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Paro & Thimpu, Bhutan

sunny 18 °C
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Located in the Himalayas between Tibet and India, Bhutan has always been a destination on the bucket list. It's home to pristine scenery, that is naturally preserved as part of a harmonious society. There's a true sense of culture and tradition that binds the whole kingdom and clearly distinguishes it from the hustle and bustle of many other countries. Bhutan is the only Vajrayana Buddhist nation in the world and has been called "The Last Shangrila".

It certainly hasn't always been a tourist mecca. It first opened its borders to tourists in 1974 with a "high value, low volume" tourism policy. Then when the pandemic hit, Bhutan closed its borders to travellers until 23 September 2022. We timed our trip well, visiting in October 2022. The high value, low volume policy remains with restrictions on the way you travel. You must have a visa, a booked trip with a guide and predefined itinerary, and pay the mandatory daily "sustainable development fee" of US$200 per day.

With that setup, it meant arriving to an airport that was calm, clean and quiet. There was no frantic tempo that's associated with many other international airports. The countries reputation a peaceful haven was apparent immediately!

We were greeted by our guide Dashi and driver Khandu - two of the friendliest people you'll meet and set off from Paro to Thimpu. The fee you pay covers transport, meals and accommodation, so withdrawing local currency isn't really needed.


We dropped our gear at the very nice Hotel Admohara and enjoyed a local buffet lunch, followed by - exploring:

  • National Memorial Chhorten
  • The impressive Buddha Dordenma, which coincidently had thousands of monks taking part in an annual pilgrimage.
  • A brand-new riverside market called Kaja Throm, with a huge range of organic fruit and vegetables.
  • Tashichho Dzong, a stunning Buddhist monastery and fortress.
  • The streets of Thimpu which is the only national capital city in the world to not have any traffic lights.

A highlight of the trip was the hike to Tigers Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Takstang. It's a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site located north of Paro, precariously perched on a cliff, 900 meters off of the ground. It is stunning in its beauty and location.

The only way to get there, is to hike, which adds to the experience, as you wind your way through the beautiful forest, over a waterfall and with endless views. The trail to monastery is a wide, dirt trail. It is uphill the entire way but not overly steep. It’s very doable for most people, just take your time and drink plenty of water to help you adjust to the altitude.

  • Distance: 6.4 km (4 miles) round trip
  • Altitude Gain: 520 meters (1,700 feet)
  • Highest Elevation Point: 3,120 meters (10,232 feet)
  • Time: 5 to 7 hours for the entire visit (including a couple of breaks for a hot drink and then lunch at the Taktsang Cafeteria, which is roughly halfway.

It was ideal for us, as a preparation hike before we go to the Himalayas in Nepal.


Following the hike, we checked out the Tshering Farmhouse, which gave us an insight into local living, as well as a soothing stone bath and a local meal! A short, but very sweet and memorable trip.

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 07:24 Archived in Bhutan

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