The Complete Thimphu Travel Guide For 2024

 In Bhutan, thimphu, Travel

When you dream about visiting a peaceful and majestic land filled with greenery and lush meadows – Thimphu, Bhutan is always the one destination that shouldn’t slip your mind. Bhutan sits near the Silk Route embracing the eastern Himalayan glaciers, between Tibet, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Thimphu in Bhutan is one of the best tourist destinations that Bhutan has to offer. Thimphu illustrates the art, history, culture, and architecture of Bhutan.

One of the largest cities of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Thimphu is a mix of culture and heritage from the old and the new generations. The language of Thimphu as well as Bhutan is Dzongkha. Thimphu has become an important tourist destination and part of many Bhutan tour packages. Thimphu in Bhutan easily has one of the world’s most fascinating and jaw-dropping destinations.

6 Fascinating facts about Thimphu

  • Thimphu in Bhutan is one of the capitals in the world that does not have an airport. The closest airport is the Paro airport which connects to Bhutan by road. It is approximately 52 km from Thimphu, Bhutan to Paro Airport.
  • Thimphu in Bhutan is the fifth-highest capital in the world in terms of altitude. Thimphu sits at an altitude of 7658 feet above sea level.
  • Thimphu in Bhutan serving as Bhutan’s hub for political and economic activities relies heavily on livestock and agriculture, comprising 45% of the nation’s Gross National Product.
  • There are no railway connections to the country and Paro airport is one of the ways to reach there. The Indo-Bhutan National Highway connects the capital to Phuntsholing. You can take the road from Jaigaon to the Phuntsholing border. From there you can take a taxi or bus to Thimphu in Bhutan.
  • The ancient capital city of Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and then Thimphu replaced it.  The 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk declared Thimphu as the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan in the year 1962.
  • One of the most amazing features of Thimphu in Bhutan is the absence of traffic lights. The Bhutanese government implemented this to create a more harmonious and people-centric approach to traffic.

How to reach Thimphu


Thimphu in Bhutan being its capital and home to many Buddhist and historical sites became a center of tourism. If you are planning to reach Bhutan from India and take the road to Thimphu from Phuntsholing – which is the most preferred way – then be prepared to take a ride of a lifetime. The journey may seem long but the roads are in good condition and make it less tiring. The winding road with mountains and lush green trees at the sides makes for quite a memorable journey.

Bhutan’s only airport is in Paro, west of Thimphu. Paro airport is connected to Kolkata, Delhi, Bodh Gaya, Guwahati, and Bangkok. There are no direct flights from other major cities in India therefore you have to get connecting flights. Once you reach Paro airport you can avail of taxi services to Thimphu in Bhutan.

There are no train services to Thimphu in Bhutan, the easiest way how to reach Thimphu by train is to take a train from Kolkata to Hasimara, which is 17 km from the Indo-Bhutan border. Then via road, you go to Phuntsholing and then move on to Thimphu, Bhutan.

The marvels of Thimphu

Bhutan is a landlocked country located in south-central Asia. Bhutan was a remote state and it gained recognition only in recent years. The second half of the 20th century saw the country opening up to the world by introducing tourism. Over time Thimphu tourism grew exponentially. Thimphu in Bhutan practices Buddhism making it the official religion of Thimphu where 75% are Buddhists and the rest 25% are Hindus.

The best time to visit Bhutan, Thimphu would be wintertime, but when do you see nature in its full bloom? Spring. There is no proper season or time for a fun-filled traveling experience. Any time of the year would be perfect for visiting this beautiful nation as tourists are crowding the streets at all times, all year long. So let us dive into some of the best places to visit in Thimphu, Bhutan, and why these places are fascinating and rich in culture.

  • National Memorial Chorten


Our first stop is the National Memorial Chorten located in Thimphu in Bhutan. “Chorten” translates to a Tibetan Buddhist shrine or monument and the National Memorials Chorten has gained popularity over the years and become an important monument in Thimphu. The Monument gained popularity among the locals when various major religious festivals started taking place at the Chorten. Like the best places to visit in Thimphu in Bhutan, the National Memorial Chorten is a cultural paradise. 

