Bhutan Travel Information
Getting to Bhutan:
The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you soar higher up, you can enjoy the spectacular display of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu und Kangchenjunga at their best.
There is one national airline and one Nepal Airline called Buddha airline that flies to Bhutan. Across Himalaya tours & travel will provide your all the necessary travel related armaments as per your convenience.
Buddha Air services:
Beginning August 2010, a new commercial flight entered Bhutan. Known as the Buddha Airlines, it has now begun operation between Kathmandu, Nepal and Paro, Bhutan. It is currently run on an 18-seater, twin propelled aircraft. The fares are relatively lower as compared to the fares charged by Druk Air and currently operate four flights a week which it plans to go daily with the full flow of tourists visiting Bhutan. It has also plans to link Paro airport with the Indian cities of Bagdogra, Guwahati and Kolkatta in India and even Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Travel by Land:
Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border areas open for international tourists. The town of Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your journey then begins its mountainous climb through endless turns and hair-pin bends till you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The travel time for the 176 km stretch can be more than 6 hours.
Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three Districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.
Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest District in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangde Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.
You will be endorsed by the immigration officers upon your arrival before you are issued with a permit. Make sure you go personally. You may have to carry your passport (also some passport photographs) or voter’s registration card. If you plan to travel by road, the endorsement is done at the entry points in Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu. If by flight, you will enter from the Paro Airport.
Bhutan Visas are initially granted for stays of up to 14 Days. Visa applications for all tourists are processed by the travel/tour agent through the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB). Only once the visa has been cleared can visitors travel to Bhutan. The Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) can apply for an extension of tourist visas for an additional fee per person. Visas are issued (stamped in passport) on arrival at Paro Airport or at Phuentsholing check post. Visa clearance takes at least 10 days to process and should be applied for at least 60 days prior to arrival in Bhutan.
Please note that visas are only issued to tourists once the trip is booked with full payment and will be stamped in your passport on payment of US$ 20 at the point of entry. Please note that air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance.