• Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2021/2022
  • Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2021/2022
  • Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2021/2022
5 Days Bhutan Classic Tour (Paro & Thimphu & Punakha)
Not-be-missed Essence of Bhutan
6 Days Last Shangri-La Highlights Tour
Impressive Bhutan Treasures
8 Days Bhutan Adventure Tour with Haa Valley
Stepping into Deep Valleys

Punakha - Attractions, Traffic, Weather, Hotels, Maps

Punakha is a well-known district in Western Bhutan for the most beautiful and second oldest Punakha Dzong. It was the capital of Bhutan for over 300 years before the government moved it to Thimphu in 1955, where is about 70 km away for 2.5 hours’ driving. Located at an average elevation of 1,200 m along the Mochhu River and Puchhu River (two of the most important rivers in Bhutan), Punakha enjoys a moderate weather and climate, which is suitable for living and rice farming. Therefore, the former seat of government - Punakha Dzong serves as the winter residency for the Central Monastic Body. With a short distance from capital Thimphu, Punakha proves itself a must-visit destination with brilliant cultural legacy, historical legend and appealing countryside landscape.

Ancient Capital Plus the Most Beautiful Dzong

The earliest history of capital role of Punakha dated back to 1637. Later in 1907, the first king of Bhutan got his coronation ceremony in Punakha and remained it as the capital city, and thence Punakha opened a modern chapter in the history of Bhutan. In 1953, the first national assembly was hold here by the 3rd King of Bhutan who also implemented the first five-year plan, and promoted GNH (Gross National Happiness) and many significant reforms. As the best testimony of Bhutan’s major development, the current 5th king of Bhutan hosted his grand wedding in the beautiful Punakha Dzong in 2011. This beautiful landmark - Punakha Dzong is the best and most beautiful site to explore the brilliant cultural legacy and historical relic of Punakha, because it witnessed the tough past as the seat of government.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

History moves on, plenty of heritages were left. As the previous capital of Bhutan, Punakha preserves many historical treasures and religious relics, as well as modern adventures. In Punakha, you can soak up the atmosphere of rich history and amazing culture, enjoy stunning natural views, experience an adventure trip etc. Time gets slower and more diverting if you pay a visit to the picturesqure Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang Temple and Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, feast your eyes at Dochula Pass with Himalayan views and refreshing rustic fields, and record an unusual trip on a river raft with your family.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

Punakha Dzong

Type: History, Religion, Culture

Recommended Length of Visit: 2~4 hours

Located at the juncture of Phochhu & Mochhu Rivers, Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong, and the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. The best photography season is the bright purple Jacaranda blossom between April and June in spring. Once served as the ancient capital untill 1955, it is the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body and still enjoys high status in religion and politics nationwide. The fortress itself is an excellent Bhutanese architecture with lots of Buddhist legacy and cultural relics in delightful look. It is extremely beautiful when the white walls, monks worn red robes are reflected against the shining sunshine.

Punakha River Rafting

Punakha River Rafting

Type: Sport, Adventure

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Without a rafting by beautiful Punakha Dzong, your Punakha trip would be incomplete. The rafting experience on Mochhu River (female river) and Pochhu River (male river) is a popular activity for families with kids and young adventures. Both safety and fun are ensured in this cool event. Remember to find an experienced and reliable agency that will provide you equipment, detailed instruction and excellent rafting guidance. Better choose a proper stream to go, for the Mochhu River (10 km) flows gentler than Pochu River (16 km), and prepare some clothes for exchange.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

Chimi Lhakhang Temple

Type: Religion, Culture, History

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

A walk through a beautiful village and lush green rice fields, you will see a humble bust unique temple where cute child monks learn Buddhism, women and couples pray for children and health of babies. Originally, this Temple of Fertility was built to worship the Devine Madman - Lam Drupa Kuenley, a famous Buddhist master teaching Buddhism in un-conventional ways. The blessing legend is odd but always efficacious among the Bhutanese. Your confusion about various paintings of phallus symbol on Bhutanese houses can get clear explanation from here. Better find a chance to tour a local farmhouse and visit interesting shop and enjoy fresh air around.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

Dochula Pass

Type: Viewing Deck of Nature, History

Recommended Length of Visit: 1 hour

Reviewed as a great balcony to see the breathtaking Himalayas, Dochula Pass (alt: 3,140 m) located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu is one of the highest points in Bhutan. From there, you can see spectacular panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range on clear days (between October to December). Except the scenic beauty, the 108 Stupas aligned on the hill nearby with colorful prayer flags is an important religious site for locals, as they were built in memory of soldiers died in war. Enjoy your cozy time in the nearby café during the stopover.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

