Punakha Valley


Punakha lies east of Dochu La Pass and just north of the resplendent Punakha Dzong in a warm, fertile valley at the junction of two rivers, the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu. Moments from the winter residence of Bhutan’s King, Amankora Punakha is surrounded by rice paddies and fruit plantations offering the perfect base for exploring the valley’s natural and cultural attractions. From crossing the longest chain link bridge in the Kingdom to river rafting, hoisting prayer flags and exploring historic sites, this valley is one for expanding horizons in every way. 

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From fortresses to fertility temples

Cross the Po Chhu – the Father River – on Bhutan’s most impressive, prayer-flag bedecked suspension bridge to visit the beautiful 17th-century Punakha Dzong – built in the 1600s to an architectural plan inspired by a dream. Other local historic sites include the 15th-century ‘fertility temple’, Chimi Lhakhang. The valley’s subtropical environment allows the cultivation of rice and exotic fruits, making it an apt setting for this auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499. Many couples hoping to start a family come here to receive a blessing from the saint with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’.

Raft the twin rivers

Literally translating as ‘Male’ and Female’, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers flow through rocky gorges, pristine plains and terraced fields to meet at Punakha Dzong. Amankora can arrange white-water rafting excursions on both, rewarding adventurers with challenging rapids and unforgettable valleys views. By land, the rivers can also be enjoyed with a cycling or mountain biking adventure that follows the rivers’ courses. 

Breakfast at Khamsum Chorten 

Start the day with a hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument built by the Bhutanese Queen Mother and consecrated in 1999. The hiking trail from Amankora Punakha weaves through rice fields and farmland before arriving at the historic stupa, built to protect Bhutan from evil forces and help bring peace to the world. On arrival, enjoy a delicious picnic breakfast set up in the fragrant gardens that surround Khamsum Chorten.

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Hoist prayer flags with a local monk

Featured experience

Spend a meaningful morning in sacred spaces and the great outdoors, culminating in a special blessing and scenic picnic. A short and peaceful hike to Chorten Nyeabu, a 15th-century hilltop temple and monastery, will reveal an impressive statue of Jowo Jampa (the Future Buddha) and the storied ‘upside-down tree’. Then head to the hilltop to hoist your own prayer flags, consecrated by the local monk who will accompany you. Prayer flags are hoisted for happiness, long life, prosperity, luck and merit, to clear ones’ sins, and to offer karmic merit to all sentient beings.

When the wind blows, it is believed that it carries the prayers on the flags, blessing all beings. Choose a spot for your flags that resonates with you, then savour a delicious picnic lunch as your prayers take to the wind.