Western Bhutan27° 25' 45.4044" N, 89° 24' 49.842" E
Western Bhutan is the region where most of the tourists are going. Here you can find most of the touristic highlights. The West of Bhutan consists of Paro Valley at 2280 meters, the valley around the capital Thimphu at 2320 m., the Punakha Valley and Wangdue Phodrang (1250 m.) and the Haa Valley at 2670 m. (recently opened to tourists in 2001). These valleys are separated by high passes (or so called La's). The highest pass is Cheli La (3988 m./13,084 ft). Dochu La (3050 m.) is a well known pass. And Pele La (3300 m.) separates Western from Central Bhutan.
The region Western Bhutan is known for its beautiful scenery with the pristine rivers that flow through the main towns of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, and rice paddies and orchards cascading down magnificent mountains and for unique two-story houses with brightly painted window designs. If you go to Bhutan, you will arrive at the airport of Paro in Paro Valley. Paro's valley has a nice atmosphere, so peacefull and very silent. The town of Paro is small. Most inhabitants live in the beautiful valley that surrounds it. Tourists can visit the famous Paro Dzong and the National Museum that is situated in the old watchtower above the Dzong.
Thimphu is also quite small for a capital city. It is a very charming place. For tourists there is a lot to see. It is already very nice to just wander through the town of Thimpu. See our section about Thimpu for more information.
Probably your first stop after you leave Thimphu will be the Dochu La pass. This is only one hour drive from the capital. It offers you your first view of the Central-Eastern Himalayan range. Punakha town does not hold many attractions besides from the stunning dzong that dominates the valley floor. The Punakha Dzong is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637. Chhu means river. It used to be the Winter Capital.
Wangdue Phodrang is the first town you see after crossing the bridge over Punak Chhu into Central Bhutan. It is considered the last 'western town'. Wangdue Phodrang or Wangdue is probably the cleanest town in Bhutan thanks to the Dzongda (District Administrator).
Situated east of Wangdue Phodrang and south of the road, is Gangtey Gompa, an old monastery from the 17th century. The gompa, on the valley floor, is the village of Phobjika. This is the winter home of the famous black-necked cranes. This is also considered as a must see for visitors. You can make very nice walks in the Phobjika valley.