PUNAKHA (1200-5400M)

Punakha is deeply associated with the rich cultural heritage and the history of Bhutan. It served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. Punakha has a temperate climate and is a rich and fertile valley is fed by the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Rafting on the Punakha Mo Chhu River provides the tourist with a unique opportunity to enjoy the valley from a different perspective. Besides its temples and monasteries, Punakha is also famous for its hot spring and gentle terraces. The part of Jigme Dorji National Park falls under the boundaries of Punakha.

Check out our blog on Things to Do in Punakha

Top 10 Interesting Facts about Punakha

  1. It was the  ancient capital of Bhutan
  2. It is the place where the first king of Bhutan was unanimously elected
  3. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second-largest Dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country.
  4. An unforgettable wedding of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema  was held at Punakha Dzong, Punakha
  5. It is the winter abbot of Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo) of Bhutan
  6. Rafting on the Punakha’s Mo Chhu River provides tourists a unique opportunity to enjoy the valley from a different perspective
  7. Punakha homes lot of beautiful villages
  8. Legend of Punakha Dzong is popular around the world
  9. Punakha festivals feature masked dance and music
  10. Punakha also have the longest suspension bridge

Here, check out the most famous tourist spots in Punakha, Bhutan

Punakha Dzong

Explore the marvelous Punakha Dzong which is arguably the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. Standing strategically at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (Female River) and the Pho Chhu (Male River), the fortress served as an important defensive fortification against enemy invasions in ancient times. 

Your visit to the Dzong would give you plenty of opportunities for photography; the enormous architectural structure/design and the display of the intricate wood carving/painting are just incredible.

The Punakha Dzong was built by Zhabrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637-38. Today, it serves as the district administrative authority office and the winter residence for the central monk body. It is one of Bhutan’s most attractive landmarks in the kingdom, a must-visit! 

Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten is a spectacular temple situated on the pine forest ridge of Punakha valley. The hike to the Chorten starts from the bridge over the Mo Chhu River and takes you through the lush paddy field in a traditional Bhutanese setting. The view from the Chorten is simply amazing with the River flowing through the golden Punakha valley and the mountains around. 

Built by Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, this Chorten is a splendid example of Bhutanese architecture. It was built over eight and a half years with meticulous planning, designing, and devising that are in accordance with the details that have been drawn from religious scriptures.


The Talo Monastery rests beautifully on a mountain top at an elevation of 2,800 meters above sea level in Punakha. It approximately takes a one-hour drive from Punakha valley to reach here. Talo monastery is the seat of the successive reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The place has warm energy with few hermitages spread around. These hermits or the Yogis go in for years of closed retreat from the outside world.

Chimmi Lhakhang

Chimi Lhakhang stands atop a small hillock in the Lobesa village of Punakha valley. The temple was built by saint Ngawang Choegyal in 1499 after the site was blessed by Lam Drukpa Kunley popularly known as the Divine Mad Monk. Legend has it that Lam Drukpa Kuenley subdued the demoness of the Dochu La Pass with his “Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom” at the spot where a black stupa stands outside the temple. The trail from Dochula Pass to Chimi Lhakhang which was followed by the Divine Mad Monk chasing the demoness is now a popular cycling and hiking trail called “The Trail of the Divine Madman”. 

A wood effigy of the lama’s thunderbolt is preserved at the Chimi Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a Wang (blessing). It is an interesting place to visit and discover a whole new culture & learn of the tales connected to the phallus painting on the walls of houses.

Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery

Perched on a mountain top, the structure Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery is one of the finest examples of Bhutan’s convention and architecture. The Lhakhang comprises a double-storied temple housing a beautiful statue, a chorten resembling Nepal’s Boudhanath stupa, and a nunnery complex.

The place is quiet and susceptible to meditating for half an hour or so. From this place, you can get a grand view of Punakha & Wangdue Valley

Suela Goenpa

Suela Goenpa is located on top of the hill away from the hustle-bustle of town. To reach the monastery you need to take a picturesque day hike through beautiful valleys and sacred temples.  The hike begins in the valley of Yebisa, crossing the suspension bridge that leads up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten high up on the hill. We can see many different species of trees and plants as we proceed along the path including rhododendrons, fern, and bamboo. When we reach the Chag Nyi pass we stop for lunch with views of the Yebisa and Kabesa valleys below. We continue to walk towards Soela Gompa. To reach the Goenpa, requires 6 hours of hike.

There is also a dirt road that leads to the monastery and takes about 2 hours.

Suspension Bridge

The 160 meters Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge is known to be the longest in Bhutan. Built over the Pho Chhu (Male River) close to the Punakha Dzong, the bridge connects the Dzong to the expanse of the village on the other side of Pho Chhu River. 

It is refreshing to walk across the bridge and to immerse in the beautiful view. One can also explore the quaint and lush village across the bridge.

Rinchengang Village

Rinchengang is a small clustered village located opposite to  Wangduephodrang Dzong and is famous for its proficiency in traditional means of stone stonework. It is about 20 minutes’ walk uphill with great sight of the Dzong, valley and the river.

Lamperi Botanical Garden

Lamperi Botanical Garden is a breathtaking 125 acres botanical garden with 46 species of rhododendron flower. You can choose to boat here. The best time to visit this place will be between April and June.
The park also has trekking routes, walk around the Baritsho lake, treehouse, and camping space for visitors.
The annual rhododendron festival is held here.