Tiger's Nest Bhutan/Taktsang Monastery
Tiger's Nest Monastery is also known as Paro Taktsang or Taktsang Monastery.
It is a monastery balanced and carved into the edge of a cliff 900 meters above sea level, and is one of 13 monasteries.
The edge of the cliff is a sheer drop right to the bottom.
Tiger's Nest is a sacred Buddhist monastery in Bhutan. It was constructed in 1692.
Whilst the location of Tiger's Nest Monastery may be beautiful and make for some pretty special and unique pictures, it also seems a bit inconveniently place.
So, why is it where it is...?
The Tiger's Nest Monastery is located over the mouth of a cave where Guru Rinpoche first sat and meditated. Guru Rinpoche is the monk who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan.
The story goes that Guru Rinpoche was carried here by a tiger from Tibet.
An alternate legend is that a former wife of an emperor transformed herself into a tiger and carried Guru Rinpoche here from Tibet.
Both lead to the name 'Tiger's Nest'.
Guru Rinpoche is said to have spent three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours meditating in the monastery.
You don't have a flying tiger, though. So - you're going to have to hike.
Tiger's Nest Monastery is located about 20 minutes up-hill drive from Paro city. It's best to stay in Paro overnight beforehand, and make an early start in the morning to beat the crowds.
Visiting Tiger's Nest Monastery is a day trip. You can prepare to leave early and not arrive back at your accommodation until the afternoon, depending how long you stick around.
There is still time in the evening for a hot stone bath - recommended to relieve the aches and pains of a long hike!
What is it like to visit Tiger's Nest Bhutan?
Tiger's Nest Hike Distance: 4 miles total
Tiger's Nest Hike Highest Elevation: 10,232 feet
Tiger's Nest Hike Time: 4-7 hours
Visiting Tiger's Nest Bhutan will be an unforgettable experience and an absolute must for your trip to Bhutan.
No tour to Bhutan is complete without hiking Tiger's Nest. Because of this, it is usually at the end of the itinerary on a tour Bhutan - save the best until last, and all.
It's worth it, and the hike isn't too tough - don't worry.
Once you arrive at the carpark of Tiger's Nest Monastery, there are toilets as well as places to buy souvenirs and walking sticks, as well as small horses and ponies to rent to help take you up.
The first half of the hike is about 2 hours. Once you reach the resting point here, you will find a cafeteria offering great food - as well as your first great view of Tiger's Nest.
If you want, you can choose to stay here and not climb further, enjoying the peaceful surroundings and buffet restaurant serving typical Bhutan cuisine and drinks.
Unless you really think you can't get any further, I'd recommend carrying on from here once you are re-charged.
You can also choose to carry on straight up and re-charge on your way down if you just cannot wait to get into the Tiger's Nest Monastery!
If you choose to carry on, the path will be less steep and you'll start to notice fewer people around as tourists and locals spread out. It's very quiet and peaceful.
Once you have walked most of the second half of the hike, you will come to arguably the most rewarding, and certainly the most iconic spots in Bhutan; that priceless view of the Tiger's Nest Monastery from the best view-point.
The bonus of getting here early is that you won't have to queue for your pictures (unlikely anyway) and you can spend a good few minutes making sure you get that perfect shot.
After you've taken your pictures, you'll then head down one side of the mountain - only to frustratingly have to walk back up it on the other side.
Once you've walked down these steps, you will come across a small waterfall (which may be frozen, depending on the time of year) where you can walk past onto the other side, where steps up await.
At the top of these steps is the Tiger's Nest Monastery, poised precariously at the side of the mountain on various levels.
Once you have made it to the top, you will come to the entrance of Tiger's Nest Monastery.
You can leave your luggage in storage, and after a security check may enter the Tiger's Nest Monastery with your Bhutan guide.
You should take off your shoes when you enter here.
There are different rooms and buildings that makeup Taktsang. I'd recommend spending as much time here as you need. After all, you probably won't be back.
Once you've finished looking around inside, it's time to head back down onto solid ground.
The only way back is right back where you came from.
If you started early and you are visiting in peak season, this may mean a battle through the crowds, especially at the stairs area.
Since the way back down is pretty steep, it's recommended to go slowly and to bring a hiking stick or walking stick to help your knees.
The hike takes anywhere between 4-7 hours, depending on how much you want to take it slowly and enjoy, or if you'd rather race up and down.
People of all ages, shapes, and sizes can hike Tiger's Nest. You see small children and elderly monks making the entire hike.
It depends on what you deem as "tough".
It is a long hike, it's steep, and the roads aren't the best.
If you don't want to walk the whole way, you can choose to hire a horse to take you up the first half of Tiger's Nest to the cafeteria area. This cuts about an hour off of the walk.
Yes, the hike is suitable for children who are used to walking or hiking. For those not used to hiking, they may find it a bit strenuous and tiring, but there are plenty of opportunities for a break.
It's not necessary to prepare a great amount for hiking Tiger's Nest Monastery. If you don't have these things then you can still complete the hike (do bring water, though) and it's not worth missing out on just because you don't.
To prepare for a hike up Tiger's Nest, it's recommended to bring the following things;
To stop aches and pains, it's recommended to take a hot stone bath after your trip hiking up Tiger's Nest Monastery.