Day hikes & walking tour in Thimphu Valley:
1. Tango Monastery (Goemba):
It was in the 12th century that Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa founded the Tango Goemba. The Goemba is one of Bhutan’s historical monasteries in the Kagyu tradition. It is a 40-minute drive from Thimphu towards Begana, followed by a one-hour hike up the hill. It houses some important relics related to the Kagyu tradition. The visitor can also enjoy spectacular views from the monastery.
In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation helped ensure the defeat of an invading Tibetan army.
2. Cheri Monastery (Goemba):
Cheri Goemba is said to be the first Drukpa Kagyu Monastery in Bhutan. A steep climb of about 40 minutes, the monastery is located on the hill opposite Tango monastery. It is also the place where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is said have gained enlightenment.
The trail commences by crossing a traditional wooden bridge that spans the Thimphu Chhu, before the steep climb to the monastery begins. Being the place where the Zhabdrung spent many years in meditation, Cheri today has numerous hermitages and small temples located on its slopes, commanding spectacular views of the valleys below. The one -way walk to the monastery is approx 4.5 km, taking about 2 hours.
3. Phajoding Monastery (Goemba):
Founded in the 13th century by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, a yogi from Tibet, this monastic complex is about a four-hour hike from Motithang or the BBS Tower. The area is famous for its sacred spring water. There are also several sacred lakes, which is a full day’s circular hike. Located at a height of over 3,600 meters, the view of the Thimphu city is spectacular. There are also beautiful locations ideal for camping.
4. Lungchuzekha Goemba:
By far, this is the most fascinating three to four hours round trip walk around Dochula pass that offers a spectacular view of the snowcapped Himalayan mountain ranges. From the 108 Chortens and mani wall at Dochula pass, the road ascends gradually into white, red and pink rhododendron forests for about one and a half hours with some steep sections before branching left to Lungchuzekha Goemba.
5. Takin Preserve, Motithang:
On your way to the BBS (telecommunications tower viewpoint), one crosses a fenced enclosure that houses Bhutan’s National animal – the takin. These nonconformist mammals are worth a visit for the sheer fact that they look different from any animal you may have seen so far, trust us on this one. The enclosure boasts of a café and visitor centre. Remember, the best time to see the takins is in the mornings and evenings when they gather near the fences to graze.
The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
6. Botanical Garden, Serbithang:
Located on a lush hillside about 10km from the city, the gardens offer a peaceful and relaxing environment to spend a few hours. A road leads uphill from Babesa to the Royal Botanical Garden, which might be of interest to horticultural enthusiasts. The centre was inaugurated in 1999 and has a weedy collection of 500 species of plants. It’s a favourite weekend picnic spot of Thimphu residents.
7. Tandin Nye:
This sacred lhakhang is about 1km from the main town, built on a cliff, just like the Tiger’s Nest in Paro. The visit to the temples provides an opportunity to feel and see the great work of ancient Buddhist legends. It is believed that there used to be a lake below the lhakhang but now one can find only a marshy area.
8. Sangaygang – Wangditse loop:
Sangaygang viewpoint is situated at an elevation of 2685m and presents a wonderful view of Thimphu valley. A two-hour walk from the viewpoint leads one to the Wangditse loop. The trail leads through ubiquitous prayer flags, oak, blue pine and rhododendron forests until you reach Wangditse monastery. This monastery was founded in 1750 and the inner chapel houses a two-storey statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. The trail also provides excellent views of the Samteling Palace, home to the fourth King. The walking tail ends back at Sangaygang viewpoint.