Thimphu (ཐིམ་ཕུག།) is the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and with a population of around 115,000 (2017), it is the nation's largest city.
Although the Thimphu Valley has supported small settlements for many centuries and a dzong has existed there since 1216, the city didn't really develop until the king declared Thimphu the new capital in 1961. Vehicles first appeared on the streets a year later, and slowly the city began to adapt to its role as the nation's capital. The town is undergoing massive development. New tree-lined streets are being laid and the clock tower area in the center of the city has been transformed into a park-cum-open air theater where live cultural performances take place. In 2008, the national stadium and a new river-side park were completed. The area around the dzong and government buildings is a particularly green and an attractive district.
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Norzin Lam is the city's main thoroughfare and is lined with small hotels and shopping complexes.
The winter season in Thimphu is very cold but dry, while the summers are wet and humid. The best times to visit are from mid September to the end of October and from March to May.
Get in edit
By plane edit
To avoid the hefty airfare rates charged to foreigners flying into Bhutan, many overseas nationals opt to fly to Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri and then travel overland to Bhutan. The journey from Siliguri to Thimphu takes 9-10 hours. There is no direct bus, and passengers will need to change transportation in Phuentsholing. Indian taxis will travel as far as the border town of Jaigaon and will not enter Bhutan.
By bus edit
All inter-district buses arrive and depart from the city's bus station across the river from the city centre. It is a 5- to 6-hour drive (mostly through Chukha (district) from the border town of Phuentsholing.
Various private operators like Dhug, Meto and Sernya run Toyota Coaster bus services from Phuentsholing to Thimphu. These buses can seat 22 and are very comfortable. Advance reservation can be made at Phuentsholing bus station.
Once in Thimphu you can find various buses plying to other parts of the country.
Get around edit
The city center is small enough to negotiate on foot.
By bus edit
The city operates an efficient, albeit infrequent, public bus service connecting the downtown with outer suburbs. The station for local buses is located just east of the stadium on Changlam.
By taxi edit
There is a set rate for taxis plying city routes — within the core area the rate is Nu 120 (Bhutanese ngultrum), while it costs around Nu150-160 to nearby suburbs. There are taxi ranks on Norzin Lam (near the cinema hall and Punjab Bank). Taxis also cruise and can be hailed at any point. There are shared taxis from the city bus station, and the rate is around Nu35-40 to suburbs within a 20- to 30-min drive.
Although lacking the charm and culture associated with ancient capitals, Thimphu has several attractions of note. A hefty entry fee is charged to all foreign nationals (including those with work permits or who are paying the daily tariff of US$100 to the government sustainable fund) at religious structures and buildings of national significance.
Religious structures edit
Monasteries are referred to by their Dzongkha title of lhakhang or gompa.
- 1 Changangkha Lhakhang. Constructed in the 15th century, this is one of the oldest temples in the Thimphu Valley, and is dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist emanation of compassion. The temple affords wonderful views over the entire valley. Go to see the prayer ritual inside the monastery and talk with the students here.
- 2 Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. Sitting on top of Kuensel Phodrang hill is a 51.5-m bronze statue of the founder of Buddhism. The site also offers unobstructed views over the Thimphu Valley - especially stunning at sunset. Nu1,000 for all non-Bhutanese.
- Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery (Ziluka Nunnery) (Ziluka, on left side of the main road from Thimphu to Hejo/Jungshina). The seat of the 17th emanation of Thangtong Gyalpo. Built in 1976, the nunnery is home to over 60 nuns. Large statue of Thangtong Gyalpo, views over Thimphu Dzong.
- 3 The National Memorial Chorten (Off Jangchhub Lam). A good place to visit in the evening when the locals are doing their evening prayers. The stupa was built in 1974 in memory of the third king. Nu 500 for all non-Bhutanese.
- 4 Zangthoperi Lhakhang, Dungkhor Lam (lower Thimphu — follow the path down from below the GPO). The present structure was built in 1960s and although lacking the charm of many of the older temples, Zangdopelri still possesses some impressive murals and art treasures and is worthy of a visit. The site of the temple is a former battle ground, and the temple was constructed there in order to pacify energies.
- 5 National Folk Heritage Museum (behind the National Library). M-F 10:30-16:30, Sa 10:30-13:00, Su 11:30-15:30. A traditional house that showcases rural life. Exhibits and cultural shows are held in the museum compound. Nu 150.
