Travel Guide Asia Bhutan Paro

edit

Introduction

Paro is one of the 20 districts in Bhutan. It is situated in the western region and is an hour drive away from the capital city of Thimphu. The approach to Paro valley from the river confluence has one of the most scenic drive in the country. The smooth double lane highway along the Paro River navigates deep in the valley and the high rising mountains on either side of the road offers spectacular view of the landscape. What sets Paro apart from other destinations in Bhutan is that Paro is equally developed as Thimphu in terms of modern infrastructure and economic activities however unlike Thimphu city, it has also successfully retained its vast agricultural land and the traditional architectures. The lush greenery of plantation during the spring and the summer season transforms Paro valley and the harvesting season is equally beautiful with the golden transformation of the paddy fields.

A roughly 100-metre street with traditional houses on either side of the road with small shops was the totality of Paro town about a decade ago. With the boom in the tourism industry, the traditional houses have been beautifully transformed into modern cafes and handicraft shops. The store fronts are renovated with modern design while still preserving the traditional architecture. The cafes serve multi cuisine and aromatic coffee. With the improved aesthetics and added service, the Paro town has become a tourists attraction on its own. Wandering down the streets of Paro town can be a unique experience.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Paro is home to many ancient temples and monasteries. It is a top destination for cultural tours. The ever so popular Tiger's Nest monastery is in Paro. It attracts thousands of tourists every year and has become a must visit destination while in Bhutan. Paro is also home to the national museum of Bhutan which has a vast collection of Bhutanese paintings, ancient tools and weapons and an impressive display of Bhutan's diverse ecology.

  • Paro Taktsang Monastery - The Taktsang Monastery is a sacred Buddhist site in Bhutan. The monastery is over 300 years old but its history dates back to the 7th century. According to the legend, Guru Rinpoche, a buddhist master flew to the current sight of the monastery riding atop a tigress and is said to have meditated in a cave for many years. Subsequently the monastery was constructed enclosing this cave. The monastery is precariously perched on cliff 900 metres above Paro valley and it takes two hours hike to get to the monastery from the base. It is one of the most popular hike in the country.
  • Kyichu Lhakhang - It is one of the oldest temple in the country. A Tibetan King is said to have constructed 108 temples in a day to subdue an ogress. The 108 temples were built in Tibet and across the region, two of which are the Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro and Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. The temple is about 15 minutes drive away from the Paro town.
  • Drukgyal Dzong - It was one of the four primary defense fort built during the medieval period to guard Bhutan against the Tibetan invasion. An unfortunate fire incident in 1951 destroyed the Dzong. The Dzong sits on ridge which is inaccessible from three sides of the dzong and the sole entrance were guarded by towers. The Dzong intercepts the approach to Paro valley from Tibet. The Dzong also had a concealed passage from the Dzong to the river bank which still can be seen today. The passage was used during the times of war to fetch water and retreat to the Dzong safely. The Dzong was built in 1651 to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetan invasion and thus the name Drukgyal Dzong which translates to the fortress of the glorious Drukpas. As the defense fort, the dzong had the finest collection of weapons and it also had the largest granaries during its time. Upon the command of His Majesty the King, the Dzong is finally being restored to its former glory. The reconstruction is currently under process.
  • Chelela Pass - Chelela Pass is the highest mountain pass that is accessible by motor able road. Chelela pass has an elevation of 3900 meters. The mountain pass divides the Paro and the Haa valley. It is roughly an hour drive from Paro en route to Haa. The ride begins from Bondey town below the international airport and instantly begins the gradual climb to the pass. The road navigates through forests occasionally passing through small settlements. Before arriving to the mountain pass, visitors will come across a nunnery located below the mountain pass. Once at the top, the unobstructed view of the Himalayan mountains particularly Mount Jomolhari is spectacular. From the pass, interested travelers can go on the chelela ridge hike which has another 500 meter in elevation and the trail ends at the sky burial spot from which the hikers will descend to the nunnery below the mountain pass. A day excursion to the mountain pass has become popular among the travelers.
  • Paro Rinpung Dzong - The Paro Rinpung Dzong is the seat of the district administration and it also houses the central monk community of the region. The gigantic fortress is built on a ridge overlooking the Paro valley and the Paro river. The dzong is approached by a traditional cantilever bridge which leads to the stone paved footpath all the way to the entrance of the Dzong. The Dzong has a large open courtyard surrounded by high rising outer wall of the fortress. The central tower rises high above the surrounding enclosing walls and it houses sacred shrines of the local deities. The popular mask dance festival is held at the open courtyard next to the Dzong.
  • Paro Ta Dzong - The Paro Ta Dzong which houses the national museum of Bhutan was built in the 17th century. The Ta Dzong was initially constructed as a watch tower to guard the Paro Dzong below. During the times of war, it was also used as a prison. Unlike other Dzong, the Ta Dzong has a unique circular shape structure with windows spread across the wall. The stairs that connected each floor were removable. There are accounts where the prisoners were confined on the fourth floor by removing the stairs. After remaining uninhabited for many years, the Ta Dzong was renovated and inaugurated as textile museum and later upgraded as the national museum of Bhutan.

