- Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bhutan: Entry Routes for Indian Citizens




Locked away towards eastern end of Himalayas is this pristine country called Kingdom of Bhutan. Culturally Preserved and Happy are two terms that will define this country and its people best. In spite of its proximity to India, not many Indian tourists seem to be traveling this country yet. And when planning my own travel, my first major agenda was to sort out my road entry to this country. After much research online over travel forums and blogs I was able to figure out my route plan. And here I am sharing all details of it in one comprehensive manner for those who might be interested in traveling there.

Indians DO NOT require any Bhutanese tour operator or any entry fee to travel this country. Only permits are required which are issued free of cost by the Immigration authorities. However Indians do need to carry their passport or voter ID cards in original and photocopy + couple of passport size photos. There are primarily two routes to enter: by Air or by Road.

a) By Air: Druk Air (Bhutan's National Carrier) is the only airline operating out of Bhutan and has flights at regular intervals from New Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Kathmandu & Bangkok. Druk Air flies to Paro and immigration formalities are taken care of at airport itself. Indian citizens need to carry either their passports (preferred) or voter ID cards. The flight tickets are quite a bit on expensive side.

b) By Road: Entry to Bhutan is through border towns of Jaigaon (Indian side) and Phuentsholing (Bhutanese side). Depending where you are traveling from within India, below routes can be opted for.

    i- Fly to Bagdogra, West Bengal. From airport itself hire a reserved taxi to jaigaon which will cost approx Rs. 1900 and about 3 hours. The roads are bad but you will still get a glance at tea estate on flat lands.

    ii- Fly to Bagdogra, West Bengal. From airport hire a taxi for Siliguri town and get off at its bus station, which will take you about 30 minutes (17 Kms). From bus stand, book a bus for Jaigaon which ofcourse doesnt cost more than Rs. 60 or so, but buses are quite rickety and to top it, as already mentioned above, roads are bad. Time taken by bus will also be about 3 to 3.5 hours.

    iii- Train to New Jalpaiguri Jn., Siliguri, West Bengal. This railway station can also be reached from Bagdogra airport within 30 minutes by Taxi as it is situated within city centres of Siliguri. From this station, there are regular passenger as well as reserved trains to Hasimara. The train ride takes approx 3 hrs and are very comfortable and cheap. But yes, you need extra time on hand to match the schedule of trains. Upon reaching Hasimara, one can take shared or reserved auto/ tempo to Jaigaon. Ask for Bhutan border in Jaigaon and Rs. 100 is enough to get entire auto/tempo reserved for you- ofcourse after negotiating, time taken will be about 25 mins. Below is the daily train schedule between New Jalpaiguri & Hasimara.

http://indiarailinfo.com/search/new-jalpaiguri-njp-to-hasimara-hsa/444/0/448


PERMITS TO TRAVEL IN BHUTAN

Jaigaon to Phuentsholing

Upon reaching Jaigaon, one can simply walk through the border gate to Phuentsholing. The gates are open only till about 10 pm in the night and one can walk through without any permits or paper work formality. If making a night halt at border town, its advisable to stay in Phuentsholing instead of Jaigaon because of its cleanliness and quietness. Hotels are basic at both these border towns. Just walk around Phuentsholing and one can find hotels around it. On a comfortable side Hotel Druk is recommended, on budget basic side one can opt for Hotel Peljorling which is just opposite the Immigration Office.

Tourist Permit from Phuentsholing

Indian tourists do require Tourist Permit to travel beyond checkpost of Phuentsholing located a couple of kilomteres away from the border gate and enter the country. The tourist permit is provided by the immigration office centre issuing permits, located in a building next to the petrol pump from Monday to Friday, starting at 9 am in morning till about 5:30 pm in evening. The process is easy and hassle free. Its advisable to reach the office at 9 am sharp to avoid general rush.  A photocopy of passport and one colored passport size photo needs to be submitted along with the filled permit form. (Voter ID cards for Indian citizen are also accepted in lieu of passports and just incase if someone does not have either but is travelling in a group, some form identity card can be used for that person as an exception). After crosschecking details and taking your photograph through webcams, officials will ask you to collect the permits after 30 minutes to 2 hours- depending on how busy they are. Permits are issued ONLY for 7 days and ONLY allows you to visit Paro and Thimphu. Other areas of Bhutan fall under restricted zones for tourists and special route permits are required which are issues ONLY in Thimphu.

Phuentsholing to Thimphu

From Phuentsholing one can hire reserved taxi, shared taxi or equally comfortable shared mini buses (Japanese Costers) to Thimphu. Both stands are adjacent to each other and are 10 minutes walk away from Immigration Office. Reserved Taxi will cost approx Rs. 2500, Shared taxi Rs. 500 and buses approx Rs. 240. Journey will take about 5.5 hours and ride is smooth and scenic with good road condition. On way to Thimphu, the permits are checked and stamped at two check points.

