Downtown Thimpu

  • Start Clocktower Sq
  • End Changlimithang Archery Ground
  • Length 4km; two to three hours

Start at Clocktower Sq, the town's real centre and a good place to sit and take in the city. Head north along Wogzin Lam, past shops like the Bhutan Traditional Music Shop (sells dragon-headed drangyen lutes), the Dawa Norbu Religious Shop (for prayer flags and cloth) and Gasep Sangay Wangdi Tsongkhhang (a monks' outfitters), before reaching the famous traffic circle with the robotic traffic police. Go uphill and pay respects to the Swiss Bakery, whose time-warped decor hasn't changed since opening day in 1970, when expats travelled for days to get a taste of the cold plastic-wrapped hamburgers. If you actually want a coffee, the next door Art Cafe is a better choice.

Make a detour southwest along Chorten Lam to the National Memorial Chorten to observe the circumambulating locals.

Backtrack to the junction, turning left at Jangchhub Lam, which takes you north to spin the giant prayer wheel of the timeless Droma Lhakhang. The adjacent Thai Pavilion makes more sense when you realise it is part of the Bhutan Thailand Friendship Park.

Head downhill and north along Jangchhub Lam. By Seasons Restaurant, take a look at Samphel Traditional Furniture, selling painted chests and tantric drums, before squeezing down the vegetable market alley of Hong Kong Market. Turn left up Norzin Lam and after 50m you'll pass the Sephub Gyeltsen Tsongkhang, with its excellent range of traditional cloth, prayer flags and carpets. The National Handicrafts Emporium is worth a visit if you are looking for souvenirs, before popping into the opulent lobby, bar and terrace coffee shop of the Taj Tashi hotel.

Head east down Samten Lam to Chang Lam and then down Dungkhar Lam into the Zangto Pelri Lhakhang to spin the giant prayer wheel of the Mani Dungkhor Lhakhang and continue to the Weekend Market. Finally, head south along Chhogyel Lam, past the traditional architecture of the district courthouse to Changlimithang Archery Ground, checking for signs of an entertaining archery match.