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Punakha Travel Essentials


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Best Time: March - May Read More

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"Home to the Palace of Great Happiness"

Punakha Tourism

Punakha is one of the 20 districts (dzongkhags) of Bhutan bordered by the Gasa, Wangdue Phodrang and Thimphu districts. Located at the height of 1200m above sea level, Punakha offers a mesmerising view of the Himalayas.

It is also fertile as the two rivers - Po Chhu and Mo Chhu converge here in the Punakha Valley making it an excellent terrain for rice cultivation. Located at a proximal distance from Thimphu around 72kms, Punakha can be reached within 3 hours. It is usually warmer in Punakha as compared to Thimphu or Paro, making it an ideal destination any time of the year.

Punakha was the former capital of Bhutan until 1955 which was later given to Thimphu. Home to plenty of slopes, the valley is an excellent place for mountain biking and trekking. Apart from this, Bhutan's most popular adventure sport- river rafting is carried out in the Po Chhu River. Punakha is also famously known to house the second oldest dzong of Bhutan - the Punakha Dzong, and even hosting the first national assembly in the year 1953. It is a beautifully designed dzong that showcases the architectural brilliance of Bhutan.

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Currency in Punakha

The primary currency utilised in Bhutan is Bhutanese Ngultrum. This currency is utilised all over the Bhutan including the areas such as Thimpu and Paro.

Shopping in Punakha

Punakha is mainly a hill station and here you won't find a large scale market. However, you would definitely find markets and stores which would be selling handicrafts as well as some other common items belonging to the Bhutanese culture.

Nightlife in Punakha

Being mostly a hill station people prefer doing activities such as hiking and trekking. There isn't much of a nightlife, although you along with your group can enjoy events such as bonfire and party around. However, in Punakha there are numerous small bars as well as restaurants which serve some alcohol and snacks which you can enjoy along with pleasant weather outside.

History of Punakha

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan before Thimpu took it place. It is still the sitting place of the Chief abbot. Punakha was made the capital of Bhutan in late 1960's and was the venue of the first national assembly held during that time. It is known to contain a structural brilliance along with a serene atmosphere.

Language of Punakha

Dzongkha is the national language in Bhutan and hence you would find most of the people conversing in this language. The educated people of this city can also speak English as this is the language which is used for the purpose of education in Bhutan. You would also be surprised to find some people to be able to speak Hindi, although not as fluently.

Punakha Customs

Being one of the traditional nations located in across the world, Bhutan has been known to follow a very refined etiquette. People over here are normally dressed in the traditional Bhutanese dress where men wear a knee length robe which is called as Gho, while the women are known to wear what is known as Kira. Also here certain etiquettes are observed while speaking, while eating in public, while sending as well as receiving gifts and hence at many such occasions.

Religion of Punakha

You would find most of the people in Bhutan following Buddhism. However, over time, there has been a considerable increase in the number of people who follow Hinduism.

Daily Budget for Punakha

On an average you would be spending BTN 350 per day, which includes meals as well as basic travelling. However, in case you are shopping and travelling to nearby places, this cost would rise up to BTN 700 - 800 per day. These charges do not include any alcohol or any other luxury expenditures.

Exchanging Money in Punakha

You can get your currency converted into the local Bhutanese currency easily at the Airport. Also, we would advice you to carry cash all the time as there are sometimes when ATM wonêt work or you wouldnêt be able to find one in some parts.

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FAQs on Punakha

What is the local food in Punakha?

Rice is the main component of the numerous meals cooked in Bhutan. Here you would find rice being served along with two or one type of side meals, including meat as well as vegetables. Some of the common vegetable eaten or consumed in Paro are tomato, spinach, pumpkin etc. There are a number of Bhutanese dishes such as Ema Datshi, Phaksha Paa and everyone's favourite Dimsum or Momos which you should definitely try.

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What are the places near Punakha?

The top places near to Punakha are Thimpu which is 27 km from Punakha, Paro which is located 49 km from Punakha, Phobjikha valley which is located 39 km from Punakha, Wangdue phodrang which is located 11 km from Punakha, Trongsa which is located 62 km from Punakha

What are the things to do in Punakha?

The top things to do in Punakha are Punakha Dzong, Rafting and Kayaking in Mo Chhu River, Punakha Suspension Bridge, Mo Chhu (River), Chimi Lhakhang, Jigme Dorji National Park. You can see all the places to visit in Punakha here

How much does a package cost for Punakha?

The packages for Punakha start at INR 21000 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is the best time to visit Punakha?

March -July is the best time to visit Punakha, Bhutan. March-May is the spring season in Punakha, and it’s the busiest in terms of tourism. The temperature combined with humidity makes it cool and pleasant during these months. Temperature ranges between -3°C and 27°C, and average precipitation is of 1-2 days per month.

Spring is considered the best time to visit Punakha because it is one of the best times to enjoy adventure sports such as rafting and trekking. The places are in full bloom with beautiful flowers, and the Punakha looks gorgeous during spring.

You need to book your tickets as well as accommodation early to avoid surges. June-August sees the most precipitation with 8-10 days of rain per month. The temperature is cool and comfortable. The fall months of September-November are chilly with temperature ranging between -6°C and 27°C.

Tourism is relatively slow because of the weather. December-February, the winter months are frigid with temperature ranges of 7.7°C and 0.9°C. So, for the warm weather travellers, this time is off-season in Punakha.
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