The best Bhutan travel advice that I can give everyone is to visit Thimphu first. We made the mistake of going all the way from Paro to central Bhutan before driving back to Thimphu. After the mighty Trongsa Dzong, the serene Dochula Pass, the unspoiled Bumthang valley, the colorful local festival, the fascinating Phobjikha valley, and the impressive Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s capital seemed so lackluster. In a country priding itself on sustainable ecosystem, it is really sad to see its biggest city sprawling all over a valley like a wild concrete jungle without any proper planning. Surrounding hills are all barren while streets are crammed with cars. Congestion, lack of parking space, garbage, teen violence, and a rise in alcoholism and substance abuse are just a few ‘modern’ problems that the capital is facing. I’m not quite sure they have a plan and enough capabilities to tackle these any time soon.

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Fern

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The view from Dochula Pass

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First glimpse of Thimphu

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Buddha Dordenma – a project funded by China

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Bhutan’s national animal – the takin

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Thimphu zoo is so underwhelming with only 4 species – takin, deer, mountain goat, and red panda. It takes ~15 min to stroll the whole place.

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Thimphu Dzong

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View from my hotel

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A handmade paper factory

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Thimphu Folk Heritage Museum

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Phallus hanging above the door frame

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Traditional wine container and cups

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Phallus hanging at 4 corners of the eaves of the house

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Thimphu Memorial Chorten

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Handicrafts at the local market

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Definition of happiness

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The local weekend market is surprisingly clean and well-organized

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Flowers at our hotel

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