Situated in the central west of Bhutan, Thimphu was designated the country’s capital in 1961. Though the buildings are largely modern structures, the architecture is largely tastefully styled after traditional Bhutanese buildings.


The city’s traffic is managed in the traditional manner of a now forgotten world of white-gloved waving policemen and, until recently, Thimphu was notable for being the world’s only capital without traffic lights, of which it now has a single set.

The main attractions are to be found in the north of the city and are dominated by the Tashichho Dzong, one of the country's many fortress style temple structures so characteristic of Himalayan Buddhism, which serves as the country's administrative centre, housing the King’s offices whilst also remaining a religious centre.

The National institute for Zorig Chusum is a school dedicated to the preservation of the traditional arts of Bhutan and provides a wonderful insight into Bhutanese artisan skills.

The traditional use of such skills are wonderfully exemplified by the elaborate mandalas and sculptures housed in the National Memorial Chorten, and yet more of Bhutan’s artistic heritage can be viewed at both the Folk Heritage Museum and the National Textile Museum.

The elaborately decorated National Library includes the world’s largest published tome, titled simply ‘Bhutan’, alongside many ancient Buddhist texts, historical manuscripts and holy books.

The Weekend Market is a great place to mingle with the locals to get a flavour of their lives and also includes a handicraft area.

South of the city is the Royal Botanic Garden and its collection of 500 plant species, whilst a number of trails around Thimphu offer variously graded one day one day walks through the surrounding forest and countryside, some providing excellent views of Thimphu valley and the Bhutanese Himalaya.

The six day Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek leaves from Thimpu into the mountains, Yak pastures and lakes to the south, affording great views across to the vast sweep of the Himalayan range and some of its iconic peaks, including the distant giants of Everest and Kanchenjunga. Another trail, the tree day Punakha Winter Trek takes you through the forests to Punakha.