Top things to do, Paro, Bhutan: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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Taktsang Monastery

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It is one of the most famous monasteries in Bhutan. It is perched on the side of a cliff 900 m above the Paro valley floor. According to a legend, Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and therefore it is called “Tiger’s Nest”. The site has been recognized as the most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. The main structure of the building was severely damaged during a fire in 1998, but now it has been restored. Hiking to the monastery taked around 2-3 hours. In order to enter the monastery, visitors require a special permit which needs to be taken in advance.

National Museum of Bhutan

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The National Museum of Bhutan holds together a thousand years of history. It is located in an ancient wath tower. The museum holds collections of old coins, stamps, ancient weapons and Bhutanese art and artifacts. Cameras are not allowed insite the museum. Opening hours: 9 am – 4:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. It is closed on national holidays.

Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong)

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It is one of the most impressive and well-known dzongs in Bhutan. It is also one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who was the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan.  The dzong is a symbolic centre of religious and secular affairs and today, it houses the district monastic body and government administrative offices. In order to enter the dzong, a traditional covered bridge needed to be passed. Scenes from Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1995 film Little Buddha were filmed here. The dzong also holds the annual Paro Tshechu Festival. Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily.

Drukgyel Dzong

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It is located a short distance from the town. It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to celebrate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. The dzong has an historical and strategical importance. Nowadays, the fortress lies in ruins because it was destroyed during a fire in 1950s.

Kyichu Lhakhang

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It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom that dates back to 7th century. The complex consists of two temples. The first temple was built by the Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The second temple was built by H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan in 1968. The entrance is free. Opening hours 9 am – 5 pm daily.

Activities

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Bhutan is a perfect spot for adventurous activities. It has three famous trekking points which are Druk Path Trek, the Snowman Trek and Jhomolhari Trek. Firstly, the Snowman Trek is one of the most challenging and adventurous treks in the world. It starts at Paro, leading through Lingshi and Laya to the Lunana Valley.Trekking usually takes over 5,400 metres that crosses four different passes and the camp at high altitudes is comepletely cut from civilization. The season for this trekking is from September to October. Secondly, Jhomolhari Trek beings at the ruins of the fortress Drukgyel and ends in Thimphu. Trekkers will pass through diverse Bhutanese landscapes, forests, farmlands and villages. The season for this trek is from April to June or from September to November. Lastly, Druk Path trek is a good trekking point for amateurs who are looking for a short trek from Paro to Thimphu. The season for this trek is from September to December or from February to May. The other activities to do in Paro are mountain biking which Paro has plenty of mountain biking trails; rafting and kayaking which the clean and clear rivers  Bhutan makes a unique opportunity for these activities.