Tourists can enter the monastery , as long as your guide has arranged the standard permit in advance. Bags, phones and cameras have to be deposited at the entrance, where you must register with the army As you enter the complex you pass underneath images of the Rigsum Goempo (Jampelyang, Chenresig and Chana Dorje).
Chorten Kora is large, but not nearly as large as the stupa of Bodhnath in Nepal, after which it was patterned. It was constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday in memory of his late uncle, Jungshu Phesan, and to subdue local spirits. The lama went to Nepal himself and brought back a model of Bodhnath carved in a radish.
The Wangdue Phodrang dzong was founded by the Zhabdrung in 1638 atop a high ridge between the Punak Tsang Chhu and the Dang Chhu, clearly chosen for its commanding view of the valleys below. Legend relates another reason for choosing this spot: as people searched for a site for the dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions.
The dzong is on a thin promontory that overlooks the confluence of the Drangme Chhu and the Gamri Chhu. It was built in 1667 by Mingyur Tenpa, Bhutan's third desi . The entire eastern region was governed from this dzong from the late 17th century until the beginning of the 20th century.
Established in 1978, this interesting government facility researches, prepares and dispenses traditional herbal and other medicines. The small museum details ingredients that range from herbs and minerals to animal parts, precious metals and gems.
A short drive west of town is this little-visited but interesting lhakhang, founded in the 16th century by the son of Pema Lingpa. As you enter the main hall notice how the original entrance on the far wall was blocked up after the arrival of the road (in the interests of security), leaving a mixture of old and new murals.
The extensive palace of Wangdichholing was built in 1857 on the site of a battle camp of the penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal. It was the first palace in Bhutan that was not designed primarily as a fortress. Namgyal's son, King Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan, was born here and chose it as his principal residence.
The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts.
A short distance up the road to the telecommunications tower viewpoint is a trail leading to a large fenced enclosure that was originally established as a zoo. Some years ago the fourth king decided that such a facility was not in keeping with Bhutan's environmental and religious convictions, and it was disbanded.
Lhuentse Rinchentse Phodrang Dzong, as it is correctly known, sits high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Kuri Chhu valley, with near-vertical drops on all sides Although Pema Lingpa's son Kuenga Wangpo established a small goemba on this site early in the 16th century, the dzong itself was built by the Trongsa penlop Mingyur Tenpa in 1654.
Paro's weekly vegetable market isn't very large but it has a traditional feel and is a fine introduction to some of Bhutan's unique local products. You'll see strings of chugo (dried yak cheese), either white (boiled in milk and dried in the sun) or brown (smoked). The fruit that looks like an orange egg is actually fresh husky betel nut, imported from India.
The huge 50m tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma commands the entry to the Thimphu valley. The huge three-storey throne will eventually hold several chapels, while the body itself is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha.
Taktshang is the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m (2952ft) above the floor of Paro valley, where the only sounds are the murmurs of wind and water and the chanting of monks.
To the west of the road leading to the National Museum is Dumtse Lhakhang, an unusual chorten-like temple that was built in 1433 (some sources say 1421) by the iron-bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. The temple was built to subdue a demoness and so is chained firmly to the ground. Its three floors represent hell, earth and heaven, and hold some of the finest murals in Bhutan.
The Royal Thimphu Golf Club has a delightful nine-hole course beautifully situated above Trashi Chhoe Dzong. Resident Indian Brigadier General TV Jaganathan got permission from King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to construct a few holes in the late 1960s, and the course was formally inaugurated in 1971.