View of Paro Rinpung Dzong

10 Things To Do in Paro (2024)

Paro is an essential stop on any Bhutan itinerary, with most tourists dedicating a day or two to explore its beauty. With many things to do in Paro, the town holds a special place in my heart among the destinations I visited in Bhutan. The town’s calm atmosphere and adventurous spirit captivated me, making it a standout experience. Serenity permeates the air, and the adventure attraction elevates Paro to the top of my list. Whether immersing in cultural richness or embarking on outdoor escapades, Paro blends tradition and excitement, leaving a lasting mark on every traveler fortunate enough to wander through its enchanting landscapes.

As you step onto the fertile grounds of Paro, the first thing that strikes you is the breathtaking view of the iconic Taktsang Palphug Monastery, commonly known as Tiger’s Nest. Clinging to the side of a cliff, this sacred site is an example of Bhutan’s spiritual legacy and a symbol of its breathtaking natural beauty. Though challenging, the journey to Tiger’s Nest promises a pilgrimage-like experience, with each step providing a deeper connection to Bhutanese culture and spirituality.

Beyond the mystical glamour of Tiger’s Nest, Paro unfolds a box of experiences for every kind of traveler. Whether you seek serenity in the hallowed halls of ancient monasteries, the thrill of outdoor adventures amidst the Himalayan terrain, or the vibrant pulse of local markets, Paro offers many things to do that will leave you enchanted and yearning for more. Let’s embark on a journey through the enchanting town of Paro, where every activity is a doorway to the heart and soul of Bhutan.

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About Paro

Nestled in the picturesque valley of Bhutan, Paro invites travelers with its serene landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a harmonious mix of tradition and modernity. This enchanting town, situated at an elevation of 2,250 meters (7,382 feet), is the gateway to the country’s only international airport and a treasure of experiences waiting to be discovered. From ancient monasteries perched on cliffs to bustling markets teeming with vibrant colors, Paro offers many activities that captivate the hearts of all who venture into its realm.

Given the high altitude of Paro, travelers are advised to acclimatize gradually to prevent altitude sickness. Take it easy for the first day, stay hydrated, and allow your body to adjust to the altitude.

Prayer Flags at Paro

Best Time to Visit Paro

The best time to visit Paro, Bhutan, is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is relatively mild and the landscapes are most vibrant.

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is considered one of the best times to visit Paro. The weather is pleasant during spring, with temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius (50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit). The town comes alive with colorful flowers, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities and cultural exploration.
  2. Autumn (September to November): Another excellent time to visit Paro is during the autumn months. The weather is clear, with mild temperatures between 5 and 20 degrees Celsius (41 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). The skies are often crystal clear, providing breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks. Autumn is also the time for significant festivals in Bhutan, offering a chance to witness vibrant cultural celebrations.

Both spring and autumn are ideal for trekking to places like Tiger’s Nest Monastery and exploring the surrounding landscapes. These seasons provide a good balance between comfortable temperatures, clear skies, and lush scenery.

While winter (December to February) can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing, visiting Paro during this time is still possible if you are prepared for chilly conditions. Summer (June to August) brings the monsoon season with rain, making it less favorable for outdoor activities, but the landscapes are lush and green.

Number of Days Required for Paro

The number of days required for a visit to Paro, Bhutan, largely depends on your travel preferences, interests, and the activities you plan to engage in. Paro is a town rich in cultural and natural attractions, and while some travelers opt for a short visit, others may choose to stay longer to explore the region more thoroughly.

A typical itinerary for Paro might include visiting iconic landmarks such as Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Taktsang Palphug), Paro Rinpung Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan, and perhaps a trek to Dzongdrakha Goemba or other nearby sites. Additionally, time spent strolling through the local markets, trying Bhutanese cuisine, and interacting with the locals can add to the overall experience.

Many travelers allocate 2 to 3 days in Paro for a standard visit. This allows for a comfortable exploration of the major attractions and some leisure time. However, if you wish to delve deeper into the culture, take longer treks, or enjoy a more relaxed pace, you might consider extending your stay to 4 to 5 days.

How to Get to Paro?

By Air

Most travelers arrive in Bhutan by flying into Paro International Airport. Druk Air, Bhutan’s national carrier, and Bhutan Airlines operate international flights to Paro from select Asian cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Bangkok, and Kathmandu. The flight into Paro is renowned for its breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Prepare for a visual treat as the plane navigates through mountainous terrain before landing at Paro Airport.

By Road

Paro is well-connected by road, and taxis and buses can be hired for local travel. If you plan to explore beyond Paro, consider hiring a local guide and vehicle for a more personalized experience.