Route Permit from Thimphu

In Thimphu, yet again its advisable to reach the immigration office (opposite Taj Tashi Hotel) by 9 am Monday- Friday to avoid rush (weekends are off). If the planned travel in the country is for more than 7 days then first and foremost one needs to apply for extension of permit by filling and submitting a simple form along with the original permit issued in Phuentsholing. Once again, officials will ask you to come back in 1 hour or so. Once extended tourist permit is in hand, one can apply for Route Permit which allows travels in restricted areas beyond Paro and Thimphu. For route permit a photocopy of original 'extended tourist permit' will be submitted along with a form. And once again you will be asked to come back in about 1 hour. It is to be noted that there is no photocopier machine in the premises, so, one has to walk down a bit to the town to just get photocopies done.

This entire process of getting extended tourist permit followed by route permit is simple and friendly but does take away almost half of your day. So keep good 4-5 hours of a weekday morning in hand to get all this done.

Foreign Tourists other than Indian Nationals



Its mandatory for all foreign tourists to make bookings through a Bhutan based tour operator. They take care of stay, permits, travels, daily tourist fee etc.

More on Bhutan

For my travel stories from Bhutan visit this 2-part series- Bhutan: Some Quirks & Some Secrets



Map

Here is also the most clear and large enough tourist map which which I could find on internet. Link to download actual size (can be zoomed after downloading and saving): http://www.bhutangayul.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Bhutan-tourist-map.jpg




So this is pretty much the information required to travel to Bhutan via road from India and without any travel operator. Its simple and not as complicated as it all sounds. Moreover, once you are on the move things always start falling into place on their own. :)



Richa Gupta

145 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a precise and clear writeup....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much required it was. Thanks for stopping by ! :)

      Delete
    2. Hello guys,
      Thanks for sharing, So they accept any other identity proof (Such as PAN Card, Driving Licence) ?

      Delete
    3. Hi mr umakant.my questions are: is any meal (preferably bengali )available in thimphu? How much do they cost?and what approximately a budget hotel costs& how did u get it in thimpu?ani64mandal@gmail.com

      Delete
  2. Will be visiting Bhutan in March-2014. Thanks for the excellent blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Information about travel to Bhutan is hard to come by and you have done a great service to those planning to visit Bhutan on their own, without going through a travel agent. But, 'Yeh dil mange more' ☺ Your recommendations for hotels in the most popular places such as Thimphu, Paro and Punakha would be much appreciated. Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback Pramod. :)
      Regarding Hotels- I was on a budget trip so accordingly I opted for Hotel Ghasel in Thimphu & Hotel Peljorling in Paro. Hotels in Punakha are more secluded resort like, suitable only if you would like to chill and not do much when there. I did not stay in Punakha, just had a day visit from Thimphu. If you need further details on these hotels you may send me your email ID. I shall mail you back with the info. Additionally you may also read 2 other blogs I have written on Bhutan. You will get to see some quirkier side too.

      Delete
    2. Hi richa!
      Plannning to visit Bhuatan.....give me more details ie hotels in thimpu /rail approach .How do you rate going via Alipurduar/newalipurduar /hasimara.
      Regards
      jschauhan22@gmail.com

      Delete
    3. Hey,
      Thanks for the input.
      Much appreciated.
      I am planning to travel there.
      Will I need a passport or the PAN card/ Aadhaar card will do.

      Delete
  4. Many thanks for this detailed information.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Useful blog.
    Thanx
    I am visiting Bhutan this monthend.
    Can u advice me on adverture activities.
    My Id is
    imry_iaf@rediffmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good info.
    Are there any separate rules for fauzis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, If you are talking about any special privileges for Indian defence men, then I am sorry, I am not aware of any. And adventure activities in Bhutan will primarily consist of hiking & trekking. You may find more info on these two below links.

      http://www.tourism.gov.bt/activities/adventure
      http://www.bhutanoutdooractivities.com/index.asp

      Wish you a good trip !

      Delete
  7. Very good and precise information for anyone travelling to Bhutan, rich or STUDENT :D

    Thanks a lot !

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi richa,
    Thanks for your clear writeup. This has all the info i need in one place..
    A quick question, however...
    Is phuentsholing immigration office open on weekends?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sreejith,

      no its open only Monday- Friday. I shall add that info on the write up. :)

      Delete
  9. Hi Richa, can you give me the address and contact number of the office, I heard to be located at a place called Mall Road in Kolkata from where the permits for Thimpu and Paro are issued in advance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Yes it is Bhutan consulate office in Mall Road Kolkatta. These two links will help you locate/ contact it.

      http://www.consulate-info.com/consulate/24908/Bhutan-in-Kolkata

      http://www.consulkolkata.org/bhutan.html

      Delete
    2. Hi Richa...we are planned for bhutan on september..Please tell me about bus service in bhutan..

