A beautiful bowl-shaped glacial valley located against a background of the Black Mountains, the Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan is a treat for those with a deep affection for nature. The valley is located on the borders of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
You can find a large flock of black-necked cranes, wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, muntjacs (barking deer), leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills, making this place as one of the most important wildlife preserves in Bhutan. This entire region is referred to as Gangte (or Gangtey), after the Goemba that is known to sit on a ridge located right above the valley. There is a river by the name Nakey Chhu that flows through the valley and reaches the Punak Tsang Chhu.
History Of Phobjikha Valley
Regarded as the happiest place in Bhutan, the Phobjikha Valley is one of the few glacial valleys in the country. The valley is also known as Gangte, named after the Gangtey Monastery. The Monastery, generally known as Gangtey Goenpa is located on a hillock in the Phobjikha Valley that gives you a mesmerizing scenery of the Phobjikha Valley. This beautiful monastery was established by Gyalse Rigdzin Pema Thinley who is the grandson and the re-embodiment of great Bhutanese treasure hunter Pema Lingpa in 1613, thus making it the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. It is the largest Nyingmapa monastery in Western Bhutan and they have quarters for the monk and meditation hubs.
Wonderful sightseeing through the Phobjikha Valley will lead you to countless encounters of the black-necked cranes, the Gangtey Monastery, Wangmo Hand-Woven Carpet Factory, and so much more. Gangtey treks are widely popular among tourists. Phubja valley trek takes three days to complete and gives a splendid taste of ecology and religion promoted by the Government of Bhutan. Along with this, the ‘Gangte Nature Trail’ is a short trek that takes 90 minutes starting from the Mani Stone Wall to the northern side of the valley. This trek ends in Khewa Lhakhang.
Why You Should Visit The Phobjikha Valley?
- For an adventure lover, Phobjikha Valley proves to be a majestic destination. With a number of treks going around, there is no going back.
- The vegetation in the valley consists of a wide range of grassy meadows where visitors can explore cattle and horses grazing the fields. The valley is a swampy land, but you can easily find black-necked cranes roosting and feeding in the valley. Explore Turnips, tree species of blue pine, maple, birch and rhododendrons.
- The fauna of this valley is highly rich in wildlife. You can explore a wide range of wild animals like wild boars, sambar, Himalayan black bear, muntjacs (barking deer), Himalayan serow, leopards and foxes.
Best Time To Visit Phobjikha Valley
Bhutan has always been a dream destination for nature lovers. Bhutan has a tremendously sundry climate. The best time to visit this beautiful valley would be around the months of October, November and December. The temperature during the day takes rise from 5 degree Celsius to 8 degree Celsius. If you visit the valley in November, then you are in the right time for the Crane Festival that takes place every year, giving the black-necked crane a celebrity status.
It is recommended that you shouldn’t visit western Bhutan during the monsoon and winter season, due to snow-capped mountains and dropping temperature. If you visit Bhutan in the beginning of the spring season, you’ll explore the beautiful flowers that bloom by the start of this season. This time is regarded as an ideal time to visit the valley, however, it is recommended to make an early reservation in the hotels.
Top 7 Things To Do In Phobjikha Valley
Your trip to the Phobjikha Valley will be full of amazing experiences. Here are the things that you must not miss out:
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1. Scenic Views
There is no denial that Bhutan has got some really fascinating wonders of nature and here in the Gangtey Valley, you can find nature at its best during the summer season. The marshy lands serve to be a rich treat for nature lovers. The setting is best used for photography sessions.
2. Cheap Hotels And Resorts
Being one of the most visited destinations in Bhutan; Phobjikha valley welcomes you with a wide range of luxurious hotels and resorts. You must make an advance reservation for your desired resort. In summers, you can get a hotel at low prices. But during spring and autumn, there are fair chances of higher prices for a hotel room.
3. Hikes And Treks
For an adventure lover, this is the best thing to do in the Phobjikha Valley. The summer season is a great time to explore the valley through trekking in bright and lush scenery with beautiful flowers, grass and trees. There are a number of trails in Gangtey Valley that you can explore, where the Gangtey Nature Trail being the most popular hiking trail in the valley.
4. Rural Lifestyle
The best way to enjoy a trip is to mingle with the locals. People here follow a semi-nomadic way of life. People would migrate to lower places during the winter season and take their cows and yaks along with them. During summer, people come back in their village. The rural lifestyle of Bhutan is way too sober and fascinating to enjoy and explore the rural insights of the country.
