Accessible Travel

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.

Police Station

Emergency & Important Numbers

Bhutan's country code975
International access code00
Ambulance112
Fire110
Police113

Internet Access

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.

LGBT Travellers

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.

Maps

Survey of Bhutan Sells usable tourist maps of Paro, Bumthang and Thimphu.

Money

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.

Bank of Bhutan Main branch (with ATM and foreign exchange). This ATM is one of a number dotted around the town centre.

Bhutan National Bank Main branch with an ATM and foreign exchange. There's a more central branch in the same building as the post office.

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.

Opening Hours

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)

Post

Many hotels and shops sell stamps and you can drop cards and letters into any post box.

  • Post Office Well organised, with a separate philatelic shop and a small museum.
  • DHL Can arrange (costly) international courier services.

Smoking

  • Smoking Prohibited except in designated smoking rooms.

Travel Agencies

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.

For family meals, hotel buffets are a safe option, and kids will love the burgers and shakes at Cloud 9 and Zone.