Welcome to Thimphu
The largest city in Bhutan with more than 100,000 residents,
Thimphu first began to develop as an urban area when it was
declared the capital of Bhutan in 1961. The city then began a
period of rapid modernisation that is still ongoing, with cars,
electric street lights, national sports stadiums, and wireless
Though Thimphu lacks the grandeur of ancient capitals, the city
is an intriguing blend of tradition and modernity with
intricately-carved and painted buildings clustered together like
any urban centre. The city retains its charm through cultural
idiosyncrasies like the sight of crimson-robed monks with laptops,
white-gloved police directing traffic at each street corner, and
phallic graffiti meant to drive away evil spirits.
Thimphu is home to many Buddhist monasteries and landmarks, as
well as several good museums like the National Folk Heritage museum
and the Textile Museum. Several parks and preserves in the city are
a good place to enjoy the local flora and fauna, including the
national animal of Bhutan, the Takin (which looks like a cross
between a cow and a goat).
Shopping in Thimphu is rather limited, however beautiful
handmade Bhutanese souvenirs like exquisite textiles, gold and
silver jewellery, and other handicrafts are available from places
like the Zorig Chusum School of Traditional Arts, the weekend
market in Chubachhu, and the souvenir shops in Yarkay Central.
There are also some good restaurants in Thimphu, and visitors will
find plenty of Indian and Asian food along with local Bhutanese
Information & Facts
Dzongkha is the official language, and various Tibetan
dialects are spoken. English has recently become the language of
instruction in schools but is only spoken fluently by guides and
tourist industry professionals.
The local currency is the Ngultrumbut subdivided into 100
Chetrums. The currency is pegged to the Indian rupee on scale of
1:1. The Ngultrumbut was only introduced in 1974 before which the
country had no currency, relying on a system of bartering to
acquire goods. US Dollars and Travellers Cheques can be exchanged
at banks and large hotels. Visa and Mastercard are not widely
Local time is GMT +6 hours.