Spring blooms in Punakha

Spring blooms in Punakha

The serene beauty of Punakha

The serene beauty of Punakha

A breathtaking view of the mountains

A breathtaking view of the mountains

Nature beckons at Punakha Valley

Nature beckons at Punakha Valley

Destination Snapshot

  • Travel Style

  • First Timers
  • Culture Vultures
  • Adventure Buffs
  • Nirvana-aah
  • Something Different
    • Language

      Dzongkha, Hindi, Nepali, Bengali, English
    • Altitude

      4,162 feet (1,250 meters) above sea level
    • Time zone

      IST + 30 minutes
    • Theme

      Mountains, Religious

Punakha echoes the regal charm of a bygone era and a rich cultural tradition that has stood the test of time.

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You will like

  • Adventure

    Punakha has a wealth of opportunities for biking, hiking and white-water rafting in the country’s most picturesque valley.

  • Architecture

    Punakha Dzong, the country’s second largest dzong and one of the most majestic structures that has stood the test of time is located in Punakha.

Be prepared

  • Shopping

    Punakha does not have many options for shopping. If you are looking to buy souvenirs and other goodies head to the nearby town area of Wangdue Phodrang.

  • Food

    Options to eat out in the city are limited to a few hotels around town that serve traditional Bhutanese and international fare.

Describing It

Quiet and resolute, Punakha stands apart as Bhutan’s former capital city and is an important cultural centre that continues to pride itself in tradition. As the winter home of the central monastic body, it is here that Bhutan’s royals are still crowned. Head to Punakha if you long to discover Bhutan’s less touristy cultural gems and enjoy nature at its best.

The Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and second largest dzong (fortress-like structure) in Bhutan, stands proudly at the centre of life here. The Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers that merge right at the dzong, gurgle, rise and gush downstream. The highlight of any trip here is the Chimi Lhakhang Monastery, which is devoted to the ‘Divine Madman’, Lama Drukpa Kunley, an unorthodox saint who urged the people to look past conventional rituals and traditions.

Stroll around the market and soak in the colours of the town. Chat with monks at the Nalanda Buddhist College, revel in the beauty of the Himalayan countryside while sipping on sweet and salty butter tea at a resort, or enjoy a plate of ema datsi, a Bhutanese delicacy made of fresh yak cheese and a sprinkling of chilies.

Punakha is a town unlike bustling Thimpu or boisterous Paro; head here for that long break you’ve been looking for, and discover a whole new way of life that is sure to leave you refreshed.