About 10 minutes’ drive from clock tower, near Wangchhu river and just north of Changlimithang Stadium is Thimphu’s busiest domestic market. Her Royal Highness Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck inaugurated the current Centenary Farmer’s Market in the year 2008 before which famers operated the open, on structures of rows with roofs and tents in between.
Centenary Farmer’s Market is a two story building with about 400 stalls that provides farmers from around the country the opportunity to display their produce and people a chance to support the local agriculture.Vendors from throughout the region starts arriving on Thursday and Friday, and remain till Sunday night. The best time to explore the market is within these three days when the rush of trade is going on. It is also a great way to get acquainted with the locals and learn about the ingredients of a Bhutanese diet. Also watch the residents’ horde the market,choosing the best of the season’s product.
The lower level of the building is where all the imported fresh produce is while the upper level is reserved for local harvest.You can find a variety of fresh, organic produce at affordable prices.Every week vendors from as far as Lingshi in the north and Dagana in the south travel for the busiest days of the week which is explosive of colors and scents,to sell variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
The first floor is filled with the local products starting from dried seeds, herbs to fresh seasonal fruits. And authentic traditional product like traditional yeast used for making local wine, pure honey, banana flower, dried cheese, cherry-pepper and many more. While most vegetables in the Farmer’s Market are seasonal, the dried chilies are the only permanent feature throughout the year.
Wander off and in the cereal section of the Farmer’s Market, you will see a display a wide variety of rice: Boyo zaw (puffed rice), zaw (roasted rice), Colourful Mekhu (Crispy rice crackers), kabchi (roasted, ground wheat), tengma (roasted, flattened maize) and kharang (pounded maize), all an important part of Bhutanese cuisine.
A little away, you will find a pungent collection of dried fish, strips of pork and balls of datse (homemade soft cheese). Besides fruits and vegetables, a variety of incenses are among the locally produced goods sold. Fragrant incense powder (sang) of different varieties are displayed at one corner of the market. These incense powders are made from specific ingredients available only in high altitude.
Outside the Farmer’s Market, small meat shops that sells fresh cut of meat and dried meat and canteens are crammed with buyers. You can easily spend over an hour going around, an hour more if you are planning to talk to the farmers.
The market is open all days of the week, from7:00 AM to 7:00 PM except Mondays.
Across the cantilever footbridge on the west bank is a handicraft market along with affordable imported products.
Products includes prayer wheels, jewelries, and wooden bowls to name few.