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At 4,100 feet, or 1,250 meters, Punakha is situated at a relatively low altitude compared to the rest of the country, which averages 8,000 feet, or 2,438 meters. Due to its comparatively low elevation and the ensuing sub-tropical climate, Punakha is the breadbasket of Bhutan. Here, farmers harvest two rice crops a year, as well as crops of mangoes, bananas, oranges, and pomegranate.
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Our co-founder Jay Tindall is a frequent visitor to Bhutan. As well as the village of Punakha, he loves the traditional architecture and the warmth of the Bhutanese people.
The grand Punakha Dzong is held by many to be the most beautiful dzong in the country, and is often photographed in the springtime when the purple flowers of the jacaranda trees blossom against the backdrop of the dzong’s white walls. Constructed in 1637, its six-story high "utse," or central tower, is a highlight.
Hike to Chimi Lakhang, a temple dedicated to the “Divine Madman”, an eccentric Bhutanese monk from the 15th century who is said to have tamed a female demon with his "thunderbolt." It is not uncommon to see quite skillfully rendered phalluses adorning the walls of Bhutanese temples and homes, and Bhutanese pilgrims travel here specifically to pray for fertility blessings.
Go white-water rafting in the Punakha Valley. Your journey will begin about two miles north of Punakha Dzong, continue past a winter residence of the Queen of Bhutan, and some gorgeous farmland. Rafting time varies from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your interest. (Available from September through May only).
For lunch, visit a farmhouse and join a family for a cooking demonstration and tasting. Enjoy a cup of fresh yak butter tea or home-brewed liquor – fiery arak or sweet sinchang. Help them make ema datsi (cheese chili), buckwheat noodles and pancakes with red rice, served along with hot chili curries.
Sunrise at Khamsum Chorten
Watch the sunrise from the Khamsum Chorten. The Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten is a 100-foot tall stupa with three levels. Dedicated to Bhutan’s Fifth King, the Chorten was built to banish negative energy while providing peace, stability, and harmony in an ever-changing world.
Dochu La Pass
Have tea at Dochu La Pass, located between Punakha and Thimphu. Dochu La is marked by a large array of prayer flags and a rhododendron forest surrounding 108 chortens, or stupas. The chortens are a more recent addition to Dochu La; they were built in 2005 to commemorate the loss of lives in fighting between Bhutanese soldiers and Indian rebels.
Enjoy a classic tour of Bhutan’s beautiful countryside on this 14-day journey from Paro to Thimpu. You’ll visit such time-honored spots as Drukgyel Dzong, Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and Gangtey Monastery, step into the lush Tang Valley, all while staying in luxurious Amankora hotels dotted across the country.
Explore the world’s most majestic peaks on this 22-day Himalayan adventure. You’ll trek through China, Nepal, Bhutan and India, staying at luxury hotels and lodges like the Amankora or Uma by COMO. You’ll walk along the Great Wall of China, visit the ancient Potala Palace, and search for Bengal Tigers in Chitwan.
See the contrast of two cultures as they’re juxtaposed before your eyes on this 16-day luxury journey through Thailand’s Bangkok and Bhutan. You’ll compare the glimmering Grand Palace and Wat Arun to the ancient architecture of Bhutan’s monasteries, raft the Mo Chu river, and spend nights at the luxurious Amankora.
Take in Bhutan’s lush landscape on this 16-day luxury bicycle adventure, pedalling past ancient Buddhist temples like the Taktsang Monastery, climbing Bhutan’s highest road pass, Thrumsing La, and gaining insight into local religion at a Buddhist festival in Jakar, while staying in luxe hotels like Uma by COMO.
Take a ride on the open road through Bhutan’s stunning countryside, as you’re chauffeured from Paro to Thimpu in your luxury vehicle. You’ll marvel at religious sites like Rimpung Dzong and Drukgyel Dzong, interact with local families at their farms, and enjoy luxury stays at luxurious Amankora hotels.
Spend 22 days traveling from India to Bhutan on this luxurious adventure of a lifetime. Shop in New Delhi’s world-famous Chandni Chowk market, dine at the Calcutta Polo Club, and marvel at the ancient Tibetan Buddhist Ghoom Monastery, while staying in luxury hotels like Amankora and Oberoi.
Experience the natural beauty of Bhutan on this exciting 12-day trek through some of the country’s most picturesque scenery. You’ll step into the past at the ancient Kyichu Lhakhang Temple, explore the Kuri Chhu river on foot, and make a pilgrimage to Singye Dzong, while staying at luxury hotels like the Amankora.
Move across mountains as you spend 19 days trekking through some of the highest peaks in Nepal and Bhutan. You’ll visit unforgettable sites like the Monkey Temple and Gangtey Monastery, ride an elephant through Chitwan National Park, see Mt Everest up-close on a helicopter tour, and stay in luxury Amankora hotels.
Amankora Punakha is located just across a suspension bridge along the Mo Chu River, with suites built around a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. A small property, there are only eight suites. The hotel is situated in an orange orchard, with views of Punakha Valley and Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most beautiful monasteries. The farmhouse has a dining room, courtyard and tea pavilion for dining and refreshments. The spa at Punakha has two treatment rooms, a steam room and a yoga and meditation area. There is fax and Internet access; however the connection is quite slow. There is no fitness center or pool, but hot stone baths are available. The hotel is approximately a four-hour drive from the airport in Paro.
Six Senses Bhutan
In Spring 2017, Six Senses will open five luxury lodges in Bhutan, creating a "Six Senses Journey" through Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha, Bumthang and Paro. Built in a style sympathetic to their rural Himalayan surroundings, the Six Senses Bhutan lodges will offer guests total intimacy, with a mere 82 suites across all five lodges. Six Senses' keynote features - eco-friendly design, personal service and wellness - will of course characterise the new Six Senses Bhutan product, and we at Remote Lands look forward to offering these new properties to our clients.
Uma by COMO, Punakha
An intimate luxury lodge situated in a lush valley, the Uma by COMO, Punakha is nestled amongst rice fields and orchards, and overlooks a snake-like bend in the Mo Chu River. The lodge has a selection of villas suitable for a travel party of any size, as well as nine deluxe Valley View rooms with private terraces; all rooms boast comprehensive views of the surrounding landscape. The onsite restaurant, Bukhari, is named for a traditional Bhutanese fireplace, uses ingredients from local farms and can provide delicious meals for any palate. There is also a spa, the COMO Shambhala Retreat, with a range of holistic and Asian-inspired treatments, as well as hot tubs with a birds-eye view of the stunning scenery. Uma by COMO, Punakha is part of the award winning property and luxury retail group COMO Group, with a sister property in Bhutan called Uma by COMO, Paro.