      Delete
    3. Hi Swarup,
      Could you pls ask more specific question? What do you want to know about bus service in Bhutan.
      I will suggest, you please read up below article (point no. 5), this might help.

      http://travels-and-stories.blogspot.in/2013/10/bhutan-some-quirks-and-some-secrets_28.html

      Richa

      Delete
  10. Very nice.. Thanks. For all the details.
    I want to know about the availability of pure veg food in Bhutan. Please let me know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sanjay. Regarding vegetarian food- its very easily available in every Bhutanese restaurant. While I can not confirm on pure-veg restaurants, but all restaurants offer vegetarian options which means beyond dum-aloo and paneer. Even I was surprised, but Bhutanese grow lot of vegetables and love their greens, so its not a problem at all.

      Delete
  11. hey richa,
    Thanks for the awesome info.we are reaching bagdogra on a friday at 11 in the morning,Just realized from your blog that we have a tight schedule in getting the permits..:-)...Is there any alternate way to get the permits you know of?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you RJ !

      Alternately, you can procure it from Kolkata, if you coming from there. I have shared the details in an answer to a query above. Otherwise you need to stay overnight at border town- I also recommend that. From border town its 5 hour journey ahead to thimphu- what will you do even if you procure your permit in the evening ? There won't be any public transport atleast, to take you ahead.

      Delete
  12. Hi Richa.
    Thanks a lot c after read yr blog abt trip for Bhutan make me clear nd easy for bhutan trip in next week ... Thanks again :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Richa,

    We are planning to travel to Bhutan via the road route mentioned by you early in october this year.
    Could you please let me know what kind of expenses towards Bhutanese Govt do we have to incur?
    Are there any permit related expenses or anything that we have to take care of?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, assuming you are an Indian Citizen- no, you don't have to pay any money/fees to Bhutanese govt for permits or in any other form. Its all free.

      Delete
  14. Richa..thanks for your blog and Just came to know ...that even if one is not having Passport or Voter card..but family member having . Can be given permit. Here my question is I have mine Passport and Voter card but my Mother not has both as PP she not have and VC she Lost..LOL...but she has Pan Card and Ration Card and yes Driving License too.

    Is it possible her permit is procured on my documents and with her current IDs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello I am Anilkumar from Bangalore. I wish to tour Bhutan from December 28 to 3 January . Can I get help to get my tour organized (4 members)?

      Delete
    2. Hi Anil- I understand from your seperate message that you're looking for a tour operator. I am sorry, I don't know any. I plan all my holidays myself.

      Delete
  15. Hi Richa this is Jayshree ur blog helped me a lot for planning my trip. Can u give more details abt the hotels u have mentioned like ph no n all. N all must visit places there.
    My mail id is
    jayshree.srkr@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Richa
    Ur blog helped me a lot in planning my trip. Can u give more details abt the hotels u have mentioned n must visit places there.
    ail id
    jayshree.srkr@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Richa,
      Can you kindly send me the details places and good budgeted hotels at 'mail.shiltan@gmail.com' ?
      And kindly tell me the timing of the permit office in kolkata ?

      Delete
  17. Golden post!

    Thanks for sharing the most important information on Bhutan travel brilliantly, Richa.

    Headed to Paro & Thimphu with mom this weekend.

    While researching, i came across info stating that solo travelers from India may be now getting approved on a case to case basis: https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=110&post=15889475

    I will check on this again when there, but thought it was important to share it here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh ! That's strange. Yes please find out on your trip and do not forget to share with me, so I could put it up here for benefit of others. I hope you have a wonderful trip. Do read my other blog posts on Bhutan- that restaurant in Thimphu serving traditional Bhutanese meals will be worth a visit with your mom. Try and meet the owner- a superb lady and will give you insights in local food traditions. - enjoy ! :)

      Delete
  18. Hey Richa

    I am planning a biking trip to Bhutan this Feb and trust me your info was more than enough for me to jot down a rough sketch of my plan.

    thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Amit ! I hope you have a wonderful trip :)

      Delete
  19. Hi Richa,

    Very useful information you have shared here.. thank you very much.
    Just like Amit, this definitely helps me for my bike ride...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hope you've a superb bike trip, my best wishes :)

      Delete
    2. Is it possible to hire a bike in Bhutan! and where if you have any info please do share it with me it will be helpfull.

      Delete
  20. Hello Richa
    Much needed b(log)reak after head breaking research on how to budget travel to bhutan! JuSt when we felt bhutan trip ...some other time. Thanks a million for this write up. Can finally see the wonderful trip happening already !! ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. fantastic Shubha! I hope you've a wonderful trip :)

      Delete
  21. Hi Richa,

    Your blog is precise and informative, thank you so much for the same. I am currently doing an all India road trip and planning to drive to Bhutan on 5th of November 2014.

    I have a query. What is the currency used in Bhutan? Can we use Indian currency? If not where can I get that exchanged?

