Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and is home to approximately one lakh inhabitants and the royal family of Bhutan. Thimphu is situated at an altitude of around 7658 feet above sea level. It is the epicentre for commerce, religion and governance in the country.
To reach Thimphu, getting there by road is the only way travellers can enter. Thimphu does not have an airport. Paro houses Bhutan’s only airport. There is no railway connectivity in the country.
The roads leading to Thimphu from both Phuentsholing and Paro are excellent. Good solid tar roads make the winding mountain journey to the capital city a lot more comfortable as compared to the rest. The journey from Thimphu to Phuentsholing or Paro takes roughly five to six hours based on the weather conditions.
Once in, the best way to get around the town is on foot. It’s a great way to get a first-hand experience of the Bhutan capital city. Thimphu has a very pleasant feel with a clock tower in the heart of the city with plenty of cafes and shops in and around the city centre.
Since Thimphu is a relatively young capital city, most of the attractions date back to a few decades. The main religious attractions include Changangkha Lhakhang, which was constructed in the 15th century and is one of the oldest temples in Thimphu valley.
A must visit while in Thimphu is the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, sitting on top of Kuensel Phodrang hill. It is a 51.5 meters bronze statue of the founder of Buddhism. The complex offers breathtaking views of Thimphu and the surrounding valley.
Thimphu Dzong was built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and was the first dzong to be built in a unified Bhutan. The Dzong currently houses the country’s main Dzongkha language learning institute.
Another place where tourist flock to is the Takin reserve and sanctuary which is located on the outskirts of the city. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and is only found in the grassland.
Eating options in are in plenty with a range of cafes and restaurants which serve finger-licking food and arguably the best burgers and pizzas you have ever had in your life. Bhutan Kitchen is a great place to go and eat some local home made Bhutanese cuisine. Emadashi is a must-try from there.
Accommodation options are again in plenty with a range of guest houses from mid-range to splurge. Being the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu has the highest number of guest houses and hotels. Sadly, the city and the country have absolutely nothing to offer to budget backpackers.
Shopping is in plenty with a lot of shops selling first copy shoes and shirts of various international brands. There are also a large number of souvenir shops which sell Bhutan fridge magnets, postcards and even t-shirts of the country. These make excellent items to give away to family and friends back home.
Cellular network is excellent and so is the electricity of the city. ATMs are in plenty and nearly every cafe offers free WiFi.
Since, it is one of the highest capital cities in the world in terms of altitude, before travelling to Thimphu it’s important to keep a tab of what the weather situation is like. Woollens are recommended throughout the year along with an umbrella since it rains any time in the year.
The best time to visit is during the dry season from October to mid-December and then from the end of Jan to mid-June.
Thimphu, the capital city is an exciting place to spend a couple of days if not more. The city has a great vibe and is one of those places which just grows on you. The longer you stay the better you’ll feel.
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