Julie Bhutan 82 Comments

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Takstang, is one of Bhutan’s most recognized spots. Even people on the quickest of tours through Bhutan find the time to make it here. Why? Because this place is extraordinary.

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a small collection of buildings precariously perched on a cliff, 900 meters off of the ground. It is stunning in its beauty and location.Without a doubt, a first time trip to Bhutan would not be complete without seeing the Tiger’s Nest.

Tigers Nest Bhutan

So, if you are contemplating a trip to Bhutan (do it! It’s one of the most awesome spots in the world), keep reading to learn more about how to hike to the Tiger’s Nest, one of the coolest little spots in Bhutan.

What is the Tiger’s Nest Monastery?

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a sacred Buddhist site located near Paro, Bhutan. It was constructed in 1692, around the cave where Guru Rinpoche first meditated, the event that introduced Buddhism into Bhutan. There is a legend that Guru Rinpoche was carried from Tibet to this location on the back of a tigress, thus giving it the name “Tiger’s Nest.”

Now, this monastery consists of four temples with residential accommodations for the monks. Despite the daily visits by tourists, Paro Takstang still functions as a monastery today.

Getting Here

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is located 10 miles north of Paro (20 minutes by car), making Paro the perfect home base when making this visit. Since most people can only visit Bhutan on an organized tour, your transportation will be arranged for you.

The visit to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery takes a full day. On average, it takes between four and five hours to do the round trip hike, plus one more hour to tour the monastery. Many people also have lunch in the cafeteria not far from the monastery. Plan on leaving Paro around 8 am and arriving back at your hotel around 3 pm.

Hiking to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Due to its location, the only way to get to the monastery is by hiking. There are no vehicles that make the drive up to the monastery. However, for those who cannot hike the entire way, you can hire a horse to carry you most of the way there.

Facts About the Hike

  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 10,232 feet
  • Time: Allow 5 to 7 hours for the entire visit

Getting to the Monastery

The hike starts at the bottom of the mountain, right at the car park. There will be people selling souvenirs and hiking poles and this is place to hire a horse if necessary.

Tiger's Nest Sign

Once you clear the trees that surround the parking lot, you get your first glimpse of the Tiger’s Nest. There it is, perched on the cliff, high off the valley floor. In just a matter of hours, you will be up there too.

Tigers Nest on the Cliff

The trail to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a wide, dirt trail. It is uphill the entire way but not overly steep. It’s very doable for most people, just be prepared to take your time.

Kara in Bhutan

Tigers Nest Trail

Bhutan Sign

The hike up to the cafeteria, which is at about the halfway point, takes most people between one and two hours.

Along the way, you will pass under tons of prayer flags. Enjoy the views over the valley as you get higher. The scenery just keeps getting better.

Tigers Nest Hiking Trail

At the halfway point, the trail levels out for a little bit. Here, you can spin prayer wheels and take a break at the Takstang Cafeteria. From here, you will have a great view of the monastery. Some people choose to finish the hike here, electing not to make the final climb.

Prayer Wheel Tigers Nest

Colors of Bhutan

First Views of the Tiger’s Nest

The second half of the climb is a little easier. The trail is not as steep and gets less monotonous, especially as you near the monastery.

One of the best views of the hike is at the point where you overlook the monastery. This is where many people snap that iconic photo.

Paro Takstang

From here, it’s a short walk down a stone staircase. You cross a bridge covered in prayer flags, and then make a slightly strenuous climb up to the monastery.

Bridge with Prayer Flags

Tigers Nest Bridge

Once at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, your guide will take you on a tour of the temples. Backpacks, photography equipment, and shoes are not allowed inside of the monastery. These will need to be left with security staff located just outside of the monastery walls.

After your tour of the Tiger’s Nest, you will hike back the way you came. Make sure you get all the photos you want…this is something you will want to look back on forever.

Earth Trekkers Bhutan

Tigers Nest Hike


How to Have the Best Experience

Best time of year to visit the Tiger’s Nest. October to December is the best time to visit Bhutan, when the weather is clear and cool. We were here in mid-October. The weather remains clear through the winter, although it can get quite cold during this time. The spring season can also be a nice time to visit Bhutan. Things begin to really heat up in May, and from June through September the monsoon arrives.

