Bhutan is famous for its beautiful architectural design in the world and Thimphu – capital and largest city of kingdom Bhutan is no exception. Despite being the Capital, it is the only capital city in the world with No airport. The city is located in the valley of the eastern Himalayas surrounded by the river Thimphu Chho. It is the third-highest world capital located at a high altitude. As you enter the city, you can see the combination of both western and traditional Bhutanese culture, beautiful architecture of buildings, colorful wall paintings, clean and bustling streets with some traffic, warm welcoming of friendly local people everywhere. Thimphu is a unique destination to explore in Bhutan. Here is my checklist for Top places to visit in Thimphu:
- 1 #1. National Memorial Chorten
- 2 #2. Big Buddha View point (Buddha Dordenma Statue)
- 3 If you are visiting Bhutan From India Read about how to enter Bhutan from India
- 4 #4. Motithang Takin Preserve
- 5 #5. BBS Tower View Point
- 6 #6. The National Folk Heritage Museum
- 7 #7. School of Traditional Arts and Crafts (Zoring Chusum)
- 8 #8. Visit to National Library
- 9 #9. Traditional Hand Made Paper Factory
- 10 #10.Tashi Chho Dzong
- 11 #11. Simtokha Dzong
- 12 #12. Visit to Handicraft Bazar
- 13 #13. Roam on the streets of Norzim Lam area
- 14 Other Thimphu Sightseeing Places:
- 15 How to Reach Thimphu:
- 16 Budget Hotels in Thimphu:
- 17 Getting Around:
- 18 Travel Tips and Etiquette:
- 19 Bhutan Travel Tips:
- 20 Recommended Thimphu 3 days Itinerary:
#1. National Memorial Chorten
This Chorten was built in 1974, by the queen Phuntsho Choden Wangchuk in the memory of her royal son the third Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Wangchuk. It is the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan. It is an important place for worship for the people of Thimphu as well as from the other parts of the country.
Throughout the day people circumambulate the Chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray at a small shrine inside the gate. You can go inside the butter lamp room and can lighten some butter lamps.It is one of the top tourist attractions in Thimphu.
#2. Big Buddha View point (Buddha Dordenma Statue)
This giant gigantic statue is located atop a hill of kuensel phodrong nature park overlooking to southern Thimphu. It is one the most iconic landmark of Thimphu and measures a height of 52 meters. It houses over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, made of bronze and gilded in gold. It is one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world. So don’t miss these top places to visit in Thimphu even though it remains in Cloud!
The statue is so big that it can be seen anywhere from Thimphu and on a clear day you can have a panoramic view of the entire Thimphu city from here. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha.
Visiting Hours: Winter: 9 AM to 5 PM/ Summer: 8 AM to 6 PM/Lunch break: 12 PM to 1 PM
If you are visiting Bhutan From India Read about how to enter Bhutan from India
#3. Changangkha Lhakhang Monastery
It is the oldest temple in thimphu built in the 12th century located on the hill. It is a popular temple attracting a regular procession of pilgrims and new parents seeking auspicious names for their newborn babies or blessings for their young children. You can meet so many cute and little children with their parents for blessings.
From the temple, you can have a bird eye view of the entire Thimphu city. As this Place is not known by many, It is an offbeat Place to visit in Bhutan.
Also Read: Best Places to Visit in Paro in 2 days
#4. Motithang Takin Preserve
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. It is worthwhile taking the time to see this weird looking animal. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas.
Some years ago the fourth king decided that a zoo was not in keeping with Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions, and it was disbanded. The animals were released into the wild but they wandered around the streets of Thimphu looking for food, and the only solution was to put them back into natural captivity. It is now one of the top tourist attractions. The best time to see them is early morning when they gather near the fence to feed.
Entry Fee: INR 100/Person
Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM daily
#5. BBS Tower View Point
You can see the beautiful view of Thimphu from Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) Tower, high above the town located just a few miles from the Takin reserve.
#6. The National Folk Heritage Museum
Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck established in 2001; the museum portrays the lifestyle of Bhutanese material culture and way of life in the olden days. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three-storied, 19th-century traditional house.
The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. It houses artifacts from rural households and displays a collection of typical household objects, tools, and equipment. You can also witness the demonstrations of the traditional way of extracting oil, brewing Ara (rice beer-local alcoholic drink), roasting rice, and pounding rice within the museum premises.
The museum houses one restaurant also, where you can taste the best authentic Bhutanese dishes both for vegetarian and non-vegetarian. It is one of the most visiting Places in Thimphu.
Visiting Hours: 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM on weekdays [except Govt holidays],10:30 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturdays and 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM on Sundays.
Entry Fee: INR 50/Person
#7. School of Traditional Arts and Crafts (Zoring Chusum)
This institute is commonly known as the painting school where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts which is Bhutan’s cultural heritage. Students specialize in painting (furniture, painted religious pictures usually on canvas), woodcarving (masks, statues, and bowls), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes), and statue making (clay). The craft demonstrations are a photographers’ dream and I was so much impressed with the skill and discipline of the young students.It is one of the best tourist Places in Bhutan according to me.
Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 12 AM, 2 Pm to 3.30 PM on weekdays, Saturday: 10 AM to 12 AM
Entry Fee: INR 100/Person
#8. Visit to National Library
It was established in 1967 for the purpose of preservation and promotion of ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. It is located near the folk heritage museum and school of traditional arts and crafts. It houses an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts.
