Simtokha Dzong Overview

Simtokha Dzong, alternatively named Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang or the ‘Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras,’ stands as Bhutan's inaugural and comparatively modest dzong, erected in 1629. Presently, it serves as a prominent institute for the study of the Dzongkha language. With its historical significance and educational role, Simtokha Dzong is a must-visit attraction for travelers exploring Bhutan tour packages.

While here, you can spend your time admiring the architecture of the place with traditional Buddhist aspects like prayer wheels or around 300 carvings of saints and philosophers made in slate. This dzong is one of the most popular Bhutan places to visit in December and welcomes people from around the world.

Location: Simtokha, Bhutan

Timing: Daily, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Price: Free

Simtokha Dzong, known as the 'Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras', stands near Thimphu, Bhutan. It was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This makes it the oldest Dzong in Bhutan, marking a significant start to the unique dzong architecture seen across the country. Situated on a ridge around five kilometres south of Thimphu, it oversees the Thimphu Valley. Its name, meaning 'demoness stone', stems from a legend of a demon subdued and imprisoned at the site, adding a layer of cultural folklore to its history.

The Dzong is an architectural marvel with a 12-sided central tower and a cultural preservation centre. It houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies, playing a pivotal role in promoting and preserving Bhutanese heritage. Visitors are captivated by its intricate murals and the array of over 300 slate carvings depicting saints and philosophers, which adorn the Dzong’s exterior. Simtokha Dzong is a must-visit for those interested in Bhutan’s spiritual and architectural heritage.


• Explore Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan's first Dzong, renowned for its unique 12-sided central tower.
• Discover ancient murals inside the Dzong, some of Bhutan's oldest and most beautiful, depicting spiritual tales.
• Interact with the prayer wheels surrounding the courtyard, enhancing the spiritual ambience and cultural engagement.
• Visit the Institute for Language and Culture Studies, emphasising the preservation of Bhutanese heritage and language.
• Learn about the Dzong's legend over a demoness-subduing site, adding a layer of mystique and cultural folklore to its history.

How To Reach

1 By Road:  Simtokha Dzong is located on the southern side of the Thimphu Valley, approximately 5.4 kilometres south of the capital city of Thimphu. The Dzong is just a short drive away, about 15 to 20 minutes, via the Simtokha-Thimphu highway.

2 By Bus:  Local city buses operate regularly from Thimphu’s main station to areas near Simtokha Dzong. This is a budget-friendly option, and the 5.4-kilometre journey takes around 15 to 20 minutes.

3 By Car:  If you are driving your car or a rental, take the Thimphu-Simtokha highway or Babesa-Thimphu Expressway directly south. The route is scenic and well-signposted and takes around 10 to 15 minutes.

4 By Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Thimphu and can be a convenient way to reach Simtokha Dzong directly from any part of the city.

Best Time To Visit

Simtokha Dzong is great to visit any time of the year. Each season offers a unique charm of the Dzong.

1 Best Day of the Week: Visit Simtokha Dzong on weekdays since they are less crowded. This gives you a more peaceful experience as you explore the Dzong.

2 Best Time of the Day: Morning hours, right after opening at 09:00 a.m., are perfect for visiting Dzong. This is when you can enjoy the serene atmosphere before the daily crowds arrive.

Other Essential Information

  • Dress modestly to respect the cultural norms of Bhutan while visiting Simtokha Dzong.
  • Arrive early to explore the Dzong in a quieter setting and enjoy the peaceful morning atmosphere.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking on uneven surfaces while exploring the ancient structure.
  • Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly, as temperatures vary greatly throughout the day.
  • Photography inside the main temple areas may be restricted, so always ask for permission first.
  • Keep hydrated, especially during warmer months, by carrying a water bottle.
  • Be mindful and respectful during any religious ceremonies or rituals taking place.
  • Consider hiring a local guide to gain deeper insights into the Dzong's history and significance.
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Point of Interest for Simtokha Dzong
Visit the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies

Visit the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies

Inside the Dzong is the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies, a centre dedicated to preserving Bhutan's cultural heritage. You can see firsthand how Bhutan's traditional language, Dzongkha, is kept alive through academic study and practice. The institute also engages in research and the documentation of Bhutanese folklore, making it a pivotal institution in the nation's cultural landscape. It is a unique opportunity to understand the efforts behind cultural preservation in Bhutan

Attend a Spiritual Ceremony

Attend a Spiritual Ceremony

Participating in a ceremony at Simtokha Dzong can be a deep spiritual experience. The Dzong frequently hosts religious events and rituals, offering insights into Bhutan's living culture and spiritual practices. These ceremonies, often accompanied by traditional music and chantings, are a vibrant part of daily life and can provide a deeper understanding of Bhutanese Buddhism. The annual rituals attract monks and locals who gather to seek blessings and participate in the sacred ceremonies.

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