Thimphu: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thimphu is located in Bhutan
Coordinates: 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E / 27.4666667°N 89.64167°E / 27.4666667; 89.64167
Country  Bhutan
District Thimphu District
Elevation 7,656 ft (2,320 m)
Population (2005)
 - Total 98,676

Thimphu (Tibetan script: ཐིམ་ཕུག།) is the capital of Bhutan, and also the name of the surrounding valley and dzongkhag, the Thimphu District. With a population of 98,676 (2005 PHCB), it is also Bhutan's largest city. Thimphu is located at 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E / 27.4666667°N 89.64167°E / 27.4666667; 89.64167Coordinates: 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E / 27.4666667°N 89.64167°E / 27.4666667; 89.64167, altitude of 2320m/7656ft.



Central Thimphu

Thimphu became a town in 1961 and grew as the capital of Bhutan. Before 1960, Thimphu was a small settlement but was developed by the King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to replace the ancient capital of Punakha.

Today the city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chuu river valley, with several government offices located around Tashichoe dzong.

Rapid expansion following the pattern of rural exodus has resulted in considerable rebuilding in the city centre and mushrooming suburban development elsewhere. Norzin Lam, the recently upgraded main thoroughfare, is lined with shops, restaurants, retail arcades and public buildings.

View of Tashichoedzong, Thimphu. The 17th century fortress-monastery, located on the northern edge of the city, has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952.

Elsewhere, there is a mix of apartment blocks, small family homes and family-owned stores. By regulation, all buildings are required to be designed in traditional style with Buddhist paintings and motifs. A lively weekend market near the river supplies meat, vegetables and tourist items. Most of the city's limited light industry is located south of the main bridge. Thimphu has a growing number of commercial services and offices which provide for ever-growing local needs. With on going preparations for the 2008 celebrations of 100 years of Monarchy and Bhutan's transition to Parliamentary Democracy, numerous construction projects are visible throughout the city.

Dechen Phrodrang Monastery, Tango Monastery, Cheri Monastery and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, are located to the north of the city.


Thimphu features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate with mild summers and relatively cool winters. Primarily due to its high elevation, summers are not nearly as warm as other cities at similar latitudes such as Delhi. Thimphu features a wet season which runs from May through September and a dry season that covers the remainder of the year. Thimphu averages about 1400 mm of precipitation per year[1], the bulk of which is received during the monsoonal wet season.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C 12.3 14.4 16.4 20 22.5 24.4 28.9 25 23.1 21.9 17.9 14.5
Average low °C -2.6 0.6 3.9 7.1 13.1 15.2 13.4 15.8 15 10.4 5 -1.1
Source: [2]


Thimphu is served by a 'City Bus' service which operates throughout the day. Plans have also been made to construct a light tram along the banks of the Wang Chhu that is both environment-friendly and efficient.

The nearest airport is Paro Airport in Paro District.


Druk Air has a branch office in Thimphu.[2] At one point Druk Air was headquartered in Thimphu.[3]


Memorial Chorten, Thimphu

Tashichoedzong hosts a colourful masked-dance festival (tsechhu) at the end of summer, which is popular with tourists. A new Tsechhu ground which can take in the capacity of both tourists and the locals is under construction and is expected to be completed by June 2008.

Thimphu is one of two national capitals in Asia that does not have traffic lights (the other is Pyongyang, North Korea). Local authorities had installed a set of lights but before they became operational the lights were removed. Instead of traffic lights, the city takes pride in its traffic police that directs the oncoming traffic with their dance-like movement of their arms and hands.

The Memorial Chorten dominates the skyline of Thimphu. This Chorten is dedicated to the Third Druk Gyalpo (King), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck after his sudden death while travelling abroad. A great amount of renovation is taking place for the 2008 celebrations to mark the Century of the Monarchy in Bhutan.

The National Library (1967) built in the style of a traditional temple contains a large collection of religious books and manuscripts in Dzongkha and Classical Tibetan and a collection of English-language books. It also contains a copy of the largest published book in the world.

Two Bhutanese children with the Royal Palace in the background

The Buddha Dordenma statue, the largest Buddha statue in the world, is under construction on a mountain top called Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the city. The statue will be finished in 2008.

The National Post Office, along Chang lam, is an institute itself where famous Bhutanese export is seen and sold: the various stamps. Stamp collectors all over the world know that Bhutan is the first country to diversify and export quality stamps. Old and expensive stamps are exhibited at the National Museum in Paro.

