heated with river stones that have been roasted over a fire until they are burning hot. To increase the temperature of the water, more heated stones are added into the main tub through a chute.

Source: UNDP

But don’t worry about getting burned by the hot stones. They won’t roll directly at you. There are holes in the chamber for the heat to be infused into the bath. The stones release key minerals into the water, sometimes even cannabis

Soaking in a Bhutanese hot stone bath is a superb way to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, not to mention the health benefits. 

The heat of the water, combined with the medicinal herbs and minerals from the stones, combine to work wonders. The Bhutanese use hot stone baths to treat ailments such as arthritis, hypertension, joint pain, stomach disorders, other deep-set aches, and over 50 skin ailments. Above all, soaking in the bath is a great way to release stress. Artemisia has a meditative effect.

Throw in a salt scrub to remove dead skin cells, followed by an oil massage to maximise relaxation.

Historically, Bhutanese families relax at hot stone baths once or twice a week, and during winter after long, hard months of farming. Some even consult their astrologer for an auspicious day when the bath has the most beneficial effects.

Hot stone baths to visit in Bhutan

Traditionally, hot stone baths are set in rustic environments. This could be in a farm shed or by a river bed, under the open sky with ready river water available. Nowadays, you may find different versions of these baths all over Bhutan, from rustic farmhouses to luxurious five-star resorts.

Here are some hot stone baths to check out while you’re in Bhutan:

  • Bjagoe Menchu

Location: Paro

Bjagoe Menchu is located close to a local spring and is one of the more economical options. You’ll experience a traditional wood tub, much like those from ancient bathing events. One tub is large enough for a couple. 

Located some 10km from Bondey towards Chelela, you’ll find this cosy facility in a community forest. 

In 2017, the menchu, under partnership with the UNDP, installed solar-powered water heating systems and water heating ovens to reduce the use of firewood.

Bjagoe Menchu is a popular destination, with at least 300 people visiting every month. You are advised to consult with your tour guide or the locals for directions to this place. 

  • Sherab Dema Farmhouse Homestay

Location: Bumthang

If it is an authentic Bhutanese hot stone bath experience that you are seeking, check out the Sherab Dema Farmhouse Homestay. The facility is within walking distance of the famous Jambay Lhakhang temple, and is popular among locals and tourists alike. The bath is set up traditionally, surrounded by a picturesque view, so you can soak your body while your eyes soak in the scenery. 

To conclude the experience, the host serves ema datshi and ara

Location: Paro

Aum Choden Homestay is a humble 108 year-old two-storey traditional Bhutanese house located in Paro. At Aum Choden Homestay, you get to experience a traditional setting with a Bhutanese family and experience the Bhutanese customs in warm local hospitality. Aside from hot stone bath, you can try other traditional activities like archery, dart, and demonstration of Bhutanese cooking.

Location: Paro and Punakha

This luxury hotel chain, which has facilities in Paro and Punakha, offers 90 minutes of hot stone bath. It is one of the more expensive options, but you pay for quality. Expect colourful wildflowers on top of the Artemisia leaves. The view is breathtaking too. Afterwards, opt for the Shambala massage to soften your skin and exfoliate.

Location: Bumthang

Similar to the Uma chain, the Amankora offer hot stone baths set in local farm sheds. 

Think candlelights, tea, snacks, and a stunning view of the Himalayan mountains. It’s luxury, healing, and culture all wrapped into one. 



Related Posts

The popularity of hot springs and hot stone baths in Bhutan

In Bhutan, hot springs and hot stone baths play significant roles in Bhutanese lives.

Apr 05, 2021 23:58

What are the traditional sports of Bhutan?

The Bhutanese have a variety of traditional sports. Some test your aim and skills, whereas with others, it’s about pure...

Jul 13, 2021 11:15

Chunipa Losar: Bhutan's Timeless Celebration of Traditions and...

Chunipa Losar is a day of offerings, a moment when communities come together to express gratitude, seek blessings, and...

Jan 12, 2024 12:31

Bhutan's Time-Honored Tradition: Exploring the Nyilo Season and...

Approximately 750 children recently took part in the traditional practice known as "lolay" in Bhutan, marking the...

Jan 04, 2024 14:18

Balancing Dreams and Realities: An Attempt of a Bhutanese To Live...

Australia has long held an equally special allure for Bhutanese with a tantalizing prospect of the ‘Australian Dream’...

Oct 26, 2023 11:51

Crafting dreams in Laya: The carpenter settlers of the highlands

Laya, nestled in the Bhutanese highlands, is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage.

Sep 12, 2023 11:28

Latest

News

Thailand and Bhutan to Advance Bilateral Relations

Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay is on an official visit to Thailand from 25 to 28 June 2023.

Jun 28, 2024 16:47

Navigating Change and Bhutan's Path to Sustainability

Bhutan is among the world's most exclusive destinations. CNA delved into Bhutan's transformative journey and tourism policy.

Jun 19, 2024 11:35

Features

Rifles and Rituals: Satire and Societal Shifts in Bhutan as Portrayed in 'The Monk and The Gun

Pawo Choyning Dorji, whose film "The Monk and the Gun" offers insight into the Himalayan nation's modernization process.

Feb 20, 2024 11:04

All You Need to Know About Gelephu Mindfulness City

The kingdom of Bhutan is planning to develop a "mindfulness city" covering about 2.5% of its land, which is larger than the size of...

Feb 08, 2024 10:42

Business

Brand Bhutan: Karma Yangchen

Karma Yangchen, a distinguished artisan from Bhutan exemplifies a profound commitment to the art of handwoven textiles.

Dec 14, 2023 10:22

Brand Bhutan: Bhutan Herbal Tea

Bhutan Herbal Tea is the brainchild of two Bhutanese individuals who first crossed paths in New York during a Bhutanese New Year gathering...

Nov 25, 2023 13:56

Sports

Bhutan Cricket's New Milestone: The Inaugural Indoor Cricket Academy

The Bhutan Cricket Council Board (BCCB) inaugurated its inaugural indoor cricket academy on 20th December, with the objective of ensuring...

Dec 21, 2023 14:57

Paro FC Clinches Third Consecutive Victory in BOB Bhutan Premier League

Paro FC has once again claimed the BOB Bhutan Premier League championship, marking their third consecutive title victory during the season's...

Dec 12, 2023 10:26

Travel

Bhutan Reduces SDF for the First 15,000 Bangladeshi tourists

This special scheme will be valid until 2027.

Jun 05, 2024 10:09

Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: Bhutan's Tourism Turns 50

Bhutan is set to commemorate the golden jubilee of its tourism industry, marking 50 years since the nation first welcomed international...

Jun 03, 2024 20:34

Lifestyle

Chunipa Losar: Bhutan's Timeless Celebration of Traditions and Offerings

Chunipa Losar is a day of offerings, a moment when communities come together to express gratitude, seek blessings, and strengthen bonds.

Jan 12, 2024 12:31

Bhutan's Time-Honored Tradition: Exploring the Nyilo Season and the Lolay Ritual

Approximately 750 children recently took part in the traditional practice known as "lolay" in Bhutan, marking the beginning of the Nyilo...

Jan 04, 2024 14:18

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!