Have you ever been to a farmers market? It is a market where the farmers display their vegetables and other produce straight from the farm. Apart from the lure of fresh vegetables, these kinds of markets attract people because of the vibe surrounding them. There are many reasons behind visiting farmers markets, from supporting the local community to the variety in choices that you are offered. The Centenary Farmers Market is one of the places to visit in Bhutan where you can get this wonderful experience. It is located below the main town, in close proximity to River Wang Chhu. It is the largest farmers market in Bhutan which attracts farmers from all over the country, all of whom gather to sell their fresh farm produce directly to the customers. Its popularity has increased over time, and today, it is a big hit among visitors.
The Centenary Farmers Market was inaugurated in 2008 by Her Royal Highness Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuk. The market is held in a two story building which houses about 400 stalls. Vendors start displaying their produce in these stalls from Thursday and continue to do so over the next three days. This is also the best time to visit the market and explore the stalls, as most of the produce is displayed during this time. Apart from all the buying and selling, these markets present a great opportunity to interact with the locals. One of the benefits of these interactions is that you are introduced to the ingredients essential to a traditional Bhutanese diet.
If you head to the lower level of the building where the farmers market is held, you will come across various kinds of fresh, organic produce at affordable prices. It is in the first floor that you will find different kinds of local produce, from dried seeds and herbs to fresh seasonal fruits. There are authentic traditional products too, including traditional yeast which is used for producing pure honey, local wine, dried cheese, cherry pepper and banana flower. Although most of the vegetables found in the farmers market are seasonal, the dried chillies being an exception. An interesting sight awaits you at the cereal section of the market, where various kinds of rice are displayed. Some of these are boyo zaw (puffed rice), colourful mekhu (crispy rice crackers), kabchi, tengma and kharang. Some distance away, a collection of dried fish, strips of pork and balls of datse (homemade soft cheese) attract their fair share of customers.
Apart from fresh fruits and vegetables, incense sticks are also sold in the market, and are very popular with the locals. A kind of fragrant incense powder called sang is displayed at one corner of the market. The special thing about these incense sticks is that they are made from ingredients which are available at a very high altitude. The Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu remains open all days of the week except Monday, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.