The Clock Tower Square is a recently renovated square surrounded by shops and restaurants. Fountains and traditional Bhutanese Mani Lhalhor (prayer wheels) make the place more comfortable. On one side, the luxurious Druk Hotel is situated. Various programmes and activities are held here. It was also the check point for the SAARC Car Rally.


Along the end of the Norzin Lam (Lam - road/street), Thimphu's own Textile Museum that displays various Bhutanese textiles that are extensive and rich in traditional culture. It also exhibits colourful and rare kiras and ghos (traditional Bhutanese dress, kira for women and gho for men).

The National Folk Heritage Museum displays traditional Bhutanese ways of life in a traditional Bhutanese house. It is an interesting view in to Bhutanese culture and domestic lives of the Bhutanese. There are also Bhutanese dances and exhibits held in the Museum Compound.

VAST (Voluntary Artist's Studio, Thimphu) located along Chang Lam is a busy place with after-school and weekend drawing and painting classes for youngsters conducted by volunteer artists. A gallery on the top floor exhibits a mixture of both traditional and contemporary works. There is also a small library and coffee shop where budding artists are encouraged to meet.

The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services has also a small museum on its premises.

Every monastery and temple in Thimphu is alive and well. These are some institutions where one can see how Buddhists pray and their daily routines.


Street in Thimpu lined with taxis

Thimphu is the center for various educational institutions:

The city is the home for the office of the Royal University of Bhutan (Commonly known as the RUB). Some of the member colleges of RUB which are also located in Thimphu are:

  • The Institute for Language and Culture Studies (ILCS) provide training to undergraduate students in national language, culture and traditions of Bhutan.
  • The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services contains an impressive, large laboratory and production facilities that ensures quality of the products, the components of which includes plants, minerals, animal parts, precious metals and gems. The Institution produces traditional Bhutanese medicine towards the needs of the public. There is a day-care facility and clinic where doctors diagnose patients and prescribe appropriate medicines or treatments. The institute also researches the use of herbs and plants and has a plot(trial) on the premises. A small museum and a gift shop(where the famous herbal tea -Tsheringma- is produced) is also present in its compounds.
  • The Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS)provides training to nurses and technician.
  • The National Referral Hospital is the principal hospital in Bhutan.
  • Royal Institute of Management (RIM) provides training in administrative and financial management to mid-level manager.
Cinema in Thimphu
  • The National Institute for Zorig Chusum is a training institute that trains students in the thirteen traditional arts known as the Zorig Chusum. Many visitors take time to look at the works and arts and even watch how a piece is made.
  • The Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) is the home of the Royal Dance troupe.
  • The Royal Thimphu College, located in Ngabephu is Bhutan's first private college.
  • Pelkhil High School, located centrally in Thimphu valley, is the newest addition to a growing line of private schools in Bhutan.

Thimphu Structure Plan

Shops in the lower market of Thimpu

A new plan for the city, called the Thimphu Structure Plan (TSP)[3] , was prepared and approved by the Council of Ministers in 2003, and subsequently by the elected Thimphu Municipal Corporation, that is implementing the plan. The TSP was prepared by the well-known architect Christopher Charles Benninger, who won the American Institute of Architect's Award 2000 for his design of the United World College of India and the Great Master's Award 2007 for his contribution to architecture. In 2006 the British Society for Design made him the first Indian Architect to receive the Recognition of Excellence Award. In 2007 he became the sixth Indian Architect to win the Golden Architect Award for Life Time Achievement. He has recently won the Indian Institute of Architects Award for the Best Institutional building in India (2006).

Clock Tower square, Norzin Lam, Thimphu

The TSP is directed at protecting the fragile ecology of the valley, including its rivers and forests. Considering the rapid growth of automobiles and pressure on the public health infrastructure in the town centre, restrictions on plot coverage and building heights were imposed. Critical to the plan are fifteen Urban Villages created through participatory land pooling, each having its own Village Square with amenities, garden, creche and an express bus link connected by the proposed Urban Corridor (under construction). The planning approach became widely known as the Principles of Intelligent Urbanism.

Challenges facing the TSP from large land owners were and remain considerable. Participatory public consultations and meetings with Stakeholders were held, integrating the concerns of local inhabitants. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are funding the plan, which is visibly improving the city. Planners and urban managers from other countries are visiting the Kingdom to learn how an urban fabric can be well managed with limited funds. The Structure Plan is noteworthy for its participatory approach in which there were city wide consultations and grass root meetings with the local land owners. The plan was given a dedicated web page by the government so that it could be downloaded in its entirety by anyone wishing to analyse it. Unlike many other such plans in the sub-continent, this plan is rapidly being implemented.

