Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong © Technopilgrim


Serving as the winter capital of Bhutan, Punakha is only 45 miles (72km) from Thimphu. However, it has a much warmer climate than the latter, allowing for the patchwork of red and white rice fields to cover the surrounding valleys. The serene atmosphere of the city is personified in the Punakha Dzong, also known as the Palace of Great Happiness. The palace is the winter residence of Bhutan's Central Monastic Body and home to several sacred relics. Punakha makes a good base for exploring nearby attractions like the Guru Rinpoche Cave and Koma Tsachu hot springs.