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Camping is an important part of an adventurous trip. The best way to enjoy a holiday is to sleep under the stars and wake up with the pristine environment around you. There are some open space camping areas in Gangtey valley where you can camp and sleep under the sky. Summer is the best recommended season for a nice open space camping.
Suggested Read: Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary: Wander Into The Wild In Bhutan
6. Moderate Temperature
Even though Phobjikha Valley is a glacial valley, there is no way the temperature is always cold. In winters, it is obvious to have a frosty temperature and you can expect snowfall as well. However, during the summer season, Phobjikha Valley experiences a moderate climate, making it pleasant for trekking, camping and sightseeing.
7. Gangtey Photography
Beautiful scenery deserves praises and photography. This valley serves to be one of the most peaceful destinations to visit in Bhutan and is regarded to be the perfect spot for photography. If you are a wildlife or landscape photographer, this place is a paradise on earth for you. A number of good photos of the valley have appeared in various magazines as well.
Places To Stay In Phobjikha Valley
Wangchuk Lodge Gangtey- What’s better than spending time in a beautiful eight-bedroom lodge run by Thimphu’s Wangchuk Hotel? The lodge is located on the main road in Tabiting, near the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre. The lodge has an exquisite bar, boasting room service, a fine restaurant and a sun terrace. You are assured of a free WiFi facility as well. Every room of this lodge comes with a balcony with a fresh mountain view. The rooms are fitted with a seating area. You can have a buffet breakfast every morning.
1. Phuntsho Chholing Lodge
For the love of mountain views, there is a beautiful lodge in Gangtey Gonpa- Phuntsho Chholing Lodge that features easy accommodation and a garden. The visitors are greeted with tasty breakfast every morning. The food here includes continental and buffet options. You can go for hiking in the nearby surroundings too.
2. Dewachen Hotel
This hotel is a wonderful building that shows a unique blend of wood and stone in its architecture which is enough to impress the travelers. The rooms are spacious and stylish. It is better if you choose corner rooms. The hotel’s restaurant has a warming bukhari (wood stove) and classy bay windows offering soothing and pleasant views of the valley. You will enjoy free WiFi and hot-stone bath here. The name of the hotel refers to the ‘Pure Land’ paradise of the Buddha Amithaba. When you are here, you must give the ‘dragon warmer’, the house cocktail of warm rum, apple juice and Bumthang honey a try. It is worth your money.
3. Yue-Loki Guest House
This is a renowned and family-run, but a small guest house in Phobjikha Valley, 1.36 miles away from the city center. The guest house has dining rooms and the pine-clad rooms are heated by bukhari (wood stove), thus giving it a warm and tranquil ambience. The rooms are minor, but warmer, and fitted with big windows and a cleaner bathroom. The owner of this guest house, Dorji Wangmo is an expert weaver.
Tips For Visiting The Phobjikha Valley
- There is no water route to this valley. So, you’d have to choose other means of reaching the valley.
- Though there is no tradition of bargaining in Bhutan, not that they speak of and you won’t get a lot with your haggling skills here. But you can try doing a little bargain with street vendors on your hiking trail and in the local handicraft stores in the Thimphu Market.
- Look out for danger. Bhutan is a safe country. However a little cautiousness won’t harm. Always look out for aggressive dogs, altitude while trekking, bad weather, car-sickness and a little theft.
- When traveling, it is always a smart decision to get travel insurance with you to cover any kind of theft, flight delay and medical emergencies.
- There are very limited cafes in towns supporting WiFi. Most tourist hotels offer free WiFi facilities. Bhutan is expanding their 4G networks, but it is still going to be a while.
- One of the most important things is to carry a map with you always.
How To Reach The Phobjikha Valley?
If you are planning to visit Phobjikha Valley anytime, there are various ways you can reach. These are the best ways to reach the beautiful Phobjikha valley:
There are buses available to the valley from Thimphu every Thursday and Saturday. The bus ride carries out from Thimphu to Phuentsholing to Wangdue at 7:00. You can take a direct bus from Wangdue to Phobjikha that takes 6 hours to reach the valley.
Taking a cab is regarded as the best way to reach the valley. You can take a cab from Thimphu to Phobjikha for BTN 2278. You can also go for shared taxis from Wangdue town to Phobjikha for BTN 300.
We hope that this detailed tour guide on Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan has helped you know this destination better. Are you excited to visit this nature’s paradise? If yes, then plan a trip to Bhutan right away and head to Phobjikha Valley.