    Thank You

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Satish, Yes you can use Indian currency except Rs 500 & Rs. 1000 notes. The exchange rate is 0, ie. 1 INR = 1 Nu (currency of Bhutan). If you like you can get money exchanged at any of the banks in Thimphu- there are Indian Banks in Thimphu. Or simply pull out money from ATMs.- Richa

      Delete
    2. Thanks Richa ...much appreciated

      Delete
  22. Thanx Richa for the gr8 info.....planning to visit Paro in December....most probably during last weeks....is it possible to get to Paro on motorbikes. I am from Siliguri and planning to visit with my friends. we will be staying at Paro for 2 days. info awaited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sunny, yes it is possible to go riding/ driving through Bhutan. I don't know exact procedure. But if you scroll up, you will find Amit, Raja & Satish- who were intending a bike/ self-drive trip to Bhutan, you please check with them. If that doesn't work- to give you a headstart, all I can tell you that you will need seperate permits for your bikes from Phuentsholing.

      Delete
    2. Hi Richa,

      Firstly great blog.Do you have any idea,if its an ideal time to visit Bhutan during December end and January first week ? Is it Insanely cold during winters ?

      Delete
    3. Thanks Ryan.
      Well, it snows in some parts. So you'd know how to judge the weather for yourself. :)

      Delete
  23. Planning 4 a visit 2 Bhutan dis December,will b reaching new jp on 26th morning,m confused v have 2 visit both places,Bhutan n Gangtok n v have Only 8 days,Where should v go first,4 How long shud v spent Time in both d places,please guide me.our journey comprises of Only 8 days n I want 2 cover all d important places.plz help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi sheena. According to me, in 8 days, all you can do is Gangtok and Thimphu. That's it. Given your circumstances, travel time on mountain road is going to kill your time (though I personally feel, they are great source of local interaction). You either choose to do just these two or skip either Sikkim or Bhutan altogether and do either one of them properly.

      Delete
  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Miss richa my question is that whether U advise to travel on our own or through travel agency like Yatra,make my trip?? Which one is hassle free,safe & good??

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Richa,

    I am planning to travel to Bhutan in last week of Jan, I plan to self drive from Bagdogra with my wife and 2 kids (5yrs and 2Yrs) is it a good idea or should I rent a cab from Bagdogra, are Indian Taxis (cabs) allowed in Bhutan.

    Also if you can help me with the pre permits which are required for driving inside bhutan with a Indian Car,

    Thanks,

    Anand

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anand,
      Self-drive is always a good idea, but with kids in tow in the mountains, I am not too sure. Indian Taxis are not allowed in Bhutan, as far as I know. You can rent a Bhutanese taxi in Phuentsholing if you like.
      Sorry on permits for personal vehicles, I don't know anything about it. But, you might want to check with few people who intended to bike through Bhutan. Please scroll up and you will find few people in comments section enquiring about Bike trips. They would have already completed their trips by now. They might help you.

      Richa

      Delete
  27. Hi Richa,

    You mentioned that it costs Rs 1900 from Bagdogra to Jaigaon for a reserved taxi. Is this per head cost? And how many passengers do these reserved taxis accommodate? We are a group of 6, planning to travel in Mar-Apr 2015.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Maitreyee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, 1900 is for full taxi. An indica or maruti zen etc. So I guess a max of 4 people can sit other than the driver.

      Delete
    2. hi richa.thanks for writing such an informative blog.i am planning for budget visit to bhutan....will you pls mail me the details regarding how much budget is more than enough for 5 days journey and places to stay and explore.my id-cadetofdecede7676@gmail.com

      Delete
  28. Hello Richa,

    This was a well written piece with attention to smallest of things which would make your travel worse if not taken care of. And as you said, reaching there should be the only concern as things will start falling in place once you're on a move.
    I am solo traveler from Bengaluru and will be planning my trip in May 1st week. Though I have a friend of mine staying over there, I still would like to explore mostly on my own. So I'd really appreciate if you can take out sometime and write me some suggestions/tips/must-see-places. Please do write me at patilashok.git@gmail.com.
    Do really appreciate your effort in writing this informative piece with every smallest detail making travel for other people smooth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much ashok. I have sent you an email.

      Delete
  29. Hi,
    I am planning to visit Bhutan mid of March , want to know can i get rent a car without driver , if so what all documents and formalities . pls mail me mithungeorgej@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Richa,
    Me and my wife along with another couple with their kids from guwahati are planning to drive from Guwahati to Thimpu.
    My friend is an Indian , however his wife is a French Passport holder with a PIO card, even the kids have French PP with PIO cards, will these people be able to enter with the same priveleges as Indians?
    Require info about any Special permit to be obtained for our car ? Also need complete info about the cost of stay per room per night in Thimpu, Paro and Punakha.
    Travel dates : Leaving GAU 28-02-2015 till 09-03-2015.
    abhijith.nc@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, sorry can't help you on PIO cardholder and permits for self-drives. No idea on that.
      I am not sure what you mean by complete info on hotels. I hope you understand I am just a travel writer. Nevertheless, decent hotels are available from Rs. 3000/ night onwards and cam go upto almost a lakh/ night in super luxury ones.

