Travellers Tips

The way to Bhutan:

Until the early sixties, the Kingdom of Bhutan was accessible only on foot through the high passes of Tibet and the plains of India. The construction of a road in the late sixties from Phuntsholing on the Indian border to Thimphu and Paro made travel by car and bus possible. In1983, the first international airport was opened in Paro, 65 km from the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.

Travel by Air

Bhutan’s only international airport is located in Paro, which is located in a deep valley at an elevation of 7300 ft above sea level. The Paro Valley is surrounded by hills as high as 16,000 feet, whereby making the approach of Druk Air into the Paro International airport entirely by visual flight rules.

The national air carrier – Druk Air, Royal Bhutan Airlines has two A319 and operates in seven cities in six different countries.  It operates several times a week to Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu.  The national airline carries passengers through one of the most spectacular flight paths in the world. A particular highlight is the stretch between Kathmandu and Bhutan, where one passes 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world. Weather permitting; passengers will be treated to intimate views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu und Kangchenjunga.

Current flight schedules for Druk Air are available at www.drukair.com.bt

Flights are booked through Tour Operators who also arrange the visas.

Travel by Land

The town of Phuntsholing in south-western Bhutan is currently the only land border access open for international tourists. Phuntsholing lies approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra and nearby Darjeeling. From here begins a mountain journey of almost unbelievable beauty. The road leads from the northern Indian tea plantations through endless turns, hair-pin bends and daring stretches carved into the mountain rock via Chhuka to Thimphu. The travel time for the 176 km stretch can be more than 6 hours.

A combination of overland and air travel is also possible. All overland travel requires an Indian visa.

Travelling within Bhutan

All major towns in the 20 districts of Bhutan are accessible by road. Despite high mountains, steep slopes, and the deepest of valleys Bhutan has a relatively well developed network of roads. That said, rarely will one find a length of either straight or flat road. In some stretches one can encounter 6 to 7 bends per kilometre! Steep ascents and descents are characteristic of road travel in Bhutan and this can make travel much slower than one may be used to. Average speeds for road travel rarely exceed 30 km/h, with tourist buses making even slower progress. One is however handsomely rewarded for the long and sometimes tiring car journey, by the spectacular views of towering mountains, lush green jungle, ancient villages and majestic monasteries.

The majority of roads are sealed but can still be bumpy and are almost always single lane. Bhutan’s drivers know their land well and are cautious and careful drivers. The density of traffic is normally very low.

Distances and Travel Times within Bhutan

From/To Distance Travel Time
Thimphu – Paro 65 km 1 hr 30 min
Thimphu – Phuntsholing 176 km 6 hrs
Phuntsholing – Bagdogra (India) 170 km 4 hrs
Thimphu – Ha 115 km 3 hrs 30 min
Ha – Paro 60 km 2 hrs 30 min
Thimphu – Wangdue Phodrang 70 km 2 hrs
Thimphu – Punakha 77 km 2 hrs 15 min
Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang 21 km 30 min
Wangdue Phodrang – Trongsa 129 km 4 hrs
Trongsa – Bumthang 68 km 2 hrs 30 min
Bumthang – Mongar 129 km 4 hrs
Mongar – Trashigang 90 km 3 hrs
Trashigang – Trashi Yangtse 55 km 2 hrs

WHEN TO VISIT BHUTAN?

The period between August and December provides mostly offers azure skies, good snow views, and minimal rainfall.

Based on general expectations of weather, March 1 to May 30 and October 1 to December 15 are the best times to visit Bhutan, but for those who don’t mind the cold, the period between December and February is the very best for spectacular snow views of the Greater Himalayas.

Of the two mentioned above, the spring season offers the visitor an amazing display of rhododendrons, magnolias, and many other flowering shrubs in full bloom.

During October and December you will miss the profusion of color but will be rewarded with virtually no haze to cloud the horizon and superb views of the snow covered Himalayan peaks.

Another point to ponder while deciding the timing of your visit is whether you want to experience one of Bhutan’s visually stunning and often soul-stirring cultural or religious festivals – the tsechus.  These festivals are spread through the year.

Bhutan experiences all 4 seasons:  winter starts from December until February.  Although the sky remains clear and sunny but usually harsh.  Snowfall also can be experienced, esp. in the high mountain passes making it very difficult to travel.  On the other hand, fall, which starts from June until August, experience lots of rain enough to bring about frequent disruptions to the vehicular traffics because of the road blocks.  Come September, Autumn arrives, which last until November.  This is the best season for trekkers as well as for tour.  Despair of winter gives way to spring of hope starting March until May, which is also the next best season after Autumn to explore Bhutan.  it’s the season for the nature lovers.

Travel Requirements

Tourists can book a package holiday to Bhutan through both International and Bhutanese local tour operators. The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan and this must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan.

Daily Tariff

The minimum tariff for tourist visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

High Season Tariff – US$ 250 per person per night halt (March, April, May, September, October and November).

Low Season Tariff – US$200 per person per night halt (January, February, June, July, August, December).

The minimum price includes:

  • All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty)
  • Accommodation
  • All Meals
  • All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
  • All Internal Transport
  • Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours

The rates given above are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan. On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on actual basis.

The rates shall apply uniformly irrespective of locations and the type of accommodation provided/asked for. List of hotels and lodges approved for international tourist accommodation updated from time to time shall be issued by TCB.

