Things to do in Thimphu
Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan and fourth highest capital in the world by altitude. It’s a blend of modern development with ancient traditions.
How to reach Thimphu
Thimphu is just 1.15-hour drive from Paro. If you have not booked a taxis for the entire duration of your trip, you can use private and shared taxis.
There are many spectacular places to visit in Thimpu.
Sunrise at Buddha Dordenma
“Every day a million miracles begin at sunrise!” - Eric Jerome Dickey
And to see one such, we woke up before sunrise (I know it’s difficult but trust me its worth) and make our way (via cab) to one of the largest statues of Buddha.
Atop a hill, the Buddha (Statue) overlooks Thimphu valley.
It was around 6:00 in the morning, chilling cold outside, complete quiet. Along the way, Memorial Chorten looked as pretty as a picture.
We reached in 15 minutes. From the parking area, only the face of Buddha is visible, as we climbed the stairs and reached the top, Buddha was seated on a golden meditation hall and looked magnanimous.
I turned back and entire Thimphu Valley seemed to be below me.
While exercising, I saw the sun making its way from behind the mountains and when I looked at one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world, it was shining golden.
How to reach – Its 6-7 km from Thimphu town, on the top of mount Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. Our driver cum friend lambu took us there. If you are going for sunrise, you need to book a taxi beforehand.
They will welcome you with ‘ara’ – a traditional drink of Bhutan made with rice, wheat or maze. Tell about the culture of Bhutan.
They told us how the mud houses were built in Bhutan, singing songs and dancing and also made us do the same. Showed us their traditional kitchen and garden of fertility.
Will take you on a tour of their ancient history starting from weapons used, kitchen items, the way traditional Bhutanese houses were built, temple of fertility and spices of Bhutan
At last, they will give take you to the restaurant area, make you taste delicious butter tea with muri and dance.
Again they will make you join them for dance. We made them dance too on Indian songs.
You can try your hand at the Archery as well.
Entry Fee – 300 Nu and 150 Nu for Bhutanese dresses
1. SimtokhaDzong – Dzong on top of the demon’s stomach
It the oldest Dzong in Bhutan which is believed to have built to subdue an evil spirit. As it overlooks Thimpu valleys, it was used to protect the Thimphu valley. You will get a panoramic view of the valley from here.
Dzong also houses Buddhist school of Linguistics.
No entry fees.
Time: 9am to 5 pm
How to reach: Its 5 km from the Thimpu valleys towards Paro.
2. Memorial Chorten
One of the most religious structures in Thimphu, built in the memory of the third king of Bhutan, Memorial Chorten is a stupa (white) with golden spires and bells.
A prominent landmark in the center of the city and you will definitely love its extraordinary architecture.
Approached through a small garden, It’s a place where you can sit, relax and feel the stillness of your mind.
Entry Fees – Rs. 300
Timings: 9AM – 5 PM
3. ThimphuDzong/ TashichhoDzong
It’s a secretariat building surrounded by beautiful and well-kept lawns. You will surely want to work in an office with such a beautiful interior and exterior as well.
It houses Bhutanese government, the throne room of the King of Bhutan and Bhutan’s largest Monastery.
Some km from the dzong is a point from where you can get Bird’s eye view of the Dzong and surrounding area.
Entry fee: Rs. 300
Timings :5 -6 pm Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm Sat & Sun, to 5pm winter (Nov to March)
4. Handicraft Market – Authentic Bhutanese Crafts Bazaar
For Colorful hand woven textiles, bags, mats, clothes made from Yak wool, handmade soaps, fragrances, and other decorative items you can visit this cute market (a bunch of small bamboo huts). Considering that these items are made here only, you will find them cheaper than any other place in Bhutan.
Location: Located at the center of Thimphu below Norzin Lam. Around 1.2 km from clock tower square.
Timings: 10 AM to 7 PM
5. Post Office
Have you ever heard of personalized stamps that are legally valid and can be used for sending letters? I had never!!!
Until I visited Thimphu postal office.
In 360 Nu, they make 12 personalized stamps.
There is a Museum as well which you can visit.
For visiting the museum – Rs. 150
6. Tango Buddhist Institute hike
There is a Buddhist institute at a secluded location and to reach there, you have to hike.
As they say “Its about the Journey, not the destination” –its totally true for this hike. The location is scheduled and quite, the path is well defined in the shade of the lush green forest, through oak trees and the views of snow-capped mountains – you will end up loving this nature walk. It's steep at times but you can catch your breath anytime along the way under the shade of trees and then go breathless seeing the views of snowcapped mountains (;)).
We reached the top and found this –
A group of monks was giggling outside the Monastery. We talked with them and came to know that they study English, IT and other subjects along with teachings of Buddha.
A monk at the institute showed us the museum where we were surprised to see the old guns – very big and huge and also told us that they study English, IT and other subjects along with Buddha teachings.
It started snowing when we were heading down. It felt as if nature is also happy to see us and welcoming us.
How to reach: Around 50 mins drive from Thimphu, its a 1:30 – 2-hour hike
7. Jigme dorji National Park
A stroll through the quite jungle up to a river stream. Its 2nd largest National Park of Bhutan.
How to reach: It's near the Tango Institute Hike Starting point.
8. Food by the riverside
9. ChangangkhaLhakhang: Oldest Temple in Thimphu
Perched on a ridge above Thimpu, is a 12th-century fortress-like temple and monastic school.
You can see people praying and taking rounds around the temple. Very interactive, smiling and welcoming ones.
Go to the back side of the temple, and view of Thimpu Valley will unfold in front of you. Sit there, watch the valley and setting sun and experience tranquility.
Met with these little munchkins there
How to reach – 2.5 km for the clock tower
Timings : 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
No Entry Fees
10. National ZooMotithangTakin Preserve – Rs. 300
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan that looks like having the head of the goat and body of the cow. It’s a rare type of goat-antelope living in the Himalayas.
Only Takins are kept in this preserve.
Legend: 15th-century saint concocted the curious creature after he agreed to conjure up a miracle in exchange for lunch. He then slapped the head of a goat atop a cow’s skeleton and brought this new animal to life.
Timings: 9am – 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday
Entry Fee: 300 Nu
11. Clock Tower Square: Centre of Thimphu
A clock tower covered in Bhutanese carvings surrounded by cafes and market – One of the most happening places in Thimphu. You can savor the cuisines of Bhutan here.
Concerts are also organized here, you may also encounter one.
Dochula pass (3100 m)
Feel the chill at mountain pass surrounded by the Himalayas and a place where 108 stupas were built in a symmetrical creation in the memory of soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Bhutan.
If the weather is clear and you got to see the surrounding snow-laden peaks, it's one of the most beautiful mountain passes
Location - 20 km from Thimphu
For bird's eye view of the place and a quite experience, you can visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple which is nearby. The intricate design of the temple is a marvelous example of Bhutanese art and architecture.
Druk Wangyel Cafe
If you are at Dochula pass, we will strongly recommend trying this cafe. Coziness in cold, Coffee/tea in hand and views of Himalayas - what can be more enthralling than this.
We hope it helps you making your itinerary to Thimpu.
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