The beautiful alpine valley of Paro, located in western Bhutan, is the gateway to the last Himalayan kingdom. Encapsulating a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends, Paro is home to over 155 temples and monasteries, some are the oldest in Bhutan and dating as far back as the 14th century, the country’s only international airport and the National Museum.
Paro is situated on the banks of the Paro Chhu river, which gently carves its way through the wide valley, creating beautiful vistas and fertile rice fields. This valley is one of the Kingdom's most fertile, producing the bulk of Bhutan's famous red rice from its terraced fields.
The charming town itself is fairly simple, with one main street (only built in 1985), dotted with delightful wooden shops and local restaurants, from excellent home-style Bhutanese cooking adapted to foreign tastes to more sophisticated options. The imposing Paro Dzong is one of the highlights of visiting Paro, built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This massive structure is the epitome of Bhutanese architecture and is visible throughout the valley. Just beyond and perched above the dzong is the old watchtower, built in 1649 to protect the fortress, and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. Housing hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artefacts and artwork including traditional costumes, armour and weaponry, the collection provides a perfect snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Paro is one of the best and easiest towns in Bhutan to explore on foot, so we always recommend leaving an hour or two to explore.
Mount Jomolhari, at a height of 7,300 metres, reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley (whilst the town lies at 2,200 metres) and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges into the Paro river below. The Paro valley is also home to one of Bhutan’s most iconic landmarks, Taktsang Monastery, often referred to as the Tiger’s Nest. This awe-inspiring temple was constructed upon a sheer cliff face, 900 metres above the valley floor and floating above forests of oak and rhododendrons. Whilst a visit involves a bit of uphill legwork, it's well worth the effort!
>> See our gallery: Bhutan Research Trip
Features in the following itineraries
- A Grand Tour of Bhutan
- A Royal Visit to North India and Bhutan
- A Six Senses Journey through the Kingdom of Bhutan
- Aman Bhutan... The Luxury Amankora Journey
- An Insider’s Tour of Bhutan
- An Introduction to Bhutan
- Best of Bhutan: The Ultimate Luxury Grand Tour
- Beyond the Sky... Uma Punakha & Uma Paro
- Bhutan & Thailand with Six Senses
- Bhutan & the Maldives with COMO Resorts
- Bhutan’s Beautiful Black Necked Cranes
- East to West: A Journey Through Bhutan
- From Bhutan to India’s Andaman Islands... A Romantic Adventure from Mountain to Beach
- From Bhutan to Thailand’s Best Beach with Aman Resorts
- Health in the Himalayas: a wellness adventure to Bhutan and India
- The Ancient Kingdoms of Nepal & Bhutan
- Two Kingdoms... Bhutan & Thailand with COMO Resorts
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Anonymous, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India