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Thimphu

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At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.

Visit thimphu

Situated at 2,300m above sea level, the "no traffic lights" Thimphu city has been the capital city of Bhutan since 1961. As capital, Thimphu is home to several buildings of national importance, including the Institute of Traditional Medicine, the National Library, and the Botanical Garden. Despite its population of approximately 104,000, Thimphu is nonetheless remarkably free of traffic, and is ideal for exploring by foot or on bicycle.

The king officially lives in this high-altitude city, in the Thimphu Valley. The city's colorful weekend market is an unmissable treat, held on the banks of the river Wang Chhu and selling all kinds of weird and wonderful things, from exquisitely perfumed incense to yak leg. Among Thimphu's cultural highlights is Trashi Chhoe Dzong, a fortress and Buddhist monastery that sits imposingly on the western river bank.
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Bhutan's capital and largest city, Thimphu boasts an atmosphere that is relaxing and friendly.
Tshering Pemo
Bhutan Travel Specialist

Things to See and Do in Thimphu

motithang-takin-reserve-in-thimphu-bhutan

Motithang Takin Preserve

The national animal of Bhutan, and it is worthwhile taking the time to see these oddball mammals at the the Motithang Takin Preserve, a large fenced enclosure that was originally established as a zoo. But when the King of Bhutan declared it was improper for Buddhist country to keep animals in such confinement, the big beasts were set free. Yet they didn’t wander far. The best time to see them is early morning, when they gather near the fence to feed.
trashi-chhoe-dzong

Trashi Chho Dzong

This splendid dzong, known as "fortress of the glorious religion", located north of the city on the west bank of the Wang Chhu, is an impressive structure that houses the Bhutanese government. It seems to fit seamlessly into the valley, lending the city both regal splendour and monastic weight. The dzong was the site of the lavish formal coronation of the fifth king in 2008 and hosts the city's biggest annual bash, the colourful tsechu festivities.
changangkha-lhakhang-in-thimphu

Changangkha Lhakhang

Changangkha Lhakhang, perched atop a promontory with sweeping views of Thimphu Valley, hums with pilgrim activity since its construction some 800 years ago. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who came from Ralung in Tibet. Parents traditionally come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin. Children are blessed by a phurba (ritual dagger) and given a sacred thread.
national-textile-museum-in-thimphu

National Textile Museum in Thimphu

National Textile Museum in Thimphu is the place to learn about Bhutan's living national art of thagzo (weaving). The weaving techniques you’ll glimpse here bear on everything from the simple gho and kira robes that are the national dress for men and women including the wedding clothes worn by the fourth king and his four wives, to the giant thondroel (appliqué tapestries) that are unfurled at the holiest of the annual religious festivals. The museum shop offers some interesting books and fine textiles. No photography.
buddha-dordenma-statue-in-thimphu

Statue of Buddha Dordenma

The gigantic 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, overlooking the southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The massive three-storey base houses over a hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the main statue itself are made of bronze and gilded in gold. The Buddha looks best in morning light, or at night when it is illuminated.
national-library-of-thimphu

National Library of Thimphu

The National Library was established in 1967 within the central tower of Tashichodzong to preserve ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. Later it moved to a building in the Changangkha Lhakhang. To provide a permanent home for the sacred religious books and manuscripts in the growing collection, construction of the present four-storeyed and eight-cornered traditional building, was initiated and was inaugurated in 1984. Today, the building is also a vibrant example of traditional Bhutanese architecture.
national-institute-of-traditional-medicine

National Institute of Traditional Medicine

Visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine in Thimphu, established in 1978 to preserve the healing traditions of Bhutan – which, until now, have only been transmitted orally. The institute also collects medicinal plants from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalaya, such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana, and then distributes pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country. The small museum details some of the 300 herbs, minerals and animal parts that Bhutanese doctors have to choose from.
folk-heritage-museum-thimphu

Folk Heritage Museum

This restored three-storey, rammed-earth and timber building replicates a traditional farmhouse and is furnished as it would have been about a century ago to provide visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Details that jump out include the antique noodle press, the leopardskin bags and Brokpa yak-hair 'spider' hats. The restaurant here serves good Bhutanese meals.
national-institute-for-zorig-chusum

National Institute for Zorig Chusum

This institute, charged with preserving and promoting traditional aesthetics, and contributing to the country’s economy through production of high quality arts and crafts, operates four- to six-year courses that provide instruction in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts. Students specialize in painting (furniture, thangkas – painted religious pictures, usually on canvas), woodcarving (masks, statues, bowls), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes) or statue-making (clay).
royal-botanical-garden-of-thimphu

Royal Botanical Garden

Opened in 1999, the Royal Botanical Garden offers an excellent look into Bhutan's varied flora, which might be of interest to horticultural enthusiasts. The garden has a weedy collection of approximately 369 species of orchid, indigenous to the various micro-climates of this tiny Himalayan country, and which bloom at various times throughout the year. It's a favourite weekend picnic spot of Thimphu residents. It is here where the visitors can find one of the largest rhododendron collections in the world, as well as beautiful assemblages of various trees, bamboo, and medicinal plants, derivatives of which are used in roofing, paints, furniture-making, dyes and incense.

Best Time to Visit Thimphu

Best time to visit Thimphu are during spring months (March & April) and autumn months (October & November) when days are mild and there is little rainfall. One of Bhutan’s most popular festivals is held in Thimphu during autumn time.
Max Temperature(ºC)
Jan
10
Feb
11
Mar
15
Apr
17
May
19
Jun
21
Jul
21
Aug
21
Sep
20
Oct
18
Nov
14
Dec
11
Rainfall (mm)
Jan
10
Feb
21
Mar
48
Apr
84
May
149
Jun
273
Jul
325
Aug
256
Sep
193
Oct
70
Nov
13
Dec
4
Month
Daily Max Temperature
Monthly Rainfall

JAN
10ºC
10mm

FEB
11ºC
21mm

MAR
15ºC
48mm

APR
17ºC
84mm

MAY
19ºC
149mm

JUN
21ºC
273mm

JUL
21ºC
325mm

AUG
21ºC
256mm

SEP
20ºC
193mm

OCT
18ºC
70mm

NOV
14ºC
13mm

DEC
11ºC
4mm

Festivals, Events and Seasonal Reasons to Visit

  • 01

    Monk Processions (May): On the first day of the fourth lunar month, the entire monk body moves from Punakha to the summer residence in Thimphu. The procession includes the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and several sacred relics, and local people line up along the route to receive a blessing.
  • 02

    Thimphu Tsechu Festival (September): This is one of the biggest festivals in the country which is held in the capital city for three days beginning on 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar.
  • 03

    Druk Wangyel Tsechu (December): This new festival on 13 December features masked dances performed by the Bhutan Army atop the Dochu La, set against a rather splendid backdrop of Himalayan peaks.

Suggested Itineraries

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Thimphu, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists. Alternatively, if you would like to include a visit to Thimphu on a bespoke touring itinerary to Bhutan, do not hesitate to contact us.
Bhutan Festival Tour

Paro - Thimphu - Punakha - Trongsa - Bumthang - Phobjikha Valley - Haa
Bhutan Overland Tour: Paro to Samdrup Jongkhar

Paro - Haa - Thimphu - Punakha - Phobjikha Valley - Trongsa - Bumthang - Mongar - Lhuentse - Trashigang - Trashiyangtse