There is so much to see in Thimphu, but you may only have a limited amount of time to visit all the sights while traveling through Bhutan’s capital. It is a small city, so you can see many of the local sites in one day. If you have 24 hours to spare, this fast, but thorough itinerary will take you to the top spots.
8:00 to 9:00 - Begin the day with a drive to the top of Kuensel Phodrang hill for unobstructed, panoramic views of Thimphu Valley and the city below. This hilltop spot is home to the Buddha Dordenma, a 169-foot bronze statue, one of the largest in the world of a seated Buddha. A fantastic place to start your tour of Thimphu.
9:00 to 10:00 - Head back down toward the city to visit Thimphu Memorial Chorten. This religious landmark is a domed shrine with a large gold finial on top. Built in 1974 to honor the third King of Bhutan, it is an important meditation and prayer site in Thimphu. Locals walk clockwise around this Tibetan-style stupa with prayer wheels and beads throughout the day.
10:00 to 11:00 - Visit Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu, perched on a nearby ridge. A short climb up the stairs will take you to a peaceful monastery where pilgrims take their children for blessings or to receive names for newborns. Built in the 12th century by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, you will find more breathtaking views and beautiful golden prayer wheels.
11:00 to 12:00 - Head over to Simply Bhutan, a living museum and photo studio created by and for the youth of Bhutan. Here you will learn about traditional Bhutanese culture and engage with local young people. You will also be able to get your portrait taken in Bhutanese costumes.
12:00 to 1:00 - Following the Magical Moments performance, enjoy a delicious lunch at Simply Bhutan’s Suja Café
1:00 to 2:00 - After lunch, head north of the city to the Royal Textile Academy and Museum. Weaving is the national art of Bhutan, and here you will learn why by viewing intricately styled religious costumes, high fashion, and the local dress of Bhutanese men and women. You will usually see student weavers working looms, and you can purchase their signed fabric designs.
2:00 to 2:30 - You will then want to make a quick stop at the Bhutan Post Office where you can buy collectible sheets of beautifully designed stamps. There is a small museum, and the post office will take your picture and print it on a sheet of real, usable Bhutan stamps. Worth the stop if you collect stamps or want a unique souvenir.
2:30 to 3:00 - Take an afternoon coffee break at Café Himalaya and Bakery. Locals and tourists enjoy the selection of pastries, cakes, sandwiches, and Italian coffees while relaxing inside, or out on the deck for an afternoon break.
3:00 to 4:00 - The place to be on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is the Centenary Farmers Market near the Wangchhu River where nearby farmers come to sell vegetables, spices, cheese, grains, and meat. Across the cantilever footbridge is Kuendeyling Bazaam where you can buy textiles, jewelry, and other handicrafts. During the week, it is still a nice spot for views of the river.
4:00 to 5:00 - Take a drive north along the river to Tashichho Dzong, an impressive fortress and monastery that is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. In 2008, it hosted the coronation of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth king of Bhutan. Today it serves as the government center and houses the office of the king. A colorful Tsechu (festival) is held here every fall.
5:00 to 6:00 - Head back to Clock Tower Square in the center of downtown Thimphu and take a stroll through the streets and shops. Make your way to the traffic circle where the famous white-gloved police officers direct traffic with unique personality and style.
6:00 to 8:00 - There are a lot of restaurants to choose from in Thimphu, but we recommend these top choices: • Bhutan Kitchen is a friendly restaurant that features traditional Bhutanese dishes for those who want to experiment in the local cuisine. • Seasons Restaurant is the best choice for pizza, and they also serve steak, salad, and beer. The patio overlooks Hong Kong market for good people watching. • The Zone Bar and Grill has a relaxed pub atmosphere that serves burgers, fish and chips, homemade ice cream, deep fried momos, and yak ribs.
8:00 to Bedtime - There is more nightlife in Thimphu than you might expect, and one of the favorites for tourists is Mojo Park. It features live music from local and touring bands in a cozy atmosphere with a full bar.