Where to Stay in Paro?

Paro has many accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Paro has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, comfortable resorts, cozy guesthouses, or budget-friendly lodges. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Hotel Wonder Hill
  2. Lhayhuel Resort and Spa
  3. Shomo Chuki Resort
  4. Rema Resort
  5. Taktsang Village Resort
  6. Le Meridien Paro Riverfront
  7. Himalayan Star Resort
 

10 Things To Do in Paro

Tiger’s Nest Monastery Hike

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also called Paro Taktsang, is a legendary and iconic spiritual site perched on a cliff 900 meters (2,952 feet) above the Paro Valley in Bhutan. This sacred monastery, dating back to the 8th century, is enveloped in myths and legends, believed to have been blessed by Guru Rinpoche, who is said to have flown to this location on the back of a tigress.

Tiger Nest Monastery
View of Tiger Nest Monastery

The hike to Tiger’s Nest is a pilgrimage of both physical and spiritual significance. The trail winds through pine forests, offering glimpses of the monastery precariously clinging to the cliffside. The journey, which takes about 5-6 hours, is challenging and rewarding, with stunning vistas unfolding at every turn.

As you ascend, prayer flags flutter in the breeze, and the sound of prayer wheels accompanies your footsteps. The final stretch involves a steep climb, and upon reaching the monastery, visitors are treated to panoramic views of the valley below.

Intricate murals, sacred relics, and the temple’s sanctity inside the Tiger’s Nest create an awe-inspiring atmosphere. The pilgrimage to Tiger’s Nest is not just a physical feat but a spiritual experience, leaving a memory on all who embark on this unforgettable journey amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Bhutan.

Paro Rinpung Dzong

Paro Rinpung Dzong, a majestic fortress and monastery, symbolises Bhutanese architecture and spiritual heritage on the banks of the Paro Chhu River. Constructed in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this imposing structure translates to “Fortress on a Heap of Jewels.” Encircled by lush greenery and guarded by cypress trees, the dzong exudes an aura of calmness and grandeur.

View of Paro Rinpung Dzong
View of Paro Rinpung Dzong

The fortress serves as a religious and administrative center, housing numerous temples, shrines, and government offices. Its strategic location, with views of the Paro Valley and surrounding mountains, enhances its significance.

Entering the dzong, visitors are greeted by intricate woodwork, vibrant frescoes depicting Bhutanese history and legends, and sacred relics. The central courtyard hosts colorful festivals and religious events, offering a glimpse into the rich culture of Bhutan.

Paro Rinpung Dzong is renowned for its annual Paro Tsechu festival, a vibrant celebration featuring masked dances, traditional music, and religious rituals. The dzong’s strategic position and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in Bhutan’s spiritual and historical legacy while marveling at the architectural marvel that is Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Kyichu Lhakhang

Kyichu Lhakhang, nestled in the serene Paro Valley of Bhutan, stands as one of the country’s oldest and most sacred temples. Constructed in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo, this spiritual haven radiates a timeless aura of devotion and history. Kyichu Lhakhang translates to “Lhakhang on the Mouth of a Glacial River,” emphasizing its picturesque location near the Paro Chhu River.

Also, Read the Inspiring Story of Pema Tshering

The temple is an architectural gem adorned with intricate carvings, vibrant murals, and a captivating blend of Bhutanese and Tibetan artistic influences. Two orange trees in the temple courtyard, believed to have been planted by Guru Rinpoche, add to the site’s sanctity.

Kyichu Lhakhang is a testament to Bhutan’s religious heritage and a site of pilgrimage and blessings. Pilgrims and visitors circumambulate the temple, spinning prayer wheels and offering butter lamps, seeking spiritual solace and divine intervention.

The Jowo Lhakhang within Kyichu houses a revered statue of Jowo Jampa (Future Buddha), believed to have profound powers of healing and blessing. Kyichu Lhakhang’s timeless beauty, historical significance, and spiritual resonance make it a cherished destination for those seeking a deep connection with Bhutan’s rich cultural and religious journey.

National Museum of Bhutan

The National Museum of Bhutan is a cultural treasure that preserves and showcases the rich heritage of this Himalayan kingdom. Established in 1968, the museum is housed in a unique circular Ta Dzong (watchtower), providing panoramic views of the surrounding Paro Valley.

The museum’s extensive collection spans Bhutanese art, history, and culture, offering visitors an interesting journey through the nation’s past. Exhibits include traditional thangkas, religious artifacts, ancient manuscripts, and diverse objects reflecting Bhutanese daily life. One of the highlights is the display of costumes worn during Bhutanese festivals, providing insight into the vibrant culture.

