Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan
The Picturesque Phobjikha valley in the backdrop of the Black Mountain Range,has rich biodiversity of flora & fauna. This , coupled with the religious importance of the Gangtey Monastery, has attracted religious and ecotourism to the valley. Phobjikha valley is interchangeable called as Gangtey valley aswell.
With an elevation ranging from 2,800 to 4,000 meters, Phobjikha valley in Bhutan is known for its gorgeousness and timeless scenic splendor. The beauty of the Phobikha valley is at its peak during the spring season; when the various rhododendron blossoms are found in abundance. And in late Autumn when the birds of heaven (Black Necked Crane) arrive in sweet deluge after the monsoon.
The Journey to Phobjikha valley
The drive, although a short one (78km) from Punakha to Phobjikha is dramatic due to the range of scenic beauty that unfolds along its route. Undoubtedly you will want to stop to take pictures.
For the first 8 km, the road runs high above the Dang Chhu river through grassy slopes till Chuzomsa (the confluence of Dang Chu and Pe Chu), where it is almost at the level of the river. From here it is a steady steep ascent to Lawa La, 3km short of the Pele la pass which is the cross-over point into central Bhutan.
The road clings tenaciously to the very edge of the valley and it is a spectacular drive to the pass. Though clear weathers are rare, if you luck upon the one you will be rewarded with views of Jichu Drakye, Kang Bum, and other peaks en route. In summer the hill slopes are alive with vibrant blooms of pink, white and red rhododendrons. And you may even encounter some yak and the odd barking deer or red panda!
Just after Lawa La mountain pass, you turn right, off the main road, and crest a ridge at 10,800ft / 3293m to make a gradual descent into the glacial Phobjikha valley Bhutan. It is famed for visual splendor and the migratory black-necked cranes that make it their winter home.
The Phobjikha valley is lush green and extensively cultivates potatoes which are the regions’ primary cash crop. The secluded yet expansive peaceful pastoral environment here makes it an ideal place to chill out for a few days .
Black Necked Crane
In the Phobjikha valley, the Black-necked-Cranes have a celebrity status, as witnessed by the Crane Festival held every year on 11th November.
The endangered black-necked cranes arrive from Tibet towards the end of October. The Bhutanese call the bird ‘thrung thrung karmo’ and as many as three hundred of these visitors arrive at the Phobjikha valley every winter. The people have great affection for these winged creatures and they are featured in many folk songs. Local lore has it that these birds circle the Gangtey Monastery three times on their arrival and also when they fly out. Their departure towards the end of February is marked by songs of lamentation! The cranes have an elaborate mating ritual and they mate with single partner for life. According to locals when one bird lost its mate, it stayed on in the valley desolate and heartbroken, for a whole year!
Crane Information Center
Details of their habits and habitats, backed by some great photographs are available at the Crane Information Center. From here you can observe and get educated on these majestic birds. The facility is operated under the aegis of the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature. If the birds are in residence when you visit Gangtey/ Phobjikha , you may be able to get a close view from the hides specially constructed for this purpose.
The Gangtey Monastery
The Gangtey Goemba is on a small promontory overlooking the lush green valley. While visiting the areas of Terton Pema Lingpa prophesied that a gompa would be built on a gang-tey (hilltop). And that his teaching would be carried forth from here. In 1613 a monastery was established by Pema Lingpa’s grandson who became the first Gangtey Trulku. The goemba was enlarged subsequently by the second reincarnation Tenzing Legpa Dhendup. Gangtey is affiliated with several other important monasteries in this region, including Tamzhing in Bumthang.
Currently the ninth reincarnation, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the abbot here. Besides the Gangtey Monastery, there are several other schools, a Tibetan style chorten, and meditation centers. At the center the monks retreat for periods ranging from three days, three months to three years. There is also a Buddhist college nearby that offers a nine-year course in Buddhist studies
Hotels in Phobjikha Valley Bhutan
Most of the hotels in Phobjikha valley Bhutan unveil your eyes to a spectacle visual treat. And has comfortable rooms and flawless services. The hotels in Phobjikha valley vary from high-end 5-star Luxury hotels such as Amakora, Six Senses, and Gangtey Lodge to authentic Bhutanese Home stays. Check out the options below:
1. Luxury Hotels in Phobjikha Valley Bhutan
i) Gangtey Lodge, Phobjikha Valley Bhutan
Gangtey Lodge in Phobjikha valley Bhutan is a 5-star luxury hotel. It is located atop a hillock overlooking the peaceful Phobjikha valley and the stunning Gangtey Goenpa (monastery).
Your arrival is celebrated with traditional welcome songs exhibiting the local culture in a simple yet elegant style. The Gangtey Geonpa Lodge reflects a fine blend of traditional and contemporary Bhutan Luxury Accommodation . It has its underfloor heating and wood burner fireplaces. It has 12 gorgeous master suites along with a freestanding bath, a lodge with lounge and dining space. The rooms and lobby use handcrafted fabrics and artifacts which adds to the aesthetic features of the Lodge.
