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
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
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.
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.
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).