Thimphu is officially the capital of the Bhutan since 1962. Prior to that Punakha was considered as the Capital. Thimpu has cool weather, fresh air, scenic locations & artistic structures.
Breakfast / Dinner Timings
Most of the hotels in Bhutan offer breakfast between 7am to 9am and dinner between 7pm to 9pm. So the itinerary is planned accordingly. Our journey used to commence before 9am and lunch (not included in tour cost) would be planned around sightseeing locations while we used to return to hotel for dinner.
For our Thimpu tour on 1st day we visited following places:
Simtokha Dzong or castle monastery
also known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang.
Built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the spiritual leader, a stateman and an architect considered as the father of Bhutanese nation, who unified Bhutan, this is first of its kind built in Bhutan. A dzong is a monastery fortress and is the center of religious and civil authority. Simtokha is known for the paintings and statues of Buddha and its eight reincarnations.
Kindly ensure that you are wearing a collared Tee-shirt, preferably with full sleeves (or 3/4th) and full pants/jeans/trousers. Females wearing Indian or ethnic clothes are supposed to dress decently. Kindly remove your caps and glares before entering a Dzong. No photography is allowed inside Dzongs, though you can capture beautiful surroundings around a Dzong.
National Memorial Choeten /Chorten, Thimphu, Bhutan
Bhutan Built in 1974 by her majesty, Queen Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck in memory of her Royal Son The Third Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, (1928 - 1972)
Choetens/Chortens are Stupas mostly with the remains of the Buddhist monks or nuns and are used as a place of meditation. Our guide told us that many elderly people visit the place to offer their prayers and one can find the local people circumambulating in clockwise directions, around the chorten and spinning prayer wheels or moving their fingers over the prayer beads.
is 169 ft sitting statue of Sakyamuni Buddha towering among the mountains. This gilded bronze statue located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, is visible from various locations in Thimpu. The throne that this magnificent statues sits upon, is a huge meditation hall and one can find around 1,20,000 small Buddha statues inside. On a clear day one can view the beautiful Thimpu valley from this location.
Motithang Takin Preserve
The Takin Preserve is located in the Motithang district of Thimphu. It is a wildlife reserve area where you can find Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The head of a Takin resembles a goat/sheep while the body looks like that of a cow. Our guide told us the legend associated with this mysterious goat-antelope. It is believed that a saint name Drukpa Kunley, also known as the Divine Madman, in 15th century, after devouring a cow and a goat, joined the bones (skeleton) of the goat head with the bones of the body of the cow. Miraculously the animal came to life and was named Takin.
Along with Takin, we spotted Sambhar and Barking deer too.
The next halt was at the famous Clock Tower. We had our lunch at Hotel New Grand. Most of the hotels take orders and start preparing the dishes. It takes about 40 minutes to about an hour, for the food to arrive, depending on number of customers at the restaurant. So please be patient.
Tashichho Dzong It is the main secretariat building that houses the offices of the King and the Throne Room.
This beautiful fortress was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and rebuilt in 1965 by the Third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Apart from the wonderful architecture and scenic surroundings, you will love this place for its beautiful rose garden. Huge (and I mean HUGE) rose flowers of various hues adorn the place and tiny birds chirping and hopping in the garden will melt your heart for sure.
Thimphu Handicraft Market,or Craft bazaar, situated at Nordzin Lam, Thimphu is a mile long bazaar with nearly 100 shops lined in a row. The shops are mostly made from bamboo and one can shop here for authentic Bhutanese handicrafts, clothes, shawls,stoles, purses, cloth bags, souvenirs etc.
We started our sightseeing tour at around 9 am and were able to wind it up by 5 Pm with a 1 and half hour break for lunch.