` Good Karma Travels

Hot Stone Bath Tours

Hot-stone bath or menchu (literally ‘medicine water’) is a popular form of traditional healing practised in Bhutan. It is as popular as the practice of soaking in hot springs. It is the healing practice in which a person soaks in a tub of water heated by stones heated by fire.
We do not know the origin of healing by soaking in water heated with hot stones. But it must have evolved over many centuries because the practice has become elaborate and ritualistic.
Certain kinds of stones are chosen to be burnt over a big open fire. After the stones are hot enough – or red hot – they are gently dropped into a tub of water. The water in the wooden tub measuring 4 to 4.5 feet long and 2 to 2.5 feet tall sizzles and bubbles emitting the smell of minerals.
Those who know about the practice well say that not all stones work for the hot-stone bath. The right kinds of stones of melon size are carefully chosen to be burnt. Usually, any kind of water works as long as we have the right kind of stones. However, the water of some spring is believed to contain more healing properties.
As the stones are burnt and dropped into the water, the minerals in the stones get dissolved in the water. And this is what makes hot-stone bath medicinal. To add to the healing nature of the stone-heated water, certain herbs are put in the water. It is usually Artemisia leaves.

Menchu or hot-stone bath is known to cure a number of ailments and diseases although no scientific research has proven it. It is known to cure some 80 percent of skin diseases. It is also known to cure joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorder, arthritis and many other minor diseases.

In the past, soaking in hot springs and menchu is a ritual many families follow, especially in winter after all seasonal farm work. The farmers not only soaked away their fatigue, but also cured themselves of any ailment that incurred during months of hard, back-breaking work.

The family would embark on a menchu journey by the nearest river or a spring. They would soak for days or weeks on end eating the best of food. Eating nutritious food while soaking in hot springs or menchu is believed to make the body more receptive to healing power of the hot water. The men collected firewood to heat stones and the women cooked delicious meal. While soaking in hot springs require hours or days of travel carrying loads of food stuff, menchu can be arranged anywhere, anytime, as long as one has the right kind of stones and a large tub to heat the water.
However, many people prefer to travel near a certain spring for hot-stone bath because the spring is believed to contain certain healing properties that complement the healing properties of the stones.

For example, Bjagoe Menchu in Paro is well-known for its curative power to heal broken bones. An oral account has it that once a vulture with broken wings happened to fall into the spring of Bjagoe Menchu. After being soaked in the spring for several days, the crippled bird’s wings were totally healed and it flew away. Since then, the spring came to be known as Bjagoe (vulture) Menchu. Another well-known menchu is below Dobji Dzong on the way to Haa from Chunzom. It is also known to have powerful healing properties for several ailments.

Another menchu in Paro is in the village of Dotasha, the village below the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. The menchu is prepared by a family for a nominal fee. The menchu is believed to cure many diseases because the spring water used for bath is believed to have medicinal properties. The spring water is known to have been used by Ponlop Tshering Penjore, the power governor of Paro and nephew of the second king of Bhutan.

Good Karma Travels will take you to any one or all of the above-mentioned menchu, or other menchu, depending on how many days you wish to devote to hot-stone bath. These menchus are not popular with tourists because the services haven’t yet been expanded for them. But soaking in these menchus will give you the experience of a real, rejuvenating bath.

If you are not comfortable with the above places in terms of facilities, you can of course avail yourself of the facilities adapted for tourists available at several hotels and resorts.

You can visit Bhutan for a hot-stone bath tour or combine it with other tours such as trekking and bird watching. Let us know how you want to travel to and across Bhutan, and we will arrange the rest.


Bird watching Tours


Golfing Tours

Meditation Tours

Hot Stone Bath Tours