Why Tiger’s Nest Bhutan Blew Our Mind?

Gorgeous Paro Monastery Bhutan ON a Cloudy Day

Tiger’s Nest Bhutan and we got off on the wrong foot – dramatic climate change, improper planning, no rain gear – an epic Bhutan monastery hiking plan gone wrong. Also called as Paro Taktsang, hiking this trail was actually the reason why Harsh and I had planned our trip to Bhutan. Nonetheless, the 2.5-hour hike deposited us on a striking expedition in the gorgeous backdrop of cliffside of Paro Valley which made us befriend Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery.

We started early at 8 in the morning only after reconfirming from our driver that it was fairly pleasant weather for the Taktsang monastery hike. We could see globules of clouds from far away but were reassured that it wouldn’t rain, which is why we left our rain gear in our car (still believing that local people would know better about the weather). **Bad Decision**


Trek Details

Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery trek can be easily broken into two parts:

  1. Choosing the main trail is all about gradual ascents and less strenuous hiking, which we’d suggest you take, and even opted for.
  2. The side trail cuts down hiking time relatively but is a lot steeper and only suggested for regular trekkers. It can be really straining for the beginners, believe us. Usually, monks are the ones who are more comfortable taking this route as they are adept with it. Don’t blindly follow them as it can leave you gasping for breath later on.

This trek has three prime landmarks – the cafeteria, first viewing point, and ultimately the monastery.

The Cafeteria marks your half-way through the trek and you can enjoy a quick lunch here (it’s quite expensive so bringing along your refreshments would be a nicer idea). For the foreigners with their tour guides, the lunch is covered. So, relish appetizing Bhutanese delicacies only if your pocket permits. Up till this point, horses can also be taken.

Then comes the viewing point from where you get the first good view of the monastery. In our case, the monastery got so badly covered in globules of clouds that it was rather disappointing for us to click the pictures. But we were not let down by that, instead, we waited for half an hour for the clouds to move away and could eventually take some pictures. A lot of trekkers actually returned from this point to my utter surprise. 

Finally, the monastery which entices all trekkers from a distance and the continuous chanting of mantras keeps the pace going.


Our Journey

Our driver dropped us to the starting point where a small line-up of traders was selling wooden sticks and trinkets. We did not consider taking a horse/pony and instead did the entire trek on foot. The trek takes you through a patch of dense pine forest and ascents that start soon after you’ve hiked 50m. Soon the trail went on to become arduous from steep to a way steady climb up to the monastery.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Starting point of the Tiger’s Nest Bhutan Monastery trek

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Gentle climb into the pine forests

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Monastery perched prettily atop the left cliff

The first small stop was the ridge which was marked by numerous prayers wheels and flags as well as a chorten. Within 45 minutes, we were past the cafeteria, and we didn’t stop there as we weren’t tired.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Gorgeous prayer wheels made us so happy

We’re almost there,” other trekkers kept assuring us and themselves! It was really nice to climb to the Paro monastery with so many people, all from different countries and of different religions. We were entertained nonetheless.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

We were actually very tired at one point but still continued after short breaks

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Endless prayer flags dotted the area

We reached the second viewpoint and it began to rain cats and dogs. So, we decided to relax a bit over there and waited for the rain to stop. Also, there was the most difficult path to tread in front of us – one last brutal flight of stairs which were blanketed in clouds (though offering an aura of heaven to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery Bhutan).

The remaining stretch was wrapped beautifully in prayer flags, which was a site to behold. We sat at the viewpoint and the rain was actually gone. Even the view of the Paro monastery was clear then, which gave us a chance to click ’n’ number of pictures.

The remaining stretch was wrapped beautifully in prayer flags, which was a site to behold. We sat at the viewpoint and the rain was actually gone. Even the view of the Paro monastery was clear then, which gave us a chance to click ’n’ number of pictures.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

Taktsang was just 850 steps away from there 🙂 Not far, right ;)

Tiger's Nest Bhutan Monastery

The second Viewpoint – totally awestruck by the beauty

Chilling in front of Tiger's Nest Bhutan

Chilling in front of Tiger’s Nest Bhutan

Within 15 minutes, we were there at the monastery, though our legs felt like jellies by then. Our determination didn’t deter and we finally were upfront with the beauty. And trust me, no matter how many times you might have seen and appreciated the beauty of Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery in pictures, but the feeling of being up close and personal with it is so different.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan

A striking waterfall that cascaded into a sacred pool

Tiger's nest Bhutan monastery

A stair trail plunged into a bridge


Inside the Monastery

  • There are strict conditions for entry inside the pilgrimage site. You cannot take shoes, cellphones, cameras, or any kind of electronic equipment inside. They need to be submitted at the gate. You cannot act smart with the security guards as they make sure you do not smuggle your cameras or cell phones inside.
  • Tiger’s Nest Monastery remains closed from 1:00 P.M – 2:00 P.M as lamas have their lunch at that time.
  • Inside the monastery, we were greeted with tea and biscuits. On procession to the main temple, there was a small room where the deity is worshipped. There are chambers where Buddhist icons are offered food and money. It felt divine, for sure!
Tiger's nest Bhutan monastery

Such beauty

It was extremely difficult for us to go downhill as the entire stretch which was way too steep had become slippery. In fact, I slipped there twice and sat down at one point of time, deciding that I wouldn’t be able to go back ever. 😀 A lot of local people kept telling us horror stories of other trekkers who were slipping as well, which scared me to no ends.

Help came out unexpectedly. A very sweet local Bhutanese friend, Thinley, asked to give his help to me. Harsh was able to trek down easily after that because I was able to move down easily with Thinley’s help. We both couldn’t thank him enough for his gracious attitude. And by the time we got back down, we were totally doused in mud. This experience was something we would never forget! 🙂 

Tiger's nest Bhutan monastery

Even with the mist blanketing the monastery, it looked gorgeous


Ultimate Checklist 

When: We suggest that you keep Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery trek for the last day as it will drain all your energy, and you will need plenty of bed rest afterward. It won’t be wise wasting the next day in bed rather you can make the most by going on the hike on last day of your trip and take rest in flight. Besides that, you would also get acclimatized with the altitude which is important before going on the trek. 

Best months to plan your trekking trip to Bhutan would be March, April, May, June, September, October, November.

What: There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when getting ready for the trek.

  • Good hiking shoes: However good or bad the climate might be, don’t forget to wear good hiking shoes with thick socks. Strictly stay away from sandals, heels or bathroom slippers.
  • Clothes: They won’t let you inside the monastery in short pants or capris. You need to be modestly dressed to go inside the pilgrimage site. So, make sure you are covered from tip to toe. Perhaps Harsh made a huge mistake here and ended up sitting outside the monastery even after such hard work. Read about the blunder he made, here
  • Refreshments: There’s just one cafeteria that too after you are halfway up to Taktsang so carry your water and refreshments. Of course, we didn’t carry anything and were left sobbing later on. We would advise you to carry some protein bars and chocolates to keep your energy level in check throughout the Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery trek.
  • Hiking poles: If you have hiking poles, bring them along. And if you don’t, then you can buy a wooden stick from the parking lot area for 50 NU | 1USD where a lot of vendors stack up these sticks and handmade stuff.
  • Rain Gear: If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone. So, there’s no harm in carrying a rain gear. Think how much weight it would add? There wasn’t any stark hint that it could rain but it did! And the worst part was we were coming down. So, be prepared.

PIN ME: 
Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 7.37.21 PM

Start early, go slow!!

Have you been to Tiger’s Nest monastery? Let us know your travel experience in the comments below!

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Author: Prerna

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59 Comments

  • Reply John December 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Despite the weather and mud this sounds like an amazing trip! I would love to visit Bhutan someday. All of my travels have been in the US, but traveling internationally has long been a dream of mine.

    • Reply admin December 14, 2016 at 8:25 am

      You definitely should consider paying a visit to Bhutan, John! It’s a different world altogether. We truly miss that place. 🙂

    • Reply Charity Valenzuela Marces December 19, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Paro Taktsang looks absolutely incredible. I would probably get stoked of its beauty and be busy taking pictures. It sounds like a painful leg workout (blame it on my lack of exercise.) Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly worth it!

  • Reply Hra December 13, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    What a beautiful post 🙂 I love your photos so much!! they make me to wanna go there. Thanks for sharing with us!!

    • Reply admin December 17, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks a lot. Even we want to go back to Bhutan and make more memories! 😉

  • Reply Scarlet December 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Wow, how lovely pictures and very interesting article. Good read. I never knew Bhutan was that beautiful. Will surely put it in my upcoming trips list. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Sanne - Spend Life Traveling December 13, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    This trek sounds incredible! Bhutan has fascinated me for years and I really hope to go here some day!

    • Reply admin December 14, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Yes Sanne, this trek is definitely incredible. It has surely enticed us to no ends and we are gonna do it once again sometime in future. 🙂

  • Reply NowThatsAHoneymoon December 13, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Those colourful flags are really beautiful. I suppose with views that amazing, all your tiredness must’ve quickly been wiped away! I agree with proper hiking boots – saves a lot of trouble. Great post!

  • Reply Loudy December 14, 2016 at 11:45 am

    What an amazing experience. Oh my gof you were not scared when you knew that you cant go back down. If it was me I would have paniced haha. I would like to go here and live this adventure. Thank you for sharing this post

    • Reply admin December 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Trust me, you would never like to be in our shoes. It was one of the scariest experiences we’ve had and has even made us realise the dire need of planning well. That apart, Tiger Nest trek was a delight! 😉

  • Reply Candace and Spencer December 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Wow guys this looks epic, would love to go there. The beauty is incredible! Glad we now know what to take though, haha 😉 Thanks for the great tips. The Austin’s (www.360honeymoon.com)

  • Reply FS December 15, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Wow the photos are out of this world. I would definitely love to go to Bhutan someday. It’s extremely beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Faith Coates December 17, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I have heard of Bhutan for many years and have always dreamed of seeing this monastery, you really made it come alive for me and the photos are just amazing.

    • Reply admin December 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks Faith. So good to know that you loved our blog and we could actually put you there through our photographs. But you should plan for a trip to the country and experience it first-hand. You are going to love it 🙂

  • Reply runawaybrit December 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I would very much like to visit this place – it looks absolutely mind-blowing. I am so happy to hear that I am not the only traveller who turns up to places with improper planning and no rain gear – I’ve done it myself a few times! Also, I love that the monastery is closed when the llamas are having their lunch 😀

    • Reply admin December 21, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Or I should say so happy to know that there are more travellers who are like me when it comes to improper planning. 😀
      Nonetheless, yes, the monastery was epi of sorts! 🙂

  • Reply Amalia December 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    I always have a soft spot for Bhutan — I’ve been eyeing this country for a while now! Unfortunately, the cost to visit Bhutan is not cheap 🙁 thanks for the photos and story! I enjoy reading it.

    • Reply admin December 21, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Nice to hear that. And I am sure you’ll be able to make it there one day for sure 🙂

  • Reply Rhiannon December 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Bhutan has been ‘on my list’ so to speak for years and years now; it just looks like such a beautiful and serene country! Your journey to and from the monastery sounds like quite an adventure – I always find the worst part about doing treks such as these are the stories you’ll inevitably hear about how people (who you’re always told are more experienced than you) have fallen and seriously injured themselves or gotten killed. Like, that’s not going to help with my already severely shaken nerves!

  • Reply Erica M Poyauan December 18, 2016 at 5:57 am

    It sure is pretty mind blowing just by reading from your experience and looking at the photos! Hopefully one day I could take this trail. I’d love to have divine trips like this, usually these are life-changing!

    • Reply admin December 21, 2016 at 9:45 am

      I agree, such trips have the power to change the way you think! Felt blessed to have finally made it to the monastery and was so gratifying once we were descending down! 🙂

  • Reply Misa December 18, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Wow wow and wow again! I had no idea there’s a place like this but daaaamn it’s beautiful! I just wrote it down on my travel list!

  • Reply Jena Mae December 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Ive never been to Bhutan and this really made me want to add this in my bucket list. Thanks for sharing and for the helpful tips as well!)

  • Reply Katie December 18, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Tiger’s Nest looks incredible and is deffo on my list! I thought Bhutan had high visa costs?

  • Reply verushkA December 19, 2016 at 4:44 am

    Such stunningly beautiful temple set in a gorgeous location. I found your post very informative and useful. Thank you for the tips. I would defo add this to my bucket list but would use your tips.

    • Reply admin December 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Thanks Verushka, glad to know you found this post helpful.I am sure you’d be able to make the most from our experience and not repeat the mistakes we made 🙂

  • Reply Our Seaside Baby December 19, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    What an amazing trip. I’d love to visit Bhutan someday, especially this beautiful monastery. Think I’d be a little scared of the drop though 😉 Polly

  • Reply Mri December 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    This looks like such an amazing and wonderful hike! Am definitely going to add it to my travel bucket list of things to do in the future. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to visit Asia yet, but one day soon for sure!

  • Reply chris December 20, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    this this this this!

    I would love to visit. Looks like an incredible journey

    • Reply admin December 20, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      It sure is, Chris! 🙂

  • Reply Rachel December 21, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Wow, this adventure is so inspirational. Bhutan wasn’t on my list before but it is now!

  • Reply Sandy N Vyjay December 21, 2016 at 2:01 am

    The trek looks incredible. Bhutan is really a fascinating place. The view of monastery is great! I really hope to go here someday.

  • Reply saurabh December 21, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I have been to Bhutan twice, but unfortunately unable to explore this area. It looks awesome. I will definitely visit this place, the next time I go to Bhutan.

  • Reply Vibeke Johannessen December 28, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Awesome post! The photos makes me want to visit Bhutan right now. It looks like a very interesting place. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply alex muir January 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    wow – those monks must be so fit! And the reward is amazing.

  • Reply Eva January 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    A fantastic and very detailed article. I haven’t been to Bhutan but it so gained a few more points after reading your post.

    • Reply admin January 13, 2017 at 10:44 am

      We are happy to help, Eva 🙂

  • Reply Amy January 8, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    wow1 I’ve seen so many photos of this place, and the trek is right up our alley for adventure hikes. It looks spectacular! I’ve learned my lesson on rain gear in the past, as well as not being properly prepared for just how difficult a climb would be, but those views are the reward for sure!

  • Reply Mommy Scene - Katie January 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    such a cool place to visit! this building is amazing! thanks for your photos and post.

  • Reply Plushy January 9, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    This place is amazing! And now it’s on my bucketlist. I’ve pinned it for later. Thanks!

  • Reply Jujevyle January 10, 2017 at 10:03 am

    That must be scary! I don’t have the courage to do such a thing for I have fear of height. I admire your perseverance and passion for extreme adventure.

  • Reply Punita Malhotra January 13, 2017 at 4:11 am

    I have seen pictures of the Tiger’s Nest but haven’t researched it enough yet to know about the trek. It must have been an incredible adventure, and what a feeling once you actually reached the place.

  • Reply Cruise Writer January 16, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Bhutan is getting more and more popular and I am anxious to go there. Your story about the local saying that the weather was good reminded me of a hiking in Grenada when a local said that the trail wasn’t muddy. After losing our shoes in the deep mud, we decided that local advice isn’t always trustworthy. I will add Tiger’s Nest to my list of must-do hikes.

  • Reply Halef January 17, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Bhutan is high on my list to visit. Unfortunately I’ve heard that it could be a bureaucratic and expensive journey to get the visa to Bhutan. Maybe not for you – I would be interested in learning how you managed to get it, and how much you spent on required tours etc.

  • Reply The Travel Ninjas January 17, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Tiger’s Nest is a dream destination. The external pictures of it are so inspiring but we always wondered why we never saw internal photos. Thanks to you guys, we now know that electronics are forbidden. You always include such useful info. Thanks.

  • Reply Mike January 18, 2017 at 8:04 am

    What did you do with your cameras and cellphones etc when you went inside? Is there a safe place to leave your stuff?

    Also is it easy to get a picture from the exterior?

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It looks and sounds incredible.

    • Reply admin January 18, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Hi mike, we had to deposit our cameras, mobiles etc, at a small office located at the entrypoint of the monastery. We were then frisked by a policeman. It’s best to take pictures from the viewpoints as you’ll be able to capture the monastery in it’s full glory. 🙂

      • Reply Mike January 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

        Thanks very much. 🙂

  • Reply Only By Land January 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I gotta get myself up to the viewpoint. Great photos! This has been on my list for a long time now!

  • Reply Neni January 19, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Despite the rain, this hike sounds and looks amazing.
    The trail seems to be lovely to walk and every time I see a picture of those buildings I´m in awe. Hopefully I get there once in my life 🙂

  • Reply Cez of eTramping February 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    That does sound like a rather harrowing trip back down! Glad you made it safely. Thanks for the post!

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  • Reply Michael Cotton April 13, 2017 at 6:13 am

    I’m stoked that you managed to get over a dodgy start to your Bhutan adventure. I’d love to visit this remote mountain kingdom, the landscapes would, as it did you, blow my mind.

  • Reply Christopher Mitchell April 21, 2017 at 6:03 am

    This is one of the places that I want to go most in my life! Thanks for outlining how I can make this a reality!

  • Reply jithin April 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I am planning to visit Bhutan this year and after reading this post, am very excited to go and see this beautiful country. The tips are very useful. Amazing pictures.

  • Reply Kat May 11, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I really want to visit Bhutan. The Tiger’s Nest looks amazing! Thanks for the tips about what to wear there. The trek sounds tiring but worth it for the view!

    • Reply admin October 12, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Dear Kat,
      This trek is worth all the effort. We are glad we could help you with the clothing part 😉

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