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Thimphu Hotel Accommodation

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Where to stay in Thimphu

Exploring Thimpu

The capital of Bhutan resides in the west of this lush country and, with a populace of around 80,000, is its busiest and largest city. Though tourism is on the rise, this cultured town is still considered unexploited, despite having recently undergone change, with the construction of tree-lined boulevards, parks, and suburban housing. Just walking around, people watching, and taking the scene in are the main pastimes for visitors.

The centre of Thimphu is the clock tower area on Norzin Lam, which is busy with locals and tourists alike thanks to its park and theatre which regularly stages cultural shows. There is also a national stadium here, along with many grand government buildings and ancient palaces. The main drag is Norzin Lam and this is where you’ll find most of the hotels, shops, and restaurants.

Sights nearby

Some visitors may be disappointed at the lack of depth in Thimphu’s attractions, although there is much to see and the town is well laid out for exploration on foot. Its fortresses are particularly impressive.

Trashi Chhoe Dzong
This huge fortress to the north of the town is a major attraction which is worth coming to Thimphu for alone. Hailing from the mid- to late 18th century, it dates from the early 1900s, with earlier incarnations having suffered through fire and an earthquake. Primarily built for government, it then came to house the monastic body. Today, it sees around 2,000 monks reside here in summer and the Bhutan king has his throne here. The grounds of Trashi Chhoe Dzong are also special, with beautifully manicured trees and a huge terrace area.

Simtokha Dzong
Simtokha Dzong is the oldest fortress in town and although not a patch on Trashi Chhoe Dzong at first glance, it hails from the 1600s and is typical of the dzongs, or fortresses, of Buddhist Bhutan and Tibet. There is a prominent Dzongkha language school here which is popular with visitors and locals alike. You’ll find Simtokha Dzong to the south of the town.

Takin Preserve
Located to the north of the town, in Motithang, not far from the Royal Thimphu Golf Course, is this fun reserve. It is home to the Bhutan national animal, the takin—a cross between a cow and a goat—which was successfully bred by Drupa Kunley, a prominent Buddhist yogi. There are also deer and side attractions.

National Memorial Chorten
This is the main memorial in the town—built for the third king in the 1970s. It is a large white stupa off Chorten Lam and next to the police headquarters. It’s easily walkable from hotels and is nice at night when locals go about their prayers.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

The best place in Thimphu to eat out and have fun is along the main thoroughfare of Norzin Lam, right in the middle of the town. There are many Indian and Bhutanese eateries here. Meanwhile, in the shopping malls, the likes of the five-star Taj Tashi (near the Textile Museum) have high-end dining. Shopping in the markets and at the handicrafts stalls involves haggling, with the Thimphu Centenary Farmers’ Weekend Market a huge draw.

Public transport

You can discover the centre of town on foot, but it is best to go by bus if heading to the suburbs—the bus station is off Chang Lam, not far from the clock tower. Services are efficient and cheap, but not very frequent. If they’re not on tour, most tourists travel by taxi, with taxi ranks on Norzin Lam, near the bus station, and at the malls.