Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

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Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Best Time: October - December Read More

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Gangtey Valley

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"The Valley Of Black-Necked Cranes"

Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) Tourism

Against the backdrop of western slopes of the Black Mountains in Wangdue Phodrang, lies the bowl-shaped Phobjikha valley that offers breathtaking views of vast expanses of green fields. It is home to the endangered black-necked crane that migrates to this area during winters. Phobjikha valley also called Gangtey, is one of the few glacial valleys in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, the valley is located at an altitude of 3000m above sea level, and hence comparatively cooler. It boasts being the winter home to black-necked cranes that fly from Tibet to escape the harsh winter and also one of the most prominent conservative sites of Bhutan. Relatively untouched by outsiders, the use of electricity in the valley began only a few years ago.

Apart from a few cultural trips to Lhakhangs and Goembas, Phobjikha valley houses quite a lot of trekking and hiking trails with the most beautiful views of the landscape. There are also a few villages one could visit and observe the rural life thereof. One could take home the intricately designed handwoven carpets from the famous factory in Gangtey or handicrafts from the village shops. It's a paradise for bird watchers and trekkers, even better if you're a nature photography enthusiast. 

Things to do in Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

1. Gangtey Goemba

Gangtey Goemba
Gangtey Goemba is located atop a hill providing a magnificent view of the entire Phobjikha valley. It is a very significant site related to Saint Pema Lingpa, the reincarnation of Guru Rinpoche who in (Read More)troduced Buddhism in the country and uncovered its treasures. It also houses one of the largest halls in Bhutan. It is said that the Black Cranes circle the monastery three times when they arrive and three times when they leave. The prominent festivals are the Gangtey Tsechu and the Black Necked Crane festival (in which young children dress up as the cranes to welcome their arrival).

2. Black Necked Crane Information Centre

Black Necked Crane Information Centre
Ornithologists or anyone with a keen interest in birds might find this place most suitable. The Black-necked Crane is an indigenous species of the Himalayan Region. They migrate from Tibet to Bhutan i (Read More)n late autumn each year. Black Necked Crane Information Centre is run by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and has an observation room with high-power telescopes and good scope for spotting the famous Black Necked Crane which migrates to the region during winter. It also displays information about the history of the region. 

3. Kuenzang Chholing Shedra

Kuenzang Chholing Shedra
Located to the north of Gangtey Goemba is the Kuezang Chholing Shedra (Buddhist school), serves as a college imparting Buddhist education to about 300 monks. Visitors are not allowed throughout the da (Read More)y if you want to visit you're requested to inform in advance.

4. Kumbhu Lhakhang

Kumbhu Lhakhang
From the Kuenzang Chholing Shedra, there is a dirt road by which it takes about 10 minute (Read More)s to reach Kumbhu Lhakhang. Located at the north-east of Gangtey, it is dedicated to a deity of the ancient Bon religion Sipey Gyalpo. Kumbhu (meaning - 100,000 statues) Lhakhang has a chapel, and It is considered to be spiritually refreshing to visit this place as it also doubles as a meditation centre. However, in the event of rainfall, the dirt track might become impassable by car. Advisable to follow proper clothing etiquette.

5. Nyelung Dechenling

Nyelung Dechenling
Nyelung Dechenling temple is one of the eight residences of Nyingma Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam (Longchenpa) and is located near Amankora Gangtey Resort. The monk might indulge one in historic tal (Read More)es and fascinating relics and might even bless the visitor with the religious picture called Thangka which contains the handprints of Master Longchen.

6. Khewang Lhakhang

Khewang Lhakhang
Situated on the eastern side of the Phobjikha Valley, the 15th-century Khewang Lhakhang is said to have been built by Tibetan sculptors in Tibetan style. Inside there are 3 statues of past, present an (Read More)d future Buddhas. On the third day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, this monastery has its own festival in which the locals themselves dance. It is advised to follow proper clothing etiquette.

7. Wangmo Hand-Woven Carpet Factory

Wangmo Hand-Woven Carpet Factory
Wangmo Hand-Woven Carpet Factory is a famous carpet factory located below the Yue Loki Guest House. It is an industry that weaves beautiful handwoven carpets with intricate patterns and designs. It wa (Read More)s set up by a local woman known as Dorji Wangmo in 1992. Dorji empowers young girls and trains them in carpet making which are also sold to the visitors at reasonable prices. It is a must-visit site if you're in Phobjikha Valley. 

8. Gangtey Nature Trails and Hikes

Gangtey Nature Trails and Hikes
Gangtey Nature Trails and Hikes is a wonderful option for bird-watchers and hikers alike, there are a couple of trails that could be traversed upon which range from easy to tough. The easiest option m (Read More)ight be the 90-minute trail from a wall north of Gangtey Goemba which culminates at Khewang Lhakhang.

