As Bhutan’s political and commercial center, Thimphu contributes almost half of the country’s GNP. Other than incomes from agriculture, tourism of the city is well preserved and contributes considerably to its economy. Bhutan is rich in culture, literature, music, dance, festivals; all these are experienced at their finest during the four-day festival, known as Tshechu, held around September or October every year. The Tshechu features cham dances, a form of mask dance, performed in Tashichho Dzong. Festival or no festival, the city possesses an alluring blend of the old town with touches of modernity. Super friendly locals and a relaxed nightlife after exploring the city in the day add to the allure of the city. Here are a few of the things that will make your trip to Bhutan a remarkable one.
Fun activities to do and places to go in Thimphu
Buddha Dordenma Statue
A gigantic statue made of bronze and gold, housing other smaller statues is not a sight you see on every trip. The Great Buddha Dordenma stood at 177 feet, and the impressive structure is made up of 125,000 miniature Buddha statues. As one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, it cost a total of US$100 million and eight years to build. Erected on 943.4 acres of forest land, the park packs several recreational and sporting centers, including a large meditation hall underneath Buddha Dordenma and two outdoor gymnasiums, among other fun facilities in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park.
Visit Jungshi handmade paper factory
Bhutan has a unique art of making papers passed down from generation to generation. The traditional paper called Deh-so, by the locals is made from 2 different raw materials, the Daphne and the Dhekap. Experience, or even try your hands on, every process involved in turning these trees into beautiful papers. Apart from learning the traditional paper-making technique, visiting the Jungshi paper factory affords you the chance to pick authentic Bhutanese paper printed gifts for your loved ones. Originally for making sacred paper, writing prayer books, woodblocks and manuscript books. From Thimphu, the theJungshi handmade paper factory is a 1 km and 10-minute walk away.
Go hiking on Thimphu Nature trails
Outdoor adventure lovers are in for a memorable hiking experience in Bhutan. Apart from keeping the body engaged, trekking mountain paths, the wilderness is your best bet of appreciating the beautiful landscapes and the culture of the Bhutanese by stopping over at the villages. Depending on your hiking experience, fitness level, time, and preference, local guides take you from easy to challenging hike paths. If you prefer to hike in pleasant weather like many people, September to November is the month to enjoy Bhutan’s mind-blowing atmosphere and scenery. Some favorite hiking trails that will leave you dazzled include Taktsang Goenba hike, Khamsum Chorten hike, Druk path trek, Nabji Korphu trek and more.
Experience the Bhutanese culture in the National Folk Heritage Museum
Though established in 2001, the National folk heritage museum gives you an insight into the culture and history of the Bhutanese people. Inside the 3-story restored building are traditional Bhutanese items commonly used by the older folks and preserved in a natural setting. Handcrafted items such as benches, utensils, farming tools etc. depict the distinctiveness of the Bhutanese people and their ways of life. At a minimal fee, tourists can figuratively soak themselves in an oasis of greenery while enhancing their knowledge of natural and handcrafted resources of the Bhutanese. The National folk museum is also a nice place to have a quiet or family time with a well-maintained garden and restaurant.
Sharpen your Archery skill on Changlimithang Archery Ground
The archery skill on display at the Changlimithang Archery Ground will leave your mouth gaping. Like most countries, football is reasonably popular, and you might get to see some football actions depending on the time of your visit. But you are guaranteed more fun visiting the archery ground. You get to see loads of archery skills and wow moments that often characterize the archery tournament. On a regular morning, you get entertained by professional archers practicing and showing their skills. Employing professional help, you can pick up or sharpen your archery skill while visiting.
The food and the lifestyle
Rice is the body of most Bhutanese dishes. It is often served with fish, beef, pork and vegetables such as radishes, spinach, green beans, pumpkin, river weed, tomatoes and onions. One common theme of most food served in Thimphu is spiciness. If you are visiting during special occasions, you are likely to be offered Momos or Ema Datshi. If you live in a fast-paced city, the Buddha town of Thimphu is a gateway. The lifestyle here is slow-paced, peaceful and friendly people, a perfect place to let go of yourself and live in the moment.