10 Best Places to Visit in Thimphu Bhutan | Top Sightseeing Places

10 Spectacular Places to Visit in Thimphu, Bhutan

 Last Updated: 14 Jul, 2022 By

Unlike other popular Himalayan kingdoms, there are some special things about Thimphu that make this place a paradise for travellers. The largest and most modern capital city of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Thimphu is full of places that let travellers indulge in the socio-cultural aspects of the country by offering a unique travel experience as well as being a budget-friendly destination. From learning Buddhism to living in a farm stay, from tasting local flavours to getting introduced to global cuisines, from participating in festivals to partying hard in a nightclub, Thimphu offers a different vibe that no other capital city presents. Besides all of these, there are places in Thimphu that proffer nothing but breathtaking landscapes of nature. Thanks to all of these places, Thimphu is every traveller’s bucket list destination to travel to once in a life.

Want to know which are the top tourist places in Thimphu? Come, read this travel guide to Thimphu with us.

Make sure to visit these following places on your upcoming Thimphu Bhutan tour –

  • Trashi Chho Dzong
  • Changangkha Lhakhang
  • Tango Goemba
  • National Memorial Chorten
  • Dechen Phodrang
  • Motithang Takin Preserve
  • Simply Bhutan Museum
  • Cheri Gompa Monastery
  • Royal Botanical Garden
  • Folk Heritage Museum

Popular Thimphu Bhutan Sightseeing Tour Packages

Budget Friendly Bhutan Tour Package 6 Nights 7 Days
Home of Happiness Tour 5 Nights 6 Days
Bhutan Sojourn with Amankora 5 Nights 6 Days
Thimphu Punakha Paro Luxury Tour 7 Nights 8 Days
Bhutan Short Tour 2 Nights 3 Days
Best of Bhutan Tour 6 Nights 7 Days

Also Read

History of Bhutan

Trashi Chho Dzong, Official Seat of Bhutan Government!

Trashi Chho Dzong Thimphu Bhutan

One of the best places to visit in Thimphu, Trashi Chho Dzong is located on the western bank of Wang Chhu in the northern part of Thimphu. The splendid dzong is a fortress and a Buddhist monastery, houses thirty temples, shrines and chapels. Flanked by the cascading terraced fields all around, Trashi Chho Dzong has been offering a dominating look over the valleys since its construction.

Since 1968, Trashi Chho Dzong has been serving as the seat of the Bhutan government. Presently, it houses the throne room and offices of the king and other ministries. One of the special things about the architecture is that there is no use of nails or architectural plans and the utse (central tower), chapel and the assembly hall are left untouched while being renovated in 1962 after suffering damage in two fires and a deadly earthquake. One of the best times to visit this dzong is when the colourful Tsechu Festivals happen in the courtyard, which is north of the assembly hall.

Timings: 11 AM to 4 PM every day.

Changangkha Lhakhang, Oldest Surviving Temple!

Changangkha Lhakhang, Thimphu Bhutan

The oldest surviving temple complex of Bhutan, located at the top of a cliff, Changangkha Lhakhang is the top tourist attraction in Thimphu. The monastery is famed for being home to Genyen Domtsangpa, who is known as the protective and birth deity of children. The complex was built in the 13th century by one of the sons of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who introduced the Drukpa Kagyu tradition to Bhutan.

The picturesque temple complex, located on a natural ridge, offering a stunning mountainous view, has a huge portrait of the king at the entrance. Getting inside, you will be delighted to see the intricate carvings along the golden spire, prayer wheels and Chenrezig statue. The complex has other buildings to accommodate resident monks and service providers. An early morning visit to Changangkha Lhakhang to avoid the crowd will offer you an incredible view of sunrise from the courtyard.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM every day.

Tango Goemba, Historically Important Monastery!

Tango Monastery Thimphu Bhutan

Originally founded as a significant religious site and home to Lama in the 12th century, Tango Goemba was built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman,’ Drukpa Kunley.  Tango Goemba has been presently serving as the residence of the seventh reincarnation of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, Gyalse Rinpoche. A 14-kilometre quaint trail near Cheri Mountain, in the north of Thimphu city, will take you to this monastery, which is nestled in the hills.