See also

  • Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Reservation Offices for Drukair at various cities." Druk Air. Retrieved on 8 October 2009.
  3. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight Global. 1-7 April 1998. 58.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Thimphu (ཐིམ་ཕུག།) is the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and with a population of around 80,000 is the nation's largest city.

Thimphu Valley
Thimphu Valley


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. Currently 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 was completed together with a new river-side park. The area around the dzong and government buildings is particularly green and an attractive district.

Norzin Lam is the city's main thoroughfare and is lined with hotels, shopping complexes and hotels.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 12 14 16 20 23 24 19 25 23 19 14 11
Nightly lows (°C) -3 1 4 7 13 15 13 16 15 10 5 -1
Precipitation (cm) 1 1 2 2 2 5 8 7 3 2 1 1

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

By plane

Nearly all visitors arrive via plane from Paro, the country's sole airport, a 45 minute to 1 hours drive from the capital.

By bus

All inter-district buses arrive and depart from the city's bus station, located across the river from the city center. It is a six to seven hour drive (mostly through Chukha district) from the border town of Phuentsholing. Travelers should be aware that road-widening work will take place on the highway between Phuentsholing and Thimphu until well into 2009. During this time, there may be significant hold ups and other inconveniences. Work on the Paro to Thimphu section was complete in 2008.

Get around

The city center is small enough to negotiate on foot.

  • Taxi: There is a set rate for taxis plying city routes. Maximum is around 60nu. There are taxi ranks on Norzin Lam (across from the cinema hall) and at the inter-district bus station. Taxis also cruise and can be hailed at any point.
  • Bus. The city operates an efficient, albeit infrequent, public bus service connecting the down town with outer suburbs. The station for local buses is located just east of the the stadium on Chang Lam.


Although a new capital, Thimphu is well endowed with attractions.

Religious structures

Monasteries are referred to by their Dzongkha title of lhakhang or gompa.

  • 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.
The National Memorial Chorten
The National Memorial Chorten
  • The National Memorial Chorten, located 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.
  • Zangthoperi Lhakhang, 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 was a former battle ground, and the temple was constructed there in order to pacify energies.
  • The National Folk Heritage Museum, located behind the National Library. A traditional house that showcases rural life. Exhibits and cultural shows are held in the museum compound. Open: Mon-Fri 10:30AM to 4:30PM, Sa 10:30Am to 1PM and Su 11:30AM to 3:30PM. Entrance: 150nu.
  • The Textile Museum, Norzin Lam, has a display of exquisite Bhutanese textiles from the 1600s to the present day.
  • Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The present dzong was 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.
  • Simtokha Dzong. Built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Simtokha was the first dzong to be built in a unified Bhutan. Currently, it houses the country's main Dzongkha language learning institute. Simtokha is about 5km south of Thimphu.
  • 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.
  • Botanical Gardens, Serbithang. Located on lush hillside about 10km 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.
  • Coronation Park. Located 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.
  • Zorig Chusum School of Traditional Arts, near National Library. Zorig Chusum was established in 1971 to preserve the thirteen 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.
  • The National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Serzhong Lam. Tel:+975 2 324-647 - an excellent place to have any chronic ailments diagnosed and treated using herbal compounds. Ensure to keep the prescription. If the medicine is effective, you might want to order more in the future. Open 9AM-3PM Mon to Sat and 9AM-1PM on Sat.
  • The National Library, Pedzoe Lam. Tel:+975 2 322-885 - houses a rare collection of Buddhist texts on the second floor, and there is a small selection of English books on Buddhism (mostly donated from Taiwan) and on Bhutan on the first floor. Open 9:30AM - 1PM & 2PM - 5PM Mon to Fri.
  • 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.
  • Thimphu Drupchen (religious ceremony) 4-8 Oct 2008
  • Thimphu Tshechu (religious festival) 9-11 Oct 2008
  • Volunteer. Jangsa Animal Saving Trust, 1F. Kuenzang Complex (Next to Hotel Norling), Norzin Lam. Tel:975 2 323-949 or 325-157. [1] This trust is dedicated to saving the lives of animals destined for slaughter and takes care of hundreds of stray dogs picked up from urban areas. Anyone with time or resources are encouraged to contact the trust and offer assistance.


