This city is the heart of the country in every aspect possible. Thimphu is not only the capital city of Bhutan, but it’s also its economic hub. The capital is also home to Bhutan’s royal family along with some 100,000 local residents. Thimphu is the ideal travel destination for tourists who are looking for places to explore and want to experience strong cultural vibes with the comfort of modern amenities. It is the perfect blend of new and old. There are no skyscrapers or even tall buildings. The concrete buildings have 6 stories at most and are adorned with Bhutanese architectural designs. The city is dotted with tourist attractions and things to do: from a 17th-century fortress and a half a kilometer long road filled with Bhutanese handmade craft stalls to a 51.5 meters tall statue of Buddha.
Experience Bhutan’s serenity along vast lush valleys, breathe in crisp mountain air, indulge in finger-licking authentic local dishes and explore Thimphu in one day with the help of our One-Day in Thimphu Itinerary.
Guest post by Choi Wangmo
Blog: Book My Tour
What’s the best time to visit Thimphu?
Thimphu experiences four major seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring is a total feast for your eyes as the peach blossoms and other flowers are in full riot. Summer is mildly warm and also the monsoon season. Autumn paints the whole country golden and is also considered the best time to visit Thimphu. As Bhutan’s most popular festival; Thimphu Tshechu falls in October and attracts a huge audience from all over the country as well as from around the world. Thimphu often experiences snow during the winters.
As a travel destination, Bhutan has two main seasons – the peak season (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, and Nov) and the lean season with the remaining months. The minimum daily tariff per tourist during the peak season is set at USD 250 person per night and at USD 200 during the lean season. The fee covers accommodation, transport, a guide, food and entry fees.
a Few facts about Thimphu
Thimphu may probably be the only capital city in the world without a traffic signal or an international airport of its own. The vehicular traffic is moderated by a traffic cop. There is a very interesting story behind the city not having a single traffic light; it was so because the people felt closer to the person than the electric traffic light. And guess what? The traffic flow in Thimphu is much smoother and friendlier.
One Day in Thimphu Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Thimphu.
Bow before the mighty Buddha Dordenma
You can start the day by visiting the Buddha point and praying for an adventurous day. With the height of 51.5 meters, Buddha Dordenma is considered one of the world’s largest sitting Buddhas. The statue stands magnificently on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful city of Thimphu. It is a perfect spot to take breathtaking pictures with either the Buddha in the background or the city.
A quick glance at the 17th century fort; Tashichho Dzong
Tashichho Dzong stretches along the Thimphu River, at some 8 minutes’ drive from the town. The fort currently houses the office of the King of Bhutan, government administrative offices, and a larger part of the fortress is used as a religious center for the district monk body. The fortress is a perfect instance of Bhutanese architecture that showcases the unique skills of Bhutanese artisans. Legend has it that not a single iron nail has been used in constructing the fortress and not just this fortress but almost every fort in the country was built in the same manner. If you are traveling around October, you will be able to catch a glimpse of Thimphu Tshechu or the masked dance festival which attracts thousands of onlookers every year.
Shop on Craft Bazaar
The Craft Bazaar is located along the Norzin Lam consisting of a total of 80 shops built from bamboos. The whole bazaar sells handicrafts from local artists. It is a wonderful souvenir shopping experience for people who love handmade gifts.
Try Ema Datshi with red rice for lunch
Ema Datshi is the national dish of Bhutan (not officially, though), and the Bhutanese consume it on a daily basis. This is a dish made entirely of chilies which are slow cooked in gooey silky cheese sauce. The Bhutanese pair it with red rice. One simply cannot leave Bhutan without trying this unusual delicacy. If you are the kind of person who does not enjoy hot chilies, just make sure you let the cook know and he will tone down the heat for you. You will be able to get the dish in many restaurants around the town.
Meet the Takin
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. The takin preserve is located about 15 minutes from town at Motithang. The center was first built as a mini zoo, but this turned out to be against the teachings of Buddhism and also not in line with the GNH philosophy. After that, the animals were sent out into the forest on their own. They were later brought back to captivity after they started wandering the streets in search of food. They are well looked after and also well fed. The best time to see them is after lunch, since during that time all the animals climb down for their feeding time.
Bhutan Postal Museum
The Postal Museum is located right in the heart of the town on Chang Lam. The museum showcases ancient postal artifacts from the postal era and flaunts a plethora of stamps that narrate the evolution of communication in the country. A tiny stamp shop right next to the museum allows the visitors to customize and print their photos as stamps to take home as souvenirs.
Where to stay in Thimphu, Bhutan?
City Hotel, Thimphu
Located on Chang Lam, Thimphu city hotel is situated at a prime location and also conveniently within a walking distance from a number of major tourist attractions around the city. The hotel also provides excellent services.
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