Sacred valleys and mighty fortress ‘dzongs’, cliffside monasteries and soaring Himalayan peaks, dense forests of rhododendron and archer monks, Thimphu is all of this and more.
Take a deep breath, a shot or two of arra (local liquor) to warm your body and enjoy what this beautiful little city serves up.
Here’s our roundup of the best ways to experience the gorgeousness of Thimphu, the richness of its cultural heritage, its surreal valleys and a handful of never-seen-before aspects.
Fly Fishing and Mountain Biking
Throwing a line in the water and waiting for fish to bite might not sound appealing. But imagine holding the fishing rod-like Indiana Jones does his whip. And then swing it in style into the waters and reel in the catch. Now that’s cool. And this is called fly fishing. If you are new to it, you’ll need a bit of training. Once you are confident go for the catch. But be respectful. The rules of conservation are followed religiously here.
Mountain biking is practically new to Bhutan, but it has become the most sought activity for adventure enthusiasts. Mix up your expeditions with a cultural experience to enjoy the best of both.
The Art of Archery
You can hear the arrows whistling, bowstrings twanging and the mild thuds produced by the target when struck sounds like a percussion piece. This is the symphony produced at Changlimithang Archery Ground in Thimphu as local archers match their skills. Enjoy the ancient martial art. And we say, give in to the lure of trying it yourself. It’s simply thrilling.
If you cannot stop admiring the exquisitely designed Ghos (men’s clothing) and kiras (women’s clothing), worry not. You are not the only ones to have felt so. Those elegant garments always attract visitors and buying a few sets is highly recommended. And if those skilfully woven clothing enamoured you, then don’t miss visiting the Choki Traditional Art School where youngsters master this exquisite art along with other traditional crafts.
Faith is not essential for being spiritual. Sounds complicated? Well, it’s better experienced than understood. And in a nation where people walk the spiritual talk, a non-believer can also experience a bit of nirvana. Partake in the ritual blessing sessions at any of the Buddhist temples in Thimphu. If not for faith, do it for the cultural experience. It’s a win-win on both angles.
Organic Goods and Buttery Tea
Organic foods may be considered an indulgence elsewhere. In Bhutan, it’s just the way produce is grown. Visit the farmers’ market to shop for high-quality fruits, veggies and other food products. Check out the handicrafts and curios for your souvenir purchases before the return trip.
And while you are at it, enjoy some tea. Not just any, but the famed suja (Bhutanese buttery-tea). The salty, creamy tea is an energy drink that’s paired with almost every meal. Enjoy the savoury beverage with zaw (sweetened puffed rice dish) or home-made cakes.