Taktsang Phalphug (Tiger's Nest)
Paro's Taktsang is the single most famous monuments of Bhutan. Not visiting it would be the same as avoiding Eiffel Tower when in Paris or Taj Mahal while traveling India. It's simply must see!
And seeing it comes at its price as you need to hike to the monastery on your own. First, you need to negotiate an elevation difference of 250 meters up to the Cafeteria, where you can refresh yourself with tea or soft drinks. Then continue climb another 150 meters up to the Viewpoint. Most famous photographs of the monastery are taken from there. If you want to visit monastery temples, you will need to descend 100 meters and again climb up so whole elevation difference to be negotiated is about 500 meters! And then, you will need to go same way back!
If you fell for some additional climbing, you might, after visiting temples, continue climb from Viewpoint some extra 100 meters up to Takstang Zangtopelri Lhakhang (temple), getting an almost birds-eye view of the monastery.
Climbing to Tiger's Nest is definitely worth the effort not only because it is one of the holiest places of Bhutan. It was constructed on behest of Bhutan's unifier Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel by Desi Tenzing Ragbye at the end of 16th century. But it's history is much older, as the 8th-century magician saint, Guru Padmasambhava did meditate in the cave on this place, subduing local deities and converting them to Buddhism. Padmasambhava had flown here on the back of the flying Tigress, which was his own spiritual consort, magically transformed Tibetan princess Yeshe Tsogyal. So it should actually rather be Tigress Nest, to be gender correct.
There are numerous temples to be visited, the one which is directly adjacent to the cave where Guru meditated and a few others. Apart from tourist, there will be many Bhutanese visitors, especially during the weekends.
You can climb to Taktsang in the morning or afternoon. The last visitor is allowed before 16.00 o'clock. While hiking in the morning, you will avoid the sun's heat, it's also time when most of the other people will come. If you want to have calmer experience, it's recommended to come in the afternoon. Also, the photography is better afternoon as the sun will shine on the monastery's walls facing Viewpoint. On the other hand, the weather is usually less favorable in the afternoon, especially in the Spring and Summer season.
It's also possible to hire a horse down at the parking for about 15 USD a ride. Anyway, the horse will take you only up to Cafeteria and will not carry you down. So it's better to think twice if it's worthy. Horses and their handlers are quite undisciplined so riding a horse is not without the risk. We don't really recommend to take a horse on this trail, we can arrange horse riding on better places.