- 6 The Royal Textile Museum (Textile Museum) (Norzin Lam). M-Sa 09:00-16:00. A display of exquisite Bhutanese textiles from the 1600s to the present day. Nu 150.
- 7 Simtokha Dzong (5 km south of Thimphu). Built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Simtokha was the first dzong to be built in a unified Bhutan. It houses the country's main Dzongkha language learning institute.
- 8 Tashichho Dzong (Tashi Chhoe Dzong). Built in the 18th century by Shabdrung Rinpoche to house government officials. Later it was enlarged to accommodate both the monastic and civil bodies. Three times suffering severe damage from fire and once from an earthquake in 1897, much of the historic building dates from the rebuilding in 1902. To accommodate the national government and the central monastic body, the dzong was totally refurbished and enlarged in 1962, a year after Thimphu was designated the nation's capital. The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storeyed with three-storeyed towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. There is also a large central tower or utse. The towers and roof are beautifully lit at night.
Parks and preserves edit
- 9 Botanical Gardens, Serbithang. On lush hillside about 10 km from the city, the gardens offer a peaceful and relaxing environment to spend a few hours. Botanists will find the wide selection of indigenous trees and plants of interest.
- 10 Centenary Park (Coronation Park). On the banks of the river (near the city stadium), this 5.6 acres of parkland offer a pleasant and relaxing environment to stroll or to sit and watch the river flow by.
- Ludrong Memorial Garden, Langjopakha. A lovely garden with ponds and bridges and unobstructed view of Thimphu Dzong. The garden was donated to the public by the Royal Grandmother, HM Kesang Choden, in memory of her late brother.
- 11 Takin Preserve (Motithang). The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
Traditional crafts edit
- 12 Zorig Chusum School of Traditional Arts (Near National Library). Zorig Chusum was established in 1971 to preserve the 13 traditional arts of Bhutan, and visitors are able to observe students honing their skills. There is also a small gift shop selling work created at the school. The thirteen arts are paintings, carpentry, wood carving, sculpture, casting, metal work, bamboo carving, gold & silver work, weaving, embroidery, masonry, leather work and paper making.
- 1 Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Public Library (Top end Norzin Lam — left side). This small library has a good selection of English books, but appreciates donations of popular titles, especially those on Buddhism and Bhutan.
- 2 The National Institute of Traditional Medicine, ☏ . M-F 09:00-15:00, Sa 09:00-13:00. Serzhong Lam. A place to have any chronic ailments diagnosed and treated using herbal compounds. Ensure to retain the prescription.
- 3 The National Library, ☏ . M-F 09:30 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 17:00. Pedzoe Lam. It houses a rare collection of Buddhist texts on the second floor, and there is a small selection of English books on Buddhism (mostly donated by Taiwan) and on Bhutan on the first floor.
- Tsal Parkour Gym, Chubachu, ☏ . A creative energy gym run by Bhutan's most famous parkour practitioner. Emphasizes having fun while getting fit.
- Bhutan Echoes Literary Festival. 4-6 August 2023. Events to promote literature, culture, and art in Bhutan
- Thimphu Drupchen (religious ceremony). 20 September 2023
- Thimphu Tshechu (religious festival). 24-26 September 2023
Bhutan's small population means demand for new and innovative goods is limited. Thimphu has three kinds of stores: clothing, handicraft and hardware. Between these, there is a small assortment of stationery, bookshops, and supermarkets. Almost all shops stock the same goods, so if you cannot find the required items in the first couple of stores it is generally useless to persist.
Haggling at tourist-oriented shops is expected, but the margin for discount is small (unless you make a bulk purchase). However, shop owners are generally honest and there is little possibility to be cheated or offered an inflated price.
Most handicrafts sold in Thimphu are made in Nepal or other Himalayan areas. Exceptions are cloth items, some thankas, goods made of lemon grass oil, incense, and Bhutanese coffee.
- Bookworld, Yarkay Complex, Wogzin Lam (from main traffic towards the stadium, first lane on right, directly below the Druk Punjab Bank), ☏ . Every day 10:00-20:30. Good selection of books on Buddhism
- 1 DSB Books Enterprises, PO Box 435 (Jojo Building near Druk Hotel), ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. A wide selection of books in English — novels and children's books are a specialty.
- Junction Bookstore, Tashi Pelkhil Village, off Babesa Highway (Near Pelkhil School), email@example.com. M-Sat: 11AM-7PM. A lovely cabin-style bookstore set in a garden. Patio. Wide selection of books — Classic novels. Supports local creative industries through non-profit sales of the work.
