A peaceful, serene valley nestled in the middle of the hills, Paro is your perfect holiday destination!
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has a variety of landscapes to offer-from rugged mountains to lush green plains to quaint valleys. People here are mostly warm, friendly and helpful, you will always find them going out of their way to make you feel comfortable!!
Paro is a valley with lush green landscapes and many sacred sites. It also houses Bhutan’s only international airport.
Fly with Druk Air or Tashi Air from Kolkata to Paro.
You can rent a personal cab from Phuentsholing to Paro for INR 3500-4000 (hatchback) or book yourself a seat in a shared cab (800-900 bucks). It usually takes about 5-6 hours to reach Paro.
You can also take mini-buses from Phuentsholing (300-400 bucks).
Places To Stay:
You can stay in mid-range hotels in Paro town or in one of the lovely resorts in the outskirts. Mid range to luxury accommodation are available to suit your pocket. Some of the well known resorts are Amankora, Le Meridien, Como Uma, Naksel Boutique, Kichu resort, Zhiwa Ling and others.
Places To Eat:
There are plenty of restaurants in Paro. The most famous ones are Sonam Trophel, Yue Ling, Soechey, Dagmar and others. Try the Bhukhara at Como Uma. Brioche cafe and Tshernyoen’s are popular for bakery products.
Bhutan Highland is the most popular whisky of Bhutan,followed by Coronation. Both are smooth in taste and inexpensive . Try the local home-made strawberry and peach wines which are very tasty. Raven vodka can give Smirnoff a run for its money!
Places To See:
Known as the Rinpung Dzong, this dzong has 14 chapels and temples. There is a cantilever bridge across Paro Chhu to reach the dzong. It serves as a Buddhist monastery and a fort. The Paro Tsechu held every year at the Rinpung Dzong.
National Museum of Bhutan:
Just above the Rinpung Dzong, sits the National Museum. Earlier the museum used to be a watch tower but now it houses numerous art and artifacts on Bhutan’s history, flora and fauna. In 2011, the museum was severely damaged due to earthquake but after a lengthy gap and extensive restoration, it reopened in 2016. Photography is not permitted inside the museum. The museum is divided into different sections of distinct eras. The National Museum is one of the finest museums I have visited till date.
Entry fee: SAARC – Nu 50, Other Nationals- Nu 200
The Tiger’s Nest is one of Bhutan’s most famous places. Every year, thousands of visitors throng the quiet Paro Valley for the hike up to the monastery. Perched on a cliff, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye constructed the Taktsang monastery in 1692. Buddhism was introduced in Bhutan by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) at Taktsang. It is believed that Padmasambhava flew down on the back of a tigress from Tiber and meditated in the 13 caves (or taktsangs), to tame the tiger demon. It takes about 30 minutes to drive down from Paro town to the base. From there it requires about 3 hours uphill and 2 hours downhill trek to and fro the Tiger’s Nest. The hike is not an easy one and requires a certain amount of fitness. Always hire a guide as there is a chance to lose your way. Bring good hiking shoes for the trek.
Drukgyel Dzong is not a famous tourist sight-seeing location but it is my favourite among all other attractions in Paro. The dzong was a fortress and a Buddhist monastery but now lies in ruins after being demolished by fire in 1950s. You can still see the dzong’s charred walls and houses. In 2016, it was announced that the dzong will be reconstructed and restored to its original glory. The hauntingly beautiful architecture has now been reduced to a few melancholic charred walls. This place is bound to take you back to the past, where you can imagine the dzong bustling with life in its complete glory.
The Lhakhang is a Buddhist temple in the outskirts of Paro. Kyichu is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed that Padmasambhava himself had visited the monastery. The shrine is located in a calm and peaceful area. In the courtyard there are 2 orange trees bear fruits throughout the year. We visited in October and that moment it was full of oranges.
Take a walk along the Paro Chu. The Riverside is a paved path and it’s quite refreshing to walk along.
The phallus paintings on the walls of houses attracts much attention among tourists. The paintings bring good luck and fertility to the family.
There are a few day trips worth visiting while in Paro.
A 2.5-hour drive from the Paro Valley is the beautiful Chele la Pass at an altitude of 13,000 ft. It is the country’s largest motorized pass and lies between Paro and Haa valleys. The drive is through thick forest and on your way up, you might even find snow. The Jomolhari peak (24,000 ft) can be seen from the top but only if weather permits and the sky is clear.
A short drive from the Chelela Pass lies the quaint Haa Valley, one of the least populated towns of Bhutan. Haa’s beauty lies in its serenity. The Haa Chu flows through the valley. Haa has very few hotels but it’s an ideal location for travelers looking for some peace and tranquility. The Indian military has an enormous base in the Haa Valley, primarily targeted at preventing infiltration from China.
The main town of Paro has a lot of shops selling souvenirs, trinkets and thangka paintings. The prices are steeper in Paro than that in Thimphu, so I would suggest avoid shopping from there unless it’s last minute.
Safety & Precaution:
Refrain from straying towards the forests in dawn / dusk, as there have been several sightings and attacks by the Himalayan black bear.