The Ta Dzong is an architectural marvel whose circular shape symbolizes eternity and timelessness. The strategic location on a ridge enhances its historical significance, serving as a watchtower during times of war.

Visitors can explore the museum’s various galleries, each dedicated to specific aspects of Bhutanese heritage. The museum also organizes educational programs and events, contributing to preserving and promoting Bhutanese culture.

Immersing yourself in the National Museum of Bhutan in Paro is a captivating experience. It offers a deeper understanding of the kingdom’s unique identity and fosters an appreciation for its rich cultural legacy.

Drukgyel Dzong

Drukgyel Dzong, situated in the upper part of the Paro Valley in Bhutan, is a historical testament to the country’s defensive architecture. Built in 1649 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this fortress monastery once served as a strategic defense against Tibetan invasions.

The name “Drukgyel Dzong” translates to “Fortress of the Victorious Druk,” paying homage to Bhutan’s national symbol, the Druk (Thunder Dragon). The dzong’s imposing structure, set against the backdrop of the towering Mount Jomolhari, adds to its majestic allure.

While the dzong was a formidable defense structure, unfortunately, it suffered damage over the years. Today, its ruins are a poignant reminder of Bhutan’s history and the challenges in safeguarding its sovereignty.

Drukgyel Dzong’s location is historically significant and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Visitors can appreciate the architectural remnants, envisioning the dzong’s past grandeur while absorbing the natural beauty that frames this cultural heritage site.

Efforts have been made to preserve and protect the ruins, allowing visitors to explore and reflect on Bhutan’s historical struggles and triumphs. Drukgyel Dzong remains a captivating destination, blending history, spirituality, and natural splendor in the heart of the Paro Valley.

Jangsarbu Lhakhang

Jangsarbu Lhakhang, located near Paro in Bhutan, holds a unique place in the hearts of the Bhutanese people as a temple dedicated to the protective deity Jangsarbu. This sacred site, situated amid the pristine landscapes of the Paro Valley, is known for its cultural and spiritual significance.

Built in the 18th century, Jangsarbu Lhakhang is renowned for warding off hostile forces and promoting harmony. The temple’s architecture reflects traditional Bhutanese design, adorned with intricate carvings and vibrant paintings that depict religious tales and symbols.

Jangsarbu Lhakhang Paro

One of the distinctive features of Jangsarbu Lhakhang is its annual festival, which attracts devotees and tourists alike. The festival is a vibrant celebration featuring masked dances, religious rituals, and traditional music, offering a glimpse into Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.

The temple’s serene surroundings, with the Paro Chhu River flowing nearby and the backdrop of lush green hills, add to the spiritual ambiance. Pilgrims often visit Jangsarbu Lhakhang to seek blessings for health, prosperity, and protection.

Jangsarbu Lhakhang stands as a serene retreat, inviting visitors to experience the tranquility of Bhutanese spirituality and immerse themselves in the cultural vibrancy that defines this enchanting temple in the heart of the Paro Valley.

Dzongdrakha Goemba

Dzongdrakha Goemba, perched on a cliffside above the Paro Valley in Bhutan, is a captivating monastery that beckons visitors with its stunning location and spiritual ambiance. Constructed in the 16th century, this secluded religious retreat is known for its unique architecture and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

The journey to Dzongdrakha involves a scenic hike through terraced fields and pine forests, offering a sense of pilgrimage as visitors ascend to the monastery. The complex comprises four temples or lhakhangs, each distinct in religious significance and artistic elements.

One of the lhakhangs is said to house the footprint of Guru Rinpoche, adding to the site’s sacredness. The panoramic vistas of the Paro Valley and the distant Himalayan peaks from Dzongdrakha Goemba make the pilgrimage worthwhile, creating a sense of awe and serenity.

The annual Tsechu festival at Dzongdrakha is a vibrant celebration featuring traditional mask dances, religious ceremonies, and a gathering of locals and pilgrims. This festival honors the protective deities and serves as a cultural spectacle.

Dzongdrakha Goemba, with its harmonious blend of spiritual significance and natural beauty, stands as a hidden gem in Bhutan, inviting those who venture to its heights to experience the profound spirituality and cultural richness that define this cliffside monastery above the Paro Valley.

Paro Town Exploration

Paro Town, nestled in the enchanting Paro Valley of Bhutan, offers a delightful blend of traditional touch and modern amenities, making it a compelling destination for exploration. The town serves as the gateway to Bhutan and provides a captivating introduction to the country’s cultural richness.