      Delete
  31. Hi Richa.. its Dr. Jigar here from Gujarat.. I am a solo backpacking traveller and want to do bike trip in north east including bhutan..
    Read somewhere that i can enter bhutan from eastern side of bhutan(Samdrup, Jonkhar ) from guwahati, and exit from western side(pheuntsholing) to new jalpaiguri/bagdogra.. Is it possible?? if yes, A simple indian permit to visit thimpu & paro would do that or i have to take any extra permit..?? is 1st week of april a good time to visit bhutan??

    i would appreciate if you could give me your suggestions & inputs on 4-5 days of itirinary on my email 'jigardb@yahoo.co.in'..

    thanx in advance..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1- I don't think Samdrup entry is valid. Please recheck.
      2- for permits, please read carefully this whole write-up above.
      3- 1st week april is good.
      4- in 4-5 days you can only go to paro/thimphu. its too less time to even imagine going elsewhere.

      Delete
  32. Hi Richa,
    Excellent blog, I got information which is usually not available on Google search & superb detailing. I love the way you write, see places beyond the obvious, can you please send me your itinerary & add some tips if possible to paramount.pavan@gmail.com. I'm a solo traveler planning to visit in the first week of may. Cheers.. God bless you.. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, I did Phuentsholing-Thimphu-Punakha-Thimphu-Haa Valley-Paro-Phuentsholing in about 15 days. I guess that would give you cues. For tips, please refer to my other posts on Bhutan.

      Delete
  33. Hi Recha,
    this is a excellent blog,Do you have any idea,ideal time to visit Bhutan?how many days are required for it?
    my id roja.love@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. visit all year round. number of days depend on how much you want tho explore. but minimum 7 days is a MUST.

      Delete
  34. Hi Richa!
    Nicely written details of the road trip to Bhutan.
    My email is drtilaktvs@gmail.com
    Kindly email me as we are planning a group trip and may need some hints!
    Thanks!:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pls ask me any specific questions that you might have, here.

      Delete
  35. hello richa, i am plan to visit bhutan with my wife , plz tell me is it ok to travel to new alipurduar to thimphu by road, i am scared about road , plz help me , is taxi avilable from new alipur duar to thimphu and any cost estimation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Atul- I have no idea about this route. a lot of people talk about it, but I do not trust that its functional.

      Delete
  36. Hi Richa,
    First of all an excellent blog, precise and to the point! I could use some of your expert advice, as we are planning a road trip to Bhutan all the way from Bangalore.
    Could I mail you to seek your advice? Please do let me know your id.
    Thanks & Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lavanya. Please refer to CONNECT page above.

      Delete
  37. Hi Richa,

    Thanks for the blog, really useful information.

    I am thinking of traveling from Siliguri to Phuentsholing on a Sunday (even though the office is closed to get a permit). Is it possible to get a cab to take you there on a Sunday? Also I read somewhere that the entry gate from India closes at 20:30, is it open on a Sunday?

    Thanks again for the help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. - Yes cabs are available from Siliguri to Phuentsholing (Jaigaon) on Sunday
      - Yes, gates border gates are open on Sundays

      Delete
  38. Hi richa,
    Can single person go to Bhutan? How much minimum Indian currency required for exchange Bhutan currency?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They prefer having at least 2 people in a group, but singles can travel too. 1 INR = 1 Nu

      Delete
    2. I have travelled recently.Emigration office is open on sunday.and i got my permit on sunday. Its difficult to get permits for single traveller.i travelled alone, and had faced a bit of hard time in emigration office,finally i had taken help.of an old bhutane frnd who faxed the emigration officer that i am his guest.you can approach travel agent and get ur permits done.there are travel agents who do that..u just need tonpay them lil money. They will make ur permit without taking a guided tour from them.

      Delete
    3. I have travelled recently.Emigration office is open on sunday.and i got my permit on sunday. Its difficult to get permits for single traveller.i travelled alone, and had faced a bit of hard time in emigration office,finally i had taken help.of an old bhutane frnd who faxed the emigration officer that i am his guest.you can approach travel agent and get ur permits done.there are travel agents who do that..u just need tonpay them lil money. They will make ur permit without taking a guided tour from them.

      Delete
    4. Adding to this... i received confirmation over email from the ministry of tourism bhutan that solo travellers are permitted same as others, as long as their papers are in order.. Hope this helps...

