Staying in Thimpu
Thimpu has many hotels but only certain few are in the heart of city. Almost all travel blogs suggest Hotel Tandin in budget category. The rates now has been revised and current price for standard double bed is 1800 Nu. (1 Nu = 1 INR). The hotel has all the basic amenities that includes hot water, room heater, wooden flooring, wifi and multi cuisine restaurant, but the room are a bit small. It is located on Norzin Lam, which is close to all the cafes, shops, bus station, taxi stand, immigration office and some of the key tourist attractions. Pre-booking is highly advised as it is generally sold out. They also have a good restaurant.
General useful Info
- The city does not have night life. Everything shuts down by 9 pm. So if you are reaching late in the evening, make sure to inform your hotel about it. Also preorder your dinner.
- Not all hotels have free wi-fi facility. Hotel Tandin, in which I stayed has paid wifi facility (Nu 100 per day) and the net speed was pretty slow. Bhutan Mobile office has free and open wi-fi facility with decent speed. It is around 1.5 km from Hotel Tandin. See here
- Bhutan Telecom also issues hassle free tourist SIM for Nu 100 with a talktime of Nu 100 (No data plans). Network is good. The SIM can be purchased at Bhutan Telecom office after submitting a photograph and a photocopy of permit. Tashi Cell also provides tourist SIM.
- It is difficult to get foreign liquor in Bhutan. If you want then carry it along. Tuesdays are dry day and all bars are closed. The government has a rule that alcohol should be served only after 1 PM.
- Smoking is strictly banned with heavy penalty.
- Their national currency ngultrum(Nu) is on par with the Indian rupee, but the locals prefer Indian currency for reason unknown to me.
- Immigration office (for inter Bhutan permit) is closed on weekends.
- Wear full pants and shirts with collars or full sleeves when you enter Dzongs.
National Memorial Chorten
Built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan’s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The whitewashed structure is picnic spot for local Bhutanese people. This place is heaven for portrait photography.
Opens 9 am and runs every week from Friday through Sunday.
Trashi Chhoe Dzong
It is the main secretariat building which houses the offices of the King and the Throne Room. The central monastic body and some government ministries are also located in the dzong. It is the summer resident of the monk body, the winter being in Punakha Dzong. The dzong has a beautiful rose garden. It is open to public only after 4 pm. The king lives in a small palace (an understatement) besides the Dzong.
Ask your driver/guide to take you to the viewpoint of this dzong.
Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point)
This is my favorite tourist spot in Thumpu. The 51.5 meter bronze statue is three storied and biggest sitting Bhuddha statue in world. The body of Buddha is filled with 125000 smaller statues of Buddha. Since the structure is still under construction, no one is allowed to go in. The well paved clear road leading to the Buddha Point is perfect for cycling or jogging. The view of Thimpu at nignt from this point would definitely be magical but we were unable to go.
I have no idea if it’s a permanent thing or not. Before my trip, I didn’t find any mention of it on any blog. Lined up with souvenir shops (which were overpriced) and eateries, it is good place to explore. I especially became fond of shop that served cheese momos & koka (probably the second shop that served food from the beginning). The son of shop owner was very cute and friendly.
If you are a stamp collector or know someone, do get some these Bhutanese stamps. The best place to buy these stamps would be the Thimphu post office.
Stroll along its street
You will fall in love, I can guarantee that 🙂
Eating in Thimpu
I never ate better momos than this place(See Here for directions on google map). The cheese momos were melt in the mouth. The restaurant has very limited menu – veg, cheese and beef momo, veg and beef thukpa, chowmein and fried rice(P.S. most of the cafes in Thimpu does not have a menu, everything is verbal). While thukpa was as good as momos, the Chinese items were not that good. It became my favourite eating place while I was in Thimpu and its cheap as well. Two plates of momo, one thukpa and one plate of chowmein costed me less than Nu 300. There is another Zombala 2 which was at closer distance from distance from Hotel Tandin, but I am not sure if it’s as good as original one.
It serves only authentic Bhutanese dishes with fixed menu. Opening hours is 12pm to 3pm and 6:30 pm to 9 pm. Food is eaten on low table and cushioned seats. Try complimentary shots of Ara (local drink) or sūyóu chá (butter tea). Reach out to them at +975 2 331919. Price is approximately Nu 350 per person. Go there for a romantic dinner. Its also walking distance from Hotel Tandin (See Here)
Other options – Shelse Restaurant diagonally opposite the Handicraft Emporium (for Bhutani food) and Karma’s Café near Nehru-Wangchuck Cultural Centre.
Special Mention: Shop number 60 in Handicraft market. The shop is run by two lovely ladies. Momos and Thukpa were good. They were the only shop open at 8 30 am.
IMP TIP: We didn’t find any good place for coffee or tea and we tried it almost everywhere. In Bhutan, they have their own way of making tea.