Dhensa Punakha

Punakha, Bhutan

At a Glance

  • Fantastic views over the Punakha Valley set within a pine forest

  • Understated modern design, but drawing on traditional Bhutanese architectural styles

  • Only 10-minute walk to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery where you can catch morning prayers

  • Opened in 2014, so the staff service levels are not fully developed

  • Good option if you don't want to spend the higher prices for Uma Punakha or Amankora Punakha but still want an excellent quality of accommodation

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Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

In the western, central and eastern Bhutan you will mostly experience cold European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. The Monsoon occurs between June and August when the temperature is normally between 8° and 21°C. October and November are arguably the best months, when the monsoon has passed and the skies are clear. The spring months of March, April and May are best for the flora, but it can be stormy as the monsoon builds up for July-September.

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Insider's View

Take your breakfast on the patio overlooking the valley. It's a lovely way to start the day.

Be sure to head to the Spa for a massage, it’s great after a long day on your feet

Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation to Dhensa Punakha or take a look at our itineraries to Punakha

Description

Dhensa Punakha is a luxury 24-suite boutique hotel located in the Punakha Valley in Bhutan. The resort enjoys a wonderful location surrounded by thick pine forest overlooking the valley, village houses and paddy fields.

Dhensa is located on the hillside overlooking the Punakha Valley about a 15-minute drive from Punakha Dzong. Dhensa means 'Heavenly Abode' in Bhutanese. There are six cottages containing the suites, spread out on different elevations throughout the property linked by granite stairs (so expect a few steps here and there) all offering fabulous views over the valley. The cottages blend Bhutanese architectural traditions with simple modernity, blending understated white-washed walls with classic Bhutanese roofs.

The 45 square meter rooms themselves are light, airy and minimalist with neutral white tones and lead to large bathrooms containing a free-standing bathtub (with views) and separate shower. They all have small private balconies, and there are 15 suites with twin beds, and 9 with king beds. Expect flatscreen TVs and free WiFi.

Dhensa has one restaurant which serves both local and international cuisine, the food is excellent, although somewhat expensive by Bhutan hotel standards. There is a delightful terrace on which to eat out when the weather is milder.

There is a Spa which offers yoga, spa treatments in two double treatment rooms, steam room, sauna and an outdoor Bhutanese hot stone bath.

Accommodation is based on half-board but cash is required for extras, such as drinks, as the hotel does not currently accept card payments.

We love Dhensa's location and the quality of accommodation is excellent, though as Dhensa is a newly opened property, we have found that the staff are still learning and that the quality of service is mixed, but always friendly.

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Accommodation

There are 24 suites (45 sqm), all offering private balconies. There are 9 King Size Rooms and 15 Twin Rooms.

Facilities

Dhensa has a restaurant, spa containing treatment rooms, sauna, hot-stone bath and steam room.

Reviews

4

Arthur Pope (Staff)

 Sitting high above Punakha Valley, this gorgeous property shares the hillside with a nunnery founded by the beloved father of the previous king's four wives.  Stately stone walls and stairs spread across the grounds, giving way to sweeping views of the valley below.  An excellent assortment of Indian and Bhutanese awaits you at their restaurant, and the staff shine at this lovely choice. 

4

Jessica Cator (Staff)

Dhensa means heavenly abode and this is exactly the feel the property conjures up. The resort is based on a steep hill side overlooking Punaka valley, surrounded by forests, with a nunnery a short walk away. It is a quiet and peaceful in a fresh clean and minimal style.

2

Daniel Smith (Staff)

We stayed for one night at Dhensa and on first glance you will be impressed. The rooms are light, airy and understated with superb balconies overlooking the Punakha Valley. There are great bathrooms and obviously a lot of care has been taken to design the hotel. The feel of the resort is a little bit of a blend of understated Aman and Uma's great strength of feeling like you are in Bhutan (no doubt the designers looked long and hard at their competitor set!). The location of Dhensa is great, on the hill above Punakha which means it has the best views of any hotel in Punakha. So full marks for the design, location and general feel of the hotel, but unfortunately we go downhill from here.

It opened in March 2014, and when we visited in November, it already had a replacement French GM, Frederic Perez, whose English is not the best and seems a little too defensive over the hotel's shortcomings. This has filtered through to the staff, whose English is unfortunately not up to the standard of a hotel of this calibre. They are also definitely finding their feet in terms of service, as you eat dinner they are far too over-bearing almost watching you eat every mouthful. I feel the hotel thinks it is better than it is, but I think these service issues should hopefully iron themselves out as time goes by. Let's be honest, the hotel itself is great, it just lacks the consistency of how it is being run.

I would say that if you do not have the budget for Uma Punakha (where service levels are light and way better than Dhensa) or the Amankora, then Dhensa is the next best option at a more reasonable price. If you know that the service and food isn't going to out of this world, but are happy with a good room and great views then you will come here knowing what to expect. We will of course review this and see the hotel again, so do phone us for an update of how this new hotel finds it feet going forward.

Experiences

  • A visit to Chimmi Lhakhang

    The Chimmi Lhakhang Temple is a temple of fertility dedicated to the Buddhist saint known as the Divine Madman. A short walk through paddy fields takes you to the temple and is popular with Bhutanese families wanting to start a family.

  • Afternoon Tour of Thimphu

    Enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing around Thimphu. This tour includes a visit to Tamchog Lhakhang, the beautiful National Memorial Chorten, the golden Buddha Dodernma before taking in the views and enjoying the local farmers' market.

  • Chimmi Lhakhang

    Hike through lush rice fields to Chimmi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, Bhutan's favorite saint.

