The Bhutanese word for river is "chhu," so the Paro Chhu is translated to the Paro River. The Paro Chhu starts on the South side of the 24,035 ft Mount Jomolhari flowing through mountain meadows and deep gorges before entering the Paro Valley and meandering through the town of Paro. Just downstream of Paro is a fun Class III+ section of whitewater with one portage.

Rafting the Paro Chhu in Bhutan

Rafting the Paro Chhu in Bhutan

The road from Paro to Thimphu follows the river and there are several places to put-in downstream of Paro. The first few miles have great warm-up rapids before the Boulder Choke (V) which normally scouted and portaged on the right. Below Boulder Choke the scenery and rapids are the best on the run. The take-out is just before the confluence with the Thimphu Chhu at the small village of Chhuzom.

Featured Outfitter

Northwest Rafting CompanyNorthwest Rafting Company (541) 450-9855 is an award-winning group of professional, well-trained guides that lead people down the most beautiful rivers in the world.

After meeting the Thimphu Chhu, the Paro Chhu flows south and becomes the mighty Wang Chhu with many Class IV and V rapids downstream.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: There are several places to put-in, but the most common is the Wire Rope Sling Bridge & Rock Beach found on Google Maps. This launch provides a nice warm up

Mile 1.2: is just upstream of a bridge where the road from Paro to Thimphu switches from river left to river right.

Mile 1.5: Wallbanger (III+) is a rapid you can see from the road and worth scouting from the road. The river takes a turn to the right after slamming into a wall on the left bank.

Wallbanger Rapid on the Paro Chhu

Wallbanger Rapid on the Paro Chhu

Mile 2.9: The iron bridge at Tachog Lhakhang was built by the Tibetan Monk Thangtong Gyalpo in the 1400s. This is a nice place to stop and view the paintings inside the bridge towers.

If you bring proper clothes and a Bhutanese guide you can also hike up and visit the Tachong Lhakang (monastery) established by the famous iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo.

Mile 3: Iron Chain Rapid comes soon after the iron bridge. This rapid has a technical, rocky entrance and a fun wave train at the bottom.

Mile 3.9: Realm of the Demigods (III+) has a tricky entrance before a drop that can be run center between some rocks or on the left. This is one of the more challenging rapids and can be scouted on the right.

Mile 4.1: A driving bridge crosses the river here offering alternate river access before Boulder Choke (V).

Mile 4.3: Hungry Ghost Rapid (III+) has a big boulder in the middle with left and right runs. Kayaks can fit either way of the rock but rafts should go on the left side at medium and lower flows. The left side is a tight squeeze that may require moving people around on the raft to get through.

Mile 5: Boulder Choke (V) is a long complex rapid with a lot potential to pin a kayak or raft. The entrance swiftly leads into the rapid so you should know where to pull over to scout/portage ahead of time.

Rafting the first drop of the portage rapid on the Paro Chhu

Rafting the first drop of Boulder Choke (V) on the Paro Chhu

Downstream of the portage the canyon is beautiful and the rapids come in quick succession. This is a really fun section of Class III+ rapids that ends just before Chuzzom.

Kayaking the lower Paro Chhu in Bhutan

Kayaking the lower Paro Chhu in Bhutan

Mile 6.1: Take-out at Chhuzom on the right side before the confluence with the Thimphu Chhu. You'll hike your rafts or kayaks up a narrow trail to the road.

Chhuzom is the confluence of the Paro Chhu and Thimphu Chhu

Chhuzom is the confluence of the Paro Chhu and Thimphu Chhu

Written by
Zach Collier