      Delete
  39. Hi Richa... great write up... i'll be backpacking solo to bhutan next month...
    I read somewhere that the permit offices at Thimphu and phuentsholing remain open way beyond 5:30 pm... could you please confirm this? My train reaches hasimara at 4:30 pm and it'd be great if i am able to at least submit my form that same day...
    Also, upon my exit (from p/ling), at which office and till what time can i hand in my various permits? I am planning at reaching p/ling at night and boarding my return train from hasimara the next morning...
    Any other do's and dont's are also welcome :)
    Thanks,
    Justin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Justin,

      Thanks for stopping by !
      Sorry, I cannot confirm about the office hours that you've mentioned. When I travelled, office closed around 5:30- 6 p.m. and that was it. Upon your exit, you need not submit back your permits in Phuentsholing office, They are collected at the last police checkpost (before Phuentsholing)- your bus/ taxi driver will know and stop accordingly.

      hope this helps.

      Delete
  40. Adding to this... i received confirmation over email from the ministry of tourism bhutan that solo travellers are permitted same as others, as long as their papers are in order.. Hope this helps...

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi Richa, thanks for writing this blog and sharing good info on Bhutan. I have planned to do Bhutan in May this year with my family. I plan to do Bhutan by road. I am also covering Gangtok in this trip. Since I plan to reach Siliguri / Hasimara by train, want to know if it is advisable to hire a taxi in Sliguri for a trip to Bhutan and Back to Siliguri or is it advisable to hire taxi in Phuentsholing Bhutan (cover Thimpu, Paro ) and back to Phuentsholing....Want to know from two perspective 1) Safe driving and Driver's awareness about roads 2) cost wise...understand Indian Vehicle permit would cost more (are the per day rate different in two places). 3) Generally is it OK to get good condition vehicle in Phuentsholing. Thanking You Rahul Gupta (Mumbai) 

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to hire taxis from Phuentsholing- they are cheaper, in good condition, safe and drivers are friendly. As far as I know, you can not take taxis from India to Bhutan (you can take personal cars with permits, but not taxis).

      Delete
  42. Can you suggest some good budget hotels in Phuentsholing.

    How much INR is allowed to be carried per person.

    In Nepal INR 500 notes are not allowed. What about Bhutan.

    Pl reply to email id ranajoy7705@gmail.com

    RK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try Hotel Peljorling in Phuentsholing. You can carry INR, as much as you need or pull out Nu from ATMs in Thimphu. Its upto you. Rs. 500 notes are not allowed in Bhutan as well.

      Delete
  43. Hey Richa, first of all, this is wonderful blog. Awesome info. I would say one can't find more better, precise, and clear info.on Bhutan. Thanks a lot Richa.

    Secondly, I am travelling solo to Sikkim and Bhutan. I might be reaching Hasimara @ 10:30 a.m
    So from there on I will move on to Phuentsholing as you mentioned. But would you recommend to travel and reach Thimphu the same night if I get my permits clear? OR should I just stay there at Phuentsholing for a night? How is
    Phuentsholing as a place to stay overnight? any activity to do?

    Thanks Richa :) Keep it up!
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karan ! :) Well, there is nothing to do in Phuentsholing. So if you can manage, you would be better off moving to Thimphu.

      Delete
    2. Thanks a lot Richa... I did the same but had to halt there while returning there simply coz I dint wanted to leave Bhutan that early. :) Was really a wonderful place. Once again, Thank you so much! Keep this going!

      Delete
  44. HI Richa,
    I think i have mentioned this before in a comment, but your page was my go to page while planning my solo trip to Bhutan. I got back the day before yesterday, and cant seem to get Bhutan out of my mind!
    I thought this would be a good time to add some of my experience here, as this blog is read by pretty much everyone going to Bhutan. A little update, if you will..
    Firstly, to quote you, 'once you are on the move things always start falling into place on their own' is completely true! A lot of my worries vanished on the road as I interacted with people around me instead of being buried in a lonely planet, or such, trip guide!.
    So here Goes :
    The journey to Jaigaon/Pheuntsholing by Road :
    To reach the bus station in siliguri, i took a prepaid taxi from the airport. I could have saved a couple of hundred bucks (as i did on my way back) by taking a rickshaw instead.
    I took a bus on both occasions, to and from Bhutan. As I was travelling alone, to travel by Bus was my obvious choice. I took an Indian Operator run bus from Siliguri’s Norgay bus stop, which cost me 120 Rs. It took me almost 6.5 hours to reach jaigaon as the bus stopped at sight of every possible passenger. It was fairly irritating, yet entertaining at times. I did the same journey in 3.5 hours flat on my way back, this time i opted for a Bhutan Government bus. Fare Rs.99, not midway stops, no crowding , only seated passengers, and very efficient timely service. And this stands true for all buses that run within Bhutan!
    The schedule of buses is available online here and is very accurate. The travel between cities is very comfortable because of this. I did have to pay for taxis in Thimphu and Paro for sightseeing as share taxis are not flexible and easily available at tourist spots.
    The Entry Permit :
    I reached Pheuntsholing around 6.30pm and after checking into the hotel, the receptionist told me that i could get a permit the same day. It turns out; the Visa office takes over the permit issuing duties and issues permits till 9.00pm. The whole process was quite simple and completed within an hour’s time and I was ready to travel to Thimphu.
    The ‘Single traveler’ issue:
    They do allow single travelers; they advice you not to travel alone for your own safety. You might be required to sign an undertaking of sorts, I was asked to give the details of my travel plan, the confirmations from a hotel if i had one. I did have one mail and sent the same to the officer. Done!
    The extension of permit and permit to visit Punakha from Thimphu :
    This is done fairly quickly (in an Hour actually) if you reach the office at 9.00 am when it opens. They make you sign a form and ask you to come back in an hour. Quite simple as compared to the bureaucracy of the Indian Govt. we are used to. And as you have mentioned, NO money required for all this.
    We do need to ensure that we submit these permits back at the check posts, and formally Exit from Bhutan on the way back. There’s a heavy fine for people failing to do this at the time of their exit from the country. It may come up the next time you visit the country.
    And based on my experience, you will definitely want to go back to this country of Happy People!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sonali for sharing all your experiences. This will help further travellers ! All the best ;)

