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Guide Stories: Kinley from Punakha, Bhutan

Bhutanese guide Kinley tells us his story of guiding visitors across his home country and what you should experience on your own journey there.

The riverside dzong in Punakha.
The riverside dzong in Punakha

Originally from the town of Punakha in western Bhutan, tour guide Kinley now travels to each corner of the country while teaching travellers about the Bhutanese landscape and culture. He tells us his story.

“Punakha valley is located at an average elevation of 1200 metres above sea level, with a pleasant climate of warm winters and hot summers. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1995, so the valley is very rich in history and ancient monuments. Punakha Dzong [Bhutanese for fort] is something I find immensely fascinating, so I take every one of my guests to this magical palace of happiness. It always makes me feel proud.

“Bhutan’s unique cultural and traditional values, the country’s pristine environment and the developing philosophy of  Gross National Happiness all make my country very special and unique to every visitor.

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“I love taking my guests around the Punakha valley because of its beautiful landscape and rich political history. The stunning dzong is dramatically located between the male – Pho Chhu – and female – Mo Chhu – rivers. You can also hike through the paddy fields and village to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility, which is one of my favourite sites in the valley.

“As a tour guide, I always make sure I create wonderful memories for every group I get to lead.  One ‘wow’ moment as a guide was few years ago when I successfully accompanied an 89-year-old lady to Tiger’s Nest Monastery at the top of the mountain.  As I saw her tears rolling, I couldn’t stop myself from hugging her and whispered ‘Yeah! You did It.’ into her ear.

One ‘wow’ moment as a guide was few years ago when I successfully accompanied an 89-year-old lady to Tiger’s Nest Monastery at the top of the mountain.

“Since my childhood days, I have wanted to travel to meet people from different corners of the world. I was interested in exchanging culture and local beliefs. Later, I realised that as a tour guide, I would have the opportunity to get closer to this passion.

“Today, I am proud to be a tour guide who passionately helps clients explore Bhutan. The thing I like most about being a guide is travelling the country while meeting new people with different cultural backgrounds.

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Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility, in the Punakha valley

“I personally feel that every place in Bhutan is beautiful. But aside from trekking into the mountains, Bumthang is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful places, and one that shouldn’t be missed while you’re here.

“Bumthang is located in the central part of Bhutan and is home to many old temples and monasteries, with the folk stories of Guru Rinpochey [the founder of Tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism in Bhutan] from the eighth century.

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Experience authentic local life by staying at a farmhouse in Bumthang.

“There are many exciting experiences visitors can have in Bhutan, but one simple and authentic experience I recommend is the farmhouse home stay. This gives visitors quality time interacting with a Bhutanese family, while experiencing the local lifestyle of Bhutan. This is where visitors get to feel and experience the tangible and intangible culture, and the traditions and customs of Bhutan.”