Bhutan’s most iconic attraction- the cliff side Tiger’s Nest Monastery is the highlight of almost all itineraries of Bhutan’s Tour.
Whether you are Touring Bhutan for 3 days or a week or more, you can definitely opt for the Bhutan Tiger Nest tour. Popularly known as the Taktsang Gompa, the monastery displays the antique history of the Buddhist practices and cultures associated with it.
To explore the Tiger Nest Monastery you can take a day tour or go on a hike. To find out more about this iconic monastery and the tours and treks to reach there, keep on reading.
History of the Place
According to Bhutanese legend, Guru Rimpoche flew to Taktsang in the 8th Century AD on the back of a pregnant tigress. The tigress was the manifestation of the guru’s disciple, Yeshe Tsogyal.
He meditated for three months, three days, and three hours in the Senge Samdup Cave. Guru Rimpoche meditated for this duration in the Cave before emerging in 8 different incarnations. A statue of Dorje Droloe guards the entrance to the cave.
Over the centuries, famous Tibetan saints came to meditate at Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Some of them include Milarepa, Thangton Gyalpo (Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder), and the Terton Pema Lingpa.
Construction of Taktsang monastery began in the 1630s. During the 1644-46 war with Tibet, Shabdrung prayed to Guru Rimpoche for success. Upon victory, he wanted to build a temple to honor the Guru at Taktsang.
But, he was only able to do so in 1692. During the Paro Tsechu of that year, Shabdrung laid the foundation for building the ‘Temple of the Guru with Eight Names’.
Unfortunately, a fire in 1998 completely burned the monastery down. In 2005, the Fourth King of Bhutan commissioned the rebuilt of this monastery & temple complex. The construction cost more than USD$2m.
Why You Should Not Miss This Place?
Tiger’s Nest is the most sacred of Bhutanese shrines and the most recognized spot of Bhutan. The locals credit Padmasambhava-8th-century Buddhist master, for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan.
This extraordinary place is a small collection of buildings precariously perched on a cliff, 900 meters off of the ground. The stunning location provides an equally stunning view. No trips to Bhutan is complete without seeing this awesome spot.
You can witness the refined architectural appearance of the Monastery. The complex has white buildings with golden roofs. It consists of 4 main temples and several dwellings. The interior of the temples has a gold-plated dome and flickering lights. These lights illuminate the golden idols.
This monastery consists of a large statue of a tiger located in the hall of Thousand Buddhas. The tiger is the symbol of Paro Taktsang because of the legend associated with the monastery. The tigress brought Guru Padmasambhava on her back to this place for meditation.
There are eight caves in the monastery, four of them are easier to access. The main caves are:
Tholu Phuk: The first cave where Padmasambhava entered. While Pel Phuk is the one where he meditated.
How to Get to Tiger’s Nest Monastery?
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is 10 km north of Paro. It is a 20 minutes car-drive from Paro. The visit to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery can take between 6 hours to a full day.
On average, it takes between four and five hours to do the round trip hike. To this, you need to add one more hour to tour the monastery. Many people also prefer to have lunch in the cafeteria located midway on the hike.
There are two ways to do the round trip to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan.
Ride a Horse Half Way Up and Hike Rest of the Way
The car or vehicle you travel from Paro will take you to the base of the mountain. After this, you can take a ride on horse/donkey/pony/mule halfway up. The animal will take you from the base of the valley base to midway. From there, you continue hiking uphill.
While, on returning, you will need to walk all the way as the animals are not allowed to carry people downhill.
Hike on Foot All the Way
Distance: 12 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 900 m
Highest Elevation: 3,120m
Time: 5 to 7 hours for the entire visit/ tour/ hike
Trail: A wide, dirt trail. Uphill the entire way.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery lies at an altitude of 3120m. You will gain 900m in altitude from the start of your hike to this place. Tiger’s Nest ranks among the top 10 places to visit in Bhutan.
The trail to Tiger’s Nest in dry weather is dry soil, sand, rocks, and gravel – dirt path. You get spectacular views from different places of the hike.
The entire hike on foot can take anywhere from 5-6 hours without including the breaks and rest stops.
Best Time of Year for Bhutan Tiger Nest Tour
To do the Bhutan tour to Tiger Nest, October, November, and December are the best time. During these months the weather remains clear and cool.
The local spring season is another favorite time to tour/trek to Bhutan. You can enjoy the blossoms of the local flora and fauna during the tour of the Tiger Nest monastery.
If you don’t mind the cold and occasional snow, winter can also be a great time.
If you are up for a challenge then the local monsoon can be ideal. Along with bright and warm days, you will also experience wet and cold days. The trails can also be muddy and slippery during this season which can add thrill to your hike here.
While if you are up for clicking the best picture of the Tiger Nest monastery, you can choose to click during the midday on clear days. Do note that, until 11 am, the monastery may remain in the shadow of the mountain which doesn’t do justice to its beauty.
Physical Fitness and Health Condition for Bhutan Tiger Nest Tour
Any travel enthusiast with an average fitness can complete this hike. However, Individuals with respiratory/heart/knee problems can find this hike to be difficult.
The hike duration may vary depending on the trekker’s walking pace. You need to take your time, it’s not a competition. You should maintain your pace and listen to your body.
You may want to bring hiking poles to help out your knees on the descent. Some people chose to stop at the viewpoint with the row of prayer wheels or prefer to call it a day at the cafeteria and turn back.
If you are physically fit and have previous hike experiences then you can choose to hike all the way from the bottom of the cliff. But if you feel unfit to walk all the way to the top, you can take a ride on horse/ mule, donkey to the midway.
You should always monitor your fitness and walk accordingly. Pushing yourself hard won’t do good to your trek. It may ultimately ruin your whole trip.
Things to Know Before BhutanTiger’s Nest Monastery Tour
- The tour vehicles can only stop at the car park at the valley base. The only ways up from the car park are by foot or on an animal.
- You’ll need to store your bags, cameras, mobile phones in lockers right before you enter the monastery.
- You’ll need to remove shoes, hats, caps, and sunglasses before entering the temples and monastery.
- You will find cafeteria mid-way. The animal ride will take you till here. From here, you need to walk. You can also have lunch or rest here.
- Paro Taktsang is a monastery along with temples with many religious statues and monks around. Be sure to follow dress etiquette in mind. No shorts, T-shirts, sleeveless tops, sheer clothing, or tops revealing the mid-riff. You should zip up your jacket before entering.
- Dress in layers for the hike. You can add/remove them when you need to.
- Wear shoes, not slippers. The trail is a dirt track. You need to put on comfortable shoes with ankle support which makes for a comfortable walk.
- Having a walking stick with you for the hike is a great idea. The walking sticks will help you with balance, especially for the downhill climb.
- Slow and steady is the ideal pace for any trek or hike. You’ll gain elevation very fast. Hence, you may feel short of breath. Make sure to rest when necessary.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Bring some snacks or energy bars with you. These are great to replenish energy during the hike.
- Bring a scarf or buff to cover your nose. The horses and other hikers will kick up dust from the ground when they’re ahead of you. This is true for both ascends or descends.
- Wear thicker, darker socks. You’ll have to remove shoes before entering the inner temples. There are about 8 of them. The floor can be very cold, hence thicker socks will be good.
- Watch your steps on the trail. This helps you maintain focus on the hike as well as avoid any horse poop on the ground.
- If you need to listen to music during the hike, use your earphones. There are people who consider this hike as a pilgrimage.
Popular Packages that Include this Destination
3 Days Bhutan Tour
If you want to explore the major attraction of Bhutan —the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, yet don’t have much time in Bhutan, this 3 days Bhutan tour is ideal.
During the tour, you’ll learn about the 17th-century monastery. You also get a glimpse into the Bhutanese culture and lifestyle within this short tour.
Druk Path Trek
Druk Path Trekking is one of the shorter as well as an easy trek in the kingdom of Bhutan. This 7-day cultural trek offers you beautiful scenery, spectacular views, and visits to Dzongs and monasteries in Bhutan.
This trek takes you through off-the-beaten-track linked with the lush valleys of Paro and Thimphu. You have a full day for sightseeing around the Paro valley including a visit to the Tiger’s Nest on this tour.
The Bhutan Tiger Nest tour offers you an awe-inspiring hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
The Monastery offers you a glimpse into the rich culture and history of the kingdom of Bhutan.
It is one of the most iconic landmarks of Bhutan. The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a must-visit destination during your travels to Bhutan.
You can include this amazing destination into your custom itinerary for Bhutan tour or trek. Else you can choose any of the popular Bhutan tour packages that have this.
For any further queries about this sacred monastery or your tour or trek to Bhutan, feel free to contact us.