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Bhutan Entry Permit – All You Need To Know

Bhutan Entry Permit

Presently, for citizens of India, Bangladesh & Maldives, which are collectively referred to as Regional Tourists, don’t need Visa to visit Bhutan, but various Permits are required to visit various regions. And with the current trend of visiting Bhutan amongst regional tourists increasing at an alarming rate, I notice that there are lots of confusions and various queries coming up with the Bhutan’s Permit System. I hope this article will answer all their queries in a simplified manner covering each and every minute details.

First of all, there are two kinds of Permits

  • Entry Permit
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP)

Entry Permit : You need to obtain Entry Permit while entering Bhutan and is only valid for travelling up to or within Thimphu and Paro. Entry Permit can be obtained at 3 designated places.

  • Bhutan Consulate, Kolkata : If you are from Kolkata, you may apply for Entry Permit at Kolkata Bhutan Consulate around 3 months in advance to get the permit in advance. Kolkata Immigration Office has stopped issuing permits. This option is no more valid.
  • Border Immigration Office : This is the most common way of entering Bhutan and thus Border Immigration Offices faces huge rush during peak season and long holidays. Please note that Border Immigration Office is closed on Weekends and on Bhutan Govt. Holidays. On weekdays they work from 9 AM – 5 PM with a break of one hour (1PM – 2PM) for Lunch.
  • Paro Airport : Immigration Office at Paro Airport all days irrespective of weekends and holidays. So if you are planning to enter Bhutan on weekends or govt. holidays and you can afford the flight to Paro, this is your best option.
  • Online Permit : E-Permit is not accessible to the public as of now, and you must reach out to local Authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators to get it arranged for you in advance. But if you are opting for Online Permit, you must mandatorily book the whole package (Hotels, Vehicle and Tour Guide) through them as they need to furnish those details while filling up the form.

NOTE : Bhutan Govt. is now stricter about the permits. So please make sure your documentation is correct and in order before approaching the Immigration Office and wasting your time trying out luck.

I’ll brief about each of the processes below :

Border Immigration Office : Amongst all the border entry points, Jaigaon – Phuentsholing is most commonly used. Jaigaon is the Indian bordering town whereas Phuentsholing is the Bhutan bordering town. You are allowed to stay at Phuentsholing without permits. So if you are planning to reach on a Sunday, instead of chaotic and dirty Jaigaon, stay at Phuentsholing instead for a pleasant experience. Immigration Office is beside Druk hotel around 100 – 200 meters from Bhutan Gate. Immigration Offices are closed on Weekends and Bhutan Govt. Holidays. On weekdays they work from 9AM – 5PM with a break of one hour (1PM – 2PM) for Lunch.

Below are the items you need to submit (in exact same order) :

(i) Itinerary – Write your whole itinerary in a white paper. Example –

25th Feb 2020 : P/Soling – Thimphu

26th Feb 2020 : Thimphu Sightseeing

27th Feb 2020 : Thimphu – Paro

(ii) Hotel Booking Receipts : You must mandatorily submit hotel booking receipts of Thimphu and Paro in hotel’s official letterhead. They do accept booking receipts of a few selected online portals.

(iii) Entry Permit : Duly filled and signed

(iv) Photocopy of Voter ID Card / Passport (For Adults) OR Birth Certificate (For Childs)

(v) Passport Size Photo.

Staple (iii), (iv) & (v) together for each member and staple (i) and (ii) in front of the bunch.

The main gate opens at around 8:00 – 8:30 AM and they start accepting documents from 9:00 AM onwards. During peak season or a long weekend, keep enough time in hand, as after the introduction of biometrics the process takes much longer than before. Also, don’t underestimate the time required for the process. On my last trip during Christmas – New Year, around 500 tourists couldn’t procure permits. They had their hotel bookings accordingly, and I still get scared when I think what they might have gone through due to change in their plans. During peak season, it’d be impossible to manage a room at most hotels due to the change of your plan overnight. So if you are visiting during such period, make sure to go and stand in a queue as early as possible. And make sure your documents are absolutely correct.

Also, I noticed one issue, is that the queue outside Main Gate is not actually followed. Once the gate opens at 8:00 AM  / 8:30 AM, people just rush towards the counter. And the queue that forms there at the counter is what is actually followed. So be prepared for the same and get there early and be the first one to be in front of the gate.

First, you need to submit the documents (as mentioned above) to the Immigration Officials. And after the first round of verification, they will accept the documents. Again, Immigration Officials are very strict about the documentation and you need to follow exactly what’s mentioned above. They bugged off a lot of tourists standing in front of me for not having the Itinerary written on white paper. So don’t underestimate any of the points mentioned above. You’ll be called serially based on the forms accepted for the biometrics. Once you are called you need to go upstairs and stand in a queue of Biometric Counters. There are few counters towards the Exit for issuing the permits. So please make sure not to stand on those queues.

Once you are done for the biometrics you need to wait till your Entry Permits are printed and handed over to you from the counters towards the Exit.

Throughout the process, only one member of the group needs to stand in the queue. During biometrics, everyone should be present in the room as everyone will be called serially as per the group lead standing in the queue. Now during peak season, this whole process can eat up your whole day depending on the number of persons standing in front of the queue. As most people standing in front of the queue will seldom be a Solo Traveller. Also not to forget the Bengal based tour operators who will be there to submit a bunch of 50 – 100 forms at once.

NOTE : TCB prefers family, thus Solo Travellers / Unrelated Group of friends / Single Groups are prone to more questions. But if your documentation is correct and in order, they won’t deny your permit.

Paro Airport : Immigration Counter at Paro Airport works on all days irrespective of weekends and holidays. So if you can afford a flight to Paro and planning to reach on a Weekend or Govt. Holiday, this is your best bet. Presently only two carriers i.e. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines (Also known as Tashi Airlines) that flies to Bhutan. Both being Bhutanese carriers are not available at Online Flight Booking websites such as MakeMyTrip / Goibibo etc. These can only be booked from their official websites only. Documentation procedures are same as of Border Immigration Office but a bit less strict.

