Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang
Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are the administrative centers of their respective Dzongkhangs. As they are located close to each other in the same valley, they are often referred as one. It takes around 3hours drive from Thimphu to reach either of these towns. Compared to Thimphu or Paro, the valley is at much lower elevation at about 1250m above sea level. Therefore it enjoys subtropical climate with warm summers and pleasant winters. The valley boasts of at least two crops a year and subtropical plants like Cactuses, Mandarin, and Bananas grow here. The town of Punakha was relocated recently to Khuruthang from its location near Punakha Dzong. Punakha was the former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still kept by the monastic body, who moves their capital to Thimphu in the summer and return to Punakha Dzong in the winter. It is around half hour drive between Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. The small township of Wangdue with clusters of small shops tightly packed together, surrounding a truck stop is quite interesting to visit. Across the river, on the opposite ridge is the village of Richengang, known for cluster of houses connected to one another.