  • Cycling up the Pho Chhu River

    Take a morning cycling up the beautiful Pho Chhu River, famous for the White-Bellied Heron and dramatic scenery. Take a walk into the local village for a spot of tea before having a lovely picnic lunch overlooking the river before returning to Punakha.

  • Dressing up in traditional Bhutanese dress

    Anyone who works in Bhutan must wear traditional national dress, and you can have the chance to dress up for a few hours to see how it feels. The Bhutanese absolute love visitors doing it!

  • Evening Prayers at a Buddhist Monastery

    Evening prayers at a Buddhist Monastery is something you should do at least once on a tour of Bhutan. You will witness monks chanting traditional prayers, helping them prepare for meditation.

  • Evening prayers at a Buddhist Monastery

    Evening prayers at a Buddhist Monastery is something you should do at least once on a tour of Bhutan. You will witness monks chanting traditional prayers, helping them prepare for meditation.

  • Giligang Trail

    Giligang has a 300-year old temple and a wonderful way to escape other tourists and see an authentic side to Bhutan, and can be added on to a visit to the Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and Butterfly Trail.

  • Giligang Trail

    Giligang has a 300-year old temple and a wonderful way to escape other tourists and see an authentic side to Bhutan, and can be added on to a visit to the Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and Butterfly Trail.

  • Hike to Hokatsho Lake

    Bhutan is a full of excellent hiking trails waiting to be discovered, all with equally mesmerising landscapes. On this six to seven hour jungle trek, you will head to Bhutan’s largest lake, Hokatsho where you can expect sensational views.

  • Hike to Hokatsho Lake

    Bhutan is a full of excellent hiking trails waiting to be discovered, all with equally mesmerising landscapes. On this six to seven hour jungle trek, you will head to Bhutan’s largest lake, Hokatsho where you can expect sensational views.

  • Hilltop Nunnery Visit

    Visit the stunning Hilltop Nunnery and enjoy the opportunity to interact with local nuns.

  • Khansum Yulley & the Butterfly Trail

    Take the short hike up to the Khansam Yulley Temple where you can sit back in awe at the wonderful views down the Mo Chhu Valley before heading off on the one-hour Butterfly Trail, stopping off for tea in the local home.

  • Khansum Yulley & the Butterfly Trail

    Take the short hike up to the Khansam Yulley Temple where you can sit back in awe at the wonderful views down the Mo Chhu Valley before heading off on the one-hour Butterfly Trail, stopping off for tea in the local home.

  • Meet a monk your own age

    Your children can have the opportunity to meet a monk their own age. 10% of Bhutan's population are monks and they can hear stories of getting up each day before first-light for prayers and their daily routines.

  • Nalanda Buddhist College and Nobgang Walk

    This fantastic experience combines the Sangchen Nunnery, the Nalanda Buddhist College and the Nobgang Village walk which takes you from the high hills above Punakha and winds gently down to the Punakha Dzong - you approach it almost vertically!

  • Punakha Dzong

    Visit Punakha Dzong, located at the meeting point of Pho-Chu (Male river) and Mo-chu (Female river), arguably the grandest Buddhist fortress in Bhutan.

  • Punakha Dzong

    Punakha Dzong, otherwise known as the Pungtang Dechen Photrang literally means the palace of great happiness or bliss, and is the finest of its kind in Bhutan, dating from the 17th century and located on the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu Rivers.

  • Punakha Weekend Markets

    Khuruthang Saturday Vegetable Market is located in the small town next to the Punakha Dzong. On Sundays, you can visit the Wangdue Market, about a 30-minute drive away. Wander around the stalls, selling local fruit and vegetables.

  • Tea with a local family

    Visiting a local home in Bhutan is an exceptionally interesting experience given the lovely hospitable nature of its people. Try traditional butter tea, or even some locally made rice wine 'Ara'.

  • The Butterfly Trail & Rafting in Punakha

    Take the Butterfly Trail which is a one hour trek through local villages and paddy fields, stopping for tea in a local home before hiking to the Khamsum Yulley Chorten and then rafting back to the main Dzong of Punakha.

  • Try your hand at Archery

    Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and can be seen played throughout the Kingdom. Traditional bows are made from bamboo and witnessing an archery competition is an absolute highlight. We can easily arrange for you to have a go should you wish.

  • White Water Rafting

    Enjoy the thrilling white water rafting down Mo Chhu.

Vacation Ideas

  • Active Bhutan

    Bangkok, Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha, Bumdra & Paro

    from $10800 pp 11 nights

    • Impeccable and friendly service
    • Delicious breakfasts with a different flavour smoothie each morning
    • Iced water in cool boxes for every couple on the beach
  • Bhutan and Thailand Honeymoon

    Bangkok, Thimphu, Punakha, Paro & Phuket

    from $10800 pp 13 nights

    • Impeccable and friendly service
    • Delicious breakfasts with a different flavour smoothie each morning
    • Iced water in cool boxes for every couple on the beach
  • Highlights of Bhutan

    Thimphu, Punakha & Paro

    from $4300 pp 8 nights

    • Impeccable and friendly service
    • Delicious breakfasts with a different flavour smoothie each morning
    • Iced water in cool boxes for every couple on the beach
  • Walk Bhutan

    Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Druk Path Trek, Bumdra High Camp & Paro

    from $9100 pp 13 nights

    • Impeccable and friendly service
    • Delicious breakfasts with a different flavour smoothie each morning
    • Iced water in cool boxes for every couple on the beach

Location & directions

Punakha, Bhutan

The resort overlooks the Punakha valley and is surrounded by pine Forrest.

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Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation to Dhensa Punakha or take a look at our itineraries to Punakha

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