Places to Visit in Thimphu

Bhutan, the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful as well as the happiest places one earth! Located in the western-central region of this charming country, is its capital city called Thimphu. Reaching a lofty height of 7,357-8,688ft, this imposing city is often esteemed as the most wonderful places to visit in Bhutan. Yes, believe it or not, but Thimphu could be your next favourite destination in the ‘Last Himalayan Kingdom’!

Being a high-seated city, it is bestowed with the miraculous beauty of the mighty Himalayas. Romancing it is the alluring Raidāk River that could make time stand still! Adding more, there is a unique mix of Bhutanese traditions and modernisation prevailing in its ambience. Having said so much about this city, let’s have a look at the most beautiful places to visit in Thimphu:

Trashi Chho Dzong

While browsing or toggling through the list of places to visit in Thimphu, Trashi Chho Dzong would always stand out as the best! Located only 2km away from Bhutan’s capital city, this historic fortress was built 1641; post this, it underwent a series of renovations until 1962.

Also called the ‘Fortress of the Glorious Religion’, Trashi Chho Dzong is seated alongside the banks of Wang Chhu River. Also serving as Bhutan’s main secretariat that houses the throne of Bhutan’s king, this historical landmark is characterised by immaculate setting and unique Bhutanese architecture.

Visitors’ Timings:

Monday – Friday: 05:30AM – 06:30PM

Saturday – Sunday: 08:00AM – 06:00PM

Winter: 05:30/08:00AM – 05:30PM

Entry Fee: Nu 300 (equivalent to INR 300)

Changangkha Lhakhang

Seated atop a captivating headland, Changangkha Lhakhang is among those tourist places in Thimphu that boasts of offering breath-taking views of the entire Thimphu Valley! A 12th century Buddhist temple, this sacred site is often visited by parents seeking blessings of Tamdrin; its main deity, for their new-born child.

Serene, tranquil, and divine, one can find the holy metal wheel throughout the whitewashed exterior of Changangkha Lhakhang. Stepping inside, visitors could admire and adore its spectacular murals portraying ancient tales and folklores. The ambience, aura and essence of Changangkha Lhakhang surely makes it a must visit place to see in Thimphu!

Visitors’ Timings: 06:00AM – 06:00PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

Tango Goemba

Situated within a proximity to the Cheri Mountain, Tango Goemba is a pious Buddhist Monastery in the Land of Thunder Dragons. Located around 14km from the capital city of Bhutan, this devout monastery serves as an esteemed place to learn about Buddhist culture. Studded with meditation caves, quarters for the monks and quaint chapel, the monastery truly makes it for an utmost spiritual centre where visitors can seek mental solace and peace of mind.

Built in Dzong style of architecture and accessible via an enthralling short hike, Tango Goemba showcases unique curved walls and prayer wheels with engraved slates. The monastery also hosts an annual Buddhist festival called ‘Yarney’, which is celebrated on the 6th month of Bhutanese calendar.

Visitors’ Timing: 07:00 – 11:00 AM

Entry Fee: No Charge

National Memorial Chorten

Thimphu Chorten; also known as the Memorial Stupa or the National Memorial Chorten, was built in the honour of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, in 1947. Serving as a major landmark, this Tibetan styled stupa is also idolized as one of most visible religious structures in Thimphu.

The chorten is followed by an exterior gate that symbolizes three protective bodhisattvas – symbol of compassion or the ‘Avalokiteśvara’, the symbol of knowledge or the ‘Mañjuśrī’, and the symbol of power or the ‘Vajrapāṇi’. Stepping inside Thimphu Chorten, one could see intricately carved annexes with livelier displays of mandalas and statures along with the king’s shrine. A collective of wooden carvings, teachings of Drupka Lineage, teachings of Lama Gongdu, and numerous ancient paintings makes Memorial Stupa one of the most serene places to visit in Thimphu.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM

Entry Fee:

Foreign Nationals: Nu 300 (foreign national paying minimum daily package of US$ 200-250 gets free entry)

Students: Nu 150 (students’ ID proof is mandatory)

Infants: Free Entry (till 5 years)

National Library of Bhutan

For those who want to know more about the history and culture of Bhutan, they must visit the National Library of Bhutan. Established in 1967 under the advocacy of HM Queen Ashi Phuntso Choden within Tashichodzong, the library initially had a brief collection of precious texts. However, as the book collection started growing, the entire library was shifted to Changgangkha in Thimphu.

