How To Reach Bhutan

How to Reach Bhutan:

Air Travel:
The most convenient method to reach Bhutan is by air, with Paro International Airport being the sole international airport in the country, situated approximately 7 kilometers from the city. It offers connecting flights from cities like Mumbai and Guwahati and direct flights from locations such as Kolkata, Bagdogra International Airport, and Delhi. Additionally, direct flights from Nepal provide breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kangchenjunga. The flight from Paro to Thimpu takes about an hour, presenting a spectacular descent amidst the towering mountains. While Bhutan also has domestic airports like Gelephu and Yonphulla, operations at some, like Yonphulla and Bathpalanthag, have ceased. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the primary carriers, offering regular flights to destinations like Kolkata, Delhi, Dhaka, Kathmandu, and Bangkok.

Road Travel (Car/Bus):
For those inclined towards road trips, traveling to Bhutan by car is a popular choice. India shares three border points with Bhutan, with Phuentsholing being the preferred entry point due to its proximity to Bagdogra, West Bengal. From Phuentsholing, a scenic journey of about 5 to 6 hours leads to Thimpu. Alternatively, buses from Kolkata’s Esplanade Station offer direct routes to Phuentsholing, albeit with longer travel times. The roads offer diverse landscapes, from sub-tropical areas to alpine zones, making the journey as exhilarating as the destination itself.

How to Reach Bhutan:

Rail Travel:
Although Bhutan cannot be reached directly by train, travelers can disembark at stations like Siliguri, Hasimara, or New Alipurduar and proceed to Bhutan via taxi or bus, with Hasimara being a mere 17 kilometers from Phuentsholing.

Local Transportation in Bhutan:

Air:
Domestic air travel options within Bhutan are limited, with Druk Air offering scheduled flights from Paro to Bathpalathang. However, chartered helicopter flights operated by Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service are available for sightseeing purposes.

Taxi:
Taxis serve as the primary mode of transportation within Bhutan, readily available in major cities like Phuentsholing, Thimphu, and Paro. Although taxi fares typically have fixed rates for long-distance trips, drivers may occasionally overcharge, necessitating negotiation.

Bus:
While local buses are utilized for short-distance travel in Bhutan, their maintenance and comfort levels vary. Private operators offer more comfortable alternatives, albeit at a slightly higher cost. It’s worth noting that motion sickness can be a concern due to winding roads.

Car:
Driving your own car in Bhutan is possible with a 14-day permit obtained at the Phuentsholing border. However, the narrow and winding roads, coupled with strict traffic regulations, make it a challenging option.

Cycle/Bike:
Mountain biking enthusiasts can explore Bhutan’s terrain on two wheels, offering a unique way to experience the country’s landscapes.

Walking:
Exploring Bhutan’s cities on foot is highly recommended, especially since some nearby villages lack road access, necessitating travel by foot.

1. Do I need a visa to visit Bhutan?

Indian citizens do not require a visa to travel to Bhutan. However, they need to carry a valid Indian passport or a Voter Identity Card and obtain an Entry Permit from the Immigration Office of the Royal Government of Bhutan at Phuentsholing. This permit allows visits to Paro and Thimphu. Special Area Permits are required for visiting other places in Bhutan and can be obtained from the Immigration Office in Thimphu.

2. What are the transportation options within Bhutan?

Transportation within Bhutan primarily consists of taxis, buses, and private vehicles. Taxis are readily available in major cities, while buses serve local routes. Private vehicles can be rented, but driving your own car requires a permit and adherence to strict traffic regulations. Walking is also a popular way to explore cities and nearby villages.

3. How long does it take to travel from India to Bhutan by road?

The journey from India to Bhutan by road varies depending on the entry point. Phuentsholing, the main border crossing, is approximately 170 kilometers from Bagdogra in West Bengal. Travel time from Phuentsholing to Thimphu is around 5 to 6 hours by road.

4. Are there direct flights to Bhutan from international destinations?

Yes, there are direct flights to Bhutan from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, and Bangkok. Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan and serves as the primary entry point for international travelers.

5. Is it safe to drive in Bhutan?

Driving in Bhutan can be challenging due to narrow, winding roads with hairpin bends. While it’s possible to drive your own car with a permit, it’s recommended for experienced drivers only. Alternatively, taxis and buses are safer options for getting around within Bhutan.

6. Can I use public transportation to travel between cities in Bhutan?

Yes, public buses operate between major cities like Thimphu, Paro, and Phuentsholing. However, private operators also offer more comfortable options for intercity travel. Additionally, taxis are available for hire for longer distances.

7. What are the highlights of traveling to Bhutan by air?

Traveling to Bhutan by air offers stunning views of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kangchenjunga. The descent into Paro International Airport is particularly spectacular, with close views of mountain peaks.

8. Can I bring my own bicycle or motorcycle to Bhutan?

Yes, you can bring your own bicycle or motorcycle to Bhutan. However, ensure that you have the necessary permits and documentation for entry. Cycling and mountain biking are popular activities in Bhutan, offering unique ways to explore the country’s landscapes.

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