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, Tiger’s Nest Trek distance requires more than 1.5 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.
Taktsang hiking trail is through a higher elevation of more than 30 degree. Going up is as laborious as it’s knee-wrenching coming down. For a physically fit person, hiking up takes more time than coming down. Yet someone having ankle or knee pains will obviously take longer on return.
Make Tiger Nest Monastery Hike less difficult
In Bhutan history, Guru Rinpoche is the founder of Taktsang Monastery. 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 don’t have such tantric power. The option is to continue on walking no matter how long is the hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery would take.
However, if you don’t want to undertake physically demanding hike, you can hire a pony from the base in dropping you to a point near Taktsang Cafeteria. But for elderly people and children, this doesn’t appear like quite a safe choice.
Gears for Bhutan Taktsang Monastery Hike
The Tiger’s Nest height is about 3,000 mtrs above sea level. 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. Not well-maintained trail demands light trekking shoes.
Light 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. You might also consider taking few chocolate bars to boost your energy and beat the crowd.
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. Taktsang Monastery trek distance is about 5km. Your aim should be to cross the Taktsang 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.
Opening and closing times of Taktsang
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.
Travel Tips for Taktsang Monastery Hike
You don’t have to think of carrying lunch to reduce Tiger’s Nest Trek difficulty with extra load. Taktsang Cafeteria that is on the way, serves meals of both local and 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 after a long rest. Just a simple logic.
You cannot take cameras and mobile phones inside Tiger’s Nest Monastery. 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.
Is it worth to travel Bhutan Tiger Nest Temple?
This is one of the few popular places in Bhutan where you can do two things at once – pilgrimage and hiking. The Taktsang 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 then 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 rhythms of your footsteps and heartbeats with backdrops of snow-capped mountains and distant view of Paro Valley would be quite an elusive experience.
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.
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