One of the most intriguing features of Bhutan’s National Library is that it has a large collection of books that comprises of handmade paper that are either preserved within wooden pieces or wrapped in silk. In addition to books, one can also find various sizes and shapes of blocks that were used to print these books.

Library Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM (Only Weekdays)

Entry Fee: No Charge

Buddha Point

Buddha Dordenma, popularly called the Buddha Point is one of the most excellent as well as spiritual establishments you would come across while entering Thimphu! A 51m tall statue of Lord Buddha, this Dordenma is made of pure steel and gilded with gold.

Around Buddha Point, one can also find almost 1,25,00 miniature forms of Lord Buddha ranging between 10-12 inches. All these statues are crafted with bronze and gilded with pure gold. On a visit to this mammoth structure, one could surely feel a unique sense of calmness, sanctity and spirituality. Well, all these make this sacred point one of the most serene places to visit in Thimphu.

Visitors’ Timing: Throughout the Day

Entry Fee: No Charge

Dechen Phodrang

Known to be Thimphu’s original dzong, the Dechen Phodrang or the ‘Palace of Great Bliss’ is also one of the must visit tourist place in Thimphu. A monastery that houses around 500 disciples of Buddhism, this monastery is also an acclaimed centre to learn Buddhism and its religious importance.

Located towards the north of Bhutan’s capital city, Dechen Phodrang is stacked with ancient artefacts, paintings, scriptures, and numerous other religious elements. Though some of these paintings and artefacts date back to the 12th century, they are very well-preserved within this monastery.

Visitors’ Timing: 08:00AM – 07:00PM (All Days)

Entry Fee: No Charge

Simply Bhutan Museum

Have you ever heard about a living museum? Or, how often do you get to visit one? Well, if you are planning to visit Thimphu, you would surely get to visit one of the most well-maintained and traditional living museums in the world known as ‘Simply Bhutan’. Regulated by the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF), this living museum is also a studio that showcase the rich cultural heritage of the country.

The fact that Simply Bhutan is run entirely by young minds and job seekers, who usually receive training in different spheres of life, makes it a unique place to visit in Thimphu. To add some fun quotient, visitors to this museum, can also rent out traditional attires, try archery, buy souvenirs, and several other traditional activities in Simply Bhutan.

Visitors’ Timing:

Summer: 09:00AM – 05:00PM

Winter: 10:00AM – 04:00PM

Entry Fee:

Adults (Foreigner): Nu 150 (equivalent to INR 150)

Adults (Local): Nu 50 (equivalent to INR 50)

Students: Nu 25 (equivalent to INR 25)

Phajoding Monastery

This holy monastery is among the most sacred Thimphu places to visit. Dating back to the 13th century, Phajoding Monastery was founded by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, a Tibetan Lama who came to Bhutan to preach Buddhism in the Last Himalayan Kingdom. The monastery is also famed as a pious site for mediation among the devotees and religious preachers.

On a visit to Phajoding Monastery, one would surely feel its rich essence and spirituality. It is in fact, often revered as place of compassion, belonging, refuge, and hope. The monastery serves as a religious abode to underprivileged boys who cannot afford their basic requirements. Summing up all these, the Phajoding Monastery makes it to the list of most sacred places to see in Thimphu.

Visitors’ Timing: 08:00AM – 06:00PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

Cheri Gompa

Almost the entire landscape of Thimphu is dotted with pious monasteries; Chagri or the Cheri Monastery is one among them! Located around 15km from the centre of Bhutan’s capital city, this ancient monastery was founded by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche in 1620.

To reach this holy site, visitors must undertake an hours’ steep climb across a captivating hill. The hike usually begins from a point called Dodina and takes visitors through a bridge the gushing Wang Chhu River. On crossing the river, one needs to ascend through a steep hilly slope to reach the Cheri Monastery. Though a tiring one, visitors always gets rewarded with a calm, serene and uplifting atmosphere around the monastery.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

National Institute for Zorig Chusum

Discipline and endurance are two of the most common elements found among the locals of Thimphu. And if you want to witness how persistent and enthusiastic the locals are, you must visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum in Bhutan’s capital city!

A traditional painting school that offers 13 different courses in traditional art forms – painting, woodcarving, furniture crafting, thankas (religious painting), embroidery, state making, and several others, National Institute for Zorig Chusum is a distinct place that can get you acquainted with Bhutanese cultures and traditions. The institute also has a small souvenir and gift shop.

