2,334 m


Largest City

of Bhutan

5th Highest Capital

By elevation

About Thimphu 

Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan and centre of government, religion and commerce, is an interesting combination of tradition and modernity. This charming town maintains strong character in its architectural style and it is perhaps world’s only capital city without the traffic light. For travelers, there is plenty to explore here through temples, dzong, museums, local markets and handicrafts stores.

The name ‘Thimphu’ originates from a sinking stone in front of Dechenphu monastery. ‘Thim’ means to sink and ‘phu’ meaning to fly, in local language. Oral history says that the stone is placed on top of a subdued ogress to prevent her from flying away.

Places of interest in Thimphu


‘The Fortress of the Glorious Religion’, Trashichhoedzong, is one of the most impressive buildings situated along the right flank of the Thimphu river and houses the office of His Majesty the King. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who unified Bhutan and was later reconstructed in 1962 by the third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.

Buddha Dordenma

Located at Kuenselphodrang, in capital Thimphu, it is the largest statue of Buddha in Bhutan, measuring 169 feet (51.5m). this gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue is made of bronze and gilded in gold, overlooking the southern approach to capital.

The recreational park opened here in 2011 conserves 94.3 acres of forest area that surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue.

Memorial Chorten

The building of this chorten was originally the idea of Bhutan’s third King, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (‘the father of modern Bhutan’), who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, but was unable to give shape to his idea in his lifetime. After His Majesty’s untimely death in 1972, the Royal Family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes and erect a memorial that would perpetuate his memory and also serve as a monument to peace. The National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974. The finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues within the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

National Library

Established in 1967, National Library is a major scriptural repository and research facility dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich literary, cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan. The scripture and document collection held in library and archives is a national treasure and a fundamental source for Bhutanese history, religion, medicine, art and culture. The Library accommodates a vast and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as a large number of hand carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious book and prayer flags. In particular, the library holds one of the largest treasuries of Mahayana Buddhist literature in the world. Most of this material is written in the classical "Dharma Language" (chos skad), which was for well over a millenium the lingua franca of the Himalayan and Central Asian Buddhist world.

National Textile Museum

With the opening of Textile Museum, under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, Bhutanese textiles have reached new height as one of the most visible traditional crafts and as a distinctly Bhutanese art form. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes; warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievement in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibres and the Royal collection. The crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of the Raven crown and other accessories used by the members of the Royal family can be found in the museum. The goal of the museum is also to become a center for textile studies that will carry out documentation, research and studies on textiles.

Takin Preserve

Located at upper Motithang in Thimphu, the Preserve houses Bhutan’s national animal Takin. According to legend, a Tibetan Buddhist master, Drukpa Kuenley while in Bhutan was requested to perform a miracle. He agreed with the condition that he should be served with a whole cow and goat for lunch. After lunch, he took the goat’s head and placed it on the skeleton of cow and gave it life and that’s how the Takin was born. The Takin still looks like an animal with a goats’ head and the body of a cow. Because of this magical creation with high religious connotation, the animal has been adopted as the National animal of Bhutan.

Simtokha Dzong

Located at Simtokha, south of capital Thimphu, it is the first Dzong constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1629. The name Simtokha literally means ‘atop a demon’ and the legend associated with the Dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region.

Zhabdrung visited the place and subdued the demon, banishing her into the rock on the hill where the present Dzong is located. The Dzong was constructed enclosing the rock ensuring the imprisonment of the demon. Hence the Dzong derived its name as Simtokha from the word Sinmo Do Kha – the Dzong on top of the demon’s stomach.

Institute of Zorig Chusum

Commonly referred to as ‘the painting school’, Institute of Zorig Chusum is Bhutanese Government’s initiative to preserve local heritage and promote arts in the country. ‘Zorig Chusum’ means the Thirteen crafts and this institute offers four to six-year courses for students in Bhutan’s 13 traditional art forms including painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmithing, bamboo work, gold & silversmithing, weaving, embroidery, masonry, leather work and paper-making. The institute not only helps to preserve beautiful heritage but also equips future generations with skills and knowledge to keep heritage alive. On a visit, one can actually see students at work, producing intricate designs.

Folk Heritage Museum

This interesting museum is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstration, educational programmes and documentation of rural life. The principal exhibit in the museum is a restored three-storey traditional building rammed with mud and timber, which dates back to mid-19th century. In order to present a typical Bhutanese rural setting and flavor, paddy, wheat and millet fields, a traditional watermill (with mill stones that date back more than 150 years), traditional style kitchen gardens with vegetables that were grown and consumed over hundred years, and the famous traditional hot stone bath complement the museum building and exhibitions within.

Changangkha Lhakhang

It is one of the oldest temples in the Thimphu valley, built in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lam Phajo Durgom Zhigpo, who came from Ralung, Tibet. The main chapel houses a unique statue of the seated Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. The other structure across the courtyard marked significantly with its grey, houses the protective deity.  The entire complex situated on a hillock offers a magnificent view of the Thimphu valley below.