The National Memorial Chorten was built in memory of the 3rd Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan and is a structure devoted to World Peace. The Chorten was first built in the year 1974 and thereafter received an extensive renovation in the year 2008. The beautiful monument reflects the heritage and history of Buddhist culture. The Chorten also attracts tourists traveling from all around the world due to its significance to Buddhist and Bhutanese culture.

Facts about the National Memorial Chorten

  1. The only chorten or stupa in Bhutan, the National Memorial Chorten does not contain the remains of any religious leader, religious head, or king.
  2. Its golden spires and bells make The National Memorial Chorten a prominent and important landmark in the city.
  3. Only Druk Yolmo’s photo in a ceremonial dress adorns the hall on the ground floor.
  4. Jigme Dorjee built the Chorten which he stated would represent the mind of Buddha.

Best time to visit – 

The best time to visit Thimphu, Bhutan is during the spring and autumn. Bhutan in autumn is magical especially since the wind is calmer and the weather brightens the valley and the flora around it.

Summertime sees the land reach 22 degrees Celsius with mild rain showers and the routes will be moderately difficult to traverse (especially if you are going hiking or trekking).

Wintertime has harsh weather conditions and temperate goes down quite a lot, especially in higher altitude areas. If you do not like extreme cold weather conditions, it is advised not to visit this time of the year.


The National Memorial Chorten is located on Deoboom Lam in the souther-central part of the city near the Indian Military Hospital.

  • Trashi Chho Dzong


The history of Thimphu in Bhutan has the construction of a lot of dzongs or monasteries. One of the most magnificent and grand dzongs in Thimphu. (A dzong is a fortress-monastery that served as a stronghold against enemies in the past and is now used as an administrative center and monastery). The Trashi Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion) served as the official seat of Druk Desi, the head of the secular government. The then government shared power with the religious authorities, from the 18th to the 19th centuries.

When the capital was moved to Thimphu by King Jigme Dorjee Wangchuk in the year 1962, there was a five-year project plan was laid out to renovate the dzong and make it larger and grander. Some of the structures were left untouched including the imposing chapel and the assemble hall in the courtyard. However, most of the dzong in the compound was rebuilt traditionally, without nails and architectural plans.

The Trashi Choo Dzong earlier used to house the National Assembly but now it houses the secretariat, the throne room, and offices of the king and the ministries of home affairs and finance. The northern part of the compound is the area where the visitors are free to explore.

You will undergo a security check when you enter the Dzong. When you enter the Dzong from the northern entrance visitors will get to see the depictions of the four guardian kings, and the walls of the steps are adorned with images of Drukpa Kunley, Thangtong Gyelpo, and Togden Pajo who are the founders of the Phajoding monastery (another amazing monastery and place to visit in Bhutan)

There is a sense of peace and tranquility in the area especially when the sounds are only being emitted from the flight of pigeons, the rustling of the autumn leaves, and the prayer wheels decorated all around the architecture.

Facts About Trashi Chho Dzong –

  1. The building is not the original Thimphu Dzong. The first fortress, the Dro-Ngen  Dzong was erected in 1216. The fort was then renamed Trashi Chho Dzong in 1641.
  2. The structure of the dzong underwent a lot of calamities as there was a fire in 1771 that destroyed the upper dzong. The lower Dzong also experienced a fire in 1886 and then it was renovated. However, there was another fire and an earthquake in 1897 where the lower Dzong suffered more damages.
  3. Some of the areas like the Neykhang Lakhang, west of the Dzong are off-limits to visitors. This area houses the local protective deities.

Location –

The Trashi Chho is located in Chhagchen Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan.

  • Changangkha Lhakhang


Contributing to the history of Thimphu in Bhutan, the Chagangkha Lhakhang is probably one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Thimphu, Bhutan. Sitting atop a ridge overlooking central Thimphu is a beautiful temple complex, the Chagangkha Lhakhang which overflows with Buddhist culture and attracts the locals from all around Thimphu.

