Thimphu was not built with wheelchairs in mind. There are few ramps, few elevators and lots of curbs; even a flat section of pavement is a relative rarity. On the plus side, your guide is here to help you navigate the streets and you can expect everyone to be more helpful than you could imagine.
More expensive tourist hotels (certainly those rated four stars and above) have elevators, though few if any have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms or showers. Older tourist hotels may not have an elevator.
Dangers & Annoyances
Thimphu is a very safe city and although crime exists, it isn't common.
- Barking dogs are an annoyance at night; bring earplugs for an uninterrupted night's sleep.
- Local people cross roads at pedestrian crossings; if you try to cross elsewhere, you may catch drivers off guard.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Bhutan's country code||975|
|International access code||00|
Most hotels and cafes offer free wi-fi, but there are a handful of internet cafes spread around town, all charging around Nu 50 per hour; Tee Bees Cyber Cafe is conveniently central.
Bhutan is very conservative in its view of sexuality, and there is no obvious gay or lesbian scene in Thimphu. Although moves are underway to enshrine trans rights in the Bhutanese constitution, male homosexuality is technically illegal, though no one is ever prosecuted for this.
Survey of Bhutan Sells usable tourist maps of Paro, Bumthang and Thimphu.
Bank of Bhutan (BOB) ATMs accept Visa and Druk PNB Bank ATMs accept MasterCard. Most hotels can change money, but rates are poor, particularly for US dollars of denominations under US$100.
ATMs & Changing Money
ATMs in Thimphu read the magnetic strip rather than digital chips, so check that your bank approves cash withdrawals via this system. Bhutan's government also blocks international ATM withdrawals from time to time as part of the fight against money laundering, so carry cash as a backup.
Several clothes shops near the main traffic circle offer foreign exchange at better rates than hotels; your guide can show you where to go.
Druk PNB Bank Has an ATM that accepts MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus cards, and changes cash (no travellers cheques).
TBank Opposite the Taj Tashi hotel; changes cash.
Official opening hours:
Government offices 9am–1pm and 2pm–5pm Monday to Friday in summer; until 4pm in winter
Banks 9am–1pm Monday to Friday, 9am–11am Saturday
Shops 8am–8pm or 9pm
Clubs Generally close at midnight, but open until 2am or later Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Bars Close at 11pm on weekdays and midnight on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; closed Tuesday (the national 'dry' day)
- Smoking Prohibited except in designated smoking rooms.
The following agencies arrange tours to Bhutan:
Knight Adventure Tours Organises motorcycle tours around Bhutan.
Yangphel Adventure Travel Operates fly-fishing tours and encourages a 'catch and release' approach.
Yu-Druk Tours & Treks Including mountain-biking tours.
Travel With Children
Thimphu isn't particularly child-friendly but children will enjoy the Motithang Takin Preserve and the hands-on exhibits at Simply Bhutan and the Folk Heritage Museum, as well as trips to the Changangkha Lhakhang, where Bhutanese families bring their children for blessings. Of the walks around town, the trail from the BBS Tower to Wangditse Goemba is easy for little legs, and kids will enjoy meeting the novices if you continue to Dechen Phodrang.