Photographing the Tiger’s Nest. The best lighting for photography is midday. While we were here in October, the monastery was in the shadow of the mountain until 11 am. Getting here early helps to avoid some of the crowds, but you will still need to wait until midday for the best photographs.

How fit do you need to be to do this hike? Anyone of average fitness can complete this hike. Take your time, it is not a race. You may want to bring hiking poles to help out your knees on the descent.

What to Bring. Hiking shoes, lots of water, a few snacks, and your camera. You can buy lunch or tea at the cafeteria.

Tiger’s Nest with Kids. When we did this hike, Tyler was 11 and Kara was 10. This was very easy for them, although we had all just hiked to Everest Base Camp two weeks prior. The trail is a slow, steady climb that most kids seven and older should be able to handle.

Picking a tour operator for your trip to Bhutan. If you are looking for a reputable, knowledgeable tour operator in Bhutan, we highly recommend Bridge to Bhutan. Bridge to Bhutan is run by two brothers, Lotay and Fin. They arranged our visas to Bhutan, scheduled our transportation into and out of Bhutan, and helped us customize our itinerary. From start to finish, we had a great experience with Bridge to Bhutan and we highly recommend them. 

Do you have any questions about hiking to the Tiger’s Nest? Comment below with your questions or if you want to share your experience.

More Information about Bhutan

Are you planning a trip to Bhutan? Read all of our articles about Bhutan in our Bhutan Travel Guide.

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Comments 82

  1. Reading this article about hiking to the Tigers Nest was very informative. We are booked to visit Bhutan in March 2022, but are thinking the country will not be open by then. We had heard that there were many steps to get to the top. The article talks about a dirt paved path but I do see steps in one of the pictures, and it looks to be quite steep there. Can someone who has hiked this provide more details on the steps and how difficult they are. Thank you.

    1. Post

      The trail to get to the viewpoint of Tigers Nest is mostly a dirt trail. It’s uphill but there are not any steps. From the viewpoint, you will walk down some steps and then walk up a long staircase to get into the Tigers Nest Monastery. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi, since I plan to visit Bhutan as soon as the travel restriction ends, this thorough blog has helped me understand the place. However, during your trip, did you see any unique bird species? I read this news that there are, and it is the only reason my kid wants to travel with me.
    But I do not want to ruin his 1st tour, that is why I am asking you.
    News source: https://www.dailybhutan.com/article/discover-the-flora-and-bird-species-on-the-tiger-s-nest-monastery-trail-with-new-signages-installed

    1. Post
  3. Hello Julie,

    I am so much exited to explore all of our articles, but i have read a lot.
    but i have not seen a article where discussed about expenses, that how much the total expense is, and how you guys manage that trip.
    I want to hear that story for inspiration.

    Rehamk ur rehman Natiq

    1. Post

      If you are referring to expenses for Bhutan, we cover the cost of the daily tariff in our Bhutan itinerary. The daily tariff is $250 per person per day, with cheaper prices in the off season and for children. We paid $750 per day because both Tyler and Kara were 50% off. It’s expensive but it’s worth it especially if you use a great guiding company like we did (Bridge to Bhutan). Cheers, Julie

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Without any doubt, the first trip to Bhutan would be incomplete without visiting Tiger’s nest trek. This place is stunning in beauty and location. Keep writing and sharing.

  5. We made the hike in March, 2016 in the company of Tshering Penjor of Paro. One of the high points of our travels. Before the hike, we had prayer flags blessed by a Buddhist monk in Paro who declared the timing to be auspicious. We then hung the two sets of flags between trees at the high point of the trail in honor and remembrance of both of our mothers.

  6. Hello Julie
    We are 2 Indian couples aged ~ 70. Our agent says March – April is the best time to visit Bhutan when flowers are in full bloom

    He adds we will be more comfortable during this time by avoiding harsh winter

    We are reasonably fit. Do you think we can make it to the Tiger’s Nest ?

    Greetings 🙂

    Arun Prabhu

    1. Post

      If you are reasonably fit, and you take your time, I think you can make it to the Tiger’s Nest. We have had a large number of 60+ year old individuals write in about how they made it to the Tiger’s Nest. If you can, put it at the end of your itinerary, so you have a little more time to adjust to the altitude. Also, get some long walks in with hills before your trip, to increase your fitness. I hope you have a great time in Bhutan! Cheers, Julie

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