Punakha & Wangdue Phodrang - West Bhutan
Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are administrative centers of their respective Dzongkhang or districts. Located close to each other and being in the same valley, we have described them together. It takes around 3hours drive from Thimphu to either of these towns. Compared to Thimphu or Paro, the valley is at much lower elevation at about 1250m above sea level. Therefore it enjoys subtropical climate with warm summers and pleasant winters. The valley boasts at least two crops a year and subtropical plants like Cactuses, Manadrin, and Bananas grow here. The town of Punakha was relocated recently to Khuruthang from its location near Punakha Dzong. Punakha was former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still kept by the monastic body, who moves their capital to Thimphu in the summer and return to Punakha Dzong in the winter. It is around half hour drive between Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang (in short called Wangdue). The small township of Wangdue with clusters of small shops tightly packed together, surrounding a truck stop is quite interesting to visit. Across the river, on the opposite ridge is the village of Richengang, known for cluster of houses connected to one another.