The weekend market in Chubachhu (across the river from the main area) has over 100 stalls selling hand woven cloth and other handicrafts.
- CSI Market, Babesa Highway, Changzamtok (near Kuensel office), ☏ . M-Sat: 9:30AM-8PM, Sun: 10AM-7PM. A wide range of quality handicrafts under one roof. Cafe.
- Dolkar Handicrafts, GF, Norling Cable Building, Chorten Lam (Opp Dusit D2 Yarkay and Le Meridien Hotel.). 09-00-21:00. Specializes in antique handicrafts, used woven cloth, traditional silver buckles, antique jewelry, and wooden eating bowls, etc.
- 2 Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre (Changzamtog). A weaving centre employing around 20 professional weavers. Showroom on top floor.
- 3 Handicrafts Emporium (top end of Norzin Lam — right side). A large craft shop. Specializes in fabric. A little old fashioned. Selection of books on Buddhism and local subjects on the second floor.
- 4 Lungta (opposite the post office). One of the largest handicraft shops in the city centre. Good selection of hand made goods from all over the Himalayan region.
- 5 Norzin Lam Handicraft Market (in front Pemako Hotel). A line of handicraft stalls. All items are from Bhutan.
- 6 Tarayana Foundation (top end of Norzin Lam — next to the town library). Tarayana trains and supports the vulnerable and disadvantaged to make traditional handicrafts. Displays are uninteresting and the selection of goods is limited but the quality of the handicrafts is excellent and they offer a more rustic and genuine feel that those on sale at the commercial handicraft shops.
- 7 Yarkay Central. This shopping centre across from Hotel Norling on Norzin Lam has four good quality craft shops:
- Kelzang Handicrafts, ☏ . Most commercial and sells a range of goods, including t-shirts.
- Druk Handicraft, ☏ .
- Kurtue Handicrafts, ☏ . Specializes in woven goods.
- Karchung, ☏ . Sells a small, but good quality range of art work and wood carvings.
Postal stamps edit
- 8 Thimphu Central Post Office. The post office has a large selection of stamps for sale. The special feature of the post office is that you can get a postage stamp made with your own photo printed on it, and these stamps can be used for postage purposes. The cost is nominal.
Most restaurants (including those in 2- or 3-star hotels) in Thimphu stop serving food between 20:30 and 21:30. For information about restaurants in hotels, please go to the sleep section of this article, where hotels are listed.
- 1 Zombala restaurant. One of the best Momos in town. Kuka and pakoras are really good, Thupka is a bit bland.
- 2 Chopsticks, ☏ . 2nd floor, Centre Mall, Norzin Lam. A small restaurant specializing in Chinese dishes.
- Dim Sum Basket, 2F, Gaa-phel Shopping Center, Chorten Lam (Below Le Meridien Hotel, opp Hotel 89.). Authentic and tasty Cantonese cuisine. Veg and non-veg dishes. Bright, but uninspired interior. Large street-viewing windows.
- 3 Druk Pizza (behind KMT Building) at the top end of Norzin Lam), ☏ , . Tu-Su. Good quality pizzas on Italian style base with Bhutanese toppings plus a small selection of milk shakes and hot beverages. Free coke and a free pizza after your 10th is a bonus. Limited sitting area. Specializes in take-away.
- 4 Hayate Ramen (https://www.facebook.com/BhutanRamen/), 2F Peljorlhendrubling Building, Changlam (opposite the central police station), ☏ , . Owned by a Japanese lady and her Bhutanese husband. Hayate offers authentic ramen and sushi. Japanese-style decor.
- Norling Pizza, B1, Norling Hotel Complex, Norzin Lam (a two minute walk from the Main Traffic), ☏ . Delicious pizzas. Large number of vegetarian options. No MSG. Standard fast food decor.
- 5 The Seasons Restaurant Pizzeria, Namsay Shopping Complex, Phenday Lam, ☏ . W-M. One of the few places in town that serves authentic pizza and Italian salads. Pizzeria also offers a good selection of filter coffees and has an outdoor patio.
Upscale hotels (see the Splurge section in Sleep below) have restaurants.
- 1 Ambient Cafe, 1F R. Penjor Lodge, Norzin Lam (between the Traffic Circle and Clock Tower, west side of main street, opposite Punjab National Bank), ☏ . Daily 08:00-21:00 (last order for food - 20:30). An elegant and relaxing cafe in a central location. Ambient has a professional Turkish coffee roaster and so the coffee is always fresh. In addition to the usual espresso-based coffees (cappuccino, latte, etc.), they also offer cold brew and sell freshly roasted beans (ground or whole). The cafe has a wide selection of delicious cakes, a large range of teas, fresh juice, homemade ice-cream and innovative snacks and meals. Ambient also provides an excellent selection of music and offers panoramic views over the city streets and mountains beyond. Free Wi-Fi. Nu 100–125 (coffee), Nu 80–100 (cakes).
- Bingsu, Kuenphen Rabten Resort, Changjalu (inside Khuenphen Rabten Resort compound, above helipad). Open W-Su. A small cosy cafe inside a resort courtyard. Open to non-resort residents. Serves cappuccino and Americano. Specializes in East Asian shaved-ice desserts and custard tarts. A wide rage of homemade ice-cream.
- Brusnika Russian Cafe (Russian Bakery), Lanjopakha (above the Ludrong memorial garden). 09:00-20:00, Tu-Sun. Full range of coffee. Continental cafe-style meals with good selection of bread. Views over Ludrong Park and Thimphu Dzong mid-range.
- 2 Cafe Luna, Kawajangsa (above the Folk Heritage Museum), ☏ . A very small, cozy cafe. Good selection of books. Excellent coffee and teas. Simple and wholesome meals.
- 3 Coffee Culture, Chang Lam Square (near the Lower Market). Tu-Su. A pleasant cafe, with an excellent selection of cakes and desserts. Has some outdoor seating.
- Daily Delight (Kangen Cafe), 2F, Gaa-phel Shopping Center, Chorten Lam (Below Le Meridien Hotel, opp Hotel 89.), ☏ . 09:00-21:00 daily. Bright and atmospheric cafe. Coffee, wide selection of boba tea and shakes.
- Elsewhere Art and Cafe (Elsewhere Cafe), Chorten Lam (next to Hotel 89, below DusitD2), ☏ . 09:30-21:30. A quirky little cafe among art work. Full range of coffees and light meals and snacks.
- Meraki Cafe and Pâtisserie, Thori Lam, Kawajangsa (Between the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Heath offices), ☏ . Th-Su 10:00-21:00. A high-end cafe. Specializes in fancy cakes and quality food.
- 4 The Art Cafe (a block west from the Traffic Circle, above Hotel Galingikha), ☏ . Tu-Su. A bright, airy and elegant cafe with a courtyard, serving delicious cakes, pies, and wholesome meals, but only basic filter coffee.
- Tower Cafe, Clock Tower (Ground floor of Thimphu Tower Hotel), ☏ . Daily 10:00-23:00. A lively cafe popular with youth. Rap and rock played from flat screen TV. Espresso based coffees. Tasty light meals and snacks. Small outside seating area with view over the Clock Tower.
Thimphu has few scintillating night clubs. Once inside any of these night clubs, it's a complete glamorous affair. The cost of the entry is quite low too (approx Nu 250 per person). Some clubs allow stag entry as well. The drinks are generally inexpensive and the staff friendly. However, the local youths can create problems on small or no issues and might enter into a scuffle with people from neighbouring countries. The sale of alcohol is prohibited on Tuesdays (locally known as dry night) and so all bars and clubs are closed on this day.
- 5 Mojo Park, Chang lam (opposite the national stadium), ☏ . W-M 17:00-00:00. Live music. The hangout place for Thimphu's aging hip crowd.
- Smilers Cafe-Bar (Smilers), Wogzin Lam (From Main Traffic towards the stadium, first lane on right. Smilers is on the first floor of the first building on the left.). A cool bistro with a distinct urban tone. Excellent continental food, espresso-based coffees, wide range of alcoholic drinks, fast and efficient service.
- The Grey Area Coffee Lounge Bar, 1st floor, building 8, Wogzin Lam (Located in Terton Gallery), ☏ . The Grey Area is run by actor Kelly Dorji and is located inside a gallery that sells Kelly's own paintings along with work of other local artists. Serves light meals and snacks.
- Yoe's Baristro, Yarkay Complex, Norzin Lam (1F, Punjab Bank Building, directly behind the small chorten), ☏ . A bright and airy bistro. Views over the Clock Tower. Espresso-based coffees, cocktails. Continental and Indian cuisine.
Most of Thimphu's budget hotels are on Norzin Lam (the main road through the city), especially above the Clock Tower. Anything that costs less than Nu 1,000 will offer nothing more than a worn bed, a basic toilet, and about enough space to place a bag. The main door will probably be closed by 22:00 at the latest. Negotiate the rate, especially off season.
- 1 Hotel Ghasel, Norzin Lam (opposite the clock tower), ☏ , (mobile). Rooms with attached bathroom and hot water facility, cable TV. There are also restaurant, bar and fast food facilities — for those pining that backstreet Indian vibe, the hotel's vegetarian restaurant is the place to come. Under the sound of Hindi songs blasting from a TV, Ghasel produces delicious dosa and thali and a range of other Indian and Bhutanese specialties.
- 2 Hotel Tandin (Norzin Lam, just past the first traffic circle — restaurant on the first floor). Cheap Indian and Bhutanese dishes.
- 3 City Hotel, Jattu Commercial Complex, Changlam, ☏ . A chic hotel in the heart of the city.
- 4 Hotel Druk, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. A large city center hotel next to the Clock Tower. Health club with massage, sauna, steam facilities. Standard single Nu 2,000, standard double Nu 2,500.
- 5 Hotel Motithang, ☏ . A pleasant hotel on the mountain side above Thimphu. Wonderful views over the valley. A great place for people looking for peace and quiet or some inspiration.
- Tara Phendeyling Hotel, Babesa Highway, Olakha (Near Helipad), ☏ +975-2-341260 / +975-17127752 , email@example.com. Comfortable rooms. French, Continental, and Indian cuisine. Cafe. Gym. Steam and sauna.
- 6 Zhiwa Ling Ascent, Kawang Dajo, Upper Mothitang,, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A chic and minimalist hotel among a forest.
- 7 Amankora Thimphu (near Kuenga Chhoeling Palace, Upper Motithang), ☏ . Part of the Aman super-luxury hotel chain. A 16-room lodge offering five-star facilities. From US$1,500 per night.
- DusitD2 Yarkay (Dusit), Choten Lam, ☏ . A chic and modern hotel with traditional touches. Centrally located.
- 8 Le Meridien, Chorten Lam, ☏ . Large and centrally located. Contemporary decor.
- 9 Pemako (formerly Taj Tashi), Samten Lam, ☏ . Opened in 2008, a large and centrally located hotel offering full amenities. From US$275 off season, or US$350 in peak season.
- Six Senses, Serbithang, ☏ . A luxurious, minimalist resort offering views over the Thimphu Valley and landmark Statue of the Buddha. World-class service and menu. From US$2,000.
The area code for Thimphu is 02. When calling from overseas dial +975 2 XXXXXX
Internet cafes in Thimphu are linked to broadband. Connections are reasonably swift.
- Gems Internet Cafe, The Woods Hotel Building, Wogzin Lam (from the Clock Tower, next building from Tower Hotel), email@example.com. 9AM-7PM. internet, photocopy, fax, scan
- 1 TeeBee's Cyber Cafe, GF. Norzoed Plaza (Above the Clock Tower). internet, photocopy, fax, scan 11AM-8PM.
- Workspace, Changlam Corner. 3F, Shop 36 (At the bottom end of Changlam Square), ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyday 10:00-00:00. Workspace with high speed internet access, printing and screening, panoramic views, coffee, snacks, bar (evening only). Day pass Nu500.
Getting work done in Thimphu is relatively straight forward. All offices are computerized and the staff are generally helpful. However, it is often said that Bhutan has one of the world's highest rates of meetings and workshops per working hours. This cannot be substantiated, but certainly meetings are very much part of the civil service culture here. In fact, it is often joked that the last place you should begin a search for a civil servant is at his or her desk! As a result, you should be prepared to make several visits to an office in order to get a task complete as there is a very high possibility that the person dealing with your case will be out of the office.
- ATM. Bhutan operates an international ATM service, though as it is sometimes out of order, it is advisable to bring sufficient cash to at least cover basics.
- Banks. The three main banks in Thimphu are 'Bank of Bhutan', 'Bhutan National Bank' and 'Punjab National Bank'. The first two are both located on the upper part of Norzin Lam, while the Punjab National Bank is on the lower part of the street, near the Clock Tower. All three banks provide money change service.
- Post Office. The central PO is in the lower part of town on Chang Lam. It is a large and well organized facility that includes a philatelic department. Mailing letters or packages in Bhutan is usually very safe though, like elsewhere, anything of value should be registered. The post office also offers a custom made stamp and packing service.
- Visa extensions and route permits are available at the Immigration Office, Kawajangsa (above the golf course). Route permits should be applied for at least one full working day before the intended date of travel. A photocopy of passport (pages containing personal information and Bhutanese visa) is required.
- Western Union, Thimphu Post Office. This facility can receive transfer of funds from overseas, but cannot make outward payments.
- CityCare, The Woods Hotel Building, Wogzin Lam (from the Clock Tower, next building from Tower Hotel). ☏ +975 77619730. A well stocked medical shop. Very polite and helpful service. 9AM-9PM
- Kuenphen Pharmacy, 2f. corner or Norzin Lam and Wogzin Lam (near main traffic). ☏ +975 17603802 The largest medical shop in Thimphu. Wide range of over-the-counter medicines, toiletries, and supplements.
- 8-11, Gongdzin Lam 23 (a one minute walk from Dusit Hotel). Thimphu's most popular supermarket. A wide variety of imported and domestic goods. 10AM-7PM
- C-Mart, 1F Gaa-phel Shopping Center (just below Hotel Le Meridien). A well stocked supermarket. 10AM-10PM
Medical treatment edit
- Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWRHl), Changzamtok. This is Bhutan's largest hospital and has a full range of departments, including emergency.
- Paekar Diagnostic Centre. Olakha (near Hotel Ariya). ☏ +975 2-338044, 17304863. A private clinic with a wide range of diagnostic facilities.
Embassies and consulates edit
- Bangladesh, ☏ .
- India, India House, Jungshina, ☏ .
- Kuwait, H. No. 5, Thorilam, Chubachu, ☏ .
- Thailand, Royal Textile Academy Building, Norzin Lam (on the right side of the road after walking up Norzin Lam, just past the handicraft bazaar.).
Go next edit
Buses depart the inter-district bus station (across the river) throughout the day, though most, especially those heading to the east and Jakar/Bumthang leave between 06:30 and 07:30. As the inter-district buses are often full, it is advisable to purchase a ticket a few days in advance. Most districts are served by small Japanese Coaster Buses, which are comfortable and sturdy.
Shared taxis are a quick and comfortable means to travel to nearby places, such as Paro (Nu 150) and Punakha (Nu 200). Shared taxis depart from the inter-district bus station, and drivers approach potential customers. They depart once full.
Monastic complexes are referred to by their Bhutanese title of 'gompa', not 'monastery'.
- Cheri Gompa — It is the first Drukpa Kagyu Monastery established in Bhutan and is at the site where Shabdrong Rinpoche gained enlightenment. Consequently, Cheri is one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. The structure is cut into the steep mountainside and has a very atmospheric stone stairway connecting its various levels. Located about an hour's drive north of Thimphu, the trek begins from a prayer flag covered bridge and takes about one hour. Tango and Cheri are about a one hour hike apart, and so are usually visited on the same trip.
- Dochula Pass — The highest point on the journey between Thimphu and Punakha, it has a very good view of a lot of Himalayan peaks, including the Gangkhar Phuensum, which is claimed to be the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Also has a cafe which serves good coffee and decent parathas.
- Jakar — A town at the heart of a sacred and beautiful valley. The journey from Thimphu takes between 9 and 11 hours. A minimum of three days are needed to do justice to a visit.
- Phajoding Gompa — Founded in the 13th century by Togen Pajo, a yogi from Tibet, this monastic complex is a three-hour hike from Thimphu (start from Motithang or BBS Tower). At a height of 3,640 m, it commands excellent views over Thimphu. There is space for camping. Otherwise, the small Thujidrag Gompa (a 40-minute walk from Phajoding) offers simple accommodation (often full at weekends) and cooking facilities - offer donation directly to monk in charge. Even if you do not plan to stay at Thujidrag, this cliff hanging monastery is still definitely worth a visit. Locally, it is famous for its sacred spring water. There are several sacred lakes in the area, though these are a full day's circular hike from Thujidrag.
- Paro — The location of the international airport and center of a sacred valley. Paro is a 45-minute to one-hour drive from the capital - an easy day trip.
- Punakha — The former capital; a 90-minute journey.
- Tango Gompa — About an hour's drive from Thimphu down town followed by a one hour hike, this is one of Bhutan's historical monasteries in the Kagyu tradition. It was founded by the grandson of the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kinley, and houses some of his relics. The monastery offers spectacular views over the Thimphu Valley.