If you’re the thematic-bound cultural tourists, you might be looking for the cultural and ancient artifacts. Likewise, if you’re an adventurous tourist, you might be looking for the thick jungles, huge cliffs, deep streams, wild rocks, weird worms etc. But in general, any categories of tourists would want to have certain share of recreation and leisure time. Everyone would love visiting new places and discovering new things.
Therefore, here are the top 10 favorite places that you shouldn’t miss while in Thimphu. (Thimphu is the Capital City of Bhutan and perhaps the fastest developing modern-town that was a ridge of abandon terrace some decades ago. Now is the thicket of modern concrete jungle.)
1. National Memorial Chorten
Located right at the southern central of Thimphu city near the Jigme Dorji National Referral Hospital, the National Memorial Chorten also known as called Thimphu Stupa is one of the prominent landmarks in Thimphu. It is the giant white washed with spires of gold and the richly crafted monuments representing the crescent moon and sun built in honor of the late 3rd King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1974. This four-storey tall Stupa contains the iconic statues and the religious artifact and antiques.
The Stupa is also one of the most-visited open-door green spaces in the heart of the city which serves as the prime place of worship for the devotees. People of all ages especially the elderly spends their whole day praying, prostrating and circumambulating this striking religious landmark. The morning and the evening hours are usually crowded as the office goers, and school children stop by and pray for the day long welfares.
Surrounding the Stupa is the lush ever green grasses covering the entry ground to the monument with the fresh water pond at the backside. A large flock of pigeon is often seen nesting around with the elderly feeding them the grains and its kind.
The soothing sound of the religious bell, the buzzing of prayers, the flickers of the butter lamp in the chaphel, the colorful paintings and the rich lights especially during night times makes this structure even more surreal.
2. Tashichho Dzong
Tashichho Dzong also known as the ‘fortress of the glorious religion’ is majestically located at the western bank of Wangchu River. It was first built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Today, it houses the secretariat, throne room and the offices of the King of Bhutan. The resident of the Je Khenpo and the central monk body is also inside the upper portion of the Tashichho Dzong.
Surrounding the Dzong is the well maintained lush green of exotic flowers and herbs. One can visit the interior of Tashichho Dzong only with the formal dresses. Those people who love having the night pictures can particularly take the chance to visit during the night time to digitally capture the richly-lit impressive structure.
3. Buddha Dordhenma
Buddha Dhordhenma is the giant statue of Buddha Shakyamuni located at the hilltop of Kuensel Phodrang Park overlooking the southern entrance to Thimphu valley. Measuring 54 meters in height, it is the world’s largest Buddha statue built in honor of the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Funded by the Singaporean, it took nearly 10 years to finally complete its construction (2006-2015). The construction was in according to the prophecy of Guru Phadmasambhava.
Interior of this sacred monument is the five storied temples, each containing the religious relics of various significances and importance. On the religious occasions, devotees can visit all these five temples, pray and meditate inside.
Moreover, if you are looking forward to a very calm, chilly spot from where you can sight see the whole of Thimphu valley, take an amazing pictures and also pray and mediate, there is no better place than the Buddha point. I recommend you to visit in the early hours of the day as afternoon hours are usually windy.
4. Motithang Takin preserve
Originally a mini-zoo, the current Motithang Takin preserve extends to an area about 8.4 acres which is fenced and demarcated to preserve the Takins. The preserve is in the outskirt of Thimphu valley on the way to the BBS tower which is better known as ‘Sangay-gang.’
Takin often called the odd-looking animal is the National Animal of Bhutan declared on 25th November 2005. The animal holds a very unique religious significance and methodological belief, wherein, the physiology of the animal is believed to be the combination of the carcass of cow and a goat created by a religious yogi Drukpa Kinley who is also known as the ‘divine mad man’ in 15th century.
One can visit and see the Takin from 9am to 4pm every day except on Monday and some other national holidays with the very minimal charges. While local visitors need to pay a fee of Nu 30 which is approximately 0.40 USD, the tourist can pay about Nu 100.
The best time to visit this preserve is from 9am to 11am when the Takin gathers around the fence to feed. Today, this Takin Preserve also has several Sambar and barking Deers.
5. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Public Library
The National public library in memory of the late 3rd King of Bhutan, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck is a small traditional cottage in the upper end of the Norzin Lam. It was established in 1978 and it is perhaps the cheapest library intended to make all the public accessible to the libraries and inculcate the reading culture. Today, with the minimal membership fee or the security deposit of Nu 250 for children and Nu 500 for adult have over 3000 members, of which 70% are children.
However, even if one doesn’t want to be the part of the member, they can simply walk-in and spend reading the books of preferred choice for unlimited hours with free of cost. Therefore, if anyone is a book lover, one can always walk in to this Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library and have all the pleasure of free readings there.
6. Handicraft stalls along Norzin Lam
The handicraft stalls along the Norzin lam in opposite to Taj Hotel also known as ‘Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazaar’ or the ABC is where everyone chooses for the Bhutanese souvenirs.
This ABC bazaar has over 80 stalls that sell authentic Bhutanese arts and crafts, the tailors with the modern touch, ancient local products and spices, locally made soaps and ointment, wollen bags and jackets and many other Bhutanese stuff.
One can walk along this half a kilo meter of the ABC stretch, interact with ever-lasting smiley women shoppers, explore how typical the Bhutanese products are, be amaze at the intricate embroideries and fabrics and buy the cute souvenirs for your beloved back at home.
7. Changlingmethang – the National Stadium
Located at the heart of the Thimphu city is the rectangular stadium measuring 102.4m by 69.4m. It is predominantly used at the football stadium at large but it also serves as the multi-purpose stadium. It was first constructed in 1974 for the coronation of His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The evergreen artificial turf was laid in 2012.
We use this massive stadium to host various national celebrations and public occasions like the National Day of Bhutan at grand. The wedding ceremony of the 5th King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to her Royal Highness Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck was also celebrated in this stadium.
One can walk in to the inside of the stadium, watch the local foot ball clubs playing most of the evening, take some amazing pictures and enjoy the cool breeze of Thimphu valley.
8. Royal Botanical garden at Serbithang
At around 15km away from Thimphu town towards the uphill of the Babesa is 29 acres of botanical garden. The garden was first brought to maintain in 1999 to commemorate the silver jubilee of His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck on throne. The garden was maintained for the ex-situ plant conservation, and today there are more than 500 species of plants in the area.
It is a favorite spot for floriculture and horticulture enthusiasts. Moreover, it is one of the favorite picnic spot and weekend getaway for the residents of Thimphu. The visitor to this garden can walk around, embrace the various floras, sit at the wooden canopy facing the Thimphu city, and watch the busy lives of the Thimphu city with the chilly wind brushing through the skin.
9. Farmers’ centenary market
Located at the walking distance below the main Thimphu city is the Farmer’s centenary market also known as Sunday market. It is perhaps the largest domestic vegetable market in the entire Bhutan, and explosion of colors and scents. The two storied structure was built in 2008 to provide the producers and sellers the market point. Since then people from all across the country trades their produce in this more than 400 stalls especially during weekend.
While the upper floor is designed for the local produce, the lower floor is for the imported vegetables and fruit items. In fact, the structure is assorted separately for separate items. There is a separate corner for vegetables, fruits, dried fishes, dairy products, spices and scents, flowers and herbs and the farm tools.
In this very market, one can interact and get to know the different seasonal produce from each region, and exchange the farming ideas with one another. Many people takes this centenary market is one of the best spot for fun and recreation.
10. Dochula Pass
One will feel complete if they’ve been to Thimphu but not to the scenic Dochula Pass. Dochula pass which is in between Thimphu and Punakha is located above 3,100 meters from which the 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalaya Snow Mountains is seen. Gangkar Puensum- the highest peak is also seen from the Dochula pass.
Making the Dochula pass the much-sought tourist hotspot is because of the 108 chortens or stupas called the ‘Druk Wangyel Chorten’ built by the eldest queen mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck in honor of the 4th King of Bhutan.
The famous and the majestic Druk Wangyel Lhakhang is loacted facing the Druk Wangyel Chortens. Since a couple of years back, one of the scared mask dance called the ‘Dochula Druk Wangyel Tshechu’ is held every 13th of December.
A few meters away from this incredible mountain pass is the country’s 1st Royal Botanical Park. The much visited weekend gateway called the ‘Lamperi Park’ is also located close to Dochula Pass, wherein, the visitors can ride a boat in the perennial pond, enjoy the floral caves and do so many other fun stuffs.