      Delete
  45. Thanks Richa for this information ....I m going here on 4 june 2015

    ReplyDelete
  46. Good to read your article,Thanks for writing this blog and sharing good info on Bhutan.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Richa. Very informative blog. I was in Bhutan for 11 days this April. Loved the country, people, culture, breathtaking scenery. For any latest info about Bhutan, anyone is free to ask me.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hello Richa,
    Before reading your blog, I pretty much doubted my idea of travelling to this less travelled place as I had no idea where to start from. Now I do have a general idea of several issues discussed by you in your blog.Thank you for the amazing in depth insight :)
    But I still wanted to know whether it is compulsary for me to carry my voters id or passport if I am planning to visit pheuntsholing just for a day and return back to jaigaon? And do I need any kind of permits to do so?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for stopping by Rushik. If you want to go "only" to Phuentsholing- then no, no permits are required. Jaigon-Phuentsholing border is free and open in day-hours.

      Delete
  49. Can I procure permits from Mumbai prior to my travel? I am leaving on the 2nd of July many flight to bagdogra.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi Richa,

    Thanks to you and all other people who have posted and shared their views. Can you please suggest if I can cover Sikkim - Darjeeling - Bhutan in 10Nights.

    From 17th March till 27th March 2016. I will visit Bhutan first. Please suggest how many days are enough to visit Bhutan and then how many days will be sufficient to cover sight seeing/main attractions in Sikkim and Darjeeling.

    Thanks and Regards

    Abhishek

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you just want to touch-base then probably you can. But you need at least 1 week each to even say that you've been to Bhutan and Sikkim. Your plan is way too congested.

      Delete
  51. Hi Richa
    Myself Vinod Soni of Mirzapur Uttar Pradesh India
    Richa Please tell me the Hotel Teriff in INR of Paro and Thimphu.

    thanks

    Vinods
    vinodsonimzp@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sir, hotels are available from Rs. 600/ night to Rs. 70,000-80,000 a night.

      Delete
  52. i can imagine your travel experience along with your narration. thank you for sharing this post

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi Richa U have done a Commendable work & a service to all aspirants visiting BHUTAN . Bravo. Regards .Commander Vijay Gaur 09416121939/ 09416733833 ( whatsap). Kurukshetra

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Richa,

    Great blog... indeed i am planning to visit Bhutan during december this year. Although my plan is to take my Bike along with me for the touring purpose into Bhutan.

    If you have any idea if any special permit is required for the same. If yes where can i get vehicle permit.

    Thanks and regards

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ankit, this question has been answered several times above. Please go through the Q&A.

      Delete
  55. Hey Richa,

    Thank you so much for such an informative blog on Bhutan. We (my wife and myself) plan to travel to Bhutan in November first week, and this blog has helped us plan our trip. I have also contacted you through the Connect link above, pls do check and respond.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I am solo Indian Traveller. Can I get the permit na?
    Heard that single person doesnt get permit. at least there should be two.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Hi Richa,

    Thanks for this great post!

    I will be travelling to Bhutan this November. Will be landing at bagdogra at 3 10 pm. Plan to take a cab to Phuentsholing but may reach after 9 pm. Do you know at what time the border gate shuts? And if we aren't able to walk into phuentsholing after 9 pm, are there any hotels on the indian side of the border town? Thanks in advance. Robin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Robin, looks like you haven't read the article or comments below. Request you to please go through it, you will find all your answers and some very useful tips.