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

The popular Paro Masked Dance festival is usually celebrated at the majestic Paro Fortress in the month of March or April annually.

Paro Tshechu

Paro Tshechu is an annual festival that takes place at the Paro Rinpung during the month of March every year. This festival along with the Thimphu Tshechu are two of the most popular festivals among both travelers and locals. Thousands of people attend this three day colorful festival which includes Buddhist masked and traditional dances. The highlight of the Paro Tshechu is the unfurling of the 'Thongdrel' on the last day.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

For visitors traveling to Bhutan via flight, Paro International Airport is the only port of entry which is located in Paro valley. The airport is roughly 3 kilometers away from Paro town and 56 kilometres from the capital city of Thimphu.

By Car

For travelers entering Bhutan via road from the southern border town of Phuntsholing, Paro is approximately 160 kilometres away which is a 4-hour drive.

Top

edit

Eat

  • Sonam Trophel Restaurant: Serves Indian, Bhutanese, Chinese dishes and is really popular among Tourists. Also serves the best pork momos in town.
  • My Kind of Place: It’s a cozy place. Serving a blend of Asian delicacies, this place is popular among both locals and foreigners. The ambience is really warm and the place also offers an awesome view of the Paro town. ☎ 77 41 17 84.
  • Yegyel Cafe (Thai Food): If you love Thai food then this is one place you must try in Paro. The restaurant is a family owned and managed providing really good services to the customers. The menu also has a wide variety of Thai dishes. ☎8 270 149.
  • Mountain Café: The café is popular among tourists for its quick services and their menu serving international cuisine. The ambience is also very warm and cozy. ☎ 271941.
  • Champaca Café: serves really good food and the service are really swift and the staffs are friendly and warm. The place is quite cozy and comfortable. The café also has free Wi-Fi. ☎17 68 65 20.

Top

edit

Sleep

Luxury Hotels in Paro

  • Le Meridien Paro Riverfront - Address: Shaba Paro Tel:+975 8270300
  • Como Uma Paro - Address: Paro Tel: +975 8271597
  • Aman Kora Paro - Address: +975 2331333

Standard 3 Star Hotels in Paro

  • Gangtey Palace Hotel - Address: Paro Town Tel: +975 8271301
  • Hotel Olathang - Address: Paro Olathang Tel: +975 8271304

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

WiFi is readily available in the majority of hotels throughout the country. Many of the internet cafes offer WiFi also. Most population centres have internet cafes, although they are relatively expensive, and the connection is slow. Please make sure your travel agent find an appropriate internet cafe in advance if you need a connection for work.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Bhutan is: 975. To make an international call from Bhutan, the code is: 00

Telephone call booths are existent in major towns in Bhutan. Most of Bhutan has mobile phone coverage, which is smart phone capable. B-Mobile has agreements with North American, some Asian and European countries on mobile roaming. Tashi Cell is another mobile company based in country.

Tourists can now quickly and easily register for a B-Mobile SIM that is valid for 1 month. Simply take your passport to a B-Mobile office. The SIM card costs 50Nu, and comes with 50Nu credit. Ask them to activate 3G/4G and data access while you are there, and test it works before leaving. There are no data plans per say, but the rate is affordable by international standards (0.0003Nu/KB). SIM Cards are available in all sizes (Standard, Micro and Nano). Recharge cards are available at most stores and small shops.

B-Mobile and TashiCell have different frequencies for their data network. Check your phone's supported frequency before getting a SIM card.

B-Mobile: 850Mhz (3G) and 1800Mhz (LTE band 3)
TashiCell: 850Mhz (3G) and 700Mhz (LTE band 28)

Post

Bhutan Post offers services throughout the country. It's reliable but it takes quite some time for your postcard or letter to arrive in other countries.

Top

Paro Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Paro

This is version 10. Last edited at 11:27 on Aug 7, 18 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License