Visitors to Bhutan often say that Punakha Dzong is their favorite place in the whole country. Its beautiful setting exudes an enticing sense of calm and peacefulness. It's not surprising that in ancient times, it was known as the Druk Pungthang Dechhen Phrodang or “the palace of great happiness”.
Punakha served as Bhutan's capital for over 300 years, and the and the first king was crowned there in 1907. The Dzong was constructed in 1637-38, and was the seat of Bhutan's government until Thimphu was established as the new capital, in 1955. It stands at the confluence of two rivers -- the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and the Pho Chhu (Father River).
Punakha can be reached from Thimphu in around three hours by car. The climate there is quite warm in winter and hot in summer. You'll be able to enjoy a bustling, informal market outside Punakha Dzong. If you're there during the summer months, you'll also be able to explore Punakha Dzong. It's open to the public during these months, when the monks are in Thimphu.