• Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2020/2021
  • Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2020/2021
  • Bhutan Punakha Travel Guide 2020/2021
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. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan for over 300 year before the authority moved it to Thimphu in 1955, where is about 70km away for 2.5 hours’ driving. Located at an average elevation of 1,200m along the Mochhu River and Puchhu River (two of the most important rivers in Bhutan), Punaka 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 2.5 hours driving from Thimphu, Punakha proves itself a must-visit destination with brilliant cultural legacy, historical legend and appealing countryside landscape.

Ancient Capital of Beautiful Seat

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 a large number of 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 and 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 Dochu Lass Pass with Himalayan views and refreshing rustic fields, and record a 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 also the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, especially during the bright purple Jacaranda blossom between April and June of spring. Once served as the ancient capital before 1955, Punakha Dzong now is the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body and still enjoys high status in religion and politics nationwide. Simultaneously, the fortress itself is a gorgeous 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 by riverside.

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 (10km) flows gentler than Pochu River (16km), 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. Find a chance to tour a local farmhouse and 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 the Himalayas, Dochula Pass (alt: 3,140m) located on the way to Punkha from Thimphu is one of the highest points in Bhutan, where offers 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 traditional Bhutanese style architecture, this majestic 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.

Useful Thimphu Travel Notes

  • 1. Highlights for Punakha Tour
    The historical Punakha Dzong is the top things to do in Punakha, and April to May is the best season to capture the most beautiful photos of the Punakha Dzong decorated by the purple jacaranda. Also don’t miss the Dochula Pass situated on way from Thimphu to Punakha, one of the viewing decks for the snow-capped Himalayas on clear days. A river rafting may be an interesting ingredient for your Bhutan tour. The Chimi Lakhang offers the answer to Bhutanes fascination about paintings of phallus symbol. If you want to catch a glimpse of Bhutan’s history, spare some time to tour more historical sites and learn legends from your guide and the locals.
  • 2. Necessary Permits for Bhutan Tour
    Except Indians, Bangladeshis and Mldivians, all tourists wishing to travel to Bhutan are required to obtain Bhutan Visa prior to departure. The Bhutan Visa is a kind of single entry visa that can only be applied by licensed Bhutanese tour operator and their international partners. To obtain the Bhutan Visa, you have to book a Bhutan tour from travel agency, make the full payment of tour package and visa fee, and send us a clear scan 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. At last, the immigration officer will stamp the Bhutan Visa on your passport after checking the Visa Clearance Letter. Then you can officially start the dream trip in the kingdom of Bhutan.
  • 3. Altitude Tips of Punakha Bhutan
    Punakha Valley is located at an average altitude of 1,200m in Western Bhutan, relatively lower than Thimphu. The perfect weather and climate makes it the main agriculture zone for rice. And the high coverage of lush forest provides much oxygen here. From the above, tourists planning to visit Punakha don’t need to worry about the high altitude sickness. If you concerns about the Dochula Pass (one of the highest point: 3,140m), you can get acclimatization in low-altitude area firstly, bring some drugs to prevent high altitude reaction and follow the advice from your tour guide.
  • 4. Packing & Wearing Ideas for Thimphu Travel
    Generally, Punakha owns a moderate climate throughout the year. But the temperature in Punakha will vary widely between day and night, for example, temperature can rise up to 28℃ in the day and decrease to a few degree at night, because the geographic location of Punakha Valley. Also 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. You can dress in layers, easy to put on and off. Warm clothes are needed for winter travel and high-altitude areas. As for trekking, a pair of comfortable and durable shoes is recommended.

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.

Have a question? Get answers from our travel experts soon!

  • Your Question:
  • Your Name:
  • Your Email:
  • Submit