BHUTAN – Bhutan is a country known for its high mountain passes, deep valleys, fascinating history, and rich culture, all of which play a significant role in the reputation of this kingdom.
Experienced travelers from around the world are always enthusiastic about visiting Bhutan. Everything here is extraordinary, beautiful, tranquil, and peaceful. One of the reasons to visit this place is its enchanting valleys.
Revealing the grandeur and mystery of this curious royal kingdom, here’s a quick guide to the valleys in Bhutan that will make your journey truly special.
The list of Bhutan’s stunning valleys will leave you in awe!
Also known as Gangtey Valley, Phobjikha Valley is named after the fantastic Gangtey Monastery. Situated in the heart of Bhutan, Gangtey is a remarkably captivating glacial valley.
Naturally sculpted in the shape of a bowl, the valley is layered with long hiking trails, villages, potato fields, and conservation areas.
If you plan to visit in November, you can also witness the prominent Crane Festival and observe black-necked cranes migrating from the Tibetan Plateau annually.
Phobjikha boasts its unique religious sites, especially the Gangtey Goempa Monastery located on top of the valley, offering unique views of the landscape. While there, you might also spot wildlife such as barking deer, sambar deer, red foxes, Himalayan bears, and snow leopards.
Best time to visit Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey): October to March
This is one of Bhutan’s hidden valleys, also known as Kurtoe Valley, situated in the isolated northeastern corner of the country. Lheunste is characterized by rugged mountains, towering peaks, stunning vistas, and lush coniferous forests.
This valley is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s eccentric rulers. The mountainous terrain provides breathtaking views with rocky cliffs rising above the valley and dense pine forests.
When visiting this valley, make sure to explore Kilung Monastery, Lheunste Dzong, Dungkar Nagtshang, and the village of Khoma.
Lheunste is renowned worldwide for its unique textile materials called Kithara. The stunning scenery, traditional weaving craftsmanship, and sacred pilgrimage sites make your journey in this valley rewarding.
Best time to visit Lheunste Valley (Kurtoe): November to April
Elevated at 4,265 feet, the serene Punakha Valley entrance is marked by 108 chortens. Punakha Dzong, located at the confluence of the Po Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, is a natural architectural wonder.
Punakha Valley offers numerous attractions, making it one of the most splendid valleys to visit in Bhutan.
The Po Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers flowing through the valley add to its allure. Rafting on the Po Chhu River is an exhilarating adventure for adrenaline enthusiasts.
Immersing yourself in the river’s waves and the sound of singing birds will soothe your senses. You’ll feel a hundred times more relaxed, and the world seems far less noisy. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the blooming spring flowers throughout the town.
Best time to visit Punakha Valley: March to May
Paro Valley in Bhutan is where the Wang Chu and Paro Chhu rivers converge at Chuzom. Paro is a grid-patterned town, situated on a flat valley floor. Along with Jakar and Punakha, Paro forms the golden triangle on Bhutan’s map.
As one of the widest valleys in Bhutan, this picturesque area is surrounded by lush rice fields. It’s also one of the greenest valleys in Bhutan.
The richness of its culture and history makes it the most beloved town for resort travelers. In fact, it houses the nation’s international airport, which is a sight in itself.
There are numerous appealing tourist attractions in Paro to make your trip worthwhile. The region boasts more than 155 monasteries and temples dating back to the 14th century. The most notable of them is the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, a famous Bhutanese landmark.
Other prominent attractions in Paro Valley include the National Museum, showcasing the country’s extraordinary wonders and rich culture.
Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang are among other famous sites to include in your visit. It’s the best town in Bhutan for long hikes.
Best time to visit Paro Valley: September to May
Just 30 kilometers from Paro, Haa Valley is surrounded by extensive paddy fields. Encircled by mountains and vast fields, it’s one of Bhutan’s largest valleys. Many travelers come here annually for relaxation and leisure.
As you drive towards Haa Valley, you’ll also cross the Chele La pass. Standing at 13,083 feet above sea level, it offers stunning views of Mount Jichu Drakey and Chomolhari. This peaceful place is also rich in cultural heritage.
Plan your visit during the annual Haa Summer Festival to witness the weaving and creation of yak hair tents!
Learn more: The most famous festivals in Bhutan.
You’ll have the chance to see a diverse collection of yak-related items on display at the festival, learn about the process of making yak wool and cutting yak hair, understand Haa’s culinary traditions as you witness how they turn yak’s milk into delicious meals, and engage in many more exciting activities.
Also, visit Haa Wangchuklo Dzong, established in 1915. It’s an attractive location set amidst a lush green landscape.
Best time to visit Haa Valley: March to May & October to November
Thimphu Valley combines new commercial vibrancy with natural beauty and a small, charming town. Along with cultural and religious attractions, the valley also has pubs, restaurants, and dance clubs for nighttime entertainment.
Finding harmony between the unique and luxurious, old and new is the way to make the most of this beautiful city.
Enjoy the stunning scenery in this valley, as there are plenty of wonderful sights to explore in Thimphu. The impressive Trashi Chhoe Dzong provides a religious view of the place and hosts vibrant Tsechu festivals.
You can also take a stroll through the weekend market, where you can enjoy the best dried fish alongside other dishes.
Additionally, visit Dochula Pass, a beautiful landmark in Thimphu. It’s a top-rated and reputable spot for visitors in Bhutan. This location provides panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and excellent views of colorful flags fluttering in the wind.
Best time to visit Thimphu Valley: March to May & September to November
Bumthang boasts four charming mountain valleys and a series of ancient monasteries and conservation areas, making it the most remarkable region in all of Bhutan. Also known as the “Switzerland of the East,” Bumthang is undeniably among Bhutan’s most sacred and finest places.
Its four notable valleys are Chumey, Ura, Tang, and Choekhor. Choekhor Valley is another name for Bumthang Valley and is the largest of the four mentioned valleys. This is the most popular destination for tourists due to its tranquil and lovely landscapes.
An important town in the province, Jakar, is also located here. The Jakar Dzong fortress, with its unique white walls, showcases Bhutan’s exceptional architecture. The dzong is magnificent, and its grandeur and charm are captivating.
Barley, wheat, and tomatoes are cultivated in this area, and their fields are clearly visible in the valley.
You can admire the scenic Ura La Pass or explore the abundant rhododendron forests at slightly higher elevations, along with huge sheep pastures and intermittent forest fields during your drive, which are also places worth stopping on your tour.
One of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries, Jamey Lhakhang, is also located here. Also, taste the cheddar and barley unique to this region.
Best time to visit Bumthang Valley: March to May & September to November