Online Permit : As mentioned above, Online Permit (E-Permit) is not accessible to the public. So you cannot apply for a permit in advance on your own. Instead, you need to reach out to Authorized Tour Operators of Bhutan for the same. You need to mandatorily book all the Hotels, Vehicle (for throughout your trip) and Tour Guide through them as they mandatorily need to furnish those details while filling up your form online. So in simple words, if you are a budget traveller and planning to travel on your own with a limited budget, Online Permit is not going to work out for you. Because due to restrictions from TCB, authorized tour operators of Bhutan are not allowed to deal with anything below 3* hotels. They must mandatorily offer you a private vehicle at your disposal and a full-time tour guide for the whole trip. So again, this option is not feasible for anyone on a budget trip.

Documents (For Entry Permit) : Only Voter ID Card OR Passport is accepted for adults. For kids below 18 Years, Birth Certificate in English is mandatory. Both adults and children require 2 passport size colour photographs.

Identification Slip : If you do not have either of Passport / Voter ID Card, then you must first visit Indian Consulate, P/Soling to get an Identification Slip with two of the whatever documents you have (Aadhaar Card / Pan Card / Driving License / Ration Card) along with Passport Size Photo to prove your nationality and obtain an Identification Slip and then visit Immigration Office to get Entry Permit with the Identification Slip provided by Indian Consulate.

ILP (Inner Line Permit) : Entry Permit is only valid for travel up to or within Thimphu and Paro District. If you want to travel anywhere beyond Thimphu and Paro Dzongkhag (district), such as Haa, Punakha, Phobjikha / Gangtey etc., you must apply for ILP at Thimphu Immigration Office (if entering from P/Soling). Thimphu Immigration Office works on Weekdays from 9AM – 5PM with a lunch break of 1 Hour (1PM – 2PM) and is closed on Weekends and Govt. Holidays. Here you just need to provide a photocopy of Entry Permits to obtain the ILP.

Extension Permit : If the number of days allowed by Immigration Officer, initially, while issuing Entry Permit is not sufficient, you need to get an Extension Permit (for the extra required number of days) from Thimphu Immigration Office.

Timing : All the Immigration Offices works on weekdays from 9AM – 5PM BST with a lunch break of 1 Hour (1PM – 2PM). All the Immigration Offices are closed on Weekends and Bhutan Govt. Holidays. Immigration Counter at Paro Airport is the only exception to the above which works on all days. Please note that BST is +6:00 from GMT and 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST).

Currency : Ngultrum or Nu. (in short) is the official currency of Bhutan and in par with INR. However, INR is accepted throughout Bhutan. So in case you are an Indian and visiting Bhutan with INR, there’s no need to convert, however, you’ll get returns in Nu. mostly. However, if anyone wants to exchange, there are lots of options available at P/Soling, Thimphu and Paro. Although theoretically denominations of Rs. 500/- and Rs. 2000/- are not accepted, however practically they are broadly accepted within P/Soling, Thimphu and Paro. But if you are planning to go beyond these regions, better save the returns you get in Nu. in these towns or use denominations of up to Rs. 100/- as shops and hotels at remote regions are not really keen on accepting Rs. 500/- and Rs. 2000/- with some exceptions.

NOTE : If you are not a citizen of India / Bangladesh / Maldives then you cannot visit Bhutan on your own and you must plan your whole trip through an authorized Bhutanese Tour Operator. Please note that, even if you are an NRI and do not hold Indian Passport OR Voter ID Card, then also this rule is applicable for you and you cannot visit Bhutan on your own. Please check Minimum Daily Package for details.

Solo Travellers : Although Bhutan is safe for both Solo Male and Female travellers, however, Bhutan really discourages Solo Travel. However, you won’t be denied entry, if you have proper documentation mentioned above. It’s best to know that though there are no such theoretical rules, but Solo Travelers are prone to more stricter verification based on his/her luck. Also, you should know that the Immigration Officer might ask for an authorization letter in writing stating that, in case something happens, Bhutan Govt. won’t be responsible.

Vehicle Permit : If you are planning to drive your own vehicle then you need to apply for Vehicle Permit at P/Soling RSTA in additional to Entry Permit. There you’d need to submit Entry Permit, Driving License and Vehicle Documents. If you are planning to hire and drive rental vehicles or from someone else (nor your own vehicle) then you have to submit authorization letter too. They would charge Rs. 200/- for the permit.

Vehicle papers that you need to submit are: Registration Certificate, Insurance Paper, Pollution Control Certificate, Driving License and Entry Permit. Also, an Authorisation Letter if the vehicle is not owned by you.

NOTE : Please get accustomed with hilly driving rules which are very different at plains. Additionally, Bhutan has few different policies like No Honking, so make sure to get accustomed with the same else you might get heavily fined (although there’s not much traffic police except Thimphu).

UPDATE (Jan 2020) : Entry Fees to various monuments and Dzongs have been revised.

Bhutan Entry Fee 2020

You might like to go through the detailed post if you are Planning A Trip To Bhutan.

In case you’d like to go through every minute details and get an idea of various costs associated with a Trip To Bhutan, you may please go through my Trip Reports.

Trip Reports :
Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon
Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around
Journey To Phobjika via Dochula
The Most Historic Dzongkhag – Bumthang
The Old Capital – Punakha
Exploring Paro, Haa and Chele La Pass
Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang
Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom

About Author

Hi, I'm born and bought up in Kolkata in the midst of what bongs are best known for - Eating, Sleeping and Travelling. A developer by profession and a traveller by passion. As I was facing a lack of budget-friendly information on the internet while planning my travel, I started drafting my travel experiences here to help you all having a pocket-friendly smooth travel experience.

89 Comments

  • Chetan Thote
    October 12, 2017 at 5:30 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    I have already booked my tickets from Mumbai to bagdogra for 9th November. but now i saw that its a holiday on 10th Nov in Bhutan. is there any way to get the permit beforehead or could you suggest any other option.

    Regards,
    Chetan

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 13, 2017 at 9:16 AM

      Hi Chetan, Only way to get the permit in advance is via e-Permit. However Online Permit (e-Permit) is not accessible to public and can only be accessed by authorized tour operators and hotels of Bhutan. So you need to get in touch with one of the tour operators if you want to process your permit in advance.

      However, there’s one catch, you must mandatorily hire a Tour Guide from them as they need to furnish those details while filling up the form online. Also as per recent rules, you must book all the hotels and if you are processing e-Permit then you have to book your hotels through them. Now the issue is, Bhutanese Tour Operators are not allowed to deal with anything below Standard Hotels as per direction from TCB. So if your plan was to stay in Budget Hotels then your cost would be increased significantly.

