Guide To Paro Valley – Why you should go to this dreamland in Bhutan!

IMG_0976

Paro is a charming little town of Buddhist Bhutan, tucked away in a remote corner of the world, unspoiled by globalization and the frills that come with it. Paro is a unique town which can be called a hybrid between a city and a village. It had most modern frills balanced by the peace and serenity of a village. The nightlife is not much and the shops close early in the night. It’s pristine and surrounded by beautiful hills all around. If you ever fantasized about a utopian world, Bhutan is the place to be. Bhutan , as is widely known is a nation obsessed with Gross National happiness rather than gross domestic product. Do discover this landlocked kingdom before everyone else does! Do discover before it ceases to be “The Last Shangri La’ of the world! Chasing happiness is just another excuse though!

IMG_0276

Paro is a small town and most of the destinations can be easily navigated on foot. A cab and a driver are important to access some monuments on hill tops, otherwise with a scenery and pleasant weather such as this, it calls for long walks. OK, make that romantic walks if you are on honeymoon! My walks and conversations with my cab driver revealed some secret vantage points and point of interests generally not mentioned in regular guide books.

IMG_0250

DAM VIEW RESTAURANT

Address : Near THPA Dam, Phuentsholing to Paro road , Chukha

The dam view restaurant offers great view of the Dam and the Chukha Hydro Power plant. Request the restaurant manager to open the door of the banquet hall (which is generally closed) for better views of the valley and dam. But that’s not the only reason to make a pit stop at the reasonably priced joint. The food and ambience here is equally good. I had my first taste of Bhutan’s national dish, Ema Datshi, a chilly based curry rich in cheese served with rice and lentils and a ‘kimchi’ like salad. There was a ‘hog all you can’ policy on rice and salad.

3

BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF PARO AIRPORT:

 Stop at PARO AIRPORT BIRDS EYE VIEW, the best vantage point to see the small town in its entirety. The 1st impression of Paro is promising and leaves you anticipating the discovery of its secrets. Needless to say, it gives the best view of the Paro airport. Wait for some time and you can see the dramatic landing and take offs from here.

IMG_0179

PARO RIVER SIDE PROMENADE

 Address : Dop Shari Valley, Take right at the tail end of the bridge that leads to Dumtse Lhakhang, On the approach road to Sangachokhor and Kuengacholing,Paro

The promenade along the bank of river is used by the villagers to commute. This side of the bridge is mostly rural unlike the urban market area of Paro. You will see small charming homes and acres of agricultural lands and rose cheeked chubby kids heading leisurely to school. I envied the idyllic country lifestyle as I walked on the promenade. It gives you dramatic views of the Dzong above.

IMG_0472

THE MAIN MARKET STREET built in 1985 is the most modern representation of Paro. It is lined on either side with small stores selling mainly grocery and handicrafts. The shops are well organized, uniform looking and strictly adhering to traditional Bhutanese architectural style. Most shops have a huge window serving as cash and carry counters. The panels and windows are painted exquisitely with Bhutanese folklore elements giving the market a unique character. In case, you happen to be in Paro on a weekend, its Sunday market is a must have experience. A walk down the lane is a must.

IMG_0544

KICHU LHAKHANG

 Address: En route to Tiger’s nest

The Temple has an old world charm. Cocooned away from the main city area, this place had a dream like quality. The purple jacaranda flowers on white rough walls and apple trees bursting with tiny white flowers make it dreamy. In the inner courtyard of temple, the silver and gold plated butter lamp in a glass takes around 20 kgs of pure butter to light up. Right behind the lamp is the orange tree which bears fruits round the year. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals and ornately carved wooden windows.

IMG_0780

ARCHERY GROUND

Address: Near main market, Paro

Find local men practicing archery here, Bhutan’s national sport. Even if you miss seeing a proper tournament, there are chances you may catch a practice session played out by the roadside. The hills near the Tiger’s nest resort is often used for practice sessions. Every village here has their own teams. The game is associated to manliness and is passionately followed by the locals. You have to see it to appreciate it!

IMG_0631

PEMA GIFT SHOP

 Address : En route Tiger’s nest monastry, Paro

Always fancied dressing like locals? It housed many handicrafts and dresses exorbitantly priced at touristy rates. However, do go for a affordable Rs.100 per head to learn to wear a Gho (for men) and Kira (for women) and click pictures once done. For those willing to try their hand at archery, there was small set up where one could try for Rs.100. The stage was set in a room with dry grass, in a bid to give it an outdoor feeling. It was decorated with flags and gaudy flowers and a “Take memories from Bhutan” banner. This was the most touristy one can and one should get in Bhutan.

IMG_0698

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BHUTAN:

 The museum offers great panoramic views of the Paro valley. It was born out of the need to preserve, organise and represent Bhutanese heritage, tradition, lifestyle, art, culture, wildlife! The thangkas are as ancient as 16th century. The heritage gallery is more engaging one with its strange collection. The most unusual artefact was the 19th century Horse’s egg and horse horn. These are said to have special powers and bring good fortune to the person who owns it. The other star attractions are traditional water timer, iron chain crafted by saint Thangtong Gyalpo and the eerie stuffed snow leopard!

