Punakha Dzong, Bhutan


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, Punakha 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.

Spend time in Punakha to 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.

Take an evening walk across Punakha’s paddy fields to the 15th century fertility temple of Chimi Lhakhang. Built by Drukpa Kunley, who was known as the ‘Divine Madman’, this bizarrely decorated temple celebrates his unorthodox ways.


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Punakha Valley and Chu River, Punakha, Bhutan

Punakha Day Trek

Spend the day walking through traditional farmland and paddy-fields to Khamsum Chorten, where the views down to the Mo Chhu (river) and Punakha Dzong (monastery) are utterly spectacular.

Chimi Lhakhang Temple, Punakha, Bhutan

Walk to The Temple of the Divine Madman

Chimi Lhakhang or the ‘Fertility Temple’ is a small temple dedicated to the rogue Buddhist leader, known as the Divine Madman. The temple is unique due to the sheer number of illustrations of the phallus.

Punakha Dzong, Punakha, Bhutan

Explore Punakha Dzong

The commanding Punakha Dzong is considered one of Bhutan’s finest structures. Spend the morning exploring this magnificent monastery.

Sun Temple, Bhutan

An Introduction to Bhutan

This 13-day classic journey is the perfect holiday for anybody visiting Bhutan for the first time, taking in the main sites of Western and Central Bhutan whilst staying in a mix of traditional Bhutanese guest houses. 

13 days

from £7,895 pp

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Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Aman Punakha £££££

  • Bhutan

Set in the temperate climate of the Punakha Valley lies Amankora Punakha. Accessed by crossing a suspension bridge over the river Mo Chhu, the eight suite lodge accommodates 16 people and is situated amidst lush rice fields, with views down the valley to the Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most significant and impressive fortress monasteries. Anchored by a multi-storied traditional Bhutanese farmhouse built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother as a summer residence, Amankora Punakha extends the circuit of Amankora lodges throughout Bhutan’s principal western and central valleys, allowing guests the broadest access to the wonders of Bhutan’s pristine landscape and ancient traditions.

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Six Senses Bhutan £££££

  • Bhutan
  • Wellness and Spa

Six Senses Bhutan are the finest collection of remote lodges in Asia and a welcome addition to the other luxury-level accommodation on offer. Designed to be experienced as a circuit, a stay at each lodge provides a seamless experience between the five lodges. Each lodge is different, yet all share the same farm-fresh dining and extensive spa facilities.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Kate Hitchen

My travels were first inspired by my love of the UK, which I take as much pleasure in exploring as countries far and wide. For me, travel is all about the adventure, the people I meet and the food I sample along the way.

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