      Reply
  • Ujwal
    November 27, 2017 at 12:51 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    Thanks for the useful information. We are travelling to Bhutan on 4th December. Halting in Phuentsholing on 4th and getting permit on 5th December. I see that you have mentioned we need to book Hotels in advance to get permit. Could you please advise whether this is mandatory for Indian citizens also and how to book the hotels (online/offline)?
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 29, 2017 at 9:13 PM

      HI Ujwal, Yes it’s mandatory for Indian Citizens. The rule is to book all hotels throughout the trip. But however depending on your luck if you come accross a good immigration officer he/she might let you go with just one night’s booking of your next immidiate destination (i.e. Thimphu / Paro).

      But again, this depends on your luck. Rule is to book all hotels throughout your trip.

      So if you don’t want to try your luck, best is to book hotels in advance.

      Reply
  • Aditya Sinkar
    February 8, 2018 at 10:57 AM

    Dear Krishnandu,

    Thank you for sharing the valuable information on Bhutan permit.

    In your log, you mentioned that immigration officer accept hotel booking done through online portal. I have couple of queries on this part:
    1. Do they accept booking done through online portal, makemytrip?
    2. Online portal is not showing hotels in inner parts of Bhutan such as Throngsa, Bumthang etc. Is there any other way I can book hotels for these area?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 12, 2018 at 7:45 AM

      Hi Aditya,

      1. Yes I noticed them accepting booking reciept of MakeMyTrip.

      2. Well, frankly speaking, Bhutan preserves their culture and is not according to the current trends. Still due to influx of tourists, various hotels around Thimphu, Paro, Punakha tied up with several online portals due to ease of doing business. But as you move further towards eastern side, you have to rely on booking your rooms on old fashioned manner. Like calling them and booking directly.

      You’ll find the list of TCB authorized hotels at https://www.hotel.bt/

      Reply
  • Debayan Gupta
    April 25, 2018 at 1:23 PM

    Dear Krishnandu,

    Really informative piece you have written.Thanks.

    Me & my wife are going to Bhutan in May 2018 as per the following itinerary-

    09th May: Reaching Hasimara by Train & To Reach P’ling.If possible try to obtain the permit that day.
    10Th May: P’Ling to Thimphu.
    11th May: Thimphu.
    12th May:Thimphu to Phubjika.
    13th May:Phubjika to Punaka
    14th May:Punakha to Haa.
    15th May: Haa to Paro.
    16th May:Paro
    17th May:Paro to Hasimara.

    As you have mentioned in your blog,that itinerary is to be written on white paper and hotel booking vouchers are also to be produced in order to get the entry permit,my queries tou you are as follows-

    1.What is the itinerary that I need to write on the white paper?Is it the full one or something else?As P’ling immigration office only issues permits for Thimphu & Paro,it is confusing me.
    2.Do I need to produce the hotel booking vouchers for all the places or only for thimphu or for both Thimphu & Paro?I know,you have faced this question many times and also saw your answer.I am just curious if you have got any update as I believe you have visited Bhutan recently again.
    3.I have gone through comments on one of your posts concerning Bhutan where one of the commenters has stated that they have utilized online e permit facility instead of not engaging TCB registered travel agents i.e not paying the minimum daily tariff or employing a travel guide etc.Is it legal? If possible,can you enlighten me?
    4.As of now,is there any provision that one can enter through P’ling and exit through Samdrup Jongkhar/Gelephu?

    Looking forward to your valued reply.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 9, 2018 at 11:31 PM

      Hi Debayan,
      First of all sorry for replying a bit late. I was out for a trip throughout last week with limited connectivity.

      I think I have made it too late, as it seems you are already in Bhutan. Still I’d go by your points, as you’d get an notification in your Email and it might help you if you still have any gaps.

      1. Exactly the one you written above.

      2. Vouchers Thimphu and Paro would do.

      3. Well that’s two different things. Minimum Daily Tariff is for Foreigners except citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives. If you want to opt for e-Permit you have to go via authorized tour operator only, however as an Indian you’d be paying in actuals instead of minimum daily tariff. However due to set rules and regulations by TCB, authorized tour operator can only deal with on and above Standard / 3* hotels. Also it’s mandatory to hire a tour guide. So if you are looking for a budget tour, it’d not be possible with them.

      4. Yes deinitely. You just need to mention that in your Entry Permit form.

      Reply
  • Dipti
    May 3, 2018 at 4:24 PM

    I have recently went to Bhutan and it was a amazing trip. And I wanted to thank you because your blog was a great help in planning the trip. After reading about Bumthang from your blog we decided to include that in our itinerary and I would have regretted if it was missed. So thanks a lot for the help.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 9, 2018 at 11:26 PM

      Hi Dipti,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked my blog 🙂

      I’m glad that my blog helped you enjoy your trip 🙂

      Reply
  • Anonymous
    August 10, 2018 at 4:59 PM

    3.5

    Reply
  • ASHISH
    November 12, 2018 at 9:22 AM

    Regarding the list of documents to be submitted.

    Is this the way to arrange the bunch for each person in the family.

    1. Itenary
    2. Booking Receipts
    3. Permit Form
    4. Passport photocopy. Color or blackwhite ? and how many copies to be attached 1 or 2 ?
    5. Passport size photo. to be pasted in the form or just need to staple ?

    Or is it this way

    1. Itenary – 1 set
    2. Booking Receipts – 1 set

    And below set for each family member one by one.

    3. Permit Form
    4. Passport photocopy.
    5. Passport size photo.

    I am asking this just to be sure and prepared with the documentation in advance and to avoid any last minute surprises.

    will the officials send me out of queue to just make any minor reasons/changes in documentation ?

    Will I have to stand again in queue to submit the docs or can I jump the queue the 2nd time.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 12, 2018 at 7:50 PM

      Hi Ashish, You got it perfectly right. You need to arrange it like below

      1. Itenary – 1 set
      2. Booking Receipts – 1 set

      And below set for each family member one by one.
      3. Permit Form
      4. Passport photocopy
      5. Passport size photo (Colour)

      Staple 3, 4, 5 together for every member and staple the whole set with 1 and 2 again.

      Yes for any mistakes they will ask you to leave the queue and come back again after fixing the mistakes. But yes you won’t be allowed to jump in again in the queue. Specially during peak season no one will allow that.

      That means in such case, you’d even miss getting the permits that day if you have to stand in the end of the queue again during peak season. Which would result in shift in itineraries and wastage of huge money.

