Thimphu is an unusual capital city in the world. It’s a small town with a population of less than a hundred thousand. The entire district of Thimphu has a population of about one lakh. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. Today its a bustling town in the banks of the Thimphu Chu and is set gloriously in the hills of Thimphu valley. Thimphu is home to the revered Bhutanese Royal Family, the Royal Govt. and Judiciary and to several foreign missions and development projects.
The capital city also does not have a dedicated Airport and is served by the international airport at Paro. The travel time between Paro airport and Thimphu town is about one hour and the distance is about 55 km.
Thimphu is also well connected by road with India through Phuentsholing Border. It is about 180 km and a five to six hour drive time.
Distance from Thimphu to other places
From Thimphu to Paro - 65 kms - 1 hour
From Thimphu to Phuentsholing - 180 kms - 5 hours
From Thimphu to Punakha - 80 kms - 3 hours
Thimphu is located at an altitude of about 8,000 ft on the west bank of river Wang Chu, also known locally as Thimphu Chu (Chu means River in local language).
What to See at Thimphu
Thimphu's charm is not embedded in its wealth of galleries, museums or places of historic interest. Visitors must wander along the main street and into shops, all of which are decorated in traditional style. Thimphu's shopkeepers are helpful and will do their best to oblige even smallest request.
Many of the general stores stock a selection of handicrafts and textiles for passing visitors and a selection of specialist handicraft stores are now open. Bhutan's colorful stamp collections can be viewed and purchased at the capital's main post office. The country's two principal banks are located on Thimphu's main street.
On the bank of the river lies Tashichhoe Dzong, the most prominent building in Thimphu Valley. The main secretariat building which houses the throne room of his majesty the king of Bhutan is located inside the Dzong.
The Dzong is a common tourist attraction and is a visual delight specially during the evening when it is illuminated. Parts of the Dzong can be visited by tourists. There are beautiful mural and fresco work inside the TashiChhoe Dzong.
The National Assembly Hall is located in new building on the opposite side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months, the monk body led by his holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.
The Golf Course
Next to the Dzong is Bhutan's only golf course. A nine hole circuit, popular with Thimphu residents, that offers a break from sight-seeing for visiting players.
Bhutan's national library is located close to the Dzong. The library preserves the cultural and literary heritage of Bhutan. Huge collection of paper documents can be seen in the library. Part of the library collection has also been microfilmed. The library contains arguably the best collection of religious and historical literature in the Himalayas. There is a small bookstore at the ground floor of the library offering variety of books on Bhutan.
The Memorial Chorten
The memorial chorten, a pious landmark for Thimphu's residents, was erected in 1974 by the mother of the Third King in memory of her son. Bhutanese pay their respects to his photograph inside the memorial. The Chorten is centrally located and in the evening there is a substantial crowd of locals who visit the chorten.
A short distance from Thimphu, at Dechencholing, is the Royal palace, residence of members of the Royal family except the king. Set among sweeping lawns, ponds and willow trees, this beautiful three storey building is entirely traditional, both in its architecture and in its furnishings. Beyond the palace is Tangu Cherry, one of the oldest thakhangs in Bhutan. Here monks come to practice the ancient disciplines of meditation and levitation.