Thimphu is a delightful destination if you have a couple of days. As the capital city of the country it offers everything from sightseeing, to cultural activities, to day trekking and a bustling nightlife.
Short distances from the Hotel
Buddha Dordema (10 minutes by car)
The first day in Thimphu can be relatively relaxed with a visit to the Buddha Dordema (one of the largest Buddha statues in the world). Enjoy the sacred relics, the amazing golden carvings that wraps around the massive columns that would be a feast for engineering eyes, built to support the massive statue. This place also offers a perfect bird’s eye view of the capital city and is a great place to take a lot of pictures. Descending below the statue is an area holding the Guinness World Record for having 108,000 trees planted at once.
Memorial Chorten (10 minutes on foot)
This memorial chorten is built for our third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away at a young age of 45, but has the towering legacy of being the father of modern Bhutan. The place is a little crowded in the evening with people circumbulating the chorten after office hours. It is situated next to the National Hospital, a constant reminder of the frailty of life and health to which the place offers the perfect solace.
Takin Zoo (10 minutes by car)
Driving up towards Motithang you come across the Takin Zoo with some of the most beautiful highland Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. They are huge but gentle and you get to stroke their muzzle if you are brave enough.
Zilukha Nunnery (10 minutes by car)
This is a Buddhist nunnery in Thimphu where one can see nuns of all ages including those starting at a very early age. There are about 60 nuns here practicing Dharma and other rituals.
The vegetable market is the commercial pride for all Bhutanese. The place is really well organized and clean. It meets some of the highest standards of display and product varieties. You will love to stroll around and bargain for some of the local produce including dry fruits etc. Most of the vegetables in the winter are imported from India.
Tashi Chhodzong (5 minutes by car)
This is the main administrative and monastic seat of power that houses the office of His Majesty the King and the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. If you are looking for the King’s palace, you will have tough luck as it is actually a set of small log cabins and bungalows that would baffle your expectations. However, you will not be disappointed as the simplicity of the palace is complimented by the grandeur of the massive sixteenth century fortress towering above. You have to go after office hours to see the inside of the Dzong.
Longer distances from the Hotel
Chari Monastery (30 minutes by car, then 1 hour on foot)
Perhaps the most sacred origin of seat of power that consolidated the nation state of Bhutan. Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal first made his proclamation of the Bhutanese nation from Chari after his arrival from Tibet in 1616. Currently, it houses the center of Buddhist higher learning and meditation.
Tango Monastery (same road as Chari Monastery, but a climb towards the other side of the valley)
Tango is on the other side of the Chari monastery and would take about 40 minutes to walk up the steep slope. This is a seat of higher Buddhist studies and houses over 500 monks.
Phajoding Monastery (2-3 hours on foot)
This a good 2-3 hours walk for avid trekkers. For the advanced trekkers, there is an excellent trail to some of the most beautiful lakes beyond the monastery that takes about 4-5 hours climb up the mountain. Overnight camping is suggested for those who are visiting the lakes.
Talakha Monastery (1 hour by car)
Talakha Monastery is founded by Bhoem Allem, who was a disciple of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. He was credited with bringing discipline to the monastic body when it was going through some challenging times where the monks refused to comply with the monastic rules. After serving his term as one of the four Lopens in the moastic body he went into isolation in his monastery to avoid possible backlash for the aggressive services he had offered to bring back discipline to the monks. You can have a beautiful view of the town and the Buddha statute from this place.
Dochhula Pass (45 minutes by car)
The drive to Dochhula will take you through some amazing forest routes. The pass soars up to 3,200 meters. If you are traveling on a clear day, you can see the entire range of mountains with snow clad peaks. There is the Druk Wangyel Chorten (108 stupas built under the initiative of Royal Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk to mark the victory of His Majesty the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk where he led the Bhutanese army against the insurgents in the South).
Restaurants around Thimphu
Folk Heritage Museum
Night Life around Thimphu
All of the following places are within 100 meters walking distance from Thimphu Towers but far enough not to be disturbed after your return to the rooms.