The monastery was established in the 12th century and holds the Tshechu festival in the courtyard on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of the ninth Bhutanese lunar month. 

The monastery offers a profound sense of tranquility and peace with serene surroundings and a spiritual ambiance. The ornate architecture beaming with intricate wall carvings and colorful prayer flags showcases the rich cultural and historical traditions of Thimphu in Bhutan.

The central courtyard holds a shrine to the tshomen (mermaid) and then you get an excellent panoramic view of Thimphu from the circumambulation path around the compound. Whether to admire its beauty or just to find peace and solace, Changangkha Lhakhang is quite simply marvelous and shows why Buddhism is such a peaceful and revered religion.

Facts about Changangkha Lhakhang –

  1. Changangkha Lakhang is said to be the spiritual home of the newlyborn children of Chang Vaeely.
  2. Local parents come to Changangkha Lakhang to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin.
  3. The foundation of the Changangkha Lhakhang is said to have been laid down by a revered saint, Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo who arrived in Bhutan from Tibet.

Best time to visit –

The monastery is open from 6 in the morning till 6 in the evening. The best time to visit Changangkha Lhakhang is from 6 am to 8 am and 5 pm and 6 pm especially if they want to be a part and witness the morning and evening prayer ritual.

Location –

Changangkha Lhakhang Footpath, Street Sevina Lam, Thimphu in Bhutan.

  • Tango Goemba


Tango Goemba is one of the few monasteries that serve as a university for Buddhist studies and a popular place to visit among tourists. The monastery also serves as a residence for Gyalse Rinpoche – the seventh reincarnation of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye – who was the founder of the Tatshang Goemba.

The history of the Goemba goes as such – Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal during the year 1616 visited a nearby cave and started meditating. Then the head lama made a gift of the entire complex. Zhabdrung as a show of appreciation carved a statue of Chenresig, made of sandalwood, and installed it in the monastery.

The three-storeyed Goemba holds many chapels that you can visit. One of which includes the living quarters of the fourth Druk Desi on the 3rd floor. Here you can receive a blessing from him.

Restoration work is done on the Goemba and the surrounding compound is adorned with fine carvings of the Buddhist eight auspicious signs. The meditation cave of Zhabdrung can be visited at the top of the monastery on a rock outcrop looking out over the valley.

Facts about Tango Goemba –

  1. The “Tango”(horse head) Goemba gets its name from the natural shape of the rocky protrusion near the cave.
  2. The original monastery was founded in the 12th century, but the present building was built in the 15th century by the “divine madman” Lama Drukpa Kunley”.

Best time to visit –

The best time to visit Tango Goemba, Thimphu in Bhutan is in April or May during the memorial of Zhabrdung’s death, also known as Zhabdrung Kuchoe.

Location –

The Tango Goemba is located in Dotanang, Thimphu in Bhutan near the scenic mountains of Cheri in the northern part of Thimphu district.

  • National Library and Archives of Bhutan


If you want to get the know the history behind the rich culture of Bhutan, the National Library is the perfect place to visit. The library was established in 1967 by Queen Ashi Phuntso Choden with a small collection of texts. The library held many precious texts gathered and preserved delicately. However, over time the books and text collection started growing and then the entire library was shifted to the Changagkha area.

The library was shifted under a newly constructed building as there was a need for better preservation of the sacred texts and the collection of books.

The text preserved in the library comprises handmade paper that is either preserved within wrapped paper or wrapped in silk. Instruments that were used to print the books can also be found in the library. There is no entry fee charged for visiting the library.

The Archives section has preserved important documents both past and present on Bhutan to ensure their safe-keeping and preservation of culture and prosperity. The library currently houses more than 10,000 woodblocks on 37 different titles of religious text.

Facts about the National Library of Bhutan –

  1. The library was initially housed within the central tower of the Taschi Chho Dzong.
  2. The cost for the construction of the library was borne completely by the Royal Government of Bhutan without any foreign aid.

