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Punakha

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At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.

Visit punakha

Punakha was originally the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan and seat of government until it was moved to Thimphu. Located in a sultry, fertile and beautiful valley at the junction of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Pho Chhu (Father River), the low altitude town boasts the gorgeous Punakha Dzong, perhaps Bhutan's most impressive building.

In addition to its structural beauty, Punakha Dzong is notable for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifer of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. This relic is a self-created image of Avalokiteswara that miraculously emerged from the vertebrae of Tsangpa Gyarey the founder of the Drukpa School when he was cremated.
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Punakha retains the serene atmosphere of a place with a regal past and is home to what is considered to be the country’s most beautiful dzong.
Tshering Pemo
Bhutan Travel Specialist

Things to See and Do in Punakha

punakha-dzong-in-punakha-bhutan

Punakha Dzong

The grand Punakha Dzong is held arguably by many to be the most beautiful dzong in the country, and is often photographed in the springtime especially in spring when the lilac-coloured jacaranda trees bring a lush sensuality to the dzong's characteristically towering whitewashed walls. The site stands on an island joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge where two rivers, Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Pho Chhu (Father River), meet. In 2011, the wedding of the 5th King was held in this fortress.
chimi-lhakhang-temple-in-punakha-bhutan

Chimi Lhakhang Temple

It is worth a hike to yellow-roofed Chimi Lakhang, a temple dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kunley also known as “Divine Madman”, an eccentric Bhutanese monk from the 15th century who is said to have subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochu La with his 'magic thunderbolt of wisdom'. A wang (blessing) from the Lhakhang's wooden phallus is also believed to help childless couples conceive, therefore many Bhutanese pilgrims travel here specifically to pray for fertility blessings.
khamsum-yuelley-namgyel-chorten-punakha

Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten

The 100-foot tall and three-leveled Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten with many beautiful paintings and murals is another gem Punakha has to offer, standing regally on the hill above the Punakha valley. Dedicated to Bhutan’s Fifth King, the Chorten was built to head off the negative forces while transporting universal peace, stability, and harmony in an ever-changing world. For nature lovers, a walk through several villages will take you to the impressive dzong/monastery of Chorten Nigpo. In summer, the surrounding valleys become lush with green and in autumn the area comes alive with the enchanting hues of gold and bronze.
dochula-pass-in-punakha

Dochu La Pass

The Dochu La Pass is a mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimphu to Punakha from where 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens", built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother, are seen. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass.
rafting-in-punakha-bhutan

White Water Rafting in Punakha

Mo Chhu or Pho Chhu river in Punakha offer perfect opportunity for a little adrenaline rush whilst in Bhutan, embracing the culture and history of Bhutan and encounter the peaceful, fun-loving citizens as you journey down. Your journey will normally start about two miles north of Punakha Dzong, continue past a winter residence of the Queen of Bhutan, and some gorgeous farmland. Rafting time varies from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your interest. (Available from September through May only).

Best Time to Visit Punakha

Best time to visit Punakha is during the months of March to May (spring time) and September to November (autumn time) as days are warm and mostly dry, though evenings can get cold. Nature lovers will enjoy the spring blooms which blossom all across the city.
Max Temperature(ºC)
Jan
16
Feb
18
Mar
22
Apr
24
May
25
Jun
26
Jul
27
Aug
26
Sep
26
Oct
24
Nov
21
Dec
18
Rainfall (mm)
Jan
15
Feb
18
Mar
68
Apr
133
May
328
Jun
639
Jul
743
Aug
534
Sep
394
Oct
120
Nov
17
Dec
7
Month
Daily Max Temperature
Monthly Rainfall

JAN
16ºC
15mm

FEB
18ºC
18mm

MAR
22ºC
68mm

APR
24ºC
133mm

MAY
25ºC
328mm

JUN
26ºC
639mm

JUL
27ºC
743mm

AUG
26ºC
534mm

SEP
26ºC
394mm

OCT
24ºC
120mm

NOV
21ºC
17mm

DEC
18ºC
7mm

Festivals, Events and Seasonal Reasons to Visit

  • 01

    A festival called Punakha Drubchen is celebrated annually in Punakha from March 2nd to 6th to enact the glorious war and the subsequent victory if Zhabdrung Namgyel against Tibetan armies. Warrior dances revolving battles are displayed in the festival.
  • 02

    Punakha Tshechu is one of the most famous festivals of Bhutan held from March 7th to 9th annually right after the Punakha Drubchen. During the tsechu, the rolling of the Throngdol of Guru Rinpoche is the central attraction of the festival besides the many colorful masked dances.

Suggested Itineraries

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Punakha, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists. Alternatively, if you would like to include a visit to Punakha on a bespoke touring itinerary to Bhutan, do not hesitate to contact us.
Bhutan Festival Tour

Paro - Thimphu - Punakha - Trongsa - Bumthang - Phobjikha Valley - Haa
Bhutan Overland Tour: Paro to Samdrup Jongkhar

Paro - Haa - Thimphu - Punakha - Phobjikha Valley - Trongsa - Bumthang - Mongar - Lhuentse - Trashigang - Trashiyangtse