The central market square, adorned with vibrant prayer flags, is a bustling hub where locals and visitors converge. Here, you will discover shops selling traditional Bhutanese handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Paro

Paro’s streets are lined with traditional Bhutanese architecture, featuring intricately designed buildings adorned with colorful paintings. The serene ambiance invites strolls, allowing you to absorb the town’s unique atmosphere.

A visit to Paro is incomplete without exploring its various cafes and restaurants, offering a taste of Bhutanese cuisine. Sample local delicacies like Ema Datshi (chili and cheese dish) and momos while savoring the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

The town is also a gateway to several cultural and historical landmarks, including Paro Rinpung Dzong and the National Museum of Bhutan. Each corner of Paro Town unfolds a story of Bhutanese heritage, creating an immersive experience.

Local Bhutanese Lunch

Indulging in a local Bhutanese lunch in Paro is a culinary journey that reflects the Himalayan kingdom’s rich flavors and cultural diversity. Traditional Bhutanese cuisine, characterized by spicy chilies and cheese, offers a unique and unforgettable dining experience.

Begin your meal with Ema Datshi, a quintessential Bhutanese dish with chili peppers in rich, creamy cheese sauce. The spiciness is balanced by the creamy texture, creating a flavorful harmony. Accompanying this, you might savor Jasha Maru, a hearty chicken stew with aromatic spices that adds warmth to the meal.

local Bhutanese lunch
Local Bhutanese Lunch

Red rice, a staple in Bhutan, often accompanies the main dishes, contributing a nutty flavor and wholesome texture. Alternatively, try Bhutanese momos – steamed or fried dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, served with tangy dipping sauce.

As you dine, relish the communal spirit of Bhutanese meals, where sharing and connection are valued. The backdrop of traditional Bhutanese architecture or panoramic views of the Paro Valley often enhances the ambiance.

Completing the meal with a cup of suja, or butter tea, provides a taste of Bhutanese hospitality. The intricate blend of flavors and the cultural significance of Bhutanese cuisine make a local lunch in Paro a feast for the palate and a delightful immersion into the heart of Bhutanese traditions.

Teahouses Exploration

Exploring the teahouses in Paro is a delightful journey into the heart of Bhutanese hospitality, offering a blend of aromatic teas, delectable snacks, and captivating conversations. Nestled within the charming streets of Paro, these teahouses are havens of warmth and relaxation, inviting locals and travelers to unwind and savor the unique flavors of Bhutan.

Traditional Bhutanese teas, such as suja (butter tea) or ngaja (sweet tea), are often on the menu, providing a cultural immersion into Bhutanese beverage traditions. The teahouses, adorned with colorful prayer flags and traditional Bhutanese decor, create an ambiance that reflects the country’s rich heritage.

While enjoying your tea, indulge in locally inspired snacks like khapsey (deep-fried pastries) or goep (Bhutanese pancakes) that perfectly complement the aromatic brews. The teahouses also serve as excellent vantage points to soak in the serene surroundings of Paro, whether overlooking the bustling markets or providing panoramic views of the lush landscapes.

Teahouse exploration in Paro extends beyond the culinary delights; it’s a social experience. Engage in conversations with locals, exchange stories with fellow travelers, or relish the tranquility while appreciating the intricate details of Bhutanese teahouse culture. Each teahouse holds a unique charm, making the exploration of these cozy retreats an essential part of experiencing the authentic and welcoming spirit of Paro.

Is Paro Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Bhutan, including Paro, is generally considered a safe destination for travelers, including solo female travelers. The country prioritizes Gross National Happiness, and the local culture strongly emphasizes respect and hospitality. Bhutanese culture values modesty and respect. It’s advisable to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites.

English is widely spoken in tourist areas, making it relatively easy for solo travelers to communicate with locals and navigate daily activities. Familiarize yourself with local customs and traditions. Bhutanese people are generally welcoming, and understanding and respecting their customs will enhance your experience.

While Paro and Bhutan, in general, are often considered safe, individual experiences may vary. It’s recommended to exercise the same level of caution and situational awareness as you would in any new destination.

Closing Notes

Paro unfolds as a captivating canvas where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with the stunning landscapes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. From the awe-inspiring heights of Tiger’s Nest to the serene halls of Paro Rinpung Dzong, every corner of this enchanting town whispers stories of spirituality and cultural richness.

Whether hiking to monasteries perched on cliffs, exploring vibrant markets, or savoring local delicacies in teahouses, Paro offers unique experiences that linger in the hearts of those fortunate enough to tread its paths. As you immerse yourself in the tranquility and authenticity of Paro, you discover not just a destination but a profound journey into the soul of Bhutan, leaving memories of a place where tradition and nature dance in harmony.

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