Phuentsholing (alt. 300 m / 985 ft) - The frontier town, it is a thriving commercial centre, situated directly at the base of Himalayan foothills. It is a fascinating place where different ethnic groups mingle prominently Indian, Bhutanese and Nepalese. Being the border town, Phuentsholing serves as the convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and also the important link to visit the Indian state of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam.
Places of interest in and around Phuentsholing
Paro (alt. 2200 m / 7218 ft) - The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country's only airport. Mount. Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valley in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
Places of interest in and around Paro
Thimphu (alt. 2400 m / 7875 ft) - The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
Places of interest in and around Thimphu
Punakha (alt. 1300 m / 4265 ft) - Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until and still it is the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot). Blessed with temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers, the Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruits. There are splendid views of the distant Himalayas at Dochula pas (alt. 3,050m) on Thimphu – Punakha road.
Places of interest in and around Punakha
Wangduephodrang (alt. 1300 m / 4265 ft) - Wangduephodrang is the last town on the central highway before central Bhutan. The town is not more than an enlarged village with a few well-provided shops. Located in the south of Punakha, the higher reaches of the Wangduephodrang valley provide rich pastureland for cattle. This district is also famous for its fine bamboo products, slate and stone carvings.
Places of interest in and around Wangdue Phodrang
Gangtey & Phobjokha (alt. 3000 m / 9845 ft). The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valley's are tightly enclosed.
A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water).
Places of interest in and around Gangtey & Phobjokha Valley
Trongsa (alt. 2300 m / 7545 ft.) - Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, who was elected the country's first hereditary monarch and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from Trongsa ancient seat. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne. including the present King. The entire landscape around Trongsa is spectacular.
Places of interest in and around Trongsa
Bumthang or Jakar valley (alt. 2600 m - 4500 m / 8530 ft - 14765 ft) : Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin.
Places of interest in and around Bhumthang or Jokhar
Excursions around Bumthang or Jakar valley
Mongar (alt. 1600 m / 5250 ft) & Lhuntse(alt. 2323m/7621ft) - The journey from Bumthang to Mongar is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas crossing 4,000m high Thrumshingla pass. Gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs with even steeper drops, blazing flowers and constantly changing vegetation combine to make this journey as varied as it is beautiful. Mongar marks the beginning of Eastern Bhutan. The second largest town in the sub-tropical east, Mongar like Trashigang further east, is situated on the side of a hill in the contrasts to other towns of Western Bhutan which was built on the valley floor.
Places of interest in and around Mongar
Trashigang (alt. 1100 m / 3610 ft) - In the far east of Bhutan, on the bank of Gamri Chhu river lies Trashigang, the country's largest district. Trashigang, once the centre of a busy trade route with Tibet, is today the junction of east-west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to the Indian States of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng whose costumes are unique in Bhutan.
Places of interest in and around Trashigng
Samdrup Jongkhar (alt. 280 m / 920 ft) - The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar,completed in 1960s, enables the eastern half of the country to access and benefit from trade with the south as well as across the Indian border. There is little to see in this area, other than the busy market which straddles the border. Samdrup Jongkhar is a convenient exit town for tourists who have arranged to visit the neighboring Indian state of Assam.