Travel by land
Phuntsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar are the entire land border areas accessible to visitors.
How To Reach Bhutan? The city of Phuntsholing in the southwest is situated approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, you take off your trip to Thimphu, the capital city with a travel time of about six hours for the 170 km distance.
Gelephu in south-central Bhutan is another access point to Bhutan. It is roughly 250 km from Thimphu and the route will reach you through the sub-tropical zones of Bhutan before beginning the alpine region and then ultimately into Thimphu. One will have to go over across three districts and the drive time will be about ten hours.
The district of Samdrup Jongkhar in southeast Bhutan borders the Indian neighborhood of Daranga, Assam, and is roughly 150 km away from Guwahati, the capital center of Assam. The drive from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take to Trashigang, and from well over the lateral road to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang, and thus ultimately into the capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 km and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.
Travel by air
There are flights to Bhutan that includes, Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore, and Mumbai.
It situates Paro at an elevation of 2,225 m (7300 ft.) above sea level and is hemmed in by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft.). At present two carriers operate in Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. And there are domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan. A second international airport is in Gelephu along the southern flank of India.
Flying into Bhutan’s Paro International Airport is generally a breathtaking adventure as the descent into Paro valley takes you closer to the mountaintops than most other flights in the world. The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most appealing ones as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you ascend higher up, you can experience the marvellous view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga at their finest.
Despite the considerable hurdle affected by the distant topography and the high mountain passes, all main cities and prominent places to visit are linked by an appropriate road network. However, a large aspect of the road system is the numerous curves and inclines that one will have to handle. Besides the bends, another aspect of the road network is the precipitous climbs and descents that slow down car drives. One is however amply honored for the long and tiring car journey by the striking views of the mountains, the luscious green forests, the ancient villages, the majestic shrines and monasteries, and the many roadside diners and hotels.
We use Japanese coaster buses (20 seats) and diverse SUVs to transport our clients.
The Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Bhutan: Travel Options, Tips, & More
Bhutan, a tiny yet mesmerizing kingdom nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, is renowned for its rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and commitment to Gross National Happiness. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about reaching Bhutan, including travel options, requirements, and tips to ensure a smooth and unforgettable journey.
Entry Points to Bhutan
There are two main ways to enter Bhutan: by air and by land. Here's a brief overview of each option:
- By Air: The most convenient method of reaching Bhutan is by flying into Paro International Airport (PBH). Drukair and Bhutan Airlines operate regular flights from select cities in Asia.
- By Land: Bhutan shares borders with India, enabling visitors to enter via three land border crossings at Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.
By Air: Flying into Paro International Airport
Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. It is serviced by two airlines, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines, which offer flights from the following cities:
- Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
- Delhi, India (DEL)
- Kolkata, India (CCU)
- Bagdogra, India (IXB)
- Guwahati, India (GAU)
- Mumbai, India (BOM)
- Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM)
- Dhaka, Bangladesh (DAC)
- Singapore (SIN)
Please note that flight schedules may vary depending on the season and availability.
By Land: Crossing Borders via Phuentsholing, Gelephu, & Samdrup Jongkhar
Bhutan shares borders with India, which allows for land entry via three border towns:
- Phuentsholing: Situated in the southwest, this bustling town is the most popular land entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 170 km (105 miles) away from Thimphu, the capital city.
- Gelephu: Located in the south-central region, Gelephu is a less frequented entry point. The journey to Thimphu is approximately 250 km (155 miles) and offers scenic views.
- Samdrup Jongkhar: Situated in the south-eastern part of Bhutan, this entry point is ideal for those traveling from India's north-eastern states. The distance to Thimphu is about 700 km (435 miles).
Visa Requirements & Entry Permits
All foreign nationals, except for Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizens, must obtain a visa before entering Bhutan. Visas are processed through registered Bhutanese tour operators or their international partners. Visa applications must be submitted at least one month before the intended travel date. To apply for a visa, you will need the following documents:
- A valid passport with a minimum of six months' validity remaining
- A completed visa application form
- A recent passport-sized photograph
- Proof of a booked tour package with a licensed Bhutanese tour operator
- Please note that independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. All visitors must be accompanied by a licensed Bhutanese guide throughout their stay.
For Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizens, a visa is not required. However, they must obtain an entry permit from the Department of Immigration. To obtain an entry permit, you will need the following documents:
- A valid passport or a voter ID card (for Indian citizens)
- Two recent passport-sized photographs
- A completed entry permit application form
Travel Tips for a Seamless Bhutan Experience
To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to Bhutan, consider the following travel tips:
- Book early: Given Bhutan's strict tourism regulations, it's essential to book your trip well in advance to secure permits, visas, and accommodations.
- Choose the right season: Bhutan has four distinct seasons, each offering unique experiences. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to visit, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures. Summer can be wet due to the monsoon, while winter offers cooler temperatures and fewer tourists.
- Pack appropriately: Bhutan's weather can vary greatly depending on the region and altitude. Pack warm layers for higher elevations, comfortable walking shoes, and rain gear if visiting during the monsoon season.
- Respect local customs: Bhutan has a rich cultural heritage that should be respected. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites, and refrain from smoking in public areas.
Exploring Bhutan's Must-Visit Destinations
Once you've arrived in Bhutan, there are numerous awe-inspiring destinations to explore. Some must-visit sites include:
- Thimphu: The capital city offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern amenities. Key attractions include the Tashichho Dzong, National Memorial Chorten, and Buddha Dordenma Statue.
- Paro: Home to the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery (Taktsang), Paro is a picturesque valley with a rich history.
- Punakha: The former capital boasts stunning landscapes and significant cultural sites, such as the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakhang.
- Bumthang: Often referred to as the spiritual heart of Bhutan, Bumthang houses numerous sacred temples and monasteries.
- Phobjikha Valley: A haven for nature lovers, this glacial valley is renowned for its wintering population of endangered black-necked cranes.
Bhutan is a truly unique destination that offers visitors an unforgettable experience. With its pristine landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality, a journey to the Land of the Thunder Dragon is sure to leave a lasting impression. By carefully planning your trip, obtaining the necessary travel documents, and respecting local customs, you can ensure a seamless and memorable visit to this enchanting kingdom.
The two main ways to enter Bhutan are by air and by land. By air, you can fly into Paro International Airport, and by land, you can enter via three land border crossings at Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines operate flights to Paro International Airport from selected cities in Asia.
Except for Indian citizens, all foreign nationals must obtain a visa processed through registered Bhutanese tour operators or their international partners. Visa applications should be submitted at least one month before the intended travel date and require a valid passport, completed visa application form, recent passport-sized photograph, and proof of a booked tour package with a licensed Bhutanese tour operator.
Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizens do not need a visa but must obtain an entry permit from the Department of Immigration. They need a valid passport or a voter ID card (for Indian citizens), two recent passport-sized photographs, and a completed entry permit application form.
To ensure a smooth Bhutan experience, book your trip early, choose the right season for your visit, pack appropriately for varying weather conditions, and respect local customs by dressing modestly and refraining from smoking in public areas.