The Phobjikha valley is a tranquil place and is nothing short of magic and bountiful nature, a great place to walk down and get immersed in the beauty of the valley. Enjoy the sunrise over your morning coffee or breakfast on the spacious outdoor terrace of the Gangtey Goenpa Lodge. The food served is exotic with locally grown produce in an intimate dining setting snuggled around two large stone fireplaces.
ii) Aman Kora Gangtey
Amankora Gangtey is situated in the remote and pristine Phobjikha valley, Bhutan. It is one of the topmost Bhutan Luxury Accommodations . It has eight- grand suites and offers their guest the highest level of luxury and personalized service.
The floor-to-ceiling architectural design of the Amankora Gantey is in simple Bhutanese style . The set up optimizes the view of the beautiful Phobjikha Valley and seizes the picture-perfect Gangtey Goenpa. All the suite rooms enjoy a spectacular view over the valley with king sized beds, traditional wood-burning stoves. The Resort also has rejuvenating massage spa treatments, lounging. It has a unique and romantic dining experience in the cozy potato shed warmed by a wood-burning stove and lit by innumerable flicking candles.
iii) Six Senses Gangtey
Six Senses Gangtey is situated just above the crane information center providing 180-degree views of the beautiful Phobjikha valley. The resort focuses on comfort and relaxation. The exterior architecture is built from local stones and timber frames. The interior is clean lines, basic, neutral color with minimal decoration, natural material, and an uncluttered space. The lodge has eight spacious and beautifully appointed suites and one two-bedded villa with a great view of the valley. The linens and bed furnishing are the finest. The central gathering place is called the bird-watching bridge for lounging and dining offering an incredible view of the Phobjikha valley and observing the endangered black-necked cranes in their natural habitat. The locally sourced all-day dining serves delightful meals.
2. Three-star Hotels in Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan
There are numerous options of 3-star hotels in Phoabjikha valley, Bhutan located close to the heart of the valley. Most of the hotels offer complete and comfortable services; well-appointed rooms, fine dining, housekeeping facilities, etc.
Here is our quick overview of the best options of hotels in Phobjikha valley, Bhutan.
i) Dewahcen Hotel, Phobjikha
Dewachen Hotel in Phobjikha valley is encompassed by bewitching pine forests and graceful views of the Phobjikha valley. The Dewachen Hotel has 16 rooms warmed with Bukhari- wood-burning iron stove, modern bathroom fitting, superior bedding, and lavish cuisine restaurant. It has been described as more than 3-star by many of our clients. Enjoy Bhutanese hospitality at the Dewachen Hotel Phobjikha.
ii) ABC Eco Lodge
iii) Camping in Phobjikha
You also have the option of staying at “ The Valley Camp” a luxurious camping tent accommodation with the services of a boutique hotel.
3. Phobjikha Valley Homestay
Trying out a homestay on your journey to Bhutan or in this case Phobjikha valley is a good way to experience the local culture of the region in its most authentic and unfabricated form. It is a valuable opportunity to mingle with the locals and learn about their daily lives. You can engage in various activities like milking a cow, preparing a Bhutanese dish, dipping in the traditional hot stone bath, learning gardening, or just relaxing and enjoying Bhutanese meals around the Bukhari in their common sitting room.
Things to Do in Phobjikha Valley
There are many interesting activities that you can engage yourself in in the Phobjikha valley. We have listed some of the things that you can do while you are in Phobjikha valley to add to rich scenic enjoyment.
1. Day Hiking trails
The journey to Phobjikha valley usually starts with a walk through the valley or visiting the amazing architecture of Gangtey Goenpa (monastery). There are numerous nature walks and treks throughout the valley in different terrain. Here are some of th hikes that we recommend.
i) Gangtey Nature Trail Hike
ii) Longtey Hike
2. Monastic Stay at the Gangtey Goenpa
One can choose to experience a monastic stay at the Gangtey Goenpa. Waking up to the sound of the bell and conch echoing through the awakening valley, the beautiful pattern of the incense releasing the aromatic fragrance and making everything look sacred.
You can sit along with the monks and listen to the medley of the morning prayer. You can do various things like:
- Meditation with monks at Gangtey Goenpa
- Make wine or incense offering at the monastery
- Create your personal astrological birth chart
- Talk about the Buddhist philosophy
- Sponsor and have a picnic lunch with the young monks
3. Traditional Hotstone Bath
The healing traditional hot stone bath is an experience that we highly recommend you take after your tiring day hike or simply when you want to retire for the day and relax. One of the local hot stone bath sheds offers an open view of the wide Phobjikha valley. You can enjoy a local drink with a fried egg.
4. Game of Archery
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. The Bhutanese are so passionate about the game. You can try your skill on a hands-on game of archery the national sport of Bhutan.
Phobjikha valley is known for its natural scenic beauty and the endangered black-necked crane. The sound of nature and overall experience of tranquility is assured at Phobjikha valley to deliver an elusive peace of mind to you. The opportunity to experience it isn’t a vacation, it’s a privilege.
The beauty and freshness of Gangtey valley coupled with the friendly vivacity of the locals whom you may encounter during your stay are guaranteed to increase your happiness quotient and make your stay in the kingdom of Bhutan memorable and enchanting.