As one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, Punakha is understandably a highlight and remains a significant district as Bhutan’s former capital. Home to the remarkable Punakha Dzong, Punakha offers plenty of unique and exciting ways to explore the valley, including white-water rafting, trekking and mountain biking – the perfect location for those adventure seekers.
At a lower elevation of 1,200m Punakha offers a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers, and its fertile valleys along the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and the Po Chhu (Father River), make it the garden of Bhutan offering an abundance of crops year round.
Dominating the valley floor lays the Punakha Dzong, strategically built at the confluence of Po Chhu and Mo Chhu, two major rivers of the Punakha valley. Also known as the “Palace of Happiness”, it is arguably the most beautiful dzong in the kingdom. Built in 1637, Punakha Dzong played an important role in the country’s history as the second oldest and the second largest dzong in Bhutan, and one its most majestic structures. During your visit, receive a blessing from a wish-fulfilling statue of Sakyamuni.
Located on a hillock in the centre of the valley is the Chimi Lhakhang, a beautiful yellow-roofed temple, surrounded by prayer wheels and slate carvings. Also known as the “Temple of Fertility”, it is widely known that most visitors today come to the temple to pray for children. A short walk from Punakha, the journey will take you across fields leading through the small settlement of Pana, then follows a stream downhill to Yoaka, before a short climb up to the Chimi Lhakhang, where you can turn to see beautiful views overlooking the villages.
For any mountain biking enthusiasts, you’ve come to the right place! Ride the Samdingkha Loop Biking Trail where you will enjoy the huge adrenaline rush of mountain climbs and exhilarating downhill descents, as you take in the spectacular views of the unspoiled landscapes and breathe in the beautiful fresh air of the Himalayan Kingdom. From Khuruthang to Samdingkha to Punakha, meander through small towns and rural areas, with a proposed journey distance of 7km. This biking trail is a unique and rewarding way to interact with the local people, the rich culture and the Bhutanese environment.
For those adrenaline seekers, enjoy an exciting white-water rafting experience with exhilarating routes down both the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu, ending up at the intersection of these crystal-clear rivers.