Hi, we are Jay and Jon. Welcome to our article on Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan. We are an Australian couple currently living in Nicaragua. We both grew up in Sydney and met while studying at university. Early on in our relationship we got the unique opportunity to attend a friend’s wedding in Delhi, India.
From that Indian experience we definitely caught the highly contagious travel bug! Experiencing all the sights, sounds and smells of a different culture was extremely addictive. Not long after that trip to India we came up with one of our life goals which was to visit 100 countries before we die.
We have been to 40 countries and visited nearly every continent with the exception of Africa. We were travelling through Central America when the pandemic struck and decided to wait it out in Nicaragua. This country is beautiful and we have fallen for it! Today, we share our travels as well as our experiences of living in Nicaragua on our Youtube: Bucket List Travellers.
Eight Incredible Days in Bhutan
Our life goal is to visit 100 countries before we die. So when we travel we try to visit as many countries in the same region as we can. Our trip to Bhutan was part of a 10-week trip through Southeast Asia. What intrigued us about Bhutan was their philosophy of measuring the country’s success by Gross Domestic Happiness rather than purely economic Gross Domestic Product.
One aspect of this is that they have been able to keep their culture largely intact and unadulterated by outside influences. They have a focus on protecting the natural environment and actively managing tourism in a sustainable way. We loved the relaxed pace of travelling through the country, how fresh the air was and the stunningly vivid blues of the sky.
Our eight day trip took us through the capital city of Thimphu (the world’s only capital city with no traffic lights!) and the beautiful villages of Punakha and Paro. We visited many historic buildings and monuments along the way and went on hikes through the countryside to acclimatise to the altitude before the grand finale of the hike to Tiger’s Nest monastery!
Why Tiger’s Nest should be on your Bucket List
As part of Bhutan’s initiative for high value, low impact tourism, they require that all visitors book through a tour agency with a minimum daily spend which includes a guide, driver, meals, accommodation and entry fees. As such, we did the hike to Tiger’s Nest with a guide.
It was a gruelling four hour hike and we needed many rest stops along the way. The views from the top though made it all worth it. Tiger’s Nest is a Buddhist monastery impossibly constructed on the side of a cliff in the mountains of Bhutan at 3,120m altitude. It just appears to levitate from the side of the mountain and really is a ‘see it to believe it’ sight.
Tiger’s Nest was built in 1692 and there are a couple of legends relating to a guru in the 9th century first travelling to a nearby cave to meditate on the back of a Tigress where he then consecrated the site. Whether you are into religious structures, amazing feats of architecture or simply that enviable Instagram photo – Tiger’s Nest ticks a lot of boxes for travellers!
Our Experience at Tiger’s Nest
We are not sure whether it’s the sight itself, altitude, hike or a mix of all three that took our breath away when we arrived. You get to enter the monastery and have a look around in various parts of the complex. For a donation, you can also get a personal blessing from one of the monks.
For us the monastery was fascinating to experience but the final lookout before the last part of the trek to Tiger’s Nest was certainly the memory that we most cherished. Up until that point, the monastery and forest were shrouded in clouds so we couldn’t see too much ahead of us.
The clouds parted on cue when we got to the lookout and we could enjoy the privileged view across the mountain towards the monastery. The highlight of Tiger’s Nest is the journey as much as the destination.
Accommodation near Tiger’s Nest
Paro is the closest town to Tiger’s Nest. We stayed at a newer hotel called Dharma Resort just outside of the main part of town which overlooked rice fields. We also had a cultural night at Aum Choden Homestay where we got to try out the national sport of archery, dress up in traditional outfits and have a banquet. We recommend paying a visit here during your stay.
Need to Know Before you Go
The most important thing to know is that the monastery is at altitude and so the hike up is harder than what most people are used to because of the thinness of the air. It’s recommended that you do the Tiger’s Nest hike towards the end of your time in Bhutan – at least three days after arriving. This will give your body enough time to acclimatise to the altitude.
We also visited in the shoulder period at the end of the wet season in late August. This is a good time to visit Bhutan before tourist rates increase. The wet season isn’t ideal to visit Tiger’s Nest as it will be a slippery and wet trek up and it’s likely that you will have cloud cover which obscures the views.