Also known as Paro Taktsang Lhakhang, Tiger’s Nest Monastery is the postcard picture for Bhutan Tourism and is considered to be the most sacred site in Bhutan. We had been planning our Bhutan trip for so long and it was a dream come true when we hiked to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery after backpacking through Central and Eastern Bhutan for 7 days.
Monastery is located around 12 KMs from Paro. We got up early and took a cab to reach the base point (Ramthangkha). From here, Tiger’s Nest Monastery is 4.82 KMs one way hike. We wanted to reach to the top by 11 AM to avoid afternoon sun and thus started our ascend at 7:30 PM. Initial part of the trail passed through a beautiful pine forest with gradual comfortable scope.
Trail is very clearly marked and thus you need not worry about getting lost at any point. We kept walking through the forest warming up our self for around 15 minutes before we heard the sound of prayer wheels and flowing stream. At this point, walk in jungle transitioned to mountain hike with slope being steeper and trail curling the mountain.
Here on, it is a steep 1.5 hour hike till you reach the mid point from where you get first glimpse of Tiger’s Nest Monastery. But, you need not worry about the slope and time because views gets spectacular and clouds keep on wrapping you up with each step. There are benches on the way for you to take rest and also water taps for drinking water.
You may take a break here and catch your breath or can feel afresh by rotating the prayer wheels. Many people get too tired till mid-point that they get a glimpse of monastery and return from where. We will suggest them not to give up because a little later, slope reduces significantly and it becomes an easy walk on flat trek.
A slight detour from the trail (50 meters) and you will reach to Taktsang Cafeteria (only restaurant on the trail to Tiger’s Monastery) to grab quick snacks and tea.
From here, it is another 1.5 hours hike to the monastery but the trail is almost flat for a good second part of the hike. you will love to walk amid the silence of forest enjoying the direct view of Tiger’s Nest Monastery through trees and prayer flags. Also, you will be amazed seeing many beautiful birds and listen their sounds (some even whistling) as you will walk through the forest.
This part of the hike ends as it gives way to a set of stairs. These stairs go down to a waterfall and then again ascend up to reach the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This also turns out to be the euphoria moment of your hike as you get a view of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery first time with that single turn to the stairs.
You get stunning views of the monastery from this point. We got the benefit of starting early as we found ample time to enjoy at this point. You just want to stand here and listen to the sound of waterfall while looking at the monastery wrapped with white clouds.
It is another daunting task to walk down and then up the stairs to reach the monastery. But, you will enjoy this last lap as you will be energized by the sound of waterfall and prayer wheels.
It was a memorable hike for us and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Our tiredness evaporated as we reached to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery which we had always seen in Bhutan pictures. Loved our hike, loved Tiger’s Nest and still missing our Bhutan moments.
Inside Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the monastery and thus you will not see any of the inside photographs. Camera and phones are deposited at the entrance only. There are multiple temples inside the monastery where you can sit in peace and meditate. Just at the entrance is also the wish stone where people line up to put their thumb exactly in a hole (with closed eyes) so that their wish is granted.
Towards the end is the original tiger’s nest. Just peeping inside the cave is considered to wash all your sins. Do not try to climb inside the cave as it is too dangerous. There is also a lamp chapel where you can light a lamp by donating Nu 30. As you walk to the end, you see panoramic view of the valley. From here, you also see the starting point of the hike making you proud of your accomplishment.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery Timings & Location
- Winter (Oct – Mar): 8 AM to 5 PM (Bhutanese Time)
- Summer (Apr – Sep): 8 AM to 6 PM (Bhutanese Time)
- Lunch Break: 1300 to 1400 Hrs (Bhutanese Time)
- Entry Fee: None
- Location of the Monastery
Bhutanese Government has recently introduced an entry fee of 500 Ngultrum (Bhutan Currency) per person for entry to Tiger’s Nest applicable for Indian travellers.
Difficult: It took us ~3.5 hours to hike up to the monastery, ~1.5 hours inside the monastery and ~2.5 hours to come down.
Tips for the hike
Please refer our blog – Tips for hike to Tiger’s Monastery for all the things that you should know for your hike.
Travel Date: 13th May 2016