Visitors’ Timing: 19:00AM – 12:00PM, 02:00 – 03:30PM

Entry Fee: Nu 100

Royal Botanical Garden

Life and happiness sprouts in Bhutan! Yes, that’s true, and if you find it tough to believe it, you must visit the Royal Botanical Park in Thimphu! Spread across 125 acres, the alluring beauty of this is further enhanced by the magical Dochula Pass that forms its backdrop. With around 18 native rhododendron species and almost 26 species brought from other places, this park becomes a sea of colours during the months of March to August.

Located at around 2,100m above the sea level and 15km towards the south from the main city centre, the park also serves as an ideal place to cherish and adore Bhutan’s rustic cultures and traditions. In addition to rhododendrons, wide range of ferns, 46 birds’ species, several endangered wildlife species like Tiger, Leopard, Red Panda, Leopard Cat, and several others. The park also offers some of the enthralling trekking trails, boating facilities, bird watching options, and other exciting activities to the visitors; combining all these, Royal Botanical Garden surely qualifies to be one of the most scenic places to visit in Thimphu!

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM

Entry Fee: Nu 50

Simtokha Dzong

Though among the smallest dzongs in Bhutan, the Simtokha Dzong is considered as an important monastery by the Bhutanese. Also called the Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang or the ‘Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras’, this sacred establishment is seated on a captivating ridge across the scenic Thimphu Valley.

Located only 5km away from Bhutan’s capital city, it is famed as one of the must visit tourist places in Thimphu and can be easily reached from within the city. A three-storey traditional building, it has only one entrance gate and more than 300 ancient carvings that depict Bhutanese saints and philosophers. The monastery is also said to have some of the oldest mural paintings in the country.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

National Institute of Traditional Medicine

National Institute of Traditional Medicine is an indigenous healing centre in Thimphu. Situated atop a hilltop, it was established in 1967 after the Bhutanese king decided to set up a traditional health centre and to preserve their traditional medicines and practices.

Medications offered in this centre are prepared organically from local herbs, medicinal plants, minerals, animal parts, gemstones, and other natural resources. Known to heal around 100,000 patients every year, National Institute of Traditional Medicine also offers 5 years’ bachelor’s degree along with a 3 years’ diploma course. Well, this is also one of the very few places where one can find the ‘yartsa goenbub’ or the high-altitude cure-all Himalayan Viagra.

Visitors’ Timing: Throughout the Day

Entry Fee: No Charge

The Folk Heritage Museum (Phelchey Toenkhyim)

For those who want to revisit the diverse history and cultures of Bhutan, Folk Heritage Museum is the place they should be heading towards! Locally known as the ‘Phelchey Toenkhyim’, this heritage museum, which is often listed among the Thimphu places to visit, was opened to public in 2001. Since then, it has become a centre point of attraction among history lovers and other visitors alike.

A quaint mud and timber house that is estimated to be 150 years old, this three-storey museum is built in traditional Bhutanese architecture. Each of its floors has their own significance; ground floor is the barn, first floor is the safe store, and the top floor is the living and dining area. Adding more, Folk Heritage Museum also boasts of its large collection of ancient and heritage items like rural household artefacts, objects and materials, household equipment, and other common tools.

Visitors’ Timing:

Weekdays: 10:00AM – 04:30PM

Saturday: 10:30AM – 01:00PM

Sundays: 11:30AM – 03:30PM

Entry Fee: Nu 25 (for SAARC Nationals), Nu 150 (for Foreigners)

National Textile Museum

Believe it or not, but this tiny country is also known for its immaculate, colourful and livelier textile art; a visit to Bhutan Textile Museum would make you witness and experience this! Located within a proximity to the National Library of Bhutan, this textile museum is the best place to relish the Last Himalayan Kingdom’s indigenous textile art form and artefacts.

A much-celebrated destination among the best places to visit in Thimphu, this heritage house was founded in the year 2001 to promote, encourage and preserve the different forms of textile art and crafts that are indigenous to Bhutan. The museum showcases a wide range of collection including royal attires, crowns, and other antique possessions.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 04:00PM (Monday to Saturday)

Entry Fee: Nu 50 (SAARC Nationals), Nu 250 (Foreign Nationals)

Drubthob Goema / Zilukha Nunnery

A devout place dedicated to the nuns, Drubthob Goema or Zilukha Nunnery is one of its kind places to visit in Thimpu. Overlooking Tashichho Dzong and facing the Thimphu Golf Course, this nunnery in Zilukha was built by Drubthob Rikey Jadrel in 1976.

