Punakha Tourism, Bhutan: Places, Best Time & Travel Guides 2022

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan before Thimpu was made the capital city. There are many places to see in Punakha. It is popular for its temples, sightseeing viewpoints, courtyards, valleys, towers, and mini excursions in and around this town. This is one of the religious centers of Bhutan. It is at the confluence of two rivers of Bhutan. You can visit this town for taking short tours, stopping before heading towards other things to do in the Haa Valley, Gangtey, and Wangdue which have many places that are a haven for wildlife and nature photographers. These valleys have Alpine forests and mountain views that are serene and breathtaking. You get a countryside feel when you visit this riverside town, Punakha.

There are not too many tourists places to visit in Punakha. Tourists come to this town to rest, eat, and drink, before visiting other places of interest in Bhutan. You can visit monasteries, temples, Chorten, walking bridge, hill side village, and a collage where you can interact with the monks. You can go to the riverside as a weekend getaway. For most part, there is handful of places to be visited in this part of Bhutan. Quiet and tranquil, this is one of the holy places in Bhutan that is a home to monks. However, around Punakha, there are numerous outdoor and adventure activities available for tourists.

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  1. Travel advice

    • Most of the places in Bhutan are conservative, so do not wear tight or revealing clothes.

    • There are many buses and taxis available to travel to this place from Thimpu.

    • Do not enter temples in casual clothing. Wear sarongs or something ethnic or traditional when entering temples.

    • Respect their culture and do not talk loudly inside temples or monasteries.

    • Show respect towards the monks and do not say anything disrespectful about Bhutan, its culture, religion, rituals, or the Royal family.

    • Carry all of your travel documents along with you, and keep cash handy.

    • Most of the hotels and resorts in Punakha may not have the credit card facility.

    • Within Punakha there are no options for shopping at all.

    • There is no scope for nightlife in Punakha.

    • This is not a place for noisy camping or partying.

    • You can also use Punakha as a resting point before visiting other places.

    • Always get your own backpack and camping gear when you visit this town.

    • No camping or trekking facilities will be provided to you.

    • Local cuisine is available in most of the hotels and resorts.

    • Carry water bottles, warm clothes, and sunscreen along with you.

  2. Drinking law

    This is a religious and sacred town in Bhutan. You will not find any liquor shops or bars inside the town. You must never take liquor along with you when travelling to this place or drink on streets or public places.

  3. Our Recommendations: What you can’t afford to miss?

    Dzongs, architecture, and temples

    The Punakha Dzong or the fortress is one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan. This fortress stands at the culmination of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu river and is surrounded by lush greens and scenic view. The Chimi Lhakhang Monastery has a history and is dedicate to an unconventional saint in Bhutan, who directed people to look beyond orthodoxies and superstitions.

    This monastery was built in the 15th century and was dedicated to the saint, Lama Drukpa Kunley. He is revered in both Tibet and Bhutan. He was a tantric Buddhist who raised the bar of spiritual wisdom much above the conventional teachings in Bhutan. There is also a cafeteria attached to this monastery where you can eat after visiting this monastery. There are many paintings of phalluses that are showcased on the walls of the monastery, because this saint worshipped them and also encouraged other monks to worship them.

    The Khamsum Yuley Temple in Ngezergang, away from Punakha is one of the most elaborate temples in Bhutan. The engineering, architecture, and the décor of this temple is built as per the holy scriptures of Nyingmapa Buddhists. On the inner walls of this temple you will find finer artworks of Buddhist spiritualism. You can also visit the Wangdue Phodrang for its view and sightseeing as it overlooks the Punak Tsang Chhu river.

    Adventure activities

    You can go kayaking and river rafting in the Pho Chhu River that is closer to the Eastern Himalayas. Punakha valleys are the most ideally suited for mountain biking. You can take biking trails in these areas that lead to Tschochagsa. This is the most ideal place for trekkers and bikers, and you also get to do a few water sports activities. You can also take hiking trails to the Chorten Nebu where you are likely to find the spotted deer and the wild boar. You can explore more of nature and wild life when you trek in the places nearby Punakha.

  4. What you will like there?

    Hiking and trekking trials

    You get the best of nature view when trekking in the areas near Punakha, by the river and valleys. You can also take a trek near the fortress, which is huge and provides best sites for viewing and sightseeing. You will find hot springs at Koma Tsachu, where you can enjoy bathing in the solar lights. You can also take a trek to the Guru Rinpoche Caves, which is a temple cave and one of the sacred sites.

    Temples and monasteries

    Punakha is a town that has a college for monks, where you can interact with them here. You can visit temples, monasteries, and villages nearby for sightseeing and getting the cultural delight of this place. There are also many hillside resorts where you can stay and get a panoramic view of the town and the mountain range.

    Nearby places

    There are many places near Punakha that you can visit by taking local transportation or by car. You can visit Thimpu, Paro, Mongar, Samdrup Jongkhar, and many others nearby towns for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

  5. Recommended reads for destination


    Visit Bhutan


    Trip Advisor Travel Forum


    Lonely Planet Bhutan (Country Travel Guide) by Bradley Mayhew

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