Journey to the last Shangrila, Bhutan - Day 5 (Thimphu - Paro Tiger's Nest)

Thimphu - Paro Tiger's Nest

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We left Thimphu to Paro at 6am without having breakfast in hotel. We were brought to the same restaurant for breakfast when we had our lunch on the first day. Breakfast was delicious, we had sausages, french fries, eggs, fried rice and bread toast.

Many street vendors were seen at the foot of mountain. It took us only 10 minutes drive from Paro town. We bought a figure of Buddha in sexual union with his female consort at Nu.600 (US$9.60) on our way back.

The first half of the hike was slowly climb into a pine forest and we passed by a few buildings.

Some people took a horse ride up to 2/3 of the hike, slightly further up after cafeteria (the first view point). These horses tend to veer on the edge. We were told to stay at the side of mountain when we saw horses on the way. We heard quite a few accidents that there were people fallen from horse so horse ride might not be a good idea. The hike up is actually manageable, just do it slowly to catch your breath.

The cafeteria which marked the half way of the hike, is also the first view point. Some tourists will have their lunch here which serves only vegetarian food so we decided to eat our lunch in Paro town instead. You can have your toilet break here, have some tea or coffee and biscuit.

The view of Tiger's Nest from here is breathtaking. Some people would choose to end their hike at this point which I strongly discourage.

Cat at the cafeteria

Prayer wheels near the cafeteria, just 5 minutes walk.

Tiger's Nest is so near yet so far. One more hour to go from this point.

Hello doggy

Bhutanese are all very friendly and they won't shy away from camera. 

The 2nd half of the journey is easier. The higher we climbed the more spectacular view of Paro valley.

After this view point the trail turned into steep stone stairs (over 700 steps) down the side of the hill and up again to monastery.

Second view point

Finally, we made it to the holy Tiger's Nest. It took us around 2 and half hours to reach the monastery, 45 minutes to the cafeteria and 1 hour from there to monastery. Photography is not allowed inside. Everyone has to deposit hand phone, cameras and bag at this point. Security will conduct pocket check (just for male guests only) before letting you in.

Trip to Bhutan is never complete without hiking to Tiger's Nest aka Taksang Monastery, the most famous temple in Bhutan. This holy temple sits on the edge of a cliff 900 meters above Paro valley (total 3000m elevation). According to the legend, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew to this place from Tibet on a back of a tiger early 8th century and meditated in one of the cave. This monastery was built in 17th century to protect this cave. There are a few temples within Tiger's Nest.

It was destroyed by fire in 1998. Many locals came to help for the reconstruction work. Our tour guide spent 6 months here as part of the renovation team.

Tips to hike Tiger's Nest:

  1. Wear comfortably. I have seen people suffering there due to the wrong foot wear. I wore sleeveless sports attire with fleece jacket. Half way through the hike I took off my fleece jacket as I started feeling warm. 
  2. Bring your hiking stick. If not, you can also purchase a wooden one at the base parking lot at Nu.50 (US$1). You will find it useful when you come down from Tiger's Nest.
  3. Wear sun block. 
  4. Do the hike slowly and steady. I found this way is much faster than walking fast but keep stopping
  5. Do the hike on the last few days in your itinerary. This is to allow one to get used to the altitude and prepare for the trek up to monastery. 
  6. Visit toilet before you reach base parking lot. There is no public toilet there. The nearest will be at the cafeteria on the way up to Tiger Nest. 

Gangtey Palace. Read the review here.

Interested to visit Bhutan? Read my post here - How to plan your Bhutan trip? Click here to read day 1day 2day 3day 4day 5day 6 report 

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