A short drive from Paro is Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan's oldest and most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down the left foot of a giant ogress who was thwarting the establishment of Buddhism into Tibet.
Phobjikha is a bowl-shaped glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country.
The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. Because the dzongs and the most important temples are in the large Chokhor valley, it is commonly referred to as the Bumthang valley. There are two versions of the origin of the name Bumthang.
The charming town of Paro lies on the banks of the Paro (or Pa) Chhu, just a short distance northwest of the imposing Paro Dzong. The main street, only built in 1985, is lined with colourfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants, though these appear under threat as the town grows and multistorey concrete buildings continue to propagate.
Upper Paro Valley
The Paro valley extends west all the way to the peaks on the Tibetan border, though the road only goes as far as Sharna Zampa, near Drukgyel Dzong, about 20km beyond Paro. En route it passes half a dozen resorts, lovely rural scenery and some of Bhutan's most famous sights.
Gom Kora is an extraordinarily picturesque temple 13km north of Chazam. The lush green fields, the red robes of the monks and the yellow roof of the temple combine with colourful Buddhist carvings and the rushing river to create an idyllic scene. The correct name for the site is Gomphu Kora.