Bhutan's small population means demand for new and innovative goods is small. Basically, Thimphu has three kinds of stores: clothing, handicraft and hardware. Between these, there is a small assortment of stationary-cum-bookstores and supermarkets. Almost all stores stock the same goods, so if you cannot find the required items in the first couple of stores it is generally useless to persist. However, what the city lacks in variety, it adequately substitutes with friendliness. As the store keeper informs you that the goods you want are not available and cannot be ordered, you will inevitably be facing a warm and friendly smile.

Haggling at tourist-oriented shops is expected, but the margin for discount is small (unless you make a bulk purchase). However, store owners are extremely honest and there is little possibility to be cheated or offered an inflated price.

  • Yarkay Central. This shopping center located across from Hotel Norling on Norzin Lam has four good quality craft stores: Kelzang Handicrafts (Tel: 322-469) is the most commercial and sells a range of goods, including 'T' shirts; Druk Handicraft (Tel: 322-258) and Kurtue Handicrafts (Tel: 325-883) specialize in woven goods and Karchung (Tel: mobile 17607724) sells a small, but good quality range of art work and wood carvings.
  • Blue Poppy Bhutanese (PO Box 1296. Tel:+975 2 326-752) is a handicraft store specializing in woven fabrics and paintings located in the Kawajangsa area of the city, near the indigenous medicine hospital. There are also other handicraft stores in that area - so if you are looking for souvenirs, it is a good place to visit.
  • The weekend market in Chubachhu (across the river from the main town) has over 100 stalls selling hand woven cloth and other handicrafts.
  • Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre, Changzamtog. A weaving center employing around 20 professional weavers. Showroom on top floor.
  • Handicrafts Emporium, top end of Norzin Lam (right side). A government run craft shop with a wide range of goods. Set prices. Specialized selection of books on Buddhism and local subjects on second floor.
  • Lungta, opposite the post office. One of the largest handicraft stores in the down town area. Good selection of hand made goods from all over the Himalayan region.
  • Traditional Carpets. Yangkhil Home Decor, KMT Building, Norzin Lam (diagonally across from Taj Hotel). Tel:+975 2 336-247. Probably the best selection of hand woven carpets in town.
  • Taranyana Foundation. Top end of Norzin Lam (next to the town library). Tarayana trains and supports the vulnerable and disadvantaged to make traditional handicrafts. This shop is their Thimphu sales out-let. Like a lot of charity stores, the displays are drab and and unappealing and the selection of goods is limited. However, the quality of the handicrafts is excellent and they offer a more rustic and genuine feel that those on sale at the commercial handicraft stores.
  • Tara Handicrafts [2]. Located downtown, Tara offers a wide range of Bhutanese handicraft. DHL home delivery service offered.
  • Kuenjung Enterprises, Khamsa Complex (just below the Traffic Circle). The largest book store in town, offering a good selection of books on Buddhism and Bhutan.
  • Book World in alley behind immigration office. A good selection of English books, especially on Bhutan and Buddhism. Tel:+975 2 328-539.
  • DSB Books Enterprises in Jojo Building near Druk Hotel has a wide selection of books in English - novels and children's books are a specialty. PO Box 435, Thimphu. Tel:+975 2 326-275, 326-276.
  • Pekhang Books, next to cinema hall. A small bookstore with a wide selection of magazines.


It is important to note that most restaurants (including those in hotels) in Thimphu stop serving food between 9PM and 9:30PM.

  • MK Restaurant, Centrepoint Shopping Centre (next to the main cinema hall). Popular with Japanese and serves Bhutanese, India and Japanese dishes.
  • Hotel Tandin, Norzin Lam (restaurant on the first floor). Delicious Bhutanese and Indian dishes at very reasonable prices.
  • Cypress Restaurant, Norzin Lam (second floor - opposite Taj Hotel). A simple restaurant serving Bhutanese and Indian dishes - huge helpings at reasonable prices.
  • Hotel Ghasel, Norzin Lam (opposite the clock tower). Tel:+975 2 323-341. Mobile: 17117100. For those pining that backstreet Indian vibe, this 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 specialties. Clean, fast service and cheap.