      Reply
  • Tarun
    November 14, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    Are online hotel tickets from Make My Trip accepted at the immigration office?

    Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 23, 2018 at 11:13 AM

    Hi Krishnandu
    I am planning to visit Bhutan for 10 days in May 2019, solo travel and would fly to Paro and then start the journey
    I am thinking of hiring a small car for the trip, I have received quote of 3000 rs per day for wagon R, please suggest is it reasonable
    and also advise decent hotels to stay
    I would like to follow your given itinerary of 12 days (Thimphu , Phobjika, Bumthang, Punakha, Paro, Haa )
    Also is it advised if I hire car and hotel bookings from separate persons as prices quoted are not looking competitive
    I am also interested in rafting , what is your advise on it

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 23, 2018 at 11:25 AM

      Hi Abhishek, Well May is peak season, so defintiely the prices will be up than what I have got for. Now, as you are flying to Paro, if you are hiring the vehicle and booking the hotels from a Bhutanese Tour Operator, they would quote higher, due to their minimum standards they need to maintain because of their TCB. In that case it really doesn’t matter if you book hotel and vehicle from different vendor. As most of them would offer you same price with little bit of difference. As they don’t have much scope to play with the prices.

      However if you are booking from a Jaigaon based (i.e. Indian) vendor, then the quotes will be lower than that of Bhutanese Travel Agents, however you should also mind that if you are looking for quality then you should definitely go ahead with Bhutanese Tour Operators. As due to TCB they need to maintain certain standards, due to which they are unable to lower the rate to match that of Indian Operators.

      However Indian Operators do not have such rule, and in that case, you have to check out the reviews before fixing on a specific one. Also personally I don’t feel there’s much of a difference if you book hotel and vehicle through different operators, as it really doesn’t makes much sense to them. Infact booking the whole package might buy you some discount, however booking seperately will defintiely make them stick to their actual prices due to low margins.

      I hope you got your point.

      Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 23, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    Thanks Krish, I asked for quote from Indian operator but will check with Bhutanese operator also
    What hotels you recommend for the places I visit (Delux) and also for Rafting

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 23, 2018 at 12:01 PM

      Hi Abhishek, If you are looking for Delux hotels I’d recommend trying out a Bhutanese Operator. I along with a lots of people have good experiences with Heavenly Bhutan. You may check with them.

      I being a Budget Traveller have not much idea on Delux Segment 😛 Sorry, won’t be able to help there.

      Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 23, 2018 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks Kris

    Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 23, 2018 at 3:27 PM

    Hi Kris Just finished with your blog, it was real nicely done and pics posted were great…
    Please suggest me itinerary for around 10 days in May 2019, will travel solo with exclusive vehicle

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 23, 2018 at 7:09 PM

      Hi Abhishek, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      Please let me know your Entry and Exit points to help me suggest an itinerary for you.

      Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 23, 2018 at 7:16 PM

    Hi it is Paro Airport

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 23, 2018 at 8:48 PM

      Day 1 : Arrive Paro & Move To Thimphu
      Day 2 ; Thimphu Sightseeing
      Day 3 : Thimphu – Phobjika & Phobjika Sightseeing
      Day 4 : Phobjika – Bumthang
      Day 5 : Bumthang Sightseeing
      Day 6 : Bumthang – Punakha
      Day 7 : Punakha Sightseeing & Punakha – Paro
      Day 8 : Paro Sightseeing
      Day 9 : Hike To Tiger’s Nest / Day Trip To Haa Valley
      Day 10 : Deperture

      Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 24, 2018 at 6:43 PM

    Hi Krish – you wrote earlier that Phobjika has no sightseeing, should it be removed…
    also will I be able to cover both of them comfortably in same day (Hike To Tiger’s Nest / Day Trip To Haa Valley)

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 24, 2018 at 8:28 PM

      Hi Abhishek, Well Phobjika has 2 Goempa’s which you can easily give a miss however it’s famous for rare species of birds i.e. Black Necked Cranes. However that’s only during the winters. So if you are visiting during May, you won’t be able to experience that. However you can’t go to Bumthang in a day, it’s a long drive. So if you remove Phobjika you have to stay atleast at Punakha and the distance from Punakha is more than that of Phobjika.

      No that’s OR sign, as you are shortage with 1 day, You can do only either of them. Or else if possible add a day to your itinerary and split them. However keep the Tiger’s Nest in the end in that case.

      Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 24, 2018 at 6:43 PM

    Hi Krish – you wrote earlier that Phobjika has no sightseeing, should it be removed…
    also will I be able to cover both of them comfortably in same day (Hike To Tiger’s Nest / Day Trip To Haa Valley)

    Reply
  • Abhishek Singh parihar
    November 25, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    Thanks Krish

    Reply
  • bharat shah
    December 3, 2018 at 2:20 PM

    Dear Krish,
    As you stated, hotel booking confirmation through MMT is accepted. What about hotel booking confirmation through other sites, viz: Agoda.com, Expedia, etc.? thanks for guidance.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 6, 2018 at 10:29 AM

      Hi Mr Bharat, It’s still not known. Previously they didn’t used to accept online booking vouchers, only confirmation letter on hotel’s official letterhead was accepted. But from last year they are accepting MMT also.

      No idea if they would accept confirmation vouchers from other hotel booking websites.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        December 9, 2018 at 12:40 PM

        thank you. one more question on this subject. In case we get our hotel bookings through India side agent, will they provide us the confirmation letter on hotel’s official letterheads for the respective hotels for submission to the immigration people for entry permits? Should we insist for them along with their receipt of total cost of hotels and vehicle? When are they issuing ? I just ask as you have experience of such booking. bharat shah

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          December 10, 2018 at 9:47 PM

          Well in case you are booking through a reputed agent, they will take care of all the permit related issues. You just need to be present in person as and when they informs you.

          As this is a business for them, they have their hold inside, and they does all the process for you. You just need to be there for fingerprints 🙂

          Reply
          • bharat shah
            December 11, 2018 at 9:18 AM

            thank you very much for your clear-cut reply in the matter. -bharat shah

            Reply
  • ASHISH PILLAI
    December 9, 2018 at 1:26 PM

    Thanks krishnandu for the information that you gave through this forum.
    We have completed our Bhutan trip and everything went smooth.
    I kept all documents as suggested by you and got my permit easily in 30 minutes
    Also got my permit extension and route permit for punakha from Thimphu immigration office. It was also easy process.
    I would suggest everyone to print the forms and fill it before reaching the place so that you can save time there by not having to search for forms in shops near the immigration office. I have uploaded forms and sample itenary here.
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YkYxrZCPNOIZ1UJCnLwfEAsW2tRKkI5N?usp=sharing
    Bhutan is a very nice and picturesque place.

