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Thimphu Tourism And Travel Guide
5.3° C / 41.5° F
March to May
7 to 10 Days
Paro International Airport (65 kms)
Hasimara (151 kms)
Bhutan is a landlocked country settled among the snow capped mountain ranges of the Eastern Himalayas. A mixture of alpine rugged peaks and fertile valleys filled with rhododendrons and orchids, Thimphu (pronounced tim-poo), and the capital of Bhutan is a city that promises tourists plenty of attractions. Be it the meditation caves or the mountain trails, the monasteries or the museums, tourism in Thimphu has it all.
If you are planning to visit the capital of the Dragon Kings, this travel guide will tell you about how to travel to Thimphu, the best seasons, what you can do and buy in Thimphu, about their festivals and cuisine.
How to Reach
Bhutan’s only International airport is at Paro. There are direct Royal Bhutan and Druk Air flights from New Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Kathmandu, Dhaka and Bangkok. Fly to Paro from these cities and travel by road to Thimphu, which is about 65 km away. While flying over Bhutan, you get a magnificent spectacle of the fluffy clouds lingering over the lofty snow capped peaks of the Himalayas. Planes to Paro weave through treacherously steep mountain peaks that stand more than 18,000 feet tall, coniferous trees and houses built over the rugged mountain side, to land on one of the most dangerous landing strips in the world.
There are three border points connecting India and Bhutan. The Jaigaon-Phuentsholing Pass has plenty of regular buses and taxis that can take you from Phuentsholing Pass to Thimphu. It takes about 4 hours 30 minutes by road to Thimphu, so just sit back and enjoy the charm of the pastoral kingdom by the Himalayas.
You have the options of travelling by train from Kolkata to Siliguri, New Jaipalguri or Hasimara and then booking a taxi to the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing Pass. The best way to reach the Pass is Kolkata-Hasimara, which is about 17 km away from the border.
Weather and the Best time to Visit
It is a season of gaiety and joy which the Bhutanese celebrate with festivals. It’s the time when Nature blooms in a burst of colours. Plan a holiday and take a trip to Thimphu in Spring, for Spring is one of the best seasons in this mountain capital.
Northern Himalayan peaks are still icy cold, while the southern half turns hot and humid. It’s summer-monsoon and it rains as the sun shines and you will probably find rainbows in the sky. Rains bring down mud and slush on the slopes, making travel a problem.
Winter is icy cold up the slopes. Days might be warm, but it turns cold as the sun sets. Thimphu in the central west provides opportunities to explore, as there is occasional snowfall from late December to January. During winter you can travel along the lower passes, but at higher elevations, the weather is practically freezing.
Autumn is a lovely time for trekking and exploring the countryside. Autumn is another great season to visit Thimphu. There are sporadic rain showers and the sky clears, to provide a beautiful vision of the gigantic Himalayan peaks towering overhead.
Things to Do
What is exciting about the capital city of the Dragon Kings is that it has so many places to see. There are monasteries where you can meditate, museums where you can discover the ancient culture and traditions of Bhutan and buy the special artefacts of the country.
A visit to the Postal Museum:
Visit the Postal Museum which displays the ancient stamps of Bhutan, along with 3D and holographic stamps, or get specialised stamps with your face printed on them. This is a fun place really.
Simply Bhutan Museum:
A museum of Bhutanese culture and tradition, you get to learn all about this populace, their history and even wear their traditional garb. Women sing traditional Bhutanese songs to educate and entertain.
Treks and Hikes:
Trekking here is a delight with rhododendrons splayed in your path and, blue pine fringing your way. The best routes here are Phajoding Ghoenpa, Drolung Goenpa and Taba Lungtenphu Trek.
Almost all restaurants in Thimphu serve Bhutanese, Chinese, Italian, Thai and Indian food. Try some of the traditional snacks of Bhutan, the Momos, Chogoo which is dried yak cheese, or puffed rice called Zaow with a chunk of butter on top. For beverages try Ngad-ja, the sweetened milk tea or Suja, warm salted butter tea which goes well on cold wintery days. The Bhutanese brew their own local drink called Arra with rice, wheat or barley. There are many restaurants where you can buy good food. Here are a few you could try.
Masala Junction serves Indian food, tandoori food and dosas.
Ambient Cafe is quite popular for its cakes, sandwiches and coffee.
Chh'a Bistro and Bar serves Indian and Bhutanese food.
FnB, Utpal and Upstairs are some restaurants that serve pasta and pizza.
Centenary Weekend Market is for textiles, Prayer bells, traditional Bhutanese clothing, wooden craft items and grocery like cheese, red rice, incense sticks, dried fruits and vegetables, tea and chilli powder.
National Handicrafts Emporium is where you can buy handicrafts and woollen clothes made out of yak, sheep or Pashmina wool.
Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory has some great decorative paper, greeting cards, notebooks etc. Bhutan’s papers are made with natural dyes from the forest.
Hong Kong Market and Ethno Metho Plaza are centres of woollen clothes and accessories.