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Paro

Dzong, Paro
The climb to Tiger's Nest Monastery
Tiger's Nest Monastery

Paro is home to Bhutan's only international airport, and a large army garrison, but this belies the fact that Paro is actually a very charming town spread along a wonderfully scenic valley with a bubbling river coursing through its middle. Most visitors to Bhutan tend to arrive here and the town is therefore home to some of the country's original hotels and also some of its newest and grandest. It is also home to one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan and also the important National Museum. Just a few miles outside of Paro, perched on a rock face, sits the legendary Tiger's Nest Monastery. A climb up to this famous monastery is almost a rite of passage for visitors to Bhutan and hence a stay in, or nearby, Paro is considered a must by many travellers.

Tiger's Nest Monastery
Tiger's Nest Monastery (or Taktshang Goemba) is the most famous monastery in Bhutan and accordingly its image is often used on advertisements for the country. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to the monastery on the back of a Tiger, and hence its name, but the main reason for its fame is that it sits precariously balanced on a narrow rock face some 900m above the valley floor. You can get a real sense of vertigo just looking up at it. A climb to the monastery takes you through a forest before making the steep climb to the cafe the halfway point, where a tea stop is made before the final ascent and the nerve jangling approach to the monastery itself. The views from the top are fantastic - just don't look straight down! For the active a climb up and down will take around 4 hours. For the less mobile there is the option of taking a horse (approximately US$15) most of the way up. But please note that your return to the bottom has to be on foot.

 

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