The monastery has been considered the highest centre of Buddhist studies in Bhutan, where following the programme, monks usually spend three years, three months and three days in meditation. Tango Goemba is historically one of the must-visit places in Bhutan as in 1616, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the person behind the unification of Bhutan, meditated in a nearby cave. The best time to visit Tango Goemba is during the Zhabdrung Kuchoe, the memorial of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s death in April or May.

Timings: 7 AM to 11 AM every day.

National Memorial Chorten, Meditate Amidst Peace!

National Memorial Chorten

One of the best visiting places in Thimphu, the Memorial Chorten, a prominent landmark, is located in the centre of the city. Popular as ‘the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan,’ the Chorten was built in 1974 and dedicated to Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the third Druk Gyalpo (Bhutanese King).

The Chorten possesses a dominating architecture with a large white exterior with the golden spire on the crown. It is designed in Tibetan style and comes with a classical stupa along with a pyramidical pillar. Interestingly, the chorten does not enshrine the human remains of the Druk Gyalpo, as he wanted to build a chorten that will represent the mind of Buddha. The place attracts everyone from oldies to kids as people love to meditate here amidst the peaceful nature.

Timings: Open 24 hours every day.

Dechen Phodrang, Picturesque Monastic School!

Dechen Phodrang Thimphu

Originally founded as a fortress, Dechen Phodrang has been a monastic school (a lobra) since 1971. Also known as the ‘Palace of Great Bliss,’ Dechen Phodrang is located atop a hillock, overlooking the north-central part of Thimphu Valley. One of the popular points of tourist interest, it presently houses nearly a thousand novice monks along with 15 staff.

Back in the year 1772, the original building on the site of Dechen Phodrang was destroyed in a fire and only the residence of Zhabdrung survived. The residence was then renamed Dechen Phodrang and started to be treated as a monastic residence. The place also used to host government functions in the 18th century. The monastery, one of the notable places to see in Thimphu houses a rich collection of UNESCO-monitored historical artefacts along with ancient paintings. It also has an amazing statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Timings: 8 AM to 7 PM every day.

Motithang Takin Preserve, The Wildlife Attraction!

Motithang Takin Preserve

A takin reserve, located in Motithang District of Thimphu, Motithang Takin Preserve is a place that you must add to your Thimphu sightseeing tour. Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, has an unusual appearance – the face of a goat and the body of a cow, thus attracting several wildlife enthusiasts across the world. As per local mythology, Drukpa Kunley, the famous Tibetan saint created the animal as he was requested by people to do something magical in front of everyone.

The preserve was formerly a mini-zoo, which was closed following the order of the King of Bhutan, who felt that restricting animals in a confined space is against the ethics of Buddhism. All the animals were released after the closure, but surprisingly, the takin refused to leave the area and became virtually domesticated. Then the preserve was made on an area of 8.4 acres and people started coming to see the animals. You can also see a few barking deer and sambar in Motithang Takin Preserve, which is one of the best places to visit with family on your Thimphu trip.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM every day.

Simply Bhutan Museum, A Living Museum!

Simply Bhutan Museum

Simply Bhutan Museum is a living museum that offers international tourists an authentic experience of Bhutan’s history, culture, people and food in a single place. Apparently, visiting this museum is considered one of the top things to do in Thimphu. The museum, located around 500 metres to the west of the centre of the city is a part of a project to promote Bhutanese culture worldwide. Interestingly, the museum is led by a group of youths who are considered the future leaders of the country.

In the Simply Bhutan Museum, you will be offered a detailed introduction to authentic Bhutanese life by the youths. You will learn the traditional songs, dance forms, farming and many more things that will help you understand the different aspects of the country. You will also learn the process of wearing the Gho and Kira and the process of the dart game, known as Khuru. Unlike other museums where touching the artefacts is strictly allowed, Simply Bhutan offers a unique experience to let you immerse in the real Bhutanese tradition.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM every day.

Cheri Gompa Monastery, Bhutan’s First-Ever Monastery!

