Punakha Suspension Bridge – Punakha, Bhutan - Atlas Obscura

Punakha Suspension Bridge

This colorful overpass is one of Bhutan's longest suspension bridges. 


The high mountains and deep gorges of Bhutan lend themselves to suspension bridges. Punakha Suspension Bridge, which is always adorned with colorful prayer flags, is the perfect example of this.

Linking Punakha Dzong to Shengana, Samdingkha, and Wangkha villages across the Tsang Chu River (aka Po Chu), this is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan. Yet, for a roughly 520-foot-long suspension bridge, it’s surprisingly stable. The bridge offers a spectacular view of the river and valley, and the east bank is a good starting point for multi-day treks in the nearby mountains.

Traditional Bhutanese bridges make use of cantilevers, beams anchored to one bank and projecting horizontally to reach the other bank. This simple but effective structure can be upgraded by using interlocking beams.

A prime example of this is the bridge in front of Punakha Dzong. Unlike these bridges, the one in Punakha relies on cables anchored to massive cement blocks on the banks. Being suspended, the bridge does have some inbuilt flexibility that makes it swing in strong winds, but not as much as you may expect. This is due to the stabilizing cables that taper off on both ends of the bridge. The deck is made of solid planks of wood nested in the deck truss.

Know Before You Go

Punakha Bridge is only about half a mile from Punakha Dzong, but it can easily be missed, as it’s not on the main road. To find it, head north from the dzong past the cremation grounds, following the Puna Tsang Chu River, either via rural roads on the west bank or via Trashigang-Semtokha Highway.

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