Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 6 things to do in and around Paro, Bhutan

The rich valley of Paro offers a surreal Himalayan experience, but in addition to this town there are other interesting things that one can indulge in and around Paro. I was there last month and experienced all of this in person and highly recommending doing them on your next holiday to Paro.

1) Hike to Taktsang Monastery
Tiger's Nest - the famous temple of Bhutan
Taktsang or Tiger’s nest is the highlight of Paro, if not Bhutan. And hence it comes as no surprise that it is on the top of my list. You can either hike or take a horse, but the hike is much recommended as you will get a short mountain trek experience. Taktsang is about a 30 minute drive from Paro and then to reach the monastery, one has to walk 2 hours. It is a fairly steep climb ending up in a steep flight of steps.

2) Watch Snow capped Jomolhari from the ruins of Drugyel
Snow capped Jomolhari Peak as seen from Drugyel Dzong, Bhutan
The Jomolhari peak is always snow capped and the locals worship this peak. I worship it too as it stands separate and majestic against the other bleaker landscape. It is best seen from the Drugyel area and while you see this peak you can also explore the ruins of Drugyel Dzong and the more sparsely populated countryside. Drugyel is about a 40 minute drive from Paro/

3) Soak in the World of Blue at Kyichu Lakhang
Vibrant colours on the Kyichu Lakhang Temple, Paro, Bhutan
This has got to be one of the most beautiful temples of Bhutan.  I call it the BLUE temple as the entire temple is colored blue. It is a very different Buddhist temple and is very much recommended. It is also one of the oldest temples in the Himalayan kingdom. This temple is about 10 minutes drive from Paro.

4) Watch sunset view of Paro town from Paro museum
Aerial View of Paro Town, Bhutan
The best views of Paro town, the river passing through it, the golden rice fields and the entire valley can be seen from Paro museum. Either you drive upto the top or take the more scenic winding route from the cantilever bridge over the river through Paro Dzong and to the Paro Museum. The views from here get great after a couple of hours after lunch and are best just before sunset.

5) Cross the suspension bridge to reach the Iron Horse temple
The suspension bridge that leads to Tachogang temple outside Paro, Bhutan
In between Paro and Thimphu is a temple called Tachogang or the Iron Horse temple. It is situated on a hillock opposite the Thimphu-Paro highway. But, the best experience about this temple is the super shaking suspension bridge that allows you to cross the river. The suspension bridge does not have any solidness on its floor and is a mesh of wires. Crossing it is quite an adrenaline rush, albeit for a short time. The temple also offers a great backdrop against the mountains.

6) Watch Druk Air take off and land from opposite the Paro airport
Dry Rice Fields of Paro, Bhutan
It is very rarely that one gets to see the bird’s eye view of an airport from land. But, in Paro, you can precisely do that if you go to the other highway that sits on top of a hill opposite the airport. Here, you can watch in these planes take off and land and those sights offer a very different experience.

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