      Delete
  58. Thanks for some
    Important note to travel Bhutan

    ReplyDelete
  59. Golden post Richa..
    Fantastic travel blog
    Can u tell me how much the bhutan trip cost u...
    This helps me to plan my journey..
    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pavan, I spent about Rs. 35,000 for two of us for a 15 day trip and excluding Mumbai-Bagdogra return flight tickets. This includes budget accommodation, public transportation, a few private taxi rides, lots of good food.

      Delete
  60. Hi Richa,

    I would be travelling to Bhutan and entering via Phuentsholing. I understand the permit from Phuentsholing allows to visit Paro and Thimpu. However I wanted to confirm whether the permit allows entry to below places within Paro:
    1) Chele La, Paro
    2) Taksang Monestary (Tiger nest)
    3) Drukgyel Dzong
    4) Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong)

    Or would i require Route permit for the above places. Also since we are hiring bikes from Assam, any other permits required for bike?

    Thanks in advance
    Nikhil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nikhil, I am unsure of Chelela Pass, but for other three, you don't need Route Permit. For bikes- sorry, no idea.

      Delete
  61. Hello Richa,

    Ahhaa, what an excellent blog you have written, kudos to you. We are a group of college friends planning to visit bhutan in second week of april, Having an economical budget how many days you suggest to stay in Bhutan? Also what will be the approximate cost will be traveling through train from Kolkatta.
    Also share your email id so can get in touch with directly.

    Thanks,
    Deep Shah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deep! Well I would say 2 weeks minimum, but I know people who have squeezed it in 7 days. For costing, may be this will give you an idea: I travelled for 15 days (2 of us) in budget hotels, public transport, couple of taxi rides, ate well and spent Rs. 35,000 ex. Bagdogra. My contact details are mentioned above on the navigation tab!

      Delete
  62. Hi Richa
    Good blog. Learn lot. We two are planning to visit in first week of June. How would be that?
    1. What about hotels in Punakha?
    2. Is it possible to visit Punakha from staying at Thimphu I mean is it possible to visit Punakha if we leave Thimpu early and reach in mlate. What will be the hiring taxi charges of such one day travel from Thimpu to Punakha and back
    3. Similarly staying at Thimpu can we go to Paro and come back in one day and what will be the taxi charges.
    4. What are the cost of travelling by Buss within Bhutan I mean from Phunsholing to Thimpu. From Thimpu to Punakha. From Thimpu to Paro. Is it possible to come out from Gelefu becoz it will be near to Guwahati. We will start from Guwahati.

    Thanks
    Looking for your reply
    H. S. Gehlot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! Apologies for not being able to answer earlier. You might already be on your trip. But here are your answers:

      1. You can find them here: hotels.bt
      2. Yes, it costed about Rs. 2100 in year 2013.
      3. Yes, Similar to above.
      4. It costs roughly 180- 250 INR for long-distance buses. Sorry, I have no info on Gelefu.

      Delete
  63. Richa,

    Your blog is a gem! You have a very engaging and writing style... Love your stuff :-)
    I have mentioned few kind words about your blog in my latest post (On my blog). You might want to check!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Vivek! Really appreciate that. Will have a look at your blog. :)

      Delete
  64. Are immigration offices in Phuentsholing closed on weekends? We won't be able to issue permit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. It's clearly mentioned in the write up.

      Delete
  65. Hi Richa,
    The information is very precise and coherently put together.
    I am also travelling solo in september to Bhutan. How would you advise to travel between cities. If I wanted to reach Punakha from Thimpu and wanted to stop over at DochuLa, I'm guessing a taxi is the best option. But Won't that work out expensive? What options are available?

    Thanks for your wonderful work.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Hi,

    I like your blog for the coherence and crisp display of information.
    I am also travelling solo to Bhutan in september. could you advise me the option available to travel in through the smaller towns say to Phobjikha or Trongsa. Are there budget friendly options available?

    Thanks for all the information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aasiya!

      Thanks for stopping by. Here are your answers:

      a) Thimphu to Punakha with a stop over at Dochula- taxis are your only option. Buses also ply on this route but they would normally not stop at the pass. Else you can try hitchhiking.

      b) For Phobjikha or Trongsa, I am sorry but taxis are more reliable here too. Buses ply across Bhutan but with only one service a day or sometimes one service every 2-3 days in certain regions. It's best to find out these details from Thimphu bus terminal in Bhutan.

      Hope this helps.

      Delete
  67. Hi Richa ,
    Thanks for the information , I never knew we need to apply for permits in thimphu as well for restricted areas , how much does those permits cost and what about mobile phone network and internet connection needed for maps ?
    I am looking for bike tour so maps are a must .

    ReplyDelete
  68. How is the road condition from Phuentsholing to Paro.We are planning to drive our small car Spark.can you mail to aninditas_id@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. can i apply for Bhutan entry permit online?

    ReplyDelete
  70. Thanks for the awesome and informative posts. I am planning to drive Bangalore to Bhutan. How did you make the payments for permit,fuel, hotels, etc. INR ot BTN?

    ReplyDelete