Getting Around Thimphu
Bhutan’s cab service (specially in the capital city) is government regulated (rates are still high) and so you will not find cab drivers charging wildly fluctuating rates at the mere sight of a foreigner.
The main taxi stand is in Chang Lam and you can find a full or a shared cab from there. A ride around town will cost you approximately 70 NU and hiring a cab for a day’s sightseeing will cost you between 1200 NU to 1600 NU. In a day’s sightseeing, you can cover almost all the places listed below.
Unlike Paro, there are no fixed five points to which every tourist pays a visit though the Takin Preserve, Buddha Point, Trashi Chho Dzong and National Library are widely visited. The other museums and knowledge centers are very interesting if you have a specific interest in history and crafts of Bhutan.
I covered the Dzong, Takin Preserve and Buddha Point in 600 NU by an ingenious idea suggested by a local shopkeeper. Here’s how you can follow my plan.
Take a taxi to the Trashi Dzong from the local stand… it will only charge you 40 NU per head. The Dzong is in the main town and you can easily get a cab from there so leave the cab you just took. See the Dzong properly, it will take you a good 40 minutes and then take a cab from outside and ask it to take you to the Takin preserve. Ask the cab to wait while as you stroll around the preserve (the preserve is out of the town and its difficult finding a cab back).
See the preserve (won’t take you more than 15 minutes) and then you can ask the same cab to take you to Buddha Point. The Cab driver charged me 400 NU for the whole journey from Dzong to Takin preserve to Buddha Point and back to town (post bargaining and off season rates). You will need at least 40 minutes if you want to soak in the beauty of Buddha Point properly.
I paid my Taxi driver a little extra as I stopped at a lot of places for photographs and he waited for a long time. One valuable tip is to not mention that you are looking for a day’s sightseeing program when you are talking to the taxi driver…otherwise you get that 1200 NU rate!!!
It’s a good idea to combine the visit to the Takin Preserve, Buddha Point and the Trashi Dzong in one day as these are on the same route. However as I mentioned earlier, make sure that you take local cabs from the local cab stand in the main market as a tourist taxi will charge you more.