    Reply
    • bharat shah
      December 9, 2018 at 10:39 PM

      @ASHISH PILLAI , Thank you for your advice about keeping forms printed and filled in. Will you advise: 1.on which size of paper the forms should be printed? 2. which fonts and size of fonts should be used? 3. such printed forms should be filled in by ink pen, or be filled in through printer? 4. How did you book hotels? through online sites or through agents? brief details of your arrangements of hotels and transport would be helpful to me. —–bharat shah

      Reply
      • ASHISH PILLAI
        December 10, 2018 at 11:24 AM

        PFB answers below.
        1.on which size of paper the forms should be printed?

        A4 size paper

        2. which fonts and size of fonts should be used?

        Forms are in pdf just take print no need to change fonts.

        3. such printed forms should be filled in by ink pen, or be filled in through printer?

        Can be filled with ball pen.

        4. How did you book hotels? through online sites or through agents? brief details of your arrangements of hotels and transport would be helpful to me.

        I Booked hotels through makemytrip.
        Took printouts of mmt booking confirmation
        Then contacted paro and thimphu hotel reception via email and WhatsApp.
        They sent me the booking confirmation in their letter head via email. I took colour print of that also.

        I arranged the document set in this order as told by krishnandu.
        1. Printed itenary I have uploaded in gdrive
        2. Paro and thimphu booking confirmation from hotel first and then mmt
        Then Below set of docs for each member in my group.
        3. Filled form with photo pasted in top left side
        4 passport xerox.

        Reply
        • bharat shah
          December 10, 2018 at 11:45 AM

          THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR GUIDING REPLY. -BHARAT SHAH

          Reply
        • bharat shah
          December 10, 2018 at 1:50 PM

          @ASHISH PILLAI Will you please share your transport arrangement during the tour and your experience for the same? thanks.

          Reply
          • Ashish
            December 11, 2018 at 8:48 AM

            Pheuntsholing to paro
            Coaster bus from Pheuntsholing bus station
            650 for 3 people

            Taxi for tigersnest 800
            Paro sight seeing
            On foot and taxi 400

            Paro to thimphu
            165 for 3 in bus.

            Thimphu sight seeing 1 day
            2000

            Thimphu to punakha sight seeing and back to thimphu
            2500

            Thimphu to Pheuntsholing
            650 for 3 in bus

            I think public transport is good and comfortable in Bhutan.

            Our taxi driver namgay was very nicely behaved and drove slowly. So we hired him for punakha and thimphu. You can call him when u reach there.
            Namgay driver thimphu
            +97517577611

            Reply
            • bharat shah
              December 11, 2018 at 9:15 AM

              @Ashish
              thank you very much for information provided. it will be great help to us for our tour in APRIL-MAY 19.— BHARAT SHAH

              Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 10, 2018 at 9:46 PM

      Thanks a lot Ashish Ji for sharing your experiences 🙂

      I’m glad that I and my travelogue have been benificial for your tour 🙂

      Reply
    • SANDEEP SENGUPTA
      April 20, 2019 at 1:48 PM

      Thanks a lot Ashish! Will use them for my upcoming road trip to Paro.

      Reply
  • Saurabh
    December 24, 2018 at 10:44 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    First of all, thanks a lot for sharing your experiences and insights about Bhutan (and other places) too. Really appreciate it.
    I am planning a family (of 4) tour of Bhutan (6 N / 7 D) road trip with a halt at Sikkim (additional 1 or 2 night stay, after landing at Bagdogra airport), en route Bhutan. I would like to get your expert advice on –
    1. What itinerary should I plan for Sikkim stay?
    2. What itinerary should I plan for Bhutan stay?
    3. Is Phobjikha Valley worth to visit?
    4. If I have to reduce my trip by 1 night, which place to give a miss?

    Thanks in advance for your inputs and guidance.

    Saurabh

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 24, 2018 at 11:06 AM

      Hi Saurabh,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      1 & 2 :
      Well you can do it like…
      Day 1 : IXB – Gangtok
      Day 2 : Gangtok Sightseeing
      Day 3 : Gangtok – P/Soling
      Day 4 : P/Soling – Thimphu
      Day 5 : Thimphu Sightseeing
      Day 6 : Thimphu – Punakha & Punakha Sightseeing
      Day 7 : Punakha – Paro & Paro Sightseeing
      Day 8 : Hike To Tiger’s Nest
      Day 9 : Paro – P/Soling
      Day 10 : P/Soling – IXB

      3. It depends when you are planning to visit?

      4. This is very confusing like this to suggest an itinerary. Please let me know exact number of days you can afford and which places you want to cover. Accordingly I can suggest. I’d recommend leaving out Sikkim as of now, as you won’t be able to cover Sikkim with just 2 Nights, not even Gangtok fully.

      Reply
      • saurabh
        December 24, 2018 at 11:23 AM

        Thanks for a quick reply. I plan to visit in first week of May 2019, and can spend max of 9 days, 10 nights for this trip.
        I am more interested in places that are more of natural stuff than man made stuff… though, few places that I really want to visit are must-visit monasteries (e.g. Tiger’s Nest, may be some off-beat places (Haa? Bumthangin?) Bhutan) and Changu-lake in Sikkim.
        Since I would be coming to the East for the first time, thinking to cover best of Sikkim and Bhutan.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          December 24, 2018 at 7:43 PM

          Hi Saurabh, I hope you mean 9N/10D.

          Well 9N/10D is not enough to cover both Bhutan and Sikkim. Both of them have lots of places, even it’s not enough to cover a single destination.

          However as you said you are not interested in man made stuffs then you may do it like…

          Day 1 : IXB – Gangtok
          Day 2 : Day Trip To Tsomgo Lake – Baba Mandir – Nathula Pass (Must not be Mon / Tue)
          Day 3 : Gangtok – P/Soling
          Day 4 : P/Soling – Thimphu (Must be a weekday)
          Day 5 : Thimphu Sightseeing
          Day 6 : Thimphu – Punakha & Punakha Sightseeing
          Day 7 : Punakha – Paro & Paro Sightseeing
          Day 8 : Hike To Tiger’s Nest
          Day 9 : Paro – P/Soling
          Day 10 : P/Soling – IXB

          Reply
          • Saurabh
            December 26, 2018 at 3:42 PM

            thanks a lot Krishnandu. Must appreciate all your insights.

