Drive from Thimphu to Punakha
After an early breakfast, drive up to the Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chortens, Mani walls, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Bhutan's ancient capital for more than 300 years, the town of Punakha lies in a lush valley at the confluence of the Pho and Mo Rivers. Still scattered with treasures from its regal past, the town is best known for the commanding Punakha Dzong. This magnificent building is often said to be Bhutan's finest structure.
A pleasant town that makes the most of its scenic locale, Punakha is renowned for its fertile land. The surrounding valley sits at a lower altitude than most of Bhutan and produces an abundance of rice, oranges and bananas.
Visit to Punakha Dzong
Visit Punakha's most famous sight, its eponymous dzong. Meaning the 'palace of great happiness', this is one of the country's most majestic structures and the second oldest dzong in Bhutan. Located on the confluence of Punakha's two rivers, the current building dates back almost 400 years and has been extended during the subsequent centuries. Standing six storeys tall and topped with a brass roof, the Punakha Dzong has survived a number of fires and a severe earthquake. Inside, the relics of a number of Drukpa Buddhist leaders are housed, including those of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
You will be staying at Three-Star Accommodation in Punakha, full board