Mid range


  • Druk Pizza, behind Bhutan Observer Building (also known as KMT Building) at the top end of Norzin Lam. Tel:+975 2 334-543. Good quality pizzas with small selection of milk shakes and hot beverages.
  • Hogdog, 2F, Karma Place (complex with bowling alley). Thimphu's first Western-style fast food joint. Wide range of hot dogs and fillings, including a vegetarian variety made from soya beans.
  • Jichu Drakey Bakery, Doebum Lam (a two minute walk from the swimming pool in the direction of the Memorial Chorten). An excellent selection of cakes and pastries. Take-out only.
  • Lingshays, Changlam Square. Tel:+975 2 336-081. Mobile:17610796 A chic restaurant specializing in pasta and other European dishes. Lingshay also offers a selection of filter based coffees.
  • Swiss Bakery, Chorten Lam (above the traffic roundabout). Sells tasty sandwiches, pies and other baked items - but decor drab and uninteresting - best use as a take-out.
  • The Seasons Restaurant Pizzeria, Namsay Shopping Complex, Phenday Lam. Tel: +975 2 327-413. 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.
  • Tsok Dak Bakery, GF. Peling Building (directly behind Hotel Pedling). Tel:+975 2 337-961. A bakery serving a range of cakes and breads. Filter coffee available. Seating includes small terrace.


  • Chopstick, 2nd floor, Centre Mall, Norzin Lam. Tel:+975 2 333-601. A small restaurant specializing in Chinese dishes.


  • Baan Thai Restaurant. Top floor, Karma Place (complex with Bowling Alley) Tel:+975 17112456. Authentic Thai food in the heart of Thimphu. Fast and pleasant service.


  • Jikss Trokhang, 5F., S.D. Plaza, Norzin Lam. Tel:+975 2 333-099. A cool place to chill out. Main dining hall offers a relaxing and cozy environment, while the bar-cum-cafe (across the hall) offers live music (mostly Bhutanese and Indian rock). Serves Indian and Bhutanese dishes.
  • R. Penjor Lodge, Norzin Lam (between Traffic Circle and Clock Tower). Tel:+975 2 325-578. Specializes in innovative Bhutanese, European, Chinese and Indian dishes. Service is fast and friendly, and the large picture window offers views over the city streets below. Wide range of filter coffees and teas available.

Traditional Bhutanese

  • Bhutan Kitchen, Located above the Benez restaurant. A restaurant that tries to give you a real authentic and traditional Bhutanese food experience, with traditional music and uncompromisingly Bhutanese food. A little expensive but worth it.
  • Rabten Restaurant, Above the Chubachu roundabout towards Motithang, Tel: +975 2 323-587. The best traditional Bhutanese food you can buy in Thimphu. Cooks only on advance reservation, ideally at least 1 day in advance. Not expensive and utterly worth it.


  • The Royal Dhaba, Changlam Square. Tel+975 17742488. Excellent food and fast service. Also, pleasant atmosphere, with the 1st floor arrangement of low seating and cushions giving the place a touch of the maharajah era.


Bhutan is not a place for coffee lovers as most cafes only sell the instant variety. Below is a list of places that sell the real stuff.

