Truly heading into the country, Wangdue Phodrang is a massive district that lets your inner trekker out to enjoy the wilderness with gorgeous black-necked cranes!
The landscapes in Wangdue Phodrang are so beautiful that it attracts many hikers, campers and cyclists. But if you’re a tourist with the mind frame to sightsee, three attractions can easily be done in a day. Wangdue Phodrang is a 3-hour drive east from Punakha. If you have 8+ days in Bhutan, then definitely spend at least one day in Wangdue.
This is a big district, both Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and Gangtey Monastery are main attractions but are situated an hour away from each other. So keep this in mind. Also, both of our hotel options are located in Gangtey, not near Wangdue Phodrang Dzong.
Chances are, you’ll probably be getting into Wangdue Phodrang with a driver already, but most of the landmarks can be done by walking. We still recommend getting around Wangdue by car. Taxis can be spotted in town center, and the set rate is 70nu. Buses are available to nearby villages on weekends.
For where to eat, your driver will provide a great list of recommendations, we highly recommend having breakfast and dinner back at your hotel.
SEE: Wangdue Phodrang Dzong
The town is named after this dzong that survived a great fire in 2010. If you visit there today, you’ll see that parts of the dzong is still very much under reconstruction. Here, you’ll meet many young lamas attending the monastery. We received a special access to look inside a room of a young lama, who was an orphan and came from a poor family. We spoke to the young lama who revealed that although he’s happy, he does miss his family at times.
We highly recommend finding the perfect spot to take shots of the dzong on the edge of the cliff.
*Upon your visit, please beware of local etiquette and do not ask to see the rooms of lamas who live at the monastery.
SEE: Black-Necked Cranes
The best time to check out black-necked cranes of Bhutan is from October to February. The Crane Festival occurs on November 22nd every year, which is something that you might want to put on the agenda if you happen to travel in Bhutan during early winter. Numerous cranes arrive from Tibet. Since Bhutan has taken special care for the cranes, the Phobhjikha Valley has been established as a conservation area.
SEE: Gangtey Monastery
One unique aspect of Gangtey Monastery is that it holds the Crane Festival here every year. The cranes arrive in October, then roost for a few months. Before departing in February, they will circle around the monastery three times as a goodbye.
Travelers also love to do the Gangtey Trail here that covers Gangtey Gongpa. The 90-minute path goes through Kumbu village -> Gedachen -> Khebayathang -> Kilhorthang -> Kungathang Lhakhang.
$$$$ Gantey, Bhutan
There aren’t many hotels to choose from in this town, Amankora Gangtey is the only luxury hotel. The eight suites are identical to those of Amankora Thimphu, providing an open-plan living and bedroom area with views across the valley.
$$$$ Gantey, Bhutan
Perfect for those looking for a more Bhutanese experience. Dewachen Hotel is laid out with massive woods, carvings, completely fitting into the countryside that you’ll gaze over. The restaurant serves Asian cuisine, and when it gets cold, sit around an old-fashioned fire pit to keep yourself warm!