Pangri Zampa Lhakhang

Located at Dechenchholing towards north of Thimphu, Pangri Zampa is national centre of traditional astrology. Bhutanese parents also visit this lhakhang for getting auspicious names and blessings for their newborns. Built in 16th century, Lhakhang consists of two temples while the two huge cypress trees in front of the complex are said to be the biggest in the country. Temple site is extremely calm, peaceful and travelers would love to spend time here listening stories and anecdote from one of the monks. The young monks dedicate six or more years to get trained here in various areas of traditional astrology before moving to either teaching or meditation.

Drubthob Goemba (Zilukha Nunnery)

Perched on a promontory, overlooking picturesque Trashichhoedzong and Golf course, it is the only nunnery in capital known as Zilukha Anim Dratsang. It once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo, often referred to as The King of the open field (In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas).Visitors may interact here with some of the nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.

Centennial Farmers’ Market

Located below the main town, near the Wang Chhu river, this weekend market is the largest domestic market for farmers in Bhutan. Farmers from all over the country come to sell their farm products in this market. With its wide assortment of fresh and organic produce, this has become a favourite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life. Across a cantilever footbridge, Kuendeyling Bazaam, to the west bank is a collection of stalls selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts.

Changlimithang Ground

This is the site of an historic battle fought in 1885, which gave virtual control of the whole country to the first King, Ugen Wangchuk, thus leading to the unification of the country. Today it is the venue for archery competitions and soccer matches along with important celebrations like the National day. The Royal pavilion is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture built by the late Zori Lopon, one of the foremost master builders of the country.

BBS Tower

This tower located on a hill northeast of Motithang, provides opportunity to enjoy fascinating view of Thimphu valley. It is one of the favourite places frequently visited by locals for enjoying the serene environment and for relaxation. On a clear day, one can see the ubiquitous prayer flags fluttering on the hills and lovely landscape of Thimphu valley.

Simply Bhutan

Simply Bhutan is an exclusive project under the Bhutan Youth Development Fund, built to offer a unique experience to its visitors. It is a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people. Here the serene and picturesque little village house has been recreated using doors and windows and other building materials from old traditional houses that were demolished and the studio portrays age-old lifestyles of the Bhutanese people. A distinctive feature of Simply Bhutan is the team that works in the museum. It is fully operated by young people and job seekers, who receive training in basic business skills, customer care and other life skills through their own experience.

National Institute of Traditional Medicine

In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicine made up from medicinal plants, abundant in the Kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for practitioners. Though the complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and visit the showroom.

Handmade Paper Factory

Located approximately 1 km from Thimphu city centre, the paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho thus preserving and promoting the age-old Bhutanese tradition. The factory uses the bark of two tree species; the Daphne trees and Dhekap tree to produce traditional paper. Visitors can witness the entire process of producing handmade paper using age old methods that have been practiced for generations and they even get opportunity to try their hand at this ancient art form.

Tango Goemba

Founded in the 13th century, it is one of the most beautiful hillslope monasteries in Bhutan. Associated with both Lama Drukpa Kuenley and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Tango is now an important centre of higher learning for monks. The picturesque three-storey tower and several surrounding buildings of monastery were built in the 18th century by the eighth Desi, Druk Rabgye and Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof in the 19th century. Situated north of Thimphu, one way it takes about 30 minutes’ drive and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach the monastery.

Cheri Goemba

This monastery was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620. A silver chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Shabdrung’s father. The goemba is situated about half an hour walk from Dodena (alt. 2,600m). The trail commences by crossing a traditional wooden bridge that spans the Thimphu Chhu, then climbs steeply to the monastery. Being the place where the Shabdrung spent many years in meditation, Cheri today has numerous hermitages and small temples located on its slopes, commanding spectacular views. The one way walk to the monastery is approx 4.5 km, taking about 2 hours

Phajoding Goemba

Situated on a commanding height (3700m) overlooking Thimphu valley, this monastery was built in 15th century by Shagcha Rinchen who introduced the Drukpa Kagyupa School in Bhutan, in the 13th century. Here Guru Padmasambhava is shown in terrifying appearance holding a sword in his right hand and a bowl made of a skull in left hand. The yogic path that turns from India to the mountains of Tibet and Bhutan is set here in symbols with utmost consistency. It was one time one of the richest monasteries in the country. From Thimphu, it is about 3.1/2 hours hike (walk) to the monastery.

Dechenphodrang monastery

Dechen Phrodrang meaning ‘Palace of Great Bliss’ is located in the north of Thimphu city. In 1971, it became a monastic school. The monastery contains a number of important historical artifacts including 12th century paintings monitored by UNESCO and a noted statue of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on the upper floor. In the downstairs chapel, there is a central statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens

The Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens is a unique cluster of 108 Namgyal Khangzang Chortens that spiral up to a main monument, with colourful prayer flag surrounding the entire area. With Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk’s initiative, these chortens were built to honour His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo and his people for their victory in the war fought in southern region of Bhutan in 2003 and for the benefit of all sentient beings. The Chhortens are also a celebration of the stability and progress that His Majesty the King brought to the nation and are a new landmark for travelers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country.