Surcharges

Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons shall be subject to surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:

Single individual US$ 40 per night
Group of 2 persons US$ 30 per person per night

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

Eligibility for discounts from the Tourist Tariff

There will not be charges for children up to the age of 5 years; however those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by their parents/guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily basis

Full time student below the age of 25 years holding valid identity card from their academic institution shall also be give 25%discount on a daily basis.

A discount of 50% on daily rates will be given to one person in a group of 11-15 people.100% discount shall be given to one person in a group of 16 people or more.

INFORMATION FOR REGIONAL TOURISTS

 

Getting to Bhutan

By Air

There is only one airline that flies to Bhutan and it is called Druk Air. The contact addresses of the Druk Air offices are as follows:

In India:

New Delhi
Tel: 91-11-335-7703/4
Email:
' ); document.write( addy56057 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kolkata
Tel: 91-33-240-2419
Email:
' ); document.write( addy90035 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

In Bhutan:

Paro International Airport
Tel: ++975-8-271856/271857
Email:
' ); document.write( addy22502 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Visit
www.drukair.com.bt for more information

By Land

You can entry from three entry points: Samdrup Jongkhar (southeast Bhutan), Gelephu (south Bhutan), and Phuntsholing (southwest Bhutan)

Entry Permit

Upon arrival immigration officers endorse your identification card: the passport or voter’s registration card. Also, please carry some passport photographs as well just in case. The permit can be extended by contacting the immigration office. The following permits are issued to visitors. You will have to go personally! The endorsement is done at the entry points in Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu, if you are travelling by land, and Paro airport, if you flying into Bhutan.

Restricted area (Route) Permit

Tourists who plan on travelling to places other than Thimphu, Phuntsholing, and Paro (free zone) will have to obtain route permit from the immigration office in Thimphu (323127/F-321078.).

Special Permit

Please remember that not all religious places are open for tourists. However, most of the religious places are made accessible to tourists but they are required to produce a special permit. For this, tourists will have to contact Department of Culture (322694).

Bringing in your own vehicle

Indian visitors can bring in their own vehicle but you will have to get your documents endorsed from Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA): www.rsta.gov.bt. The roads in Bhutan are narrow so the services of Bhutanese drivers and using Bhutanese vehicles are highly recommended.

Note:

  • All the immigration check posts and the offices at the port of entries are open 365 days; however the Regional Offices and the head office in Thimphu remain open only during the working days.

For further information please visit http://www.mohca.gov.bt/doi or email the Department of Immigration at ' ); document.write( addy54083 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

BOOKING A TRIP WITH US:

Anyone wishing to make a trip to Bhutan should use Bhutanese tour operators based in Bhutan as mandated by our tourism policy.  This ensures the freewheelers or backpackers are not encouraged to encourage responsible tourism.  Bhutan Twin Travel is one such tour companies operating from Bhutan for our discerning travelers wishing to visit our country either directly with us or through the use of foreign companies abroad we’re working with.  Visitors can travel either in group or independently.

For those of you who prefer direct bookings, you can always visit our websites or touch base with us via emails.

The only national Airline, the Drukair is the airline that connects Bhutan with the rest of the world.  Therefore, flying in and out is subject to availability of seats.

The other entry and exit for Bhutan is overland from India.   We have visa points at Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.

Therefore, the foremost thing a traveler must know is your exit and entry plans.  After this, the seasons should be noted for highlights.  It has been misunderstood that tourism is Bhutan is seasonal.  We always believe that it is bad gears and not weather.

You can visit Bhutan all-year round, although the selection can be seasonal.  Like a trek above 4000m can be seen two ways:  for scenery we recommend autumn and for fauna and flora trips, spring and summers are better.

The best season to visit eastern Bhutan is winter.  Some of the cultural treks like Punakha and Samtengang trek in the west and Walk the Royal Path in the east can be best undertaken during winter.  We also have several colorful local annual festivals to witness in the peak of winter season away from the most-beaten path, say in rural Bhutan, which’s accessible only on foot. Digging deeper in the heart of the far-flung village could be another highlight of the trip.  Still another would be to witness live of the sucrose production out of sugarcane or exporting mandarins straight from the orchards to the nearest road terminals on men or horseback.

Some think that Bhutan is too cold in winters but that is applicable only in the northern part above 3000m.  We have great places from 200m to 2000m that are mild during winter months.

VISITING BHUTAN:

Tourism has been strictly limited in Bhutan, so that traditional culture can be preserved and nurtured from the dying grip of the onslaught of modernization.    The Bhutanese are devout Buddhist, and therefore, it’s important that our visitors observe our national and local proprieties, which conforms to their local beliefs and customs and their way of life, especially in visiting the places of spiritual significances.

The tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable, and also economically viable.  For these reasons, tourism is carefully monitored and the number of tourist visiting Bhutan is kept to an environmentally manageable level.

Having said that, visitors may experience Bhutan only on all-inclusive package tours for which a fixed daily tariff is set by the Royal Government of Bhutan.  This tariff covers the following services:  Standard accommodation & all meals, transport, guide, entrance fees to museums, monuments, and cultural sites, and additionally, a cultural program for visitors traveling in a group of three or above.

Central Bhutan

TRONGSA:  Elevation 2,316m

About four hour’s drive from Wangduephodrang is the central district of Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, from where the first two kings ruled the kingdom.

Read more...

Western Bhutan

THIMPHU:  Elevation 2,320m

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan with a population of approximately 100,000 people.  Thimphu became the capital in 1961, and the town is the largest in Bhutan.

Read more...

East & South

For those with enough time on their hands, venture into eastern Bhutan for something quite different.  This is the land of the Sharchops, who speak their own language and nurture their own culture and weave beautiful textiles.

Read more...