Location –

The National Library is located in the Kawajangsta area of Thimphu, above the royal Thimphu golf course.

  • Dechen Phodrang


Dechen Phodrang also known as the “Palace of Great Bliss” is located north of Thimphu and stands atop a hill. This beautiful monastery houses almost 450 student monks, who have been enrolled in an eight-year course.

The scenes from the Dechen monastery are breathtaking as you get an amazing view of Thimphu in Bhutan. If you love to mingle with children, Dechen Phodrang will have you swarmed by the little monks, especially during their break. Those curious faces and the green surroundings make for an amazing and memorable trip to this monastery.

You can get to view several important Buddhist artifacts in this monastery, including 12th-century paintings and a statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The main chapel is adorned with intricate murals which date back to the 13th century. The chapel on the lower level of the two-story building holds a Sakyamuni Buddha.

Facts about Dechen Phodrang –

  1. The phrase “Dechen Phodrang” is a generic term in Bhutan that is used as part of other sites in Bhutan.
  2. The original dzong was destroyed by fire and the sole structure that stood was the Zhabdrubg’s residence. This structure later got renamed and converted to the now Dechen Phodrang.

Location –

The Dechen Phodrang monastery is located at the top of a hill in the northern area of Thimphu.

  • Royal Botanical Garden Serbithang


The only botanical garden in Thimphu, Bhutan, this foundation was established on 26th May 1999 by Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuk, commemorating the Silver Jubilee celebration of His Majesty the 4th Druk Gaylpo’s reign.

The garden has a collection of over 800 species of native plants. The best time to visit Thimphu is during the spring season and the flowers in this garden get that extra glow with the flowers at full bloom.

If you are an anthophile, be sure to add this establishment as one of the things to do in Thimphu. Probably one of the best things to see in Thimphu is the rhododendron flower and its various types are found in this garden.

Location –

The Royal Botanical Garden is located in Serbithang, on the Babesa-Thimphu expressway.

A Tourist’s paradise


With amazing nightlife in Thimphu, the larger-than-life dzongs, and the amazing heartwarming people, Thimphu tourism does not allow littering and defamation of property. The tourists need to act appropriately while keeping the sacred grounds of Thimphu clean and in the process respect the culture that Thimphu preserves so well. Shopping in Thimphu can be done in the main city with intricate ornaments, traditional handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry that are offered for sale.

The food in Thimphu is simple and tasty and you should visit the restaurants in Thimphu that serve authentic Bhutanese food to savour Bhutan’s true flavour.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Thimphu?

There are a variety of activities to enjoy in Thimphu, depending on your preferences and the Bhutan tour package. You can attend the colourful and culturally rich festivals being held in Thimphu. You can immerse yourself in Bhutanese culture with visits to revered monuments like museums and monasteries like the Trashi Chho Dzong. You can take short hiking trips to monasteries and prayer wheels.

How can I experience Bhutanese culture in Thimphu?

The best way to experience Bhutanese culture in Thimphu is to visit the cultural highlights of Thimphu such as fascinating museums, decorated museums, and grand fortresses or dzongs and monasteries. The monumental and extraordinary festivals like the Tsechu festivals held in Thimphu also offer you an amazing Bhutanese cultural experience.

What are some must-visit attractions in Thimphu?

The must-visit attractions in Thimphu are :

  1. Trashi Chho Dzong
  2. National Memorial Chorten
  3. Changangkha Lhakhang
  4. National Library of Bhutan
  5. Tango Goemba
  6. Dechen Phodrang
  7. Royal Botanical Garden

What makes Thimphu, Bhutan, a unique travel destination?

Thimphu, Bhutan is a mix of modern advancements and where traditional Bhutanese culture, history, and art blend. The region offers various cultural landmarks including the Trashi Chho Monastery and the Changangkha Lhakhang, numerous monasteries, and museums that showcase Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage. Amazing trekking and camping sites as well, make Thimphu such a unique and most visited travel destination.

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