How to Plan a Perfect Punakha Valley Trip in Bhutan?

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April 1, 2021

How to Plan a Perfect Punakha Valley Trip in Bhutan?

About Punakha

Punakha is a small beautiful town in the valleys of Himalaya mountain ranges. It is located on the banks of two beautiful rivers – Pho and Mo Chhu. At one point in time, Punakha was the centre and capital of Bhutan. It is also home to the most sacred relic of Bhutan – Rang Jung Kharsapani. More on that later.

Punakha is easily the most beautiful destination in Bhutan, and one of the must-visit destinations in Asia. This is a place that you must visit to experience the best natural landscapes and the old Buddhist architecture of Bhutan. There are also some shopping places in Punakha where you may want to get some souvenirs.

Few Interesting Facts You Must Know about Punakha Before Traveling

  • Before Thimphu was the capital of Bhutan, Punakha served as its capital until 1955.
  • Punakha Dzong is associated with a famous legend, according to which, Sage Padmasambhava prophesied that “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. True enough, Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, came across the peak of the hill which resembled the trunk of an elephant. He built the dzong in 1637-38.
  • Punakha is known as the rice bowl of Bhutan, since it produces a major part of the rice in Bhutan, along with red and white rice.
  • Chimi Lhakhang, which means the Fertility Temple, is a Buddhist monastery built by Ngawang Choegyel, the 14th Drukpa hierarch, over half a millennium ago. It is famous as a fertility inducing magnet, and is visited by a large number of couples wishing to conceive.
  • Punakha suspension bridge is one of the most visited places in Bhutan. Spanning almost 1860-180 meters in length, it is located at a very impressive height above the River Po Chu.
  • The most popular festival of Punakha is Punakha Tshechu. The highlight of the festival is the unfurling of thongdrol, which is a large tapestry of Guru Rinpoche.

How to reach Punakha?

By Air: If you are travelling by air, the best way to reach Punakha is by flying to Paro. From Paro in Bhutan, Punakha is just 120 km away. You can take the most scenic bus ride and reach Punakha.

Alternatively, if you are travelling from India, you can fly to the nearest airport in India – Bagdogra. Then take a train or bus journey into Bhutan.

By Train or Roads from India: You can enter Bhutan by road from the Jaigaon in West Bengal, which is situated on the Indo-Bhutan borders. Hasimara is the nearest railway station to Jaigaon.

How to get a visa or a tourist permit in Bhutan?

Bhutan Tourism Board has a policy of “High-Value Low Impact” tourism. Only a limited number of people are allowed to enter Bhutan. Citizens from India, Bangladesh and Maldives can obtain tourist permit in Bhutan on arrival. Under certain treaties and agreements, there are no charges for Visa for citizens of India, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

List of documents for on arrival Visa for citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives:

  • A duly filled form for tourist permit in Bhutan.
  • Your Itinerary on an A4 Sheet.
  • A passport that is valid for at least six months (Indians also have the option of showing their Voter’s ID card).
  • Your Passport Size Photo.
  • Booked Hotel’s Voucher (It is compulsory to show booking confirmation of at least one hotel in Thimphu/Paro).
  • An Undertaking Letter (If you are travelling alone).

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