1) Although Bhutan’s capital Thimphu had been a significant area since the 1200s, it wasn’t until 1961 that the 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck declared Thimphu the official capital of Bhutan. Before 1961, the city of Punakha served as the capital of the nation.
2) Thimphu currently holds the record for being the third highest altitude capital in the world. The United Nations estimates that Bhutan’s capital sits at an altitude of 8,688 feet. In case you were wondering, Bolívia’s capital La Paz came in at number one with an altitude of 11,942 feet.
3) Thimphu is one of the few capital cities with absolutely no traffic lights. The only other capital city in Asia that doesn’t have traffic lights is Pyongyang, North Korea.
4) Not only does Thimphu have no traffic lights, it also doesn’t have a dedicated international airport. Instead, Thimphu depends on the Paro International Airport, which is about an hour’s drive away.
5) Visitors to Thimphu are welcome to visit the world-renowned National Institute of Traditional Medicine if they have any kind of disease. This institute’s library actually dates back to the early 1600s when Tibetan Buddhism was first brought into Bhutan.
6) Smokers will have a difficult time going around Thimphu. That’s because the government of Bhutan bans the importation and sale of all tobacco products.
7) Be very careful if you ever see a black-necked crane around Thimphu. If you accidentally harm or kill this endangered bird, you could face life in prison.
8) Although plenty of Thimphu residents now enjoy TV and Internet, that wasn’t the case just a little over a decade ago. For a long time, the Bhutanese government put a ban on these technologies. This makes Bhutan one of the last nations on earth to adopt TV and Internet.
9) Visitors can watch a traditional Buddhist prayer ceremony in the important Changangkha Lhakhang temple. This temple is considered the oldest in all of Thimphu and dates back to the 15th century.
10) One interesting place to visit while in Thimphu is the Takin Preserve. In case you didn’t know, the takin is a mix between a cow and a goat and is the official animal of Bhutan. Many locals believe a Buddhist monk named Drupa Kunley created the strange animal.
11) The Bhutanese are very concerned about preserving their heritage. That’s why they built the Zorig Chusum School of Traditional Arts in 1971. Visitors to this Thimphu-based school can learn all about Bhutan’s thirteen traditional arts and even purchase a few handmade goods.
12) Even though Thimphu is modernizing, don’t expect the rest of Bhutan to do the same. The government has made it clear that protecting the local ecology is a top priority. At least 60 percent of the nation must be forested, and all citizens are responsible for preserving this kingdom’s natural beauties.
13) Anyone offered food in Thimphu is expected to refuse it first off by saying "meshu meshu." Only after the third offer can you graciously accept the food from your host.
14) Thimphu’s current population is around 152,000. Just for reference, Bhutan’s total population is a little more than 750,000.
15) Travelers in Thimphu will need to stock up on Bhutanese Ngultrum (symbol Nu.). As of today, the exchange rate between USD and Bhutanese Ngultrum is 1USD for 64.66Nu.
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