            Reply
  • RAGHAV SRIDHAR
    December 27, 2018 at 11:36 PM

    hi sir
    will may 2019 be a good time to visit bhutan
    and at immigration will they accept mmt print out

    i will be visiting bhutan with my 1 friend

    Reply
    • ASHISH
      December 30, 2018 at 4:50 PM

      I have given MMT printout and Hotel confirmation on their letter head to be on safe side.
      I contacted the hotel via watsapp and email and they sent me the confirmation on their letter heads. I took color print out of that.
      https://planmytrip1.wordpress.com/bhutan_trip/

      Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 5, 2019 at 1:28 PM

      Yes May 2019 is a good time to visit Bhutan. Yes MMT booking vouchers are acceptable at Immigration.

      However I’d recommend to call up / mail the hotel directly and check your booking status after doing it from MMT. As most hotels in Bhutan are not tied up with online booking portals. A lot of tourists have faced huge issues regarding this in the past. So to be sure, please double check with the hotel once.

      Reply
  • bharat shah
    January 1, 2019 at 6:21 PM

    Dear Ashish.

    thank you for your blog about Bhutan tour. I like to know : 1 Do you remember in which car ( innova, wagon-r) you travel in Thimphu and Punakh? 2. Which places did you visit on foot and which in taxi in Thimphu? -bharat shah

    Reply
  • ASHISH
    January 1, 2019 at 10:16 PM

    Wagon R @ Rs 2000 for 1 day morning to evening

    Places on foot :- centenerary farmers market, handicrafts market, coronation park, clock tower square
    Places in taxi :- folk heritage museum, changankha lakhang monsatery, takin preserve, buddha dordenma, semtokha dzong, memorial chorten, Taschicho dzong

    Reply
    • bharat shah
      January 2, 2019 at 10:03 AM

      thank you very much. -bharat shah

      Reply
  • aMal
    January 13, 2019 at 4:43 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    Thank you for compiling all this information in your blog.

    I wanted get some additional information on a couple of things

    1. In the post you mentioned booking from several online portals are accepted. Do you know where I can find the names of online ports from which they accept the booking ? Also I wanted specifically enquire if they accept booking done by booking.com

    2. When I was going through some web, few websites mention tourists from India also need to avail the service of local tour guides like in the website below
    https://www.bookmytour.bt/travel-guide/bhutan-travel-guide-for-indian-tourist
    Is that really the case ?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 15, 2019 at 10:09 AM

      Hi Amal,
      1. There’s no such list maintained by the Bhutan Govt. However I and lot of other tourists have experienced them accepting booking reciepts from MakeMyTrip. Although I’m not sure about other portals. It’d be best to call up the Immigration Office and check with them directly.

      2. If you are booking tour from authorized Bhutanese Tour Operator, then only it’s mandatory. Else if you are doing it on your own / booking through Indian Tour Operators then there’s no need. Indian Tour Operators cannot legally do business in Bhutan. So what they do is book the hotels and vehicle on behalf of you. Most of them are available in Jaigaon (Indian Side of the Border).

      Reply
  • bharat shah
    January 21, 2019 at 11:45 AM

    Dear Krish,
    kindly refer MHA tweaks travel norms: Indians over 65, under 15 can use A .. Read more at:
    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/67609882.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst. what is your reading ? Is it for Bhutan or only for Nepal?
    2. Whether does NRI enter Bhutan, as Resident after getting entry permit or does he need to get Visa?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 24, 2019 at 9:34 PM

      Hi Mr. Bharat, Well previously Aadhaar Card was not accepted as Valid ID Proof for issuing permits. Looks like MHA is tweaking that rule to incorporate, tourists over 65 years and below 15 years can use Aadhaar Card to get permits to Nepal and Bhutan both.

      So anyone not falling within that age bracket will have to furnish Passport / Voter ID Card as per existing rule.

      BTW don’t confuse this rule with NRI’s as NRI’s are not resident Indians and they must get Visa in advance and book their tour through authorized tour operator to travel to Bhutan.

      Only resident Indians, Bangladeshis and Madivians are allowed to enter Bhutan on their own and get permits by furnishing Voter ID Card / Passport and now Aadhar Card too for citizens above 65 years and below 15 years. All other citizens needs to get Visa in advance and book their tour through authorized tour operator.

      Reply
  • Roshan nagekar
    January 23, 2019 at 3:34 PM

    Hello Krishnan,

    I have gone through your post and it is really helpful. I am planning to visit Bhutan in Sept-Oct. Can you confirm if this is the best time to visit Bhutan. Also can you help me with the itinerary for 10 days which will help me cover major must see places.

    Thanks,
    Roshan

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 24, 2019 at 9:25 PM

      Hi Roshan, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      If you are planning during end of Sep or Oct it’s okay. By beginning of Sep monsoons starts fading away, so it’s kind of light drizzle during that period.

      Considering you’d be crossing the border by land through P/Soling, you can plan your itinerary like…
      Day 1 : Bagdogra / NJP / Hasimara – P/Soling
      Day 2 : P/Soling – Thimphu
      Day 3 : Thimphu Sightseeing
      Day 4 : Thimphu – Phobjika
      Day 5 : Phobjika – Punakha
      Day 6 : Punakha – Paro & Paro Sightseeing
      Day 7 : Day Trip To Chele La & Haa
      Day 8 : Hike To Tiger’s Nest
      Day 9 : Paro – P/Soling
      Day 10 : P/Soling – Bagdogra / NJP / Hasimara

      Reply
  • Indranil datta
    March 12, 2019 at 1:53 PM

    Hi Krishnendu da,
    Please let me know whether the entry permit form needs to be filled up for a 5 yrs old kid as well. And if yes, then whether the kid needs to sign on the form or the guardian can sign on his/her behalf? In the permit form there is no option for providing birth certificate for kids.Shall I write it explicitly on the form or just fill it up like the form for adults?

    Thanks & Regards,
    Indranil.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 25, 2019 at 8:37 PM

      Hi Indranil, Unfortunately I don’t have any personal experiences with the kids. So I won’t be able to provide you concrete information on this. All I know is Kids below 18 years needs to furnish Birth Certificate and Schoo ID Card (if applicable) along with 4 Passport Size Photos.