IMG_0795

DUMTSE LHAKHANG AKA JANGTSA DUMTSEG LHAKHANG:

Address: Dop Shari valley, approach road to Sangachokhor and Kuengacholing, Paro

Again most tour operators and guidebooks skip this unusual Buddhist temple built in the architectural style of a chorten. It was built in 1433 by Thangtong Gyalpo. He is popularly called ‘Iron Man’ since he is credited with building 58 iron chain suspension bridges across Tibet and Bhutan.

IMG_0383

NYAMAI JAM

Address: Below Paro Dzong

The sheer beauty of the traditional wooden bridge below the Paro Dzong calls for a pit stop. It’s built over Paro’s Paro Chuu river. The present structure is a reconstruction of the original which was washed away in 1969. The bridge also features in the movie Little Buddha by Bernardo Bertolucci. It offers great views of the dzong and the scenery around. Walk on the bridge and see locals and monks use the bridge to access the Dzong and the nearby areas. It also lends beautifully to unusual photo-ops.

IMG_0907-1

Rinpung Dzong : The best stop in Paro is the imposing Paro dzong. Dzongs , the fortress temple of Bhutan are huge multi purpose buildings built in ancient Bhutan and Tibet. The Dzongs typically comprise of a huge courtyard (Dochey) in the middle surrounded by administrative offices, monks’ residential quarters, temples (Lhakhangs) etc. The courtyard generally has a soaring central tower called Utse. The Dzongs are massive, white colored building. Due to their sheer grandeur and extraordinary architectural style, these are now a major tourist attraction. Come in April for colorful festival Tsechu.

IMG_0965

How To Reach: You can fly directly to Paro in Bhutan or fly to Bagdogra Airport in India and take a road trip.

—————————————————————————-

Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Swati and Parnashree in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

Spread the love, share this blog

Got any question/comments, ask in the comment section below so that it can benefit other readers.

Email me for collaboration : abhinav21@yahoo.com

Be a part of my journey on social media. The travel content I create there is different from this blog.

Pls subscribe/follow/like:

You Tube

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “Guide To Paro Valley – Why you should go to this dreamland in Bhutan!

  1. Love seeing the mountains off in the distance from the photos taken close to the river! This definitely sounds like a beautiful destination that’s off the beaten trail. I haven’t been to this region of the world at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to visit Bhutan but I have read that one must commit to spending around $250/day there. I think U.S. citizens must book through a tour operator too. The visa is also expensive. I would love to visit someday however and really enjoyed your informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will go there one day but right now I don’t think is possible; really expensive for my budget, usually when I travel I spend max 35€ per day (not considering all the flight or visa I need to take); I have told that a normal traveller needs maybe 100€ per day, that’s pretty expensive; anyway as I can see and read it looks amazing and a must-see country! thanks for your comment

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing views. Bhutan has eluded me so far, which is funny because Bhutan border is no more than 3 hours from Guwahati and barely one hour from my granny’s village!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how the town/city doesn’t really have addresses and how you explained where the locations of the main important things to see are. I would really like to see a Sunday market here, I bet it’s full of authenticity.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We have been planning Bhutan for some time now and had read through this post. We find the Buddhist temples and the serenity abounding them very enticing. Thanks for this detailed guide. Gonna serve handy when we plan our trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just enjoy small country travel They have so much to offer within a budget and more time to get closer to the ethnicity and culture og the place. Enjoyed reading your article on Paro. And Loved your pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  8. Wow!! I never thought on Bhutan as a destination before, but with the images and the info in this post I discovered that it could be an amazing place of the world to visit!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t heard much about Bhutan, so this was particularlt interesting to me. I love destinations that are still uncharted, reminds me how big the world really is. Exploring by foot is my favorite way to see a new place, so glad to hear you can see Paro this way!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 20 Kgs pure butter a day..really?? I found promenade along Paro river very relaxing, it would be a moment catcher. Surprised to see that locals are still maintaining their culture alive and still linked to their roots, they still wear their authentic national dress which is good for any nation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bhutan has been waiting to happen for a couple of years now! There’s something about cities/countries that go with the flow of their own cultures without neglecting them for what is trendy!
    Looks like a beautiful experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: WHY IS EVERYONE SO CHILLED OUT AT PENIS ART ON BHUTAN WALLS: CHIMI LHAKHANG – Soul Window – Travel stories and pictures from Indian writer

  13. Pingback: RAFTING IN PUNAKHA: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I JUMPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER! – Soul Window – Travel stories and pictures from Indian writer

  14. Pingback: TIGER’S NEST AKA PARO TAKTSANG IN BHUTAN- QUICK TREKKING GUIDE AND TIPS! – Soul Window – Travel stories and pictures from Indian writer

  15. Pingback: OFFBEAT BHUTAN: HOW CYCLING NEAR TANGO AND CHERI MONASTERY HELPED ME DISCOVER THE UNSEEN THIMPHU! – Soul Window – Travel stories and pictures from Indian writer

  16. Pingback: 10 REASONS TO BUY FOREX WITH NAFEX! | A Soul Window - Travel Blog from India!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s