Bhutan the land of the Thunder Dragon´s capital, Thimphu is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family.
It´s called the beating heart of the country, its the commercial hub of the nation and by far the most modern city in the country, the only place in the country where you will see foreign business people, but it still gives you the natural small-town feel with its charm and history.
However, the mix of old and new remain part of Thimpu’s charm, the city offers a lot of sights surprisingly, from the Tashichho Dzong, the home to Bhutanese government, to the newly built sitting Buddha that will become the world´s biggest sitting Buddha statue when completed.
Thimphu is also the place to check out the local nightlife at The Mojo Park and the place to go if you are tired of the local food and want a real gourmet hamburger at one of few foreign-run restaurants in town the Australian-run restaurant Cloud 9.
Top 12 Things to do in Thimphu.
Visit the TashiChhoe Dzong.
TashiChho Dzong is known as the “Fortress of the glorious religion” and is the seat of the Bhutanese government, the king’s office is also here.
It´s possible to visit after 4 pm when the government has gone home for the day. It´s one of the most impressive buildings anywhere in the world, and like all other Dzong´s in Bhutan built without any use of nails. It´s entirely made in the traditional way.
The famous Tshechu festival is held here every year.
Planning a trip to Bhutan, click here to read this guide from my friend over at Thrilling Travel
People were watching at The National Memorial Chorten.
The National Memorial Chorten is one of the most famous landmarks in one of the most famous landmarks and site´s in Thimphu; it was built in 1974 to honour the third king of Bhutan.
It´s probably the best place to go people watching in the capital because it´s always people doing the kora around the stupa.
Here´s a time-lapse video of the landmark, shot right from my hotel room window.
Visit the soon to be world’s biggest sitting Buddha.
This massive statue of Shakyamuni is currently being built at hill surrounding Thimphu called Buddha Point. The hill offers a panoramic view over the valley. When the statue is done will it measures in at the height of 51.5 meters, making it the largest statues of the sitting Buddha in the world.
The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha.
Watch a Game of Archery.
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and can be seen playing all around the country; it´s worth trying to watch a match or at least parts of it since a match can last for hours. Just be sure to stand a bit of the line of arrows, since it’s not uncommon that people get hit by an arrow.
Each time a competitor hit the target he and his teammates will celebrate with a small dance.
Hangout at the Clock Tower Square.
Clock Tower Square is one of the main meeting points in Thimphu, at least when it´s not raining like when this photo is taken. You can see the youth of the capital hanging out here in the evening, the most popular coffee shops in the city are also located here.
Visit Simtokha Dzong.
Simtokha Dzong is a small dzong located approximately 5km outside Thimphu on the way to the Dochula pass.
Built-in 1629 by the 18th Drukpa (or throne holder) who unified Bhutan, the dzong was the first of its kind built in the country.
The name “Simtokha” in Dzongkha (the local language) means “stop a demon,” for the legend associated with the dzong’s construction mentions that the fortress was built to subdue a demon that was harassing travellers in the region.
This Dzong is one of the most important Historical monument in Bhutan. Being a former Buddhist monastery, the fortress houses a lot of old statues and paintings of Buddha.
Admire the city with no traffic light.
A short video of the human traffic light in Thimphu.Bhutan is the only country in the world that doesn’t have a single traffic light in its capital city. Instead, a policeman is standing at the city´s busiest intersections in the city and direct traffic manually.
There was actually a traffic light installed here back in 1995, but it was removed after a few days after the local´s were complaining it was too impersonal and ugly, so they went to the “dancing policeman instead.”
Go shopping at the craft market.
The Thimphu Craft Market is several hundred meters long bazaars that offer handmade craft from all over the country; there are almost 100 shops here selling every handicraft you can image, If it´s not here, is it not in the country. The perfect place to buy souvenirs and gifts from Bhutan.
Visit the farmers market.
The farmers market is an explosion of colours and smells; this is where the locals come to buy the freshest local produce from all over the country, as well as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and other products imported from India.
Hike the surrounding hills around Thimphu Valley.
Since Thimphu is located in the middle of the valley, is there tons of hiking opportunities in the surrounding hills. You can do short hikes up to viewpoints like the photo to get an overview of Bhutan´s capital, or you can do a 3 hours hike to one of the many Monasteries that´s located around the valley.
Want to Experience the local nightlife at The Mojo Park.
Want to experience the local nightlife in Thimphu? Then Mojo Park is the place to check out, it´s the capital’s premier live-music venue and bar, with laid-back rock, blues, reggae music. There´s no annoying trance music here, just good music. The staff is super friendly, and it´s the perfect place to meet locals, it´s not gone take many minutes before you get invited to a table if you arrive alone here.
NB. It´s also a popular hangout place for the local actors, artists, member of Parlament and even some members of the Royal family, one of the princes from the Royal family came by when I was there.
Enjoy a proper burger at Cloud 9.
No offence to Bhutanese food, but after almost two weeks of rice, chilli and chicken/pork in various styles, was it great to have a Hamburger at one of the few Foreign-run restaurants in Thimphu.
Cloud 9 offers one of the top 3 burgers I have tried in Asia and the best coffee in the capital. The Australian owner had bought a few tricks with her from the land down under.