You can visit Punakha as a long day trip from Thimphu this former capital of Bhutan offers superlative views of the Himalaya, nearby Wangdiphodrang Dzong and Punakha Dzong.

The latter is the winter home of the largest group of monks in the country (some 500) and the Je Khempo ( spiritual leader of the monk body). Punakha Dzong is built on the confluence of the two rivers Pho chhu (meaning – Male river) and the Mo chhu (female river). Although renovations and extensions were carried out later, the Dzong was first built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who unified the country under one government in the 17th Century.

The drive to Punakha is breathtaking. Although there are two ways to go we recommend the impressive Dochula Pass (Dochula La). The Punakha Domche festival is in late February. Punakha is some 30 km northeast of Thimphu