BHUTAN – Nestled amidst the Black Mountain Range, Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan is a haven for nature enthusiasts. This valley lies on the border of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
Here, you can encounter a diverse range of wildlife, including large flocks of black-necked cranes, wild boars, sambars, Himalayan black bears, muntjacs, red pandas, and foxes on the surrounding hills, making it one of Bhutan’s most significant wildlife conservation areas.
The entire region is known as Gangte (or Gangtey), named after the Gangtey Monastery situated on a hillside overlooking the valley. The Nakey Chhu River flows through the valley, eventually joining the Punak Tsang Chhu.
History of Phobjikha Valley
Considered the happiest place in the world’s happiest nation, Bhutan, Phobjikha Valley is one of the few glacial valleys in the country. It is also known as Gangte, named after the Gangtey Monastery.
The beautiful monastery, commonly referred to as Gangtey Goenpa, perches on a hill in Phobjikha Valley, offering breathtaking views of the surroundings. This monastery was founded by Gyalse Rigdzin Pema Thinley, the grandson and reincarnation of Bhutan’s great treasure revealer, Pema Lingpa, in 1613, making it the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition.
It’s the largest Nyingmapa monastery in Western Bhutan and houses facilities for monks and meditation centers.
Exploring Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan will lead you to numerous encounters with black-necked cranes, Gangtey Monastery, Wangmo Handmade Paper Factory, and more. Gangtey trekking is popular among tourists.
A trek through Phobjikha Valley takes 3 days to complete and offers a remarkable experience of the region’s ecosystem and the religion promoted by the Bhutanese government.
Additionally, the ‘Gangte Natural Trail’ is a short 90-minute hike starting from the Mani Stone Wall and ending at Khewa Lhakhang.
Why You Should Visit Phobjikha Valley?
- For adventure enthusiasts, Phobjikha Valley proves to be a majestic destination with no shortage of exploration opportunities.
- The valley’s vegetation includes various meadows where travelers can observe livestock and horses grazing. While the valley is marshy, you can easily spot black-necked cranes foraging. Explore rhododendrons, pine trees, oak, birch, and magnolia trees.
- The valley’s wildlife is diverse, featuring wild boars, sambars, Himalayan black bears, muntjacs, red pandas, and foxes.
Best Time to Visit Phobjikha Valley
Bhutan has always been a dream destination for nature lovers. Bhutan experiences a harsh climate, making the best time to visit this beautiful valley around October, November, and December when the daytime temperatures range from 5°C to 8°C.
If you visit the valley in November, you’ll witness the annual Crane Festival.
Avoid traveling to western Bhutan during the monsoon and winter seasons when the mountains are covered in snow, and temperatures drop.
Visiting Bhutan in early spring, you’ll witness beautiful blossoms. This time is considered ideal for exploring the valley, but booking accommodations in advance is advisable.
6 Things to Do in Phobjikha Valley
Your trip to Phobjikha Valley will be filled with wonderful experiences. Here are some must-do activities:
Phenomenal natural wonders are abundant in Bhutan, especially in Gangtey Valley, where you can find the most spectacular summer landscapes. The marshy lands turn into a fantastic spot for nature lovers.
For adventure enthusiasts, trekking is the best activity in Phobjikha Valley. Summer is the perfect time to explore the valley by hiking through lush and picturesque landscapes.
Several hiking trails are available in Gangtey Valley, with the Gangte Natural Trail being the most popular long-distance trek in the valley.
Immerse yourself in the local culture by mingling with the villagers. The locals lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, migrating to lower regions during the winter season, bringing their yaks and Tibetan cattle. In the summer, they return to their villages.
Bhutan’s rural lifestyle is fascinating to explore and learn about.
Camping is an integral part of adventure trips. The best way to enjoy a vacation is by sleeping under the stars and waking up surrounded by pristine nature.
There are open camping spaces in Gangtey Valley where you can camp and enjoy the beautiful open sky during the summer.
Although Phobjikha Valley is a glacial valley, it doesn’t mean it’s always freezing. In the winter, icy temperatures are expected, with possible snowfall. However, during the summer, Phobjikha Valley enjoys a mild and pleasant climate, ideal for hiking, camping, and sightseeing.
The stunning landscape and rich wildlife make Phobjikha Valley a perfect destination for photography enthusiasts. Whether you’re interested in wildlife or landscapes, this place is a photographer’s paradise. Some of the best Phobjikha Valley photos have been featured in various magazines.
Tips for Visiting Phobjikha Valley
- There are no direct water connections to the valley, so you’ll have to use other means of transportation.
- While haggling is not a traditional practice in Bhutan, it’s a good idea to negotiate prices when shopping. You can try bargaining a little with street vendors on your long hikes and in local handicraft shops in Thimphu.
- Bhutan is a safe country, but a little caution doesn’t hurt. Pay attention to aggressive dogs, altitude sickness during long hikes, the weather in Phobjikha Valley, motion sickness, and a bit of petty theft.
- When traveling, having travel insurance is always a wise decision to prepare for theft, flight delays, and medical emergencies.
- There are few coffee shops in the towns that offer WiFi. Most tourist hotels provide free WiFi. Bhutan is expanding its 4G network, but it will take some time.
- One of the most important things is to carry a map with you.
How to Get to Phobjikha Valley?
If you plan to visit Phobjikha Valley at any time, there are several ways to get there.
Address: Phobjikha, Bhutan
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/HTTmSKRhSxqeN1Fj8
Here are the best ways to reach this beautiful valley:
A bus service runs from Thimphu to the valley on Thursdays and Saturdays. The bus departs from Thimphu to Phuentsholing to Wangdue at 7:00. You can take a direct bus from Wangdue to Phobjikha, which takes about 6 hours to reach the valley.
By Cab / Car
Taking a taxi is considered the best way to get to the valley. You can hire a taxi from Thimphu to Phobjikha for BTN 2278. Shared taxi rides from Wangdue to Phobjikha are also available for BTN 300.