Type: Religion & Culture

Length of Hiking: about 1 hour

Efforts to hike for 30 minutes crossing the iron Suspension Bridge, terrace fields and pray wheels will be rewarded ultimately once reach the elaborate chorten. Symbolized as a traditional Bhutanese style architecture, this majestic Chorten is the only stupa enshrining all kinds of Dharmapalas in Bhutan. Most important, all the architecture inspiration comes from the doctrines of Buddhism. On this shrine, you can sit under the Bodhi tree, mediate for a while, watch the monks, and enjoy exquisite Buddha statues and mural paintings representing Buddhist teaching and manifestation. And don’t miss the spectacular view of the whole Punakha Valley from the top.

Top Places to Visit in Punakha

Punakha Tshechu Festival

Type: Religion & Culture

Date: Mid-February or Early March (lasts 3 days)

Venue: Punakha Dzong

Punakha Tshechu same like other Tshechu Festivals in Bhutan is one of the biggest religous event to honor Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava), founder of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the most influential Buddhist masters. Locals, especially women will dress beautifully during the festival to watch Cham Dance (mask dance) and a huge Thangka painting with image of Padmasambhava. Other interesting activities will be held too.

Useful Bhutan Punakha Travel Notes

  • 1. How to Plan a Bhutan Tour
    A classic Bhutan tour usually takes about 6 days involving Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. Apart from the arrival and departure days, you get 4 full days to explore the landmarks in Bhutan - three days in the towns of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, and another day in Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). If you want an in-depth tour to central Bhutan, you are suggested to spend extra 4 days to Bumthang via Wangdu Phodrang and Trongsa. Many travelers prefer an overland tour in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan to discover the Himalaya Kingdoms. If time permits, you can take a one-hour flight from Bhutan to Nepal, where you can admire the medieval architectural wonders and marvelous landscape of Himalayan Peaks. After that, take an overland driving journey to the holy city Lhasa via Mount Everest, Tibet.
  • 2. How to Get a Bhutan Visa
    Except Indians, Bangladeshis and Maldivians, all foreign tourists wishing to travel to Bhutan are required to obtain Bhutan Visa Clearance Letter prior to departure. It is a single-entry visa that can only be applied by licensed Bhutanese tour operator and their international partners (like Tibet Discovery). If you travel with us, you only need to send us a clear scanned copy of your passport for a minimum one week visa processing. Once issued, a Visa Clearance Letter will be emailed to you for taking flights to Bhutan. After arrival in Paro Airport, the immigration officer will stamp the Bhutan Visa on your passport after checking the Visa Clearance Letter. Then you can start the dream trip in the kingdom of Bhutan.
  • 3. How to Get to Bhutan
    There are two choices to get to Bhutan - by international flights from connected Asian countries (Nepal, India, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh) and by overland driving from India. Since Paro is the only international airport, all the flights to Bhutan lands on Paro. Meanwhile, there are three accessible land ports connected Bhutan and India, including Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephu. Phuentsholing is the primary one which connects Chhukha of Bhutan and West Bengal of India. From Phuentsholing, it takes about 6 hours to drive to Paro or Thimphu. The other two ports are located in central and eastern remote area of Bhutan.
  • 4. Useful Bhutan Punakha Travel Tips
    1.) Other Tourist Destinations in Bhutan. Apart from Thimphu, there are many other destinations worthy of your visit, including Paro, Punakha, Phobjikha, Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang etc. Special theme Bhutan tours, like trekking, bird watching and local festival sightseeing can be customized based on your needs. 2.) Punakha Valley is located at an average altitude of 1,200 m in Western Bhutan, relatively lower than Thimphu. High coverage of lush forest provides much oxygen. You don’t need to worry about the high altitude sickness in Punakha. 3.) Punakha owns a moderate climate throughout the year. But the temperature in Punakha will vary widely between day and night. Bhutan is a religious country full of monasteries, Dzongs (fortresses) and sacred religious sites, therefore, long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn to show respect while visiting those places. Better dress in layers and prepare warm clothes for winter tour and high-altitude destinations

Most Recommended Punakha Tour Packages

Following are some other recommended Punakha tour packages that you may be interested in. All of our Tibet tour packages are customizable to meet your personal requirements. You can also contact us to customize a trip if you want.

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