Image of Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan with Prayer Flags taken during our hike to the top
Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan with Prayer Flags

Today, I am thinking of our hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. While pondering where to take Angel, our rescue dog for her walk, Jonathan and I started reminiscing about some of the walks that we have taken together – the Camino de Santiago, climbing Mount Batur in Bali to watch the sunrise, the Tiger Leaping Gorge in China but one that stands out is the hike up to Tigers Nest Monastery in Bhutan.

Why Hike Tiger’s Nest Monastery?

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery (also known as Paro Taktsang) is one of Bhutan’s most recognised sites and a must-see and a must-do for everyone visiting this country. Also known as Paro Takstang, this sacred Buddhist site consists of four temples plus accommodation for its resident monks. Yes, it’s still an active monastery.

Snow Lion Cave Is A Small Temple Near Tiger's Nest
Snow Lion Cave Is A Small Temple Near Tiger’s Nest

What Is Tiger’s Nest Monastery?

Located near Paro, it was built in 1692. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan was brought here from Tibet on the back of a tigress, to subdue a demon and then meditated here for three months or three years, depending on which version of the legend you read, hence the name ‘Tiger’s Nest.’

Prayer Flag and Prayer Wheel
Prayer Flag and Prayer Wheel

When we arrived at the site and saw the monastery perched 10,000 feet high up on the mountainside, peeking out through the mist, I was worried about being able to do the hike. Our guide Norbu laughed, ‘It’s not so hard, but you can always go up by a mule.’

Our Bhutanese Guide Norbu
Our Bhutanese Guide Norbu

How Hard is the Tiger’s Nest Hike?

The hike to Tiger’s Nest is rated a moderate to difficult in guide books. We consider ourselves to be reasonably fit, but certainly not athletes. To be honest, we found it easier than anticipated.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Tiger’s Nest

The guidebooks say to allow 3-4 hours to do the climb. We made it easily in two. We have heard stories of people making the hike up in less than 30 minutes, but we haven’t seen that verified.

Almost to Tigers Nest
The Goal is in Sight

There are mules, but, the mules cost about $20 and take about two hours to go up the mountain but not all the way. You would still have to walk the final path to the temple. With the big drop-offs, the thought of riding a mule seemed more scary than walking, so off we set by foot.

Horses and Mules are Available to Get To Hiking to Tiger's Nest Monastery
Horses and Mules are Available to Get To Tiger’s Nest

The hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery starts at the base of the mountain which is located at 7000 feet. Don’t worry, as almost every tourist visiting will be part of a tour, this hike takes place on one of the last days of your trip, so you will already be acclimatised.

To Get To Tiger's Nest Monastery You Climb A Little Above And Hike Down
To Get To Tiger’s Nest Monastery You Climb A Little Above And Hike Down
Prayer Flags in Front of the Monastery
Prayer Flags in Front of Tigers Nest

See also:

Sign at Tigers Nest

As you walk up the wide mountain path, there is Tibetan Buddhist paraphernalia everywhere. Tibetan flags are flapping in the wind, and the shrines and stupas we pass are stunning. Despite being uphill the whole way, it’s not overly steep, and there are plenty of places to stop and just admire the view.

Tiger’s Nest Hike Facts

  • Distance: 4 miles round trip (6.44 Kilometers)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet (518 meters)
  • Highest Elevation: 10,240 ft (3,120 metres)
We Made It This High, but We Still Have to Cross the Gorge
We Made It This High, but We Still Have to Cross the Gorge

Is Food Available on the Hike?

There is a cafe serving refreshments and a vegetarian lunch halfway up to Tigers Nest Monastery that offers great views of the mand for many people, this is as far as they go. From here, the path narrows as it snakes its way around the mountain to the monastery. Even for someone like myself, who freaks out at heights and narrow paths, it wasn’t scary, and to come this far and not visit the monastery, well that would be daft; although Jon does make me nervous as he always stands far too close to the edge for that perfect photo!

Tiger's Nest From The Parking Lot
Tiger’s Nest From The Parking Area

We spent an hour exploring the temples; our guide Norbu was very knowledgeable. Every room was very ornate and filled with Buddhist deities and offerings of fruit and money. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the temple.

Restaurant at Tigers Nest
Restaurant at Tiger’s Nest

From here, it’s all downhill in a good way. On the way down, we took a welcome break at the cafe before heading back via the many trinket stalls to where our driver was waiting.

The Bhutanese Take Protecting the The Environment Very Seriously
The Bhutanese Take Protecting the Sacred Tiger Nest Very Seriously

Tips To Climb Tiger’s Nest

  • If you want to take a mule up, it’s best to book in advance. Let your guide know.
  • Anyone with an average level of fitness will be able to manage the hike
  • It’s not a race, take your time
  • Bring water and a snack
  • Don’t forget your camera
  • There are clean toilets/ restrooms at the cafe
  • Wear comfy shoes
Jonathan and Sarah at the Top of Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan
We Made it to the Top of Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan
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