      Reply
      • BHARATKUMAR SHAH
        April 4, 2019 at 12:22 PM

        Dear Krish,
        i like to confirm whether for only kid’s entry permit 4 4 Passport Size Photos are required along with Birth Certificate and Schoo ID Card (if applicable) and for adult only 1 Passport Size Photo. kindly en-light the matter. thank you.

        Reply
  • BHARATKUMAR SHAH
    May 19, 2019 at 3:08 PM

    Dear Krish,
    We returned home on 12th after our happy 12 days’ Bhutan tour with help of your site. I thank you, Mr Ashish Pillai , Mr. Mehra, Mr. ASHOK, of Indiamike. Following is my tour report, which may provide some information, particularly to Jain Tourists.
    OUR 12 DAYS’ BHUTAN TOUR with Jain Food
    Though our Bhutan Tour happened to be for 12 days’ 11 nights’, to and from its entry to our cities Surat/ Vadodara required @ 7 days’ train journey via Delhi, made our total journey for 19 days.
    PREPARATION:
    Reaching/Returning to/from New Alipurduar ,Nearest Indian Rly. Station to Phuentsholing (Bhutan entry): We were five: myself 71, my spouse 65, my grandson 13, my friend 72, friend’s daughter 43. We tried to get reservation in 3 A.C. in direct trains to Hasimara from Vadodara on opening day four months’ ahead, but only 3 senior citizens got confirmed , but 2 got waiting, so we cancelled them and got confirmed reservations to Delhi and Delhi to New Alipurduar in 3 A.C. with 2 nights’ stay at Station A.C. Retiring Rooms, Delhi. Same way, for returning, from New Alipurduar to Delhi and Delhi to Vadodara/ Surat in 3 A.C. with 12 hours’ stay at Station A.C. Retiring Rooms , Delhi.. We used Ola taxi services for most places in Delhi for first time and found it convenient and economical. As we were retired persons having ample time and getting concessions, we chose 3 A.C. Train over air journey for budget consideration. But, in hindsight, it made a little saving, considering total cost of stay, food, taxi etc. during Delhi stay. However, it turned blessing in disguise , when a lot of flights of Jet Airways cancelled during the time! Now I feel, tourists from far away places of Western and Southern India, better use Air journey rather than train.
    Taxi for Bhutan Touring: Except solo tourists, young and or adventurist tourists, other tourists prefer touring by hiring Taxi. One may hire different taxis for different legs of tour or one taxi for whole tour. Initially I thought to hire different taxis for different legs of the tour on the spot, but came across one taxi owner cum driver Mr Tshering , Bhutan Phuentsholing Guide Teacher +975 17448060 from references given by Mr. Ashish Pillai and found suitable for our 11 days’ tour. So we hired him and I should say that it was our best decision. In hindsight, I feel, it is better to hire taxi with Bhutanese owner –cum- driver after providing complete itinerary through whatsapps. Mr Tshering is an ex teacher and is well conversing on Whatsapp s, so it is a big plus for conversation before finalizing. He is the most helpful for getting Entry Permit at Phuentsholing , as well as, Extension of Entry Permit and Route Permits at Thimphu. If you have the required documents mentioned in the blogs, you can leave the applications’ part to him. His car is Maruti Ertiga for 6+1 with luggage carrier. As per him he is arranging booking of hotels at all places in Bhutan and can arrange any type of vehicle ( smaller or bigger) for transportation. However we had booked our hotels directly, we used his taxi only. As clarified by him, he is the registered Bhutanese Driver, but not a registered guide. We only hired his taxi.
    Hotels’ booking for Bhutan Places: Initially I booked hotels for Thimphu, Paro, through Makemytrip.com, but for Bumthang I could not get the hotel through such sites even 4 months’ advance. So ultimately I got all our hotels’ booking at 6 places in Bhutan directly with hoteliers. All our hotels were no star hotels, but were having almost all basic needs: room heaters (except in one hotel), water geyser (24 hours), electric tea kettle, sufficient blankets, bath towels, cleanliness. I had not bargained the prices, but the average cost was 1900 per night for double room. In hindsight, I still feel, it is better to book hotels even with slight higher cost, if you can get, through sites like mmt, as in case of cancellation of tour, we get full refund. For direct booking of hotel, you need to pay the cost in any one channel as stipulated by them 1. its Indian Bank account at Jaigaon or other city like Mumbai, or 2.its Druk PNB Bank account at any place of Bhutan through any branch of PNB Bank in India. Be careful to mention the ultimate beneficiary account of Druk PNB Bank, and confirm with local bank employee on duty. Or 3. Its Bhutan National Bank or Bank of Bhutan account through its designated Indian Bank’s branch. For finding email addresses and all details about different hotels in Bhutan, web site bt.bhutan.com is very useful.
    Jain Food (Pure Veg Food without Onion, Garlic, Potato etc): As such, Bhutan being Buddha country, Pure Veg food is not uncommon, but they treat eggs as Veg, and for we, three, being Jains , getting Pure Veg Jain food is difficult. So initially we thought to carry Ready to Cook Jain food packets along with home made long lasting Bhakharies ( a kind of Roti) and some dry snacks. But , on searching the web, we found Hotel Ghasel in Thimphu and Hotel Season in Paro as Pure Veg restaurants not using eggs at all and also understanding Jain Food. For Phuentsholing , we thought that we may get Pure Veg without eggs in adjacent Indian city, Jaigaon. However , astonishingly we got Hotel Kuenga nearby our stay Hotel Namgay, not only Pure Veg without eggs, but probably running by Jain family , established some 45 yrs ago from Saurastra, a Gujarat region. So, we got our Jain food in restaurants for 8 days out of 12 days’ Bhutan tour. Plus, during our stay at Samyae Resort, Bumthang ,they allowed us to cook our recipe Khichadi in our way and in utensils cleaned by us, so , practically we had to take the food carried with us for only 3 days.