  • Ambient Cafe, 1F R. Penjor Lodge, Norzin Lam (between the Traffic Circle and Clock Tower). Tel:+975 2 325-578 An elegant and relaxing cafe offering a wide range of freshly brewed coffees 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.
  • Karma's Coffee, 1F, Tashi Rabten Building (above Zangthopelri Complex), Phendey Lam. Tel:234 and 17181920. A chic cafe with music videos on flat screen TV and wi-fi. Karma's is one of the most professional coffee shops in Thimphu, offering a wide range of blends. Snacks and light meals available.
  • The Art Cafe, a block over from the main traffic circle, just below the Swiss Bakery. Tel:+975 2 327-933. A bright, airy and elegant cafe with courtyard. Serves simple and wholesome meals, though the delicious cakes and excellent filter coffee are the main draw.
  • Khamsa Coffee, top floor, Cham Lam Plaza, Lower Thimphu. A smart cafe offering views over the surrounding mountains. Serves a variety of filter based coffees.
  • Om Cafe,* 2F Jojo's Building (behind Jumolhari Hotel). A pleasant cafe serving very reasonably priced filter coffee and snacks.
  • The Seasons Restaurant Pizzeria (see eat section). A good selection of coffee, but at the the most expensive prices in town.
  • Lingshays, Changlam Square (see eat section). A good selection of coffee - pleasant atmosphere. Closed Mondays.
  • R. Penjor Lodge, Norzin Lam (between Traffic Circle and Clock Tower). Tel:+975 2 325-578. Centrally located. Clean and pleasant rooms with attached bathroom, cable TV and wifi. Restaurant and coffee shop facilities.
  • Hotel Norling, PO Box 327 Norzin Lam. Tel:+975 2 322-997, 323997. A clean and pleasant facility located on the city's main street (Norzin Lam). All rooms with attached bathroom and TV. Very friendly and helpful service. Single - 490 Nu Twin - 650Nu.
  • Wangchuk Hotel, PO Box 507 Changlam 17, Thimphu. Tel:+975 2 323-532, 325484. E-mail: A pleasant hotel located near the city center and over looking the river and hills beyond. Sauna, massage and steam bath facilities. Standard single - 1,150Nu, standard double - 1,450Nu.
  • Hotel Jumohlari, PO Box 308, Thimphu. Tel:+ 975 2 322-747, 325506. [3]. A modern facility in the city center. Massage and recreational facilities. Standard single - 2,000Nu, standard double - 2,500Nu.
  • Hotel Druk, Tel:+975 2 322-966, 322977. A large city center hotel located adjacent to the Clock Tower. Health club with massage, sauna, steam facilities. Standard single - 2,000Nu, standard double - 2,500Nu.
  • Hotel Motithang. Tel:+975 2 322-435. A pleasant hotel located on the mountain side above Thimphu. Wonderful views over the valley. A great place for people looking for peace and quiet or some inspiration.
  • Taj Tashi, PO BOX 524, Samten Lam. Tel:+975 2 236-699. Opened in 2008, a large and centrally located hotel offering full amenities. Nightly rates start from US$275 (off season), US$350 (peak season).
  • Amankora Thimphu, Near Kuenga Chhoeling Palace, Upper Motithang. Tel:975 2 331-333. Part of the Aman super luxury hotel chain. A sixteen room lodge offering five star plus facilities. US$1,000+


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 swift, though at around 60nu per hour quite expensive.

  • Buddha Internet, Norzin Lam (diagonally across from Chopstick Restaurant). Has a large range of computers - excellent service - very fast connections.
  • Hotel Norling, opposite the hotel reception room on the second floor - efficient and fast.
  • JP Internet Cafe, Jojos Building - very professional.
  • Go Go Internet Cafe, Lhaki Building (located in the building that houses the Bhutan Times offices), Hong Kong Market - remains open until around 11PM (the latest in town).


Getting things done in Thimphu is relatively straight forward. All offices are computerized and the staff are well trained and 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 said 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.

  • Visa extensions and route permits are available from the Immigration Office at the top end of Norzin Lam (just past the Textile Museum). 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.
  • Post Office. The central PO is located in the lower part of town on Chang Lam. It is a large and well organized facility that includes a philatelic department. Mailing letters/packages in Bhutan is usually very safe though, like elsewhere, anything of value should be registered.
  • Banks. The two main banks in Thimphu are 'Bank of Bhutan' and 'Bhutan National Bank'. The former is on Norzin Lam (mid way between the traffic circle and Taj Tashi Hotel), while the National Bank is located directly below the Bank of Bhutan, in the same building as the post office. Both banks provide money change service.
  • ATM. Bhutan does not operate an international ATM service, though certain shops specializing in tourist goods accept payment by credit card.
  • Western Union, Thimphu Post Office. This facility can receive transfer of funds from overseas, but cannot make payments from customers' personal accounts.

Get out

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 6:30 to 7:30AM. 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 (150nu) and Punakha (200nu). 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 their Bhutanese title of 'gompa' not 'monastery'.

  • Tango Gompa. About a thirty minute 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 spectaular viwes over the Thimphu Valley.
  • Cheri Gompa. Located a short ride from Tango, this was the first Drukpa Kagyu Monastery in Bhutan and marks the site where Shabdrong Rinpoche gained enlightenment. It is a steep forty minute climb to the monastery.
  • 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 3,640m, it commands excellent views over Thimphu. There is space for camping. Otherwise, the small Thujidrag Gompa (a forty 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.
  • Jakar - A town at the heart of a sacred and beautiful valley. The journey from Thimphu takes between 9 to 11 hours. A minimum of three days are needed to do justice to a visit.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun


  1. The capital of Bhutan.


Simple English

Thimphu (ཐིམ་ཕུ་) is the capital city of Bhutan. It is the name of the surrounding valley and dzongkhag, the Thimphu District. It has a population of 50,000 (2003), it is the largest population center in the country. Thimphu is located at 27°28′00″N, 89°38′30″E.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address