Thimphu Tourism

Thimpu, with a population of a little over 100,000 inhabitants including the Bhutanese Royal Family, is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the country. Sprawling over the western slopes of the Wang Chu river valley, it affords residents and visitors immensely picturesque views from an altitude of 2,348m.

A centre for religion, commerce and government, it houses several important political buildings within its city limits like the Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, and the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy.

In terms of amenities, it is quite a modern city but it comes with some quirks. It is one of the few cities in Bhutan with ATM machines, so here’s your chance to stock up on some currency! It’s also the perfect place to give you a glimpse into contemporary Bhutanese culture as it is teeming with shopping malls, internet cafés and restaurants.

However, quite strangely, for a capital city, it does not have an airport within the city boundaries, instead using the airport in Paro, about 54km away. Another quirk of Thimphu is that there are no traffic signals here! That’s right, just the main intersections will have policemen standing in small pavilions that are intricately decorated, gesticulating exaggeratedly to keep the traffic flowing smoothly. This is quite a sight to foreigners unaccustomed to this unique sort of traffic control.

Thimphu’s journey of development only really began in 1961, though, after being declared the capital of the country by the third King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, replacing the ancient capital of Punakha. The Thimphu valley has nursed several settlements over the centuries and a dzong has existed here right from 1216, but Thimphu being named capital turned a new chapter in the region’s life. Vehicles took to the roads in the next year and the small town slipped into the role of being the country’s capital quite seamlessly after that, with rapid expansion and mushrooming suburban development following quickly thereafter.Thimphu is now a city where apartment blocks, small family homes and family-owned stores mingle with government buildings, all establishments adorned with traditional Buddhist motifs and paintings.

The city has been undergoing massive development lately with tree-lined streets being laid down and a park-cum-open theatre being constructed in the heart of the city that used to be a clock tower area, to create a platform for live cultural performances.2008 saw the completion of the national stadium along with a new river-side park. The national stadium is also where the coronation of the King was held, coinciding with the centenary of the Wangchuk dynasty’s establishment.

Tourists are welcome here and there’s a lot to be explored and discovered, with the Bhutanese amalgamating modernity with indigenous culture very cleverly, fully conscious of the value of their ancient heritage. The culture of Bhutan is reflected very eloquently in many aspects of Thimphu, whether it be the architecture, the religious customs, the monastic practices or references in the media.One important festival celebrated in Thimphu is the four-dayTsechu festival, when mask dances, or Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichhoe Dzong in Thimphu. The Bhutanese just love to celebrate and bask in their rich culture!

A bustling farmers’ market takes place on weekends on the banks of the Wang Chu River that one must visit for fresh, organic produce as well as Buddhist religious paraphernalia like prayer flags and horns that is not to be missed.

Bhutan’s capital and headquarters of the government works towards the national objective of ‘GNH’ or Gross National Happiness in correspondence with the growth of Gross National Product (GNP).

The best tours and activities in the city, guided by experts to give you a local insight to the best of Thimphu

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    Enjoy Bhutan with us and explore the fantastic venues.

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  • Know the pollution level of Thimphu before you plan your visit.

    • Air Pollution 57.5 (Moderate)
    • Water Pollution 54.17 (Moderate)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 62.5 (High)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 33.33 (Low)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 33.33 (Low)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 58.33 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 50 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 15 (Very Low)
  • How safe is Thimphu for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Thimphu.

    • Burglary and Theft 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Mugging and Robbery 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Corruption and Bribery 53.13 (Moderate)
    • Car Stealing 31.25 (Low)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 53.13 (Moderate)
    • Attacks 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Drug offense 56.25 (Moderate)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 71.43 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during night 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 34.38 (Low)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 34.38 (Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 53.13 (Moderate)
  • Quality of Life Index of Thimphu is 135.36 (High)

    • Safety Index 50.74 (Moderate)
    • Climate Index 84.68 (Very High)
    • Pollution Index 58.39 (Moderate)
    • Cost of Living Index 37.23 (Very Low)
    • Health Care Index 58.1 (Moderate)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 14.57 (High)
    • Purchasing Power Index 39.36 (Very Low)
    • Indices such as Quality of life, Climate & Healthcare index are good to be high whereas others such as Property price, Traffic & Cost of living Index are good to be low.

  • Here's how much it will cost to shop in Thimphu

    • Local calling per minute on Prepaid mobile 0.02 USD
    • International Movie per seat 2.83 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 40.16 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 57.64 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 36.88 USD

*Stats and figures mentioned are crowd-sourced ‚Äčand subjected to change without notice.

* Some of the data on this page is powered by Numbeo