    UPJOURNEY: We started in Garib Rath train on 24th April for Delhi from Surat/Vadodara , reached Delhi on 25th , and stayed in A.C. Retiring Rooms at Anand Vihar Terminal station for 2 nights. Luckily we got all our births on regular sides in train. Otherwise in Garib Rath there are three side births instead of two in other trains’ 3 A Class and are very inconvenient. Avoid booking in Garib Rath train, if possible. We used our Delhi stay for visiting Delhi sightseeing places like Rastrapati Bhavan, Purana Quila, Qutub Minar, National War Museum, Lotus Temple. We got online booking for Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum visit and Purana Quila Sound and Light Show. Purana Quila Sound and Light Show is not worth. We used Ola taxi services for most places for first time and found it convenient and economical. On 27th we started by N E Express train from Delhi . Unauthorized journey in Indian Railway in any class is rather a norm than exception! But , when more than regular passengers in the coach, a lot of youngsters entered and stood in our coach from ARA station at @9 p.m., we had no space to move. They were to go to Katihar , scheduled at 0440 a.m. Nobody from railway or police was seen to ask for getting them down. Most passengers were afraid to ask them to get down. The train reached next station Danpur. My accompanied friend and a few other requested them to get down, but all in vain. Train was started from Danpur. Ultimately my friend’s daughter pulled the emergency chain to stop the train. The train got stopped , and some railway persons got them down. Luckily we reached New Alipurduar at 0330pm, only 4 hours’ late on 28th and finally checked in Hotel Namgay, Phuentsholing at 0530 pm through taxi from the station. I used ‘luckily’, because the trains in this region are regularly terribly irregular, some time 10-12 hours’ late. We got only available Retiring Room at New Alipurduar station booked for 12 hours to face such eventuality. Two years ago, when we toured Darjeeling –Sikkim, our train Mahananda Express reached NJP at midnight instead of noon, and we had to find out hotel at NJP for night shelter, spoiling our one day hotel booking at Dajeeling hotel!
    Phuentsholing: Our Hotel Namgay rooms were Air Conditioned and having all basic needs except tea kettle and our rooms are on 3rd floor without lift. Though, in Bhutan, all hotels are arranging lifting your luggage to/from your rooms through their staff, it is better to confirm rooms on lower floor at time of booking if you need. Our hired taxi owner cum driver Mr Tshering , Bhutan Phuentsholing Guide Teacher +975 17448060 approached us at our hotel in 28th evening. As such, I prepared all Entry Permit applications perfectly as suggested in this blog and by Mr Ashish Pillai with full Itinerary, all six Bhutan hotels’ confirmations and personal IDs as stipulated, he insisted 7 days’ Itinerary of Thimphu and Paro with only Thimphu hotel’s confirmation. He prepared our Entry Permit applications accordingly and got signed them on 29th morning by us. We stood in row at Immigration Office at 0830 and we got our entry permits at 1000 without any problem. He didn’t help us in any other way in the office, but we faced no problem. I feel, one should be ready with complete Itinerary, all hotel booking confirmation, IDs as suggested in this blog, but you can trust Bhutanese owner –cum- driver in this matter, if you hire one. We left Phuentsholing after lunch at @ 1200 noon, and reached Hotel Shantideva, Thimphu at @ 0530 pm.
    Thimphu: Our stay in Hotel Shantideva for 3 days was the most comfortable. The hotel starts from 2nd floor. Its ground floor is on Clock Square side and 1st floor is on Norzin Lam side. It has lift also. Pure Veg (without eggs) Hotel Ghasel is very near to it on Norzin Lam. We did all sight seeing during two days. On 1st May, to our astonishment, our taxi owner cum driver Mr Tshering , Bhutan Phuentsholing Guide Teacher +975 17448060 brought Extension of Entry Permits and Route Permits from Thimphu Immigration Office on ground of our Entry Permits issued by Phuentsholing office and other documents without our physical presence there. We started to Bajo Village via Punakha etc. at 0930 a.m. and reached Bajo at 0600 pm. After en-route 6-7 places sightseeing. As known, Bajo is just a night stop-over for Bumthang.
    Bumthang: We started at 0800 am from Bajo and reached Samyae Resort at 0300 pm , after en route sight seeing. Next day we did Bumthang sight seeing. The road to Bumthang , particularly after Trongsa is narrow, and Kachcha. Visiting Bumthang needs 3 nights’ time. If you have less time,or otherwise, you can skip Bumthang, I feel.
    Phobjikha: We started at 0845 am from Bumthang and reached Phueftsho Chholing Lodge/Farm House at 0230 pm. There was nothing to see in this season in Phobjikha, as famous Black Necked Cranes are available in winter only, but the nature is marvelous in this valley. My spouse said that it is Asian Switzerland. Of course, we never visited Switzerland! You can visit Phobjikha along with Punakha, if you can spare one more day and stay night at Phobjikha instead of Punakha/Bajo.
    Paro: We started at 0900 a.m. from Phobjikha and reached to Hotel Paro, Paro at 0330 p.m. We did Chele-La and Haa valley tour next day, and Tiger Nest hiking on day after next day. We did some local sight seeing. 3 of us: my friend, his daughter and myself did the great Tiger Nest’s hiking. It took 8.15 hours. As such I took more time and father, daughter got delayed, as I had asked them to accompany me. It is really tough. I feel, there are three-four problems: 1.As the elevation is from @ 7000 feet to @10000 feet, everybody is huffing and puffing, and needs rest every 2-5 minutes. 2. The way is too steep all the way. 3. The way is narrow and there is deep valley on one side almost all the way. 4. There are chances to slip, and if you slip, you will mostly go to deep valley. This may be more probable, when it rains. And keep in mind that it may rain any time in this season in Bhutan. My grandson, 13 was to accompany us, but , by grace of God, he felt lazy in raising in morning. I thanked God a lot! As such, the beautiful temple is visible from its trail/base. Latter I found from the web that accidents do happen there. So be careful.
    Return Journey: We returned on 9th from Paro to New Alipurduar via Phuentsholing. From New Alipurduar to Delhi in Brahmputra Mail , and from Delhi to Surat/ Vadodara in Swaraj Express , we reached back to home on 12th. During our 12 hours’ stay in Station Retiring Room at Delhi, we visited Lal Quila in Delhi. Again in Swaraj Express, we got bitter experience from co-passengers of Mumbai. That was a group of about 40. They did not take their lunch till 1045 pm and not facilitated us to sleep on our births. Fortunately T.C. on duty came to our rescue. Again in morning up to 0800 a.m. they did not arise and facilitate us to sit on our seats. Again T.C. helped us. Do we Indians not care of others, when gathered in group?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 21, 2019 at 12:08 PM

      Wow! Awesome Mr. Bharat. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences!

      Reply
      • BHARATKUMAR SHