16Hiking the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one of the best things to do in Bhutan, and perhaps one of the most stunning day hikes anywhere in the world.
This picturesque Buddhist monastery, also known as Paro Taktsang, clings to the side of a steep 900-meter (3,000-foot) cliff! It hardly seems real.
Hiking the Tiger’s Nest is not too difficult for most people of average fitness, and it is located near the main airport in Bhutan. However, due to Bhutan’s extraordinary tourism tax, this fascinating little country remains off the radar of most international tourists.
This travel guide will explain how to do the Tiger’s Nest hike in Bhutan, how to get there, what to expect in terms of difficulty, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Tiger’s Nest: Fast Facts
- distance: 6 km (3.7 mi) round trip
- Height gain: 600 meters (1970 ft)
- Top height: 3,100 meters (10,170 ft)
- Duration: 4 – 8 hours one way
- difficulty: Moderate
How to get to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is located about 15 kilometers from Paro City and Paro International Airport in western Bhutan, so it is relatively easy to reach.
The paved car park is just 30 minutes drive from Paro. The road to the trailhead can be a bit narrow and winding at times, but it’s not steep or dangerous at all. for you Tour guide in Bhutan He can arrange transportation for you to the start of the trail.
The monastery itself is located on a steep slope above the Paro Valley, so the only way to get there is by hiking. You can’t drive to the top. No matter who you are, there is a need to rise!
Hiking Tiger’s Nest Monastery: What to Expect
• Start the trip
The trek to Tiger’s Nest Monastery begins in a dense forest of pine trees. You can see the monastery for the first time almost immediately, although it is far away and looks very small at the top of the mountain. 25 Best Hikes in Indonesia: Volcanoes, Waterfalls and Jungles
Early on, you’ll pass some small Bhutanese stupas that have prayer wheels inside, a small river, and a waterfall. The hiking trail can be a bit rocky and muddy in places, and sometimes there are tree roots that you can step over. Although the trail starts out in the shade, much of it later will be in the sun.
This is a very popular hike, so the main trail can be crowded with people and also with horses, which hikers may hire to help carry them up the mountain. This means you have to dodge horse poo along the way.
You have to give the horses plenty of space when they pass because you don’t want to be kicked. Fortunately, horses have bells, so you can always hear them coming.
good Local tour guide It can also show you which side roads have more shade and fewer people. There are plenty of lesser-used side trails on this trek due to the monastery’s long history as a Buddhist meditation site.
• Views of Taktsang Cafeteria
After you hike about halfway to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you’ll come to a cute little mountain cafe called Taktsang Cafeteria.
This is a great place to stop and rest, and the café has great views of the monastery below. The monastery still seems far away at this point, and there is still a lot of climbing to do, but your destination is getting remarkably close.
The monastery is actually within range of taking some good photos if you have a phone or camera lens with a little zoom.
After leaving the café, there are many beautiful views of the monastery as you continue to climb the path. Along the way, we saw magpies and gray langur monkeys (including babies)!
The path becomes progressively less steep as you go until it finally flattens out as you approach the monastery.
• Tiger’s Nest Monastery viewpoint
After about two hours of hiking (or more), you will finally reach the famous viewpoint of Tiger’s Nest Monastery! This is where all the amazing photos were taken, showing the building perched on the edge of the giant cliff.
The monastery is very attractive, and any phone or camera can take great pictures of it. You don’t need a special zoom lens or anything like that to get beautiful photos.
It’s a stunning sight, and I felt like I could have stayed there for hours enjoying the view. The cliff is huge and is over 900 meters (3,000 feet) high!
It’s hard to believe that anyone could build something so magnificent on this cliff, especially in 1692 when the monastery was first established. I really think it’s one of My favorite things I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
The viewpoint has several levels, so there is plenty of room to spread out and take photos. Crowds usually form at the first viewing point, but you can take better photos if you continue down lower and closer to the monastery.
• Taktsang Waterfall and Bridge
From the main viewpoint, in order to reach the Tiger’s Nest Monastery and go inside, you will have to go down a series of concrete steps and then up more steps, but there is a metal handrail that you can hold on to at all times.
At the bottom, you’ll cross a footbridge over a stream, and pass a tall waterfall with several drops. It is an impressive waterfall that is supposed to be over 100 meters high!
• Inside the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Now that you’ve arrived at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, it’s time to go inside. You can’t bring any bag, camera, or phone inside, but getting into the Tiger’s Nest is still worth it.
