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.

Tourist attraction in and around Thimphu

Centenary Farmers’ Market
The centenary farmers’ market was inaugurated to celebrate the monarchy’s centenary reign. It is a good place to visit to see the wide range of Bhutanese goods and vegetable market. It is open from Friday afternoon to Sunday.

Changangkha Lhakhang
Situated on a small hill overlooking the Thimphu valley the monastery was built in the 13th century by Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. Children born in Thimphu are taken to this temple because it is considered the spiritual home of the children born in Chang valley.

Names such as Tandin and Sonam are given from this temple to new born babies taken for blessings from the protector deity Tamdrin.

The central statue in the temple is Avaloketesvara, Buddha of compassion, in his manifestation with 11 heads, a thousand hands and eyes; it is built with bronze and plated with gold.

Dechen Phodrang
At the end of Gaden Lam is the Dechen Phodrang, the site of Thimphu’s original dzong. Since 1971 it has been the state monastic school, where an eight-year course to almost 500 monk students is provided. The 12 century paintings in the monastery’s Guru Lhakhang have been restored and the upper floor features a large figure of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal as well as a goenkhang (chapel dedicated to protective deities and only men are allowed inside it). Dechen Phodrang literally means palace of the great bliss.

On a clear day a panoramic view of the Bhutanese Himalayas can be seen from here. The 108 chortens built by Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to honor His Majesty the Fourth King in 2003 is one of the main attractions there. The Druk Wangyal Chorten which stands on the crest of Dochula overlooking the unique spiral of 108 chortens was also built by the queen mother. More than half an hour drive will take you there.

Dochula pass is 3,050 meters abobe sea-level and the first high pass in the western region which is 23 kilometers from Thimphu on the way to Punakha. It is marked by large array of prayer flags.

Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point)
It is one of the most happening points in Thimphu. It is locally named Buddha Point but the actual name is Kuensel Phodrang. It is called the Buddha point because the largest statue of Buddha in the country sits there. The 51.5 meter bronze statue is three storied with several chapels. The body of Buddha is filled with 125000 smaller statues of Buddha. The well paved road leading to the Buddha is mostly used for drives, cycling, jogging and walk apart from those who go there to pay homage to Buddha. The night view of Thimphu from this point is ravishing and magical.

Memorial Chorten
The chorten was consecrated in the memory of the Third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck on July 28, 1974, following his unexpected death while travelling outside the country.

The whitewashed chorten has four stone snowlines guarding the four corners. It is a very popular religious monument in the city and the sight of elderly people circumambulating around the chorten is a common during the day and night. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

National Institute of Traditional Medicine
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine is a training centre for medical practitioners. Herbal medicines are prepared and dispensed here. Bhutan has rich tradition of medicine based on natural remedies derived mainly from plants, earth and some animals. The institute collects medicinal plants from remote corners of Bhutan’s Himalayan region such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana.

National Library of Bhutan
With extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly block-printed format, the library contains works of several hundred years old literary treasures of Bhutan. It also has a small collection of foreign books. The library has texts relevant to Mahayana Buddhism and a rich collection of lithographs from whence scriptures and prayer flags were printed in the old days.

Takin Preserve
The preserve houses the Takin, a unique, endangered species found only in Bhutan, Nepal, China and Burma. Bhutan has chosen it as the national animal due to its significance in the country’s religious and cultural history.

Tashichho Dzong Fortress
One of the popular and biggest landmarks in Thimphu, the Tashichhodzong stands tall two kilometers away from the main town. It is the main secretariat building which houses the offices of the King and the Throne Room. The central monastic body and some government ministries are also located in the dzong. It is the summer resident of the monk body, the winter being in Punakha Dzong.

The Folk Heritage Museum
A three-storeyed building dating back to the mid 19th century, it offers us a glimpse of a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse and rural past with millstones dating back to more than 150 years, traditional kitchen garden and hot stone bath.

The National Textile Museum
The National Textile Museum showcases a wide range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles including the crowns and attire used by the Monarchs and members of the Royal Family. It also introduces visitors to major weaving techniques and local style of dress.

Zangto Pelri Lhakhang
It is said to be a replica of Guru Rinpoche’s celestial abode and was built in the 1990s by the Late Dasho Aku Tongmi, who composed the national anthem.