Paro, a popular valley in Bhutan, is the house to the most iconic attraction of Bhutan – Taktsang, also popular by the name – The Tiger’s Nest. It is a naturally beautiful valley with cloud touching mountains, blue sky and a river flowing through the valley – an ideal landscape that we use to paint as children.
Interested in the bigger picture, then read – Top 10 Things to Experience in Bhutan
Taktsang – The Tiger’s Nest
Situated high on the edge of a rocky cliff, surrounded by misty clouds and away from the city life is the magical monastery of Bhutan.
Distance from the city makes it quite a peaceful place but the same distance also makes the access a bit difficult. However, a trek to the top of the monastery is an experience of a lifetime in view of the beauty of the structure itself, majestic hills and green valleys. It might feel like a little isolated when you first hear about it, but there are unbelievable number of international travelers who trek to the top every day to see this monastery. The most suitable time to start the trek is between 7 to 8 am in the morning. Depending on your speed, it may take somewhere between 2-4 hours to trek up and less than 2 hours to trek down.
There is a nice cafeteria called Taktsang, midway on the trek, where you can stop by for a break to have tea/coffee and some snacks.
Tips and Recommendations for the Taktsang Trek:
- Carry a water bottle, a jacket, and a raincoat or umbrella (depends on whether)
- Do not hesitate to buy a Hiking wooden stick at the base of the trek if you aren’t carrying one already. It is really a big help for Rs. 50/-
- Keep a day aside for the trek even if you can complete the trek in half day, as without any time boundation you can comfortably complete the track and enjoy it too.
Paro Dzong and Traditional Mask Dance of Bhutan (Tshechu)
Paro Dzong is smaller as compared to the Thimphu and Phunakha Dzongs but still looks beautiful in the backdrop of Paro valley. The Dzong is located quite close to the main town. It is best to walk to the Dzong rather than taking a taxi, as the taxi will have to take much longer route and will cost you more.
The Dzong becomes a very happening place during the Tshechu and is crowded with local people and tourists who gather to see the traditional mask dance of Bhutan.
National Museum is a beautiful piece of architecture and has on display varieties of Bhutanese mask and label describing their significance. The stories make it easy to remember different mask types, otherwise all of them look alike.
The stories associated with masks make it easy to remember different mask types, otherwise all of them look alike. The museum also has real-looking-models and videos to familiarize you with the Bhutanese wildlife. Though the museum is not very big, it is definitely worth visiting.
Though Kichu Lakhang is quite similar to other Bhutanese Lakhangs, the landscape surrounding it is beautiful. You don’t need to especially go and visit this place, however while returning from the Paro Taktsang, you can ask your driver to stop for a few minutes. Or if you are staying in Paro for more than two days, I am sure you will want to take a walk around this place. It’s about 5 km from the city. There are sharing taxis available from the town which will charge you somewhere between Rs 25-50/- for a one-way ride.
Chele la Pass
Chele la pass is the highest motorable road in Bhutan and offers breathtaking views of the Paro and Ha valley. If you are lucky you may find a lot of snow as well here. The pass is about 35 km from Paro and will require about half a day. The entire route to this pass is very scenic and if there are not many taxis you will enjoy it better. Since most of the tourists go here in the morning, it is best if you start around 1:00 pm. There is nothing much to at the pass as such. You can take a walk experience the crazy winds and the views of the valley. Half an hour here is more than enough.
Tips and Recommendations for Paro
- If you want to stay in a very natural environment and budget friendly accommodation, you may choose ‘Hotel Pelri cottages’ which is about 2 km from the main Paro town. However, be prepared to pay Rs.200/- for a taxi every time you want to come to the town. There are a number of other good hotels but it would be best if you book it in advance as most of the good hotels are situated up the hill and it becomes difficult even with a bag to climb up.
- Eat at Hotel Sonam Trophel – good food at reasonable prices; seems like an Indian favourite.
- Kichu Resort, just opposite to the Kichu Lakhang, is a bit costly one, however, if you would like to bask in luxury for a day, it’s a good option. Do try a hot stone bath here if you have time.