If you aren’t someone living in geographically Himalayan-kind-of terrains or hasn’t taken a hiking or trekking through such a similar terrains before, reaching to Taktshang (Tiger Nest Monastery) of Paro Bhutan would be little bit arduous physically.
On an average, the hike shouldn’t take more than 2 hours. But tourists, especially from the west, are taking more. Maybe their living styles don’t involve such physical activities. Tourists from Eastern (Himalayan) countries take less time. You can make out the reasons.
The hiking trail is through a higher elevation of more than 45 degree. Going up is as laborious as it’s knee-wrenching coming down. For a normal person, hiking up takes more time than coming down. Yet someone having ankle or knee pains will obviously take longer on return.
How you can make Tiger Nest Monastery Hike little Light physically?
In Bhutan history, Guru Rinpoche is the founder of Taktshang. He first came to this place riding on a flying tiger using his tantric power. So the name Taktshang, literally meaning Tiger’s Nest, was also derived from it.
So ordinary people like you and me having no such tantric power, the option is to hike all the way to reach the Tiger’s Nest.
However, if you don’t want to undertake physically demanding hike, you can hire a pony from the base in dropping you to a certain mid-way point. But for elderly people and children, this won’t be quite a safe choice.
The hiking gears needed to reach Paro Taktshang (Tiger Nest Monastery)
The monastery is approximately at an altitude of 3,000 mtrs. And the elevation of hiking trail is through a higher gradient slope. You can expect it to be windy and cold on the way. Therefore, you can wear warm pants and jackets – which you can always take off if you feel hot.
I am sure your guides or any Bhutanese to whom you ask about Tiger’s Nest Monastery hike will tell you to wear hiking shoes and warm socks. You’ll need warm socks at the time of entering the monastery.
Hiking shoes will prove more helpful on your return from there. During summer, hiking trail would be muddy and slippery. And you might also take walking sticks to aid your downward steep descend.
You can also take your own sticks or buy wooden sticks from the base. They won’t cost you more than $1.50.
I would suggest you to start your hike to Tiger’s Nest during early hours of a day to avoid mid-day heat on the way. Your aim should be to cross the Taktshang Cafeteria before noon.
In overall, weather in Bhutan usually remains unpredictable. Don’t forget to take rain coats to remain warm even when it rains. And during sunny day, taking sun’s cream to avoid your face getting beaten by heat would be better.
The opening and closing time of Paro Taktshang (Tiger Nest Monastery)
When you hike to Paro Taktshang and if your main aim is to visit the main temple, you must have clear picture of its opening and closing time.
Till now, the monastery opens at 9.00 a.m and closes at 5.00 p.m with one hour of lunch break from 12.00-1.00 p.m. Tourists who reach there at noon would have to wait another one hour to get it opened.
But now Royal Government of Bhutan have recently issued a circular containing both good news as well as bad news for Tiger’s Nest visiting aspirants.
The good news is the monastery will remain open from 9.00a.m to 5.00 p.m without a lunch break in the middle. Therefore, you can walk in the temple anytime within this time range.
But the bad news is now visiting Tiger’s Nest isn’t free for Non-Bhutanese. You have to pay Nu.500 (elders) and Nu.250 (students). However, if you are not on a minimum government prescribed travel rate package, you’ll get a guiding tour from the view point.
The misc travel notes for hiking to Paro Taktshang & visiting the Tiger Nest Monastery
You don’t have to think of carrying lunch or other edibles or drinks on your hiking. There is a cafeteria on the way where you can stop for a lunch or tea. They serve things of both local as well as of international cuisines.
There are two water taps on the way where you can use for cooling your body heat. But I cannot say they are 100% safe for drinking though I saw many drinking from there. So to remain safe, you might need to take at least 1-2 bottles of mineral water.
Don’t forget to use your energy in a sustainable manner from the first step itself. People who hike at greater speed at the start-up usually become exhausted mid-way. And also don’t rest too long on the way. Because you might feel very stiff and lethargic to start once more after a long rest. Just a simple logic.
You cannot take cameras and mobile phones inside the temple. You have to keep them outside the temple at security check point. And if you are someone who cares so much of your gadgets, take their suits or bags to keep them well when you are inside the temple.
The good things of hiking to Taktshang (Tiger Nest Monastery)
This is one of the few popular places in Bhutan where you can do two things at once – pilgrimage and hiking. The Taktshang monastery is a religious site visited by many great masters including Guru Rinpoche.
There are also many religious temples in its vicinity. I was told it would take at least 2 days to visit all. Therefore, visit Tiger’s Nest Monastery to pay homage to this great saint and also to receive his blessings.
Taktshang, since is in a higher altitude among precarious cliffs, hiking up there would be an act of rewarding your otherwise stiff body. It is a paradise for hikers. Walking through clean pine forest listening your footsteps, breathing rhythmically and occasionally enjoying distant view of Paro Valley would be a rewarding moment.
Taktshang Monastery is unique in many ways; starting from its architectural design to how it was built in middle of unimaginable sheer cliffs. Visiting Tiger’s Nest will be a moment to see yet another proof of ancient architecture of Bhutan that has stood beautifully enduring different levels of difficulties brought by changing times.
Recommend to read following travel experiences and more exciting stories from Bhutan:
- 17 best places to visit – CNN has included Bhutan in the list.
- Dochula Pass – Travel experiences with Indian Tourists.
- Eastern Bhutan Travel – My experiences at Yonphula Airport.
- Bumdeling – winter residence of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan.
- My simple tips for Thimphu Phajoding Hike.
- Bumthang Travel – Experiences and stories of a traveller.
- The largest Guru Statue – Travel map to Lhuentse Takila.
- Travel Punakha to experience River Rafting of Bhutan.
- Dzongdrakha Temple, which looks similar to Taktshang.