More on Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

Winter home of the Black Necked Crane

The Phobjikha Valley is where the endangered Black Necked Cranes migrate to in winter from their breeding ground in the Tibetan Plateau. This valley plays host to the largest number of cranes in the country and is a designated conservation site for them.

The Jigme Dorji National Park adjoining the valley also includes a site for their conservation. These cranes arrive late in October and stay on till mid-February. It is also said that the cranes circle the Gangtey Monastery three times when they arrive and three times when they leave.

There is a festival celebrating their arrival held in the Monastery in which little children dress up as the cranes to welcome them. At this time there are many cranes seen flying at high altitudes over the mountains.

The Black Necked Crane Information Center set up by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has an observation room with high-power telescopes to enable a good view and also has information on display about not just the endangered birds but also about the history of the region.

Conservation of Resources and Development

Electricity was introduced only as recent as 2011. A lot of homes also depend upon solar energy. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) wanted to ensure that the basic needs of the citizens should not be compromised for conservation and neither should there be great damage to the environment.

There were awareness camps held for the locals to promote a programme of sustainable development involving the local community's role to achieve a harmonious balance of achieving economic progress of the region alongside a healthy habitat for the cranes. The power lines and cables are kept underground so as to not impede the flying routes of the cranes and also to maintain the visual appeal of the valley.

Religion of Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

Some villagers practice the old animistic religion (Bon religion). Buddhism is also practiced in the region.

Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) Customs

People mostly follow and practice Buddhist customs and traditions. But there exist traces of certain ancient customs relating to Bon religion.

Language of Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

A dialect called Henka is spoken in the region. English is not widely understood.

Nightlife in Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

An active nightlife culture is not present in Phobjikha Valley.

Shopping in Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

One could purchase beautiful carpets with intricate designs from the Wangmo Hand-Weaved Carpet Factory owned by Dorji Wangmo which is located right beside the Yue Loki Guest House in Gangtey. The Black Necked Crane Information Centre has a small gift shop which sells handicrafts produced by the local people. On the hike to Beta Village also one could come across some handicraft shops.

Best Time to Visit Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

How to Reach Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

How to Reach Overview

Taking a cab/taxi is probably the best way to reach Phobjikha Valley. However one also has the following options:

How to reach Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) by flight

One could land at Paro Airport. From Paro one could take a taxi to Phobjikha for about BTN 3078.

How to reach Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) by bus

From Thimphu, there is a bus available to Phobjikha every Thursday and Saturday. Meto Transport plies a bus from Thimphu to Phuentsholing to Wangdue daily at 7:00. From Wangdue Phodrang town there is a direct bus plying daily to Phobjikha, a journey of about five and a half hours.

How to reach Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) by waterways

Not applicable.

Local transport in Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

There exists no system of public transport in the valley. There is a daily bus departing Wangdue Phodrang town to Phobjikha. Shared taxis can be also found in the town centre for about Nu 300 per person.

Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) Photos

Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey), Bhutan

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FAQs on Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

What is famous about Phobjikha valley?

Ample scope for walking and hiking with great landscape

What is not so good about Phobjikha valley?

Chances of power cuts occuring

What is the best time to visit Phobjikha valley?

October - December is the best time to visit Phobjikha Valley. This is the period which is characterised by comfortable weather and the spectacular sight of the Black Necked Crane and other migratory birds that come during the season. The Black Necked Crane Festival is also held in November. March to May during Spring is the time when the cultivation begins again and flowers such as the Rhododendron start appearing. The Summer season between June and July is characterised by lush green fields and the onset of monsoon. This is also a good time to visit the Valley. 
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What is the local food in Phobjikha valley?

Bhutanese delicacies like Ema Datshi and Khewa Datshi are widely available. Beverages include Butter tea and the local liquor Ara. Some shops near Gangtey Goemba sell tea, wai wai, eggs and fruits and that is what one could expect to find along the way. Shops inside villages might offer some local dishes like momos and pork/beef pieces cooked with chillies and spices.

Read more about Traditional Bhutanese Dishes

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What is the best way to reach Phobjikha valley?

Taking a cab/taxi is probably the best way to reach Phobjikha Valley. However one also has the following options:
Read More

What are the things to do in Phobjikha valley?

The top things to do in Phobjikha valley are Gangtey Goemba, Black Necked Crane Information Centre, Kuenzang Chholing Shedra, Kumbhu Lhakhang, Nyelung Dechenling, Khewang Lhakhang. You can see all the places to visit in Phobjikha valley here

What are the places near Phobjikha valley?

The top places near to Phobjikha valley are Punakha which is 39 km from Phobjikha valley, Thimpu which is located 57 km from Phobjikha valley, Paro which is located 79 km from Phobjikha valley, Trongsa which is located 29 km from Phobjikha valley, Wangdue phodrang which is located 32 km from Phobjikha valley

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