My fourth day in Bhutan began as I made my way to the beautiful capital city of Bhutan! Come along with me as I have some delicious and spicy Bhutanese noodles for breakfast and visit the largest sitting Buddha statue in the world in Thimphu, Bhutan!
My day started in the city of Punakha. We had a two-hour drive to the west ahead of us to get to Thimphu and along the way, we’d grab some breakfast. There’s only one road that connects the kingdom of Bhutan, so we drove along it as we made our way from Punakha to Thimphu. We were in the western region of the country, but by following this road, you could also explore the central and eastern regions, too.
The road winds through the mountains. There was a beautiful mist over the mountains. It was a beautiful day. Along the way, my guide from MyBhutan, Tsheten, told me that he was born in Punakha and studied there, and that 2020 was his 14th year working as a tour guide!
Roughly 100,000 people live in Thimphu. It’s the only world capital that doesn’t have traffic lights. Instead, the traffic there is monitored by a traffic policeman. As we rode toward Thimphu, we saw a gray langur along the side of the road. It was a gray monkey, but it ran away. Then, about 20 minutes outside of Punakha, we came up on Drukdruel Lodging & Food, where we’d have some breakfast!
There, we ordered some shakam dashti, which is dried beef with chilies and cheese, and puta, which are buckwheat noodles. The puta is a dish from central Bhutan. It was a nice cafeteria-like restaurant with an amazing view over rice paddy fields and the mountains in the backgrounds. There were also houses from the village spread out with the fields in-between.
Back at my table, I had some ngaja, which is Bhutanese milk tea, and suja, which is butter tea. The ngaja contains ginger and is very similar to Indian chai. The suja is a little to much for me as it contains way too much butter!
I watched the cook prepare the puta in the kitchen. They looked amazing! She boiled them and then fried them in a pan with oil and chili paste. After she fried the chilies, she added an egg, making it almost like a chili omelet. The noodles went in last. I’d never had buckwheat noodles for breakfast, but I couldn’t wait to try them.
I sampled one noodle beforehand. It was really good! The cook put more powdered chilies in the noodles. I was so excited to try them. They contained a lot of pepper and salt and were so tasty and oily! The noodles weren’t too spicy at first, but then they got really hot! They made my lips tingle from the Szechwan peppers. This noodle dish was the most different thing I’d had so far in Bhutan, as it was more Eastern influences.
Then, Tsheten surprised me with the shakam dashti, which is dried beef that is cooked with chilies and onion and contains a nice, spicy broth. The beef had absorbed some of the broth, so it was tingly in my mouth, too! It was soft and tender and I loved the spring onions in it! Between the noodles, beef, red rice, and ezay, this was an amazing breakfast! I loved that in Bhutan, chilies are treated more like a vegetable than a spice. This was my favorite breakfast in Bhutan so far!
In addition to the food, Drukdruel Lodging & Food also sold things like whisky and locally-made bags and purses. Then, after breakfast, we continued our journey to the capital. I learned that in the central part of Bhutan, they grow lots of buckwheat, which is why the puta comes from there!
We saw small shrines and prayer wheels at every turn along the road. As we continued on for another 30 minutes, the landscape changed to more woodsy and wilderness. It was greener, and we were about 8,100 feet above sea level, so it was colder. The Punakha had way less vegetation. This forested area is home to Himalayan black bears, deer, wild boar, and leopards and tigers!
Then, we arrived in Thimphu. The first fortress built by the unifier is in town. It was built in 1629. I could also see some snow on the peaks in front of us! The road was a double-lane expressway. On the left was the river and on the right were beautiful, colorful buildings. They had colorful pillars made to look like dragons on the ground floor.
This was the first place I’d seen that was densely populated in Bhutan. It’s amazing that there are no traffic lights there! On the way to the largest sitting Buddha in the world, we passed lots of prayer flags along the road, which celebrate the third anniversary of the current king. They come in five colors: white, red, yellow, blue, and green.
The city was gorgeous, with the city in a valley between the mountains. At the top of Kunzangphodrang Mountain is the Buddha Dordenma, the largest sitting Buddha in the world. It’s located in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and is made of bronze but gilded in gold. It was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The massive statue was also built to fulfill two prophecies from the 8th and 12th century, which said that a giant Buddha statue would be built to bless the world with happiness and peace.
The Buddha Dordenma is 169 feet tall and has another 125,000 smaller Buddha statues inside it: 100,000 that are 8 inches high and 25,000 that are 12 inches tall. It was mostly funded by a Singaporean businessman. Construction began in 2006 and finished in 2015. It’s located in a massive square that reminded me of squares in China. You have to climb down 186 steps, but they’re not complete yet.
To go inside, I had to take off my shoes, but I couldn’t film or take pictures. In addition to the Buddhas, there are also images of the Bhutanese kings and the royal family.
Then, we headed into the city to get me a scarf. I was freezing! There are lots of shops in town. My hotel was in the center of town. But we stopped at Yeti Handicraft to get a traditional wool scarf for 950 Nu/$12.52 USD. They also had other souvenirs, including teacup covers, tea sets, and huge, expensive masks.
What an epic morning, starting with the Bhutanese noodle breakfast and the trip to the largest sitting Buddha in the world in Thimphu, Bhutan! This trip was shaping up to be everything I had dreamed Bhutan would be!
I hope you liked coming with me to see the largest sitting Buddha in the world in Thimphu, Bhutan! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!