Cheri Gompa Monastery

Founded in 1620, Cheri Gompa is Bhutan’s first-ever monastery and undoubtedly one of the best places to explore in Thimphu. It is located atop Dodena Hill and takes an hour-long trek to reach. The trail through the green forests of pine and rhododendron will leave you amused while passing by the Tango Monastery and the bridge over the Wang Chhu River.

Built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Cheri Gompa Monastery is an epitome of serenity amidst the pure form of nature. The bright prayer flags swinging in the air, the prayer room, the monastery building and the Buddhist paintings – all of these make this place one of the top most beautiful places to visit. The monastery also houses a silver Chorten that enshrines the ashes of Zhabdrung’s father. The place has been treated as the perfect place for meditation for ages as it offers peace and calmness all around.

Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM every day.

Royal Botanical Garden, The First-Ever Botanical Garden!

Royal Botanical Garden Thimphu

The first-ever botanical garden of Bhutan, located in Lamperi, at a distance of 30 kilometres from Thimphu, is actually a biological corridor between two national parks. Spread over an area of 120 square kilometres, the botanical garden is situated between a range of 2,100 metres and 3,750 metres. The garden, also popular as a training centre for horticulture activities, is located at the tri-junction of three hills, Helela, Dochula and Sinchula.

Royal Botanical Garden was established in 1999 and it was formerly an ex-situ conservation area. There are more than 500 species of many rare plants found here. The garden also houses a sacred lake, where monkeys can be seen bathing. The lake is considered sacred as people give votive offerings here. It also has a children’s park, which is one of the favourite picnic spots in Thimphu among the locals.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM every day.

Folk Heritage Museum, A Taste of Bhutanese Folk Heritage!

Folk Heritage Museum Thimphu

Also known as Phelchey Toenkhyim, the Folk Heritage Museum was built in 2001 to connect tourists to the rural history and folk heritage of Bhutan. Certainly, one of the best places to travel in Thimphu, as well as Bhutan, the Folk Heritage Museum is located amidst the cascading rice and wheat fields in the centre of the city, in Kawajangsa.

The three-story building complex of the museum is made of traditional mud and timber houses, which are more than 150 years old. The complex also has a watermill, hot stone bath, kitchen gardens, store rooms and many more sections. To fulfil the aim of its establishment, the authority also planted the native trees in the surroundings, which have indigenous resources and domestic usage in the rural areas of Bhutan. Offering a variety of traditional knowledge along with foods and other experiences, Folk Heritage Museum is such a place where you can learn something new every time you visit here.

Timings

  • 10 AM to 4:30 PM on Mondays to Fridays.
  • 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturdays.
  • 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM on Sundays.
  • Closed on government holidays.

Hope this article will help you a lot to decide where to visit in Thimphu and what to do in those places on your upcoming family vacation trip. It will definitely give you a general idea about tourism places in Thimphu. However, if you get confused about how to plan and through which procedure to go, you can contact us or browse our website. First of all, you will find some of the best Thimphu tourism/Bhutan tourism packages, which come at an affordable budget. Secondly, if you want to know more about these packages, you will get the utmost assistance in every field.

Other Interesting Blogs to Read

Other Important Bhutan Tourism Links

Quick Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions:

Which is the best time to plan holidays to Thimphu Bhutan?

Owing to pleasant weather, the autumn season, from September to November is the perfect time for exploring Thimphu. In autumn, the sky remains clear and the temperature is cool, which is also perfect for trekking in Thimphu.

How to plan a Thimphu Bhutan trip from India?

For exploring Thimphu, Indian travellers have to go through the following procedure.