For visitors, main attraction is only the traditional Bhutanese architecture of the building.
#9. Traditional Hand Made Paper Factory
This is not the most visited sightseeing place in Thimphu and avoided by visitors mostly. It is also known as Jungshi (Natural) paper factory which uses traditional methods to produce authentic Bhutanese paper. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne tree and the Dhekap tree in the manufacture of traditional paper. You can observe the entire process from soaking and boiling the bark to sorting, crushing, pulping, layering, pressing, drying.
You can buy the handmade papers, greeting cards, notebooks, painted papers, and other items from the showroom of the paper factory as souvenirs.
#10.Tashi Chho Dzong
Tashi Chho Dzong is must visit place in Thimphu city. It is a Buddhist Monastery and fortress located on the west bank of Wang chhu river, surrounded by gardens and well-kept lawns.
Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat, and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. This is one of the prominent landmarks in Bhutan.
Since the Dzong is a high-security zone area, is daily open only between 5 PM to 6 PM [Mon-Fri] and 8 AM-6 PM [sat & Sun] for visitors. You can witness the flag-lowering ceremony in the evening.
#11. Simtokha Dzong
It is located 5 km from Thimphu city, on the way to Do Chula pass built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The name “Simtokha” means “Atop a Demon” and the legend associated with it tells that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region. It is the oldest fortress of Bhutan and one of the top places to visit in Bhutan.
The dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddha’s, deities, and religious figures, all carved and painted in exquisite detail. It houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies.
#12. Visit to Handicraft Bazar
If you are a shopaholic, you can visit the authentic handicraft bazaar in Thimphu, located below the Norzim lam area. The traditional bamboo hut styled shops sell Bhutanese art and craft products at a reasonable price.
You can buy paintings, bags, handmade papers, masks, traditional attires and so on. It is a great place to buy souvenirs also.
#13. Roam on the streets of Norzim Lam area
This is the most happening and vibrant area of Thimphu city. Walk on streets, visit pubs, eat at fancy restaurants and spend a good time sitting near the clock tower (When I was there, live Karaoke happened at the clock tower).
I always enjoy people watching and an early morning walk; it is the great place for it. Norzim Lam seems lively during weekends.
Other Thimphu Sightseeing Places:
- Centenary Farmer’s Market: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the weekend market is held in the capital Thimphu. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products. It is the largest domestic market in Bhutan.
- Visit the local post office. The local post office has a large collection of stamps which are kept for sale. The special feature of the post office is that you can get a postage stamp made with your own photo inscribed on it and these stamps can be used for postage purposes as well.
- Zilukha Nunnery: It is the biggest nunnery in Bhutan.You can see many nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels in nunnery.From here they get the education and dedicate their lives to serve the society.
These were all about Top 15 Places to visit in Thimphu, Bhutan which you can cover in 3 days.I know 3 days are less to visit Thimphu, but still, you can visit all must-see places in Thimphu in 3 days.
How to Reach Thimphu:
Paro airport is the nearest airport. Thimphu is 50 km away from Paro town. Another option is to fly to Bagdogra airport, West Bengal, India, then take a road trip via Pheuntsholing.
Budget Hotels in Thimphu:
There are so many Budget Hotels in Thimphu available at INR 1500-2000/night. I had stayed at Hotel Tandin for INR 2200/night for 3 people at the Norzim Lam area. You can directly book the hotels from Bhutan hotels and Tourism Bhutan. Also, almost all the hotels provide free Wi-Fi connectivity all over Bhutan.
Local taxis are available for sightseeing in Thimphu. They will charge you approx. INR 1500-2000 per day.
Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu). 1 INR = 1 Nu. Indian denominations up to INR 500 are accepted in transactions throughout Bhutan.
Travel Tips and Etiquette:
- Bhutan is Buddhist country; littering, smoking, playing games are strictly prohibited inside the Dzongs/monasteries.
- Photography inside Lhakhang and Dzong is prohibited.It is permitted in the courtyards and outside temple.
- Always wear appropriate clothes. Avoid the shorts and sleeveless.
- Don’t cover your head with the Cap/dupatta/scarf inside the Dzongs/Lhakhang.
- When pass by chortens,mani walls or prayer flag, pass by to the left or clockwise.
- Apply lot of Sunscreen lotion if you are visiting Bhutan in summer, as it may give you sunburn.
- Always carry water bottles with you; you might walk a lot at every sightseeing place.
- Ask permission before taking a person’s photo and respect their decision if they decline.
Bhutan Travel Tips:
- If you enjoy the city vibes, I recommend staying in this beautiful city for 2-3 Nights to explore it completely.
- If you are backpacker, suggest to travel in Group on sharing basis as it is one of the expensive country to travel.
- Always check the festival dates while planning your travel to Bhutan. Festivals shows unique,colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience.check the dates from Tourism Bhutan.
Recommended Thimphu 3 days Itinerary:
Day-1: Reach to Thimphu and rest if you reach via pheuntsholing.
Day-2: Thimphu local Sightseeing for whole day.
Day-3: Hike to Tango/Cherry Monastery and evening free for leisure.
Day-4: Visit any remaining sightseeing attractions and Transfer to Punakha/Paro.
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