Paro is a charming district that’s home to Paro Airport, Bhutan’s only international airport. As the gateway to the Kingdom, Paro leaves an indelible first impression, thanks to its lush, beautiful valley setting surrounded by ancient monasteries and rice fields. The main street — only built in 1985 — features colourful shopfronts and quaint restaurants which are worth a quick visit, and can be explored in an hour or two.
Perched 900m above Paro valley is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark, the Tiger’s Nest. Said to be the holiest site in all of the Kingdom, legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, also known as the “Second Buddha” of Bhutan journeyed here on a tigress’ back to meditate and subdue evil spirits at the sacred cave. Hugging the side of a craggy cliff, one can take a slow (recommended) and steady pace up as you admire panoramic views and the sanctuary itself dipping in and out of the mist and trees.
Dra Karpo is another Guru Rinpoche pilgrimage site carved into a cliff, and is the second most sacred Buddhist landmark in Bhutan after the Tiger’s Nest. The architecture, mural paintings and monks milling around the temple will fittingly introduce you to the Bhutanese way of life and its age-old customs, traditions and philosophies.
Built in 1644 by the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Paro Dzong embodies the pinnacle of Bhutanese architecture with its massive buttressed walls and richly carved wood painted in gold, black and ochre. If the place looks familiar, it’s because scenes from Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha were filmed here. Spring is the best time to visit when the Paro Tsechu, famous for its colourful displays of religious dances and thangka paintings, takes place.
Experience true Bhutanese hospitality when you spend a day or live with our local friends for a few days. Stay amidst lush farmland and/or observe and participate in farming traditions and activities, including fruit picking, milking animals, brewing araa (rice wine) and archery — the national sport of Bhutan. The elevated experience promises to immerse you in the decelerated delights of slow travel.