Thimphu (alt. 2400m/7875ft) - The capital town
of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu
is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside
ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city,
Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants,
expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character
in its architectural style.
Places of interest in and around Thimphu
This stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His
Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as
Father of modern Bhutan.
paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into
This dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low
ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. The Institute for Language and
Cultural Studies is located here. The most noteworthy artistic feature
of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings
behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are
preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and
ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing
blocks for prayer flags.
Institute for Zorig Chusum
Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the
Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts
of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills
taught at the school.
Traditional Medicine Institute
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional
medicines. The rich herbal medicines made up from medicinal plants
abundant in the Kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute
is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The
complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one
can still walk around and view it from outside.
The Folk Heritage Museum (Phelchey Toenkhyim)
It is dedicated to connect people to the Bhutanese rural past through
exhibits, demonstrations, educational programmes and documentation of
rural life. The principal exhibit in the museum is a restored three
storey traditional rammed mud and timber house, which dates back to the
mid 19th century. The design and form of house is that of an average
household in the Wang area during that era. The age of structure
demonstrates the durability and performance of the building materials.
From ground to top floor, household objects, typical domestic tools and
equipments that would have been used by a family during that period are
put on display. The museum is also developing some of the native trees
and plants that were used for various domestic purposes in the rural
National Textile Museum
With the opening of Textile Museum, under the patronage of Her Majesty
the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden, Bhutanese textile have reached new heights
as one of the most visible distinct art form. The textile museum has
opened its exhibition on six major themes - warp pattern weaves, weft
pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile
arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection. The
crowns of Bhutan's Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version
of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family can
be found in the museum. The goal of the museum is to gradually become a
center for textile studies that will carry out documentation, research
and studies on Bhutanese textiles.
Also know as "fortress of the glorious religion",
was initially built in 1641 and later rebuilt in its present form by
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1965. The Dzong houses, main secretariat
building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of
Bhutan. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the
other side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months,
the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in
A wide assortment of colorful, hand woven textiles and other craft
products is available for purchase at the government-run Handicrafts
Emporium and many smaller crafts shops around the town.
Every Saturday and Sunday most of Thimphu's scant population
and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where
weekend market is held. It is an interesting place to visit and provides
opportunity to mingle with the local people.
It is a fortress like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge
above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th
century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from
Tibet. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11
heads. From temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu
Organised on Tuesday and Wednesday in Centenary Farmer’s market, under patronage of Department of cottage & small industry and in collaboration with the department of culture, tourism council and the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives, this market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts thus contributing in promotion, protection and preservation of traditional arts.
Junghi Handmade Paper Factory
Junghi Paper factory comprises of two enterprises ; the unit in Thimphu produces traditional handmade paper from natural plants mainly from ‘Daphne’ plant species which is insect-resistant. The other unit in Jimina, 22 km from the centre Thimphu town, recycles waster papers. The traditional handmade papers are widely used for religious scripts, packing materials, hand-carry bags, lampshades, envelopes, calendars . The paper looks a lot like Japanese washi, and in fact a lot of Bhutanese paper is exported to Japan also.
The present structure was built in 1960s and although lacking the charm of many of the older temples, Zangthoo pelri still possesses some impressive murals and art treasures and is worthy of a visit. The site of the temple was a former battle ground, and the temple was constructed there in order to pacify energies.
Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang)
Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
Simply Bhutan Museum
Simply Bhutan is an exclusive project under the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF), built to offer a unique experience to its visitors. It is a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people. A distinctive feature of Simply Bhutan is that it fully operated by young people and job seekers, who receive here on the job training in basic business & management skills, customer care and other spheres of life. The fund generated through Simply Bhutan is utilized to run many of the youth development programmes for vulnerable and disadvantaged youth under YDF. Hence as a visitor, while you get to experience and enjoy this special place, you are also helping to ‘make a better today’, ‘a brighter tomorrow’, for the youth of Bhutan.
Drubthob Goema / Zilukha Nunnery
Perched on a promontory, overlooking picturesque Trashichhoedzong and Golf course, it is the only nunnery in capital known as Zilukha Anim Dratsang, once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field (In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas). You may interact here with some of the nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.
Excursions around Thimphu Valley
This monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in the 12th century
and the present building was built in the 15th century by the "Divine
Madman", Lama Drukpa Kunley. In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal
visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation
helped ensure the defeat of an invading Tibetan army. The head Lama, a
descendent of Lama Drukpa Kunley presented the goemba to Shabdrung, who
carved a sandalwood statue of Chenrezig which he installed in the
monastery. The picturesque three-storey tower and several surrounding
buildings were built in the 18th century by the eighth Desi, Druk Rabgye
and Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof in the 19th century.
Situated north of Thimphu, one way it takes about 30 minutes drive and
one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach the
This monastery was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620. A silver
chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Shabdrung's father. The
goemba is situated about half an hour walk from Dodena (alt. 2,600m).
The trail commences by crossing a traditional wooden bridge that spans
the Thimphu Chhu, then climbs steeply to the monastery. Being the place
where the Shabdrung spent many years in meditation, Cheri today has
numerous hermitages and small temples located on its slopes, commanding
spectacular views. The one way walk to the monastery is approx 4.5 km,
taking about 2 hours.
t is a 5 km uphill walk from Motithang. The monastery was built in 15th
century by Shagcha Rinchen who introduced the Drukpa Kagyupa school in
Bhutan in the 13th century. It was one time one of the richest
monasteries in the country.
It is an interesting three to four hours round trip walk around Dochula pass, offering fascinating view of Bhutan Himalayas. From 108 chortens and mani wall at Dochula pass, the road ascends gradually into white, red and pink rhododendron forests for about one and a half hour with some steep sections before branching left to Lungchuzekha Goemba. The highlight of this excursion is beautiful forest, spectacular mountain views and monastery.
Takin Preserve, Motithang
The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. 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. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
Botanical Gardens, Serbithang
Located on lush hillside about 10km from the city, the gardens offer a peaceful and relaxing environment to spend a few hours. Botanists will find the wide selection of indigenous trees and plants of interest.
Located on the banks of the river (near the city stadium), this 5.6 acres of parkland offer a pleasant and relaxing environment to stroll or to sit and watch the river flow by.
This sacred lhakhang is about 1 km from the main town, built on a cliff, just like the Tiger’s Nest in Paro. The visit to the temples provides an opportunity to feel and see the great work of ancient Buddhist legends. It is believed that there use to a lake below the lhakhang but now one can found only a marshy area.
Sangaygang - Wangditse loop
Drive to Sangaygang view point, situated at an elevation of 2685m and presenting wonderful view of Thimphu valley from the hillside below the telecommunications tower. From here commences approx two hours walk to Sangayang – Wangditse loop. The trail leads through ubiquitous prayer flags amidst beautiful view of Thimphu valley. After a short and abrupt hike, take the side footpath to right and thereon the trail gets gentler and easier. Above the trail, you’ll also find apple orchard and few farm house. There after the trail drops down gently through oak, blue pine and rhododendron until you reach to Wangditse monastery. This monastery was founded in 1750 and later totally rebuilt in 2016. The inner chapel houses a two-storey statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. En route, there are excellent views north towards the Samteling Palace, home to the fourth King. The walking tail ends back at Sangaygang view point.