A major religion learning centre for the girls and women, the nunnery offers religious courses. Till the residents of Zilukha Nunnery complete their education, they devote their entire life to learn and preach Buddhism. Upon completion, they usually get engaged into the service of community and continue preaching Buddhism. Besides being an important Buddhist centre, the nunnery also serves as an ideal day-out and photography destination to the visitors.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

Weekend Market

A bustling assembly point of Thimphu’s local crowd, Weekend Market is a tourist attraction that would get you acquainted with all the local trivia and customs. Located on the bank of pictorial Wang Chhu River, this market usually runs between every Friday to Sunday.

On a visit to this cheerful market, one can witness how the locals mingle among themselves and carry their lives forward! During the three market days, local vendors bring their commodities; mainly souvenirs, incense sticks, saffron, pink camphor, and the list goes on. Open to all, Weekend Market is surely one of the most livelier tourist places in Thimphu and is visited by almost all the admirers of Bhutan!

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 11:00PM

Entry Fee: No Charge

Motithang Takin Preserve

Takin, the national animal of Bhutan is also considered as a sacred animal by the Bhutanese. According to the legend, these are mythological animals that were created by a Tibetan saint called Drukpa Kunley upon the locals’ requests. An herbivorous animal whose head resembles to a goat and body to a cow, Takins were later declared as Bhutan’s national animal. The Motithank Takin Preserve now serves as the native home to this indigenous animal.

Spread across 8.4acres of lush landscapes and remarkable hilly areas, this wildlife protected area also has a decent population of Sambar and Barking Deer. Soon, the authorities are planning to introduce Red Panda and Himalayan Serow to this reserve. Captivating setting, surreal ambience and sightings of rare Takins makes this reserve a paradise for nature lovers and shutterbugs alike.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 04:00PM (Except Mondays and National Holidays)

Entry Fee: Nu 30 (for Locals), Nu 100 (for Foreigners)

Bhutan Post Office Headquarters

A fortress-styled establishment that showcases traditional Dzong architecture, Bhutan Post Office Headquarters is characterised by its decorated stairways, flared roof, and a grand collection of postcards and stamps. One of the most interesting places to visit in Thimphu, this attraction point is in fact the best place to rewind history and get closer to the cultures and customs of Bhutan.

Standing close to Thimphu Bus Stand, the headquarter holds world’s largest ‘photo book’ as one of its prized possessions! Stamp collectors and history lovers often find this place as their Utopia and gathers here largely to adore its timeless collections. Bhutan Post Office Headquarters also offers visitors to get their customised as well as fully functional stamps at an affordable cost; Nu 200-300.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 04:00PM (Monday to Friday), 09:00AM – 01:00PM (Saturday; closed on Sunday)

Entry Fee: No Charge

Jigme Dorji National Park

Bhutan’s geographic location, favourable climatic conditions, and lush vegetation makes it an ideal abode to a diverse range of rare and exotic flora and fauna. The scenic Jigme Dorji National Park in Thimphu is one of most prismatic ground where wildlife prospers at its best! Located within 1,400-7,000m above the sea level, this breath-taking wildlife protected area spreads across Gasa, Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and Wangude Phodrang.

Home to almost 37 wildlife species like Snow Leopard, Bengal Tiger, Takin, Clouded Leopard, Himalayan Blue Sheep, and several others, Jigme Dorji National Park also boasts of a kaleidoscopic range of avifauna and rare floral species. Within its premises, one can also find some of the historical as well as cultural sites like fortress of Lingshi Dzong and Gasa Dzong, Mount Jomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake. Galacial lakes; Mo Chhu, Pa Chhu and Wangdi Chhu, adds further to the appealing beauty of this park and makes a not-to-miss tourist places in Thimphu!

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM (Monday to Friday; closed on Saturday & Sunday)

Entry Fee: Nu 150

Coronation Park

A recent entry to the list of beautiful places to visit in Thimphu, the Coronation Park was built to coronate His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck who succeeded the throne after King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Inaugurated in 2006, this pictorial park is tucked away amidst Wang Chhu River and Changlimithang Ground.

Studded with pleasant walkways, benches, varieties of ornamental flowers, and a range of colourful plants, the park gets illuminated every evening. A must visit tourist place in Thimphu, Coronation Park also features a 45ft tall statue of Lord Buddha known as the ‘Walking Buddha’ that ushers happiness and represents the mastery of Bhutanese culture.

Visitors’ Timing: 09:00AM – 05:00PM (Monday to Friday; closed on Saturday & Sunday)

Entry Fee: Nu 150

Clock Tower Square

A prominent landmark in Thimphu, Clock Tower Square is one of the most buzzing points within the city limits. Comprising of a tower with four clocks facing each direction, it overlooks the National Footbal Stadium and below the Norzim Lam in Bhutan’s capital.

Carved in traditional Bhutanese architecture, the tower showcases an endearing display of hand-crafted dragons, flowers, and lot more. Being in the city-centre, Clock Tower Square hosts a warm crowd and splendid opportunities to enjoy the local ambience of Thimphu city.

Visitors’ Timing: Round the Week

Entry Fee: No Charge

Choki Traditional Art School

Built in the honour of King Dasho Choki Dorji; the 4th king of Bhutan, in 1999, Choki Traditional Art School is a traditional art and craft learning centre. Open to underprivileged students, the schools offer training courses on traditional drawing, painting, weaving, embroidery, carving, and tailoring. To cope up with the modern times, it has also included different courses in computer technology as well.

Established in the Kawangjangsa region of Thimphu with only five students, it now offers education to hundreds of students from different backgrounds. The present school building has been shifted 10km away from the capital city. Visitors to Choki Traditional Art School can also buy souvenirs, furniture, traditional artefacts, handicraft products, other similar items while visiting the school.

Visitors’ Timing: 08:30AM – 04:30PM (Monday to Friday)

Entry Fee: Nu 100

Changlimithang Archery Ground

Archery is one of the vigorously enjoyed sports in Bhutan; its history is as old as of the Land of Thunder Dragons! Visitors to Thimphu city can witness and enjoy this traditional sport at the Changlimithang Archery Ground almost every single day.

Built on the site of a battle ground, Changlimithang Archery Ground reflects a significant piece of history. Archers here can be seen practising with traditional bamboo bow and arrows; they often use high-tech carbon fibres sets as well. Next to the archery ground, there is a football ground that hosts friendly matches and national tournaments that are attended by a large crowd.

Visitors’ Timing: Round the Week

Entry Fee: No Charge

How to Reach Thimphu

By Air

As Thimphu don’t have its own airport, visitors can board flights to Paro Airport which is around 48km from the main city. The airport has a good flight connectivity with major Indian destinations like Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, and Gaya. Visitors from Bangkok can also reach Thimphu by air via direct flights.

By Train

West Bengal in India shares its border with Bhutan. Visitors opting for train journeys via India, can board trains from Kolkata to reach New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri or Hashimara. From there, they can hire private taxis to reach Jaigaon in West Bengal to reach Thimphu by train.

By Road

Phuentsholing in Bhutan allows an easy access to reach Thimphu by road from multiple Indian destinations. The Last Himalayan Kingdom shares international border with Indian states like Assam and West Bengal. While in Assam, visitors can drive to Phuentsholing from Bongaigaon via Bongaigaon-Gelephu or Darangmela-Samdrup points. From West Bengal, one can drive across Jaigaon-Phuentsholing point. Upon entering Phuentsholing, visitors can either board government run buses or hire local taxis to reach Thimphu by road.

Best Time to Visit Thimphu

Spring (March to May) – Best time to visit Thimphu

During the three months of spring season, Thimphu gets covered with a dense blanket of colourful rhododendrons and other vibrant seasonal flowers. With such a colourful spread, the city turns enchanting and purely magical. Temperature remains considerably low with much visibility and endless options of places to visit in Thimphu along with a range of exciting things to do.

Summer (June to August) – Off Season to Visit Thimphu

As summer touches Thimphu, temperature starts rising; ranging between 15-28 degrees. The season also gets accompanied by rain showers that causes the Thimphu terrains turn muddy. Visiting the city within this period could be quite challenging and is not recommended for first-timers.

Autumn (September to November) – Best time to visit Thimphu

Autumn is also a promising time to visit Bhutan’s capital city. This season in fact promises astounding time to sit back, relax and enjoy the remarkable beauty of the mighty Himalayas from within city limits. As temperature remains within a pleasant limit, visitors can indulge in various activities and make it to different places to visit in Thimphu.

Winter (December to February) – Good time to visit Thimphu

Winter may not be a great time, but it is surely a good time to visit Thimphu! During this season, days usually quite warm, while temperature falls drastically during night time. Visiting the city within this season would require ample of warm clothes and other heavy accessories.

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Find the authentic information on how to plan a hassle free tour to Bhutan. Travalghar puts together for you relevant details on how to reach Bhutan along with information on different means of transportation, and the best time to visit. Also explore the different attractions and destinations in Bhutan with the help of our map, made easy for you to navigate.

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