  • You will have to verify your documents such as your Voter ID card or Passport at the immigration office. No other cards except these two are admissible.
  • Children (below 18 years) if not having a passport, need to submit a birth certificate in English along with a school ID card.
  • You have to mention all the details of your hotel bookings when asked by the officials.
  • You have to take an ‘Entry Permit’ at the Phuentsholing office if you’re coming by road from West Bengal, India. Travellers coming to Bhutan by air have to obtain the ‘Entry Permit’ at the Paro International Airport. The permit is generally issued for seven days, which can be extended for tourism purposes, depending on all the documents.
  • The Phuentsholing Regional Immigration Office remains open from 6 AM to 8 PM on all working days except Saturdays and Sundays.
  • The ‘Entry Permit’ obtained at Phuentsholing and Paro allows Indian tourists to spend vacation only in Thimphu. For exploring Bhutan beyond Thimphu, you have to obtain an additional ‘Route Permit’ for other places from the Immigration Office at Thimphu, which remains open from 10 AM to 4 PM on all working days, except Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Indian tourists can apply for an ‘Entry Permit’ in advance through the ‘Online Permit System’ with a valid passport through a registered Bhutanese Tour Operator with a mandatory stay at a TCB (Tourist Council of Bhutan) certified hotel.

However, some of the rules are changed by the Bhutan Government, which will be applied from September 23, when the country will reopen its border for international tourists. It is recommended to check the sites of the Tourism Department and Embassy of India for all the details, before planning a Bhutan trip.

What are the top things to do for tourists in Thimphu?

Want to know the best things to do in Thimphu? Check out the following list.

  • Learn the age-old method of paper making in the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory.
  • Attend an open-air concert in Clock Tower Square.
  • Check out the Instagrammable sunset point at Changangkha Lhakhang.
  • Read about Bhutan and its people at Bhutan National Library.
  • Buy Bhutanese delicacies from homemade cheese to dried fish from the weekend market.
  • Spot a Takin at Motithang Preserve.

Which is the main attraction in Thimphu?

The top tourism attractions in Thimphu are:

  • Trashi Chho Dzong
  • Changangkha Lhakhang
  • Tango Goemba
  • National Memorial Chorten
  • Dechen Phodrang
  • Motithang Takin Preserve
  • Simply Bhutan Museum
  • Cheri Gompa
  • Royal Botanical Garden
  • Folk Heritage Museum

How is the nightlife in Thimphu?

Besides being the capital and largest city of Bhutan, Thimphu is also a modern region of the country and offers active nightlife. Unlike other Himalayan kingdoms, Thimphu, which is also a budget travel destination, provides a unique opportunity to experience the Bhutanese way of life at night. There are several nightclubs, shopping centres and cafes where you can spend your night while visiting Thimphu.

What are the accommodation facilities for tourists in Thimphu Bhutan?

Worried about where to stay in Thimphu?

A wide range of accommodation facilities from luxurious hotels in Thimphu to budget-friendly homestays and farm stays are available. All of these hotels, resorts, homestays and farm stays are rated concerning to a National Five Star Rating System and all tour operators are ordered to provide their guests with at least a three-star option for accommodation. However, you need to book the hotels in advance as the details are required while obtaining an ‘Entry Permit’ from the immigration office.

What is the best way to reach Thimphu?

Three best ways to reach Thimphu:

  • By Rail: The cheapest way to reach Thimphu is by rail. The nearest station is Hasimara, from where Jaigaon, the Indian town on Indo-Bhutan border, is around 15 kilometres. Phuentsholing is around four kilometres from Jaigaon. Another nearest station is New Jalpaiguri, from where Jaigaon is 140 kilometres.
  • By Air: Bhutan is connected with Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Bagdogra, Guwahati and Mumbai via daily flights of two airlines – Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The country has only one international airport, named Paro International Airport, which is one of the most challenging airports in the world.
  • By Road: You can enter Bhutan via Jaigaon, the Indo-Bhutan border town in West Bengal. Private cabs and buses are available between these two places.
Published: 08 Jul, 2022By
Tags: Bhutan Tours Asia

About the author

Nandini Bhattacharya

From the ‘City of Joy,’ Kolkata, Nandini Bhattacharya is a Travel Writer by profession and traveller by passion. She loves to explore places around the world, new cultures, different cuisines and all new things that one can learn outside the home. She also loves to document her journey so that people can be inspired and travel more. Nandini is a nature lover and talks about sustainable tourism. She wants to make this world a good place where people can live healthy and happily.

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