1. Kichu Lakhang
The Kichu Lhakhang temple is one of the most iconic Himalayan Buddhist temples in Bhutan and attracts a huge tourist footfall owing to how old and beautiful it is. The temple was built in the 659 AD but its grandeur is still very visible.
Highlights: Since Bhutan is famous for its temple, you can’t miss out on the Kichu Lhakhang which is just a short drive from the city of Paro. There are various additional buildings and a highly noticeable golden roof all of which were made in the year 1839 by the Governor of city Paro. There are prayer wheels around the temple and you can try spinning around the temple to worship the idol.
Location: Lango Gewog, Paro, Bhutan.
Timings: No official timings given by the temple but ideal to visit during early morning or evening.
Pricing: Visiting the temple is completely free of cost for everyone.
2. Samtengang Winter Trek
Starting from Punakha, Samtengang Winter Trek is a short and considerably simple and easy trek to Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag with average altitude rising not more than 1900 meters. The climate is excellent and due to low altitude preserves warmer climate which is pleasant and soothing. The trekking trail is devoid of uncomfortable steeps and heights making the trail quite smooth for the amateur hikers.
The trail passes through rhododendron forest which is a delight to see especially in monsoon times. The region also posses dense vegetation with oak and maple trees and also the longest footbridge of Bhutan. Villages like Sha and Chungsakha also fall on this trail. It is approximately 54 km in length.
Highlights: Sha village and lifestyle of Bhutanese people based there.
Duration: 3 days of trekking tour.
Location: Near Punakha, Bhutan
Best Season: March – April, October to November. However, due to low altitude, it can be visited in winter too.
Paro is the first must-see location in Bhutan. It is a beautiful and magnificent valley that is enveloped by lush green rice fields.
Highlights: Paro is a historic town of Bhutan. It has several historic buildings and sacred sites that are scattered all across the area. Along with the Punakha and Jakar, Paro forms a ‘golden triangle’ of the prominent destinations of Bhutan. Undisturbed scenic beauty, craggy mountain hills, peaceful atmosphere, and clean air definitely make it a must-visit place in Bhutan. One thing that attracts several visitors to Paro is the Rinpung Dzong which is one of the most striking examples of a typical monastery of Bhutan. Dzong is known to host the festival of masks which is locally known as the Paro Tsechu. Making a visit during this time can be fruitful. Apart from this, the National Museum of Paro is another must-see attraction that attracts several visitors.
Location: Paro is a small town situated in the Paro District in the Paro Valley of Bhutan.
Timings: Open 24 hours.
Pricing: Entry is free.
4. Wangduephodrang Tshechu Festival
Wangduephodrang Tshechu is an annual festival introduced by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal after the Dzong was completed. As per history, the dzong which served as the administrative center got constructed in 1639 by the disciplined effort of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal near Puna Tsang Chu. To celebrate this occasion, a 3-day festival was organized which is majorly attended by the natives of Thimphu and Punakha.
One of the most celebrated activities on this festival is Raksha Mangcham which is also named as the dance of the ox. Huge gathering assembles to see the beautiful act which concludes with the display of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol where every onlooker fetches blessings and wash away their sins.
Highlights: the sight of Guru Tshengye Thongdrol
Festival time: In the month of June
5. Gangtey Monastery
It is one of the largest Monastries in western Bhutan. Perched on top of a hill and overlooking the stunning Phobjikha Valley, the Monastery of Gangteng Gompa was built in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinly. He is considered the reincarnation of renowned Pema Lingpa. Villages of Hermits surround the Monastery.
The place is one of the main centers of Nyingmapa School where Buddhism is being taught. The history of the Monastery traces back to the 17th century during the period of Pema Lingpa who was a treasure finder. Many of his prophecies are still alive at the monastery.
Highlights: Techu, a traditional Mask dance is hosted in the monastery during September and early October. It is worth to visit the place in the season and witness beautiful dance performances. Also, Phobjikha Valley is native to many Blacked neck cranes that migrate there from November to roost.
Best Season: September to November