Start early in the morning and drive to Dochu La Pass (10,300 feet) and further onto the Punakha Valley. There will be stops at scenic locations on the way. The drive takes approximately 3 hours.
At Dochu La Pass, stop to admire the views over a hot cup of tea. Dochu La is marked by a large array of prayer flags and a rhododendron forest surrounding 108 chortens or stupas. The chortens were built in 2005 to commemorate the ones who lost their lives in the struggle between Bhutanese soldiers and Indian rebels.
In Punakha, start your sightseeing tour with a trip to the grand Punakha Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in the country. It’s a wonderful place for photography, especially during springs, when the purple Jacaranda flowers strike a sharp contrast against the white walls of the dzong. A major highlight here is the six-story high utse (central tower).
For lunch, visit a farmhouse and join a family for a cooking demonstration and tasting. Enjoy a cup of fresh yak butter tea or home-brewed liquor – fiery arak or sweet sinchang. Help them make ema datsi (cheese chili), buckwheat noodles and pancakes with red rice, served along with hot chili curries.
Post lunch, hike to Chimi Lakhang, a temple dedicated to the “Divine Madman”, an eccentric Bhutanese monk who lived in the 15th century. He is said to have tamed a female demon with his "thunderbolt." Skillfully rendered phalluses adorn the walls of Bhutanese temples and homes to symbolize fertility blessings.
Return to your hotel by evening.
Overnight in Punakha.