There are large and spacious lockers at the entrance to the monastery where you can store your camera gear. The entire 30-liter backpack fits nicely inside the locker, with room to spare. I was a little nervous leaving my expensive gear here, but it wasn’t a problem.
The interior of the monastery has many rooms and corridors and is very interesting, containing a sacred cave, temples, and small courtyards. Inside there are a lot of Buddhist monks chanting and burning incense.
• Views above Tiger’s Nest
If you still have more time and energy after visiting the Tiger’s Nest, you can hike higher on the opposite mountain.
Starting from the famous viewpoint, there is a little-used hiking trail that leads to several other interesting Bhutanese temples with sweeping views of the valley and Paro Taktsang.
Most tourists don’t know anything about this detour, so you can enjoy the views all to yourself, and it gives you a unique perspective of Takcang Monastery from above.
How difficult is the Tiger’s Nest trek?
The difficulty of the Tiger’s Nest hike will depend on your age, fitness level, and whether you are acclimatized to the altitude before starting. If you are a young trekker and fit, then getting to Tiger’s Nest will be fairly easy for you.
However, for most people, I would describe the journey as fairly difficult. It will definitely be a challenge for older people who don’t hike much, but it’s still doable if you take your time. I’ve heard of people as young as 3 and as young as 85 completing this journey, but not without some struggle.
There is a fair amount of walking uphill over rough terrain, and the relatively high upper elevation of 3,100 meters (10,170 feet) adds another layer of challenge for us sea-level dwellers. I had a headache after my first visit to Paro Taktsang, but some bed rest and ibuprofen eased it.
If you think you might struggle with this hike, I would save it for later in your Bhutan itinerary, that way you’ll already be better acclimatized to the altitude. Moreover, the Tiger’s Nest makes a great ‘finale’ to your trip anyway, as it is easily one of the best things to do in Bhutan!
If you want to make things easier, you can also pay to rent a walking stick or horse at the beginning of the trail. However, horses can only carry you to Takstang Café, which is located about halfway to the monastery. You should still be able to walk the rest of the way on your own. If you are disabled or use a wheelchair, the hike will not be possible for you.
How long is the Tiger’s Nest hike?
The Tiger’s Nest trek can take 4 to 8 hours one way, depending on your fitness level. I would say 5 hours round trip is a normal time for the average person, not counting the time spent taking photos and looking inside the monastery.
Without any breaks, I reached Taktsang Cafeteria in about 45 minutes, then reached the main observation point in another 45 minutes. Finally, it took me another 15 minutes to walk from the lookout point to the monastery and get inside.
This means I reached the monastery in less than two hours, but this is an unusually fast pace. For most people, it will take longer, which is a good thing. It’s not a race. I was dying to see the tiger’s nest and take pictures!
However, even if you are a quick hiker, you will need to set aside a full day to visit the Tiger’s Nest Monastery because you will want to spend a lot of time enjoying the views, taking photos, and wandering around inside the monastery. temple.
me Bhutan tourist guide told me that before the road was renovated in 2005, the path was longer and it took twice as long to get to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Nowadays, it’s a little easier, but it’s still a lot of challenge.
My tour guide and I agreed that the most special way to see the monastery was to hike to it, and we hope the Bhutan government never builds a road to the top of the mountain!
The best time to visit Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan
In general, the best time to visit Bhutan and hike to the Tiger’s Nest is in the fall (October to December) or spring (March to May), when the weather is dry and sunny.
Don’t rule out cloudy or rainy days to visit the Tiger’s Nest. Although it may not be ideal, you can still take good photos of the monastery even if it is raining. The first time I visited Taktsang, it was very cloudy and raining all day, but it gave everything a mysterious atmosphere with clouds swirling around the mountain.
The best time of day to start the trek depends on your priorities. Most tours will start around 8 a.m., and this will put you in the monastery before noon, giving you plenty of time to hike at your own pace, and then do plenty of sightseeing and photos there. Mornings also feature cooler temperatures for trekking.
However, you can skip some of the crowds by starting later in the day, and the lighting is better for photos at that time anyway. On a sunny day, Tiger’s Nest Monastery is best lit in the afternoon or later. Before that, you can still take beautiful photos but the monastery will be partially or completely shaded.
What to bring for a hike at Tiger’s Nest
- Hiking shoes: The terrain at this hike can be steep and sometimes slippery, with occasional rocks, mud, or tree roots. You’ll need good hiking shoes or boots with grip.
- Jacket: Wear a light jacket that you can easily get rid of. You may feel cold at first when you start hiking, but you will quickly warm up, especially if it is a sunny day. Layered clothing.
- Sun protection: It’s easy to get sunburned at this high altitude, so you’ll need to wear a hat and/or sunscreen.
- water: It is a good idea to bring at least one liter of drinking water with you. For you, Bhutan tourist guide can provide this for you. It is also possible to purchase additional bottles of water from the cafeteria at the halfway point.
Other Tips for Tiger’s Nest Trip in Bhutan
- Dress to wear: Paro Taktsang is an active Buddhist monastery, so you can only enter in modest clothing (pants and long sleeves). Hats and shoes must also be removed. Outside the monastery, any clothing is okay as long as it is not too revealing. There are bilingual signs at the viewpoint saying that inappropriate clothing is prohibited. This means no swimsuits or anything similarly revealing like that. Shorts and short sleeves are suitable for hiking if you do not plan to go inside the monastery.
- Bathrooms: There are toilets in the parking lot and also in the Taktsang cafeteria, which is the halfway point. There are also toilets in the monastery itself, although I heard they are quite dirty. The toilets in the café are free to use, but there was a small cash fee to use the toilets in the car park. Apart from this, there are also some off-track places where you can go bush if you really need to.
- Cell service: If you have a Bhutanese SIM card, there is some reception throughout the entire trip, so you can make calls or send texts if necessary. There was no WiFi in Taktsang Cafeteria when I went, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they added that soon.
- horses: You can ride a horse halfway to the monastery for a fee. My tour guide said that the more expensive horses (for about $20) are better trained and safer than the cheap horses ($10). He said some tourists fell and broke their arms or worse. He wasn’t trying to convince me of this service, so I tend to believe him. If I rode a horse here, I would try to take the best, most experienced horse out of the lineup.
- Mosquitoes: I only saw one or two mosquitoes while hiking, and if you’re wearing pants it shouldn’t be a problem at all. There is no malaria in Paro district of Bhutan, so you don’t have to worry about that either.
Frequently Asked Questions (Baro Taktsang)
- What does Taktsang mean in English?
The name Taktsang means “tiger’s lair” in Tibetan. According to legend, the Indian guru Padmasambhava was transported to the cave on the back of a tigress, giving this place the name it has today.
- Where is Taktsang’s headquarters?
Taktsang is located on a steep slope outside the city of Paro in western Bhutan. You can drive to the starting point within 30 minutes from Paro, but the only way to reach the monastery is to hike to it.
- When was Paro Taktsang built?
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery was officially built in 1692, although its history as a Buddhist meditation cave dates back to the 9th century.
- How many steps to get to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan?
There is no exact count of how many steps the hike takes since it is mostly a dirt road, but the last section alone contains hundreds of stone steps. Overall, it’s a great workout, but worth every minute!
The best tour company in Bhutan
For most nationalities, the only way you can visit Bhutan is with a visa and a tour organized by a local Bhutanese tour company. There is also a daily tax of US$100 per person, a rule put in place by the Bhutan government to try to ensure “quality over quantity” tourism.
I visited Bhutan with a tour company called Maybar Travel. It was a great experience and I would happily recommend it to anyone! The owner of the company, Tsinraj, helped me craft the perfect 7-day Bhutan itinerary, with a visit to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery and lots of other amazing sights around the country of Bhutan.
Their most popular tracks are 5 or 7 days but they also have tours of up to 15 or 20 days. The itinerary is very flexible and you can choose the sights you want to see on each day you spend in Bhutan.
My tour guide, L. Dorji, was amazing and extremely helpful, staying by my side every step of the way. He even kindly insisted on carrying my heavy bag and helped me switch between my camera lenses whenever I was taking pictures.
Dorji knew all the details about Bhutan’s history and had been making the trek to the Tiger’s Nest for decades. He was one of the best tour guides I have ever dealt with anywhere in the world. Overall, I would highly recommend this company for your trip to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan!
More travel tips for Bhutan
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for hiking the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. It was one of my favorite experiences in this small Asian country.
I will be adding more tips about Bhutan to the Travel blog Coming soon, so don’t forget to bookmark it and check back later!