A small locality in Zhemgang, the home of Khengpas
Right next to the Royal Manas National Park, which was Bhutan’s first protected area
Diverse flaura and fauna
A famous destination for local group retreats (especially for team building)
How to get there
Take the route from Gelephu via India (Currently not an option because of the pandemic) – 5 hours
Take the road from Gelephu to Panbang via Gomphu – 8 hours
List of things to do in Panbang
Majestic twin waterfalls
Visit the amazing twin waterfall, that looks like a work of art (Promise I’m not exaggerating). The waterfall is located next to the Gomphu-Panbang highway.
Interact with the locals over some drinks in town and experience the genuine life of the community. The tiny “town” has a few places where you can enjoy your alcohol with snacks and experience the authenticity of sitting on the floor while doing so.
Our raft and guide near the Manas river
Go rafting with the River Guides of Panbang. They offer many packages with various levels of difficulty so you can choose to take on the challenging rapids or go on a relaxing trip with small waves. Who knows, you might end up having a rapid named after you. That is, if you land up falling into the river. (Don’t worry too much though, they provide life jackets!). On a more serious note, you definitely should not skip out on this activity; the rapids are exciting and you can enjoy the incredible view during the stretches of calm water. The price is on the higher side but it’s totally worth it.
A mural at the lodge we stayed in
Visit the Royal Manas National Park, at a distance of around 12 km from Panbang. Home to over thousands of plants and animal species, the park also has several hiking trails and safaris.
Tents at the Marang Jungle Camp
Stay at a lodge in the area; we chose Marang Jungle Camp located near the Marangdut tributary of Drangmechhu. The Camp has tents so you can experience the outdoor life. But they also have modern washroom and shower facilities so you don’t have to compromise on your comfort. A kind of “glamping”, you could say. For those who’d prefer not to camp, there are other hotels and lodges available.
Buy local bamboo products. Khengpas are known for Tsharzo – the art of cane and bamboo work. Panbang is not an exception to this – they create and sell many bamboo items including Bangchung (Container used as rice bowl), Palang (Tube for storing alcohol) and many more.
Do not skip out on drinking Tongba. The millet-based alcoholic drink is served in bamboo containers with bamboo straws. You’d have to taste it first-hand because any attempt to describe it might not do it justice.
Panbang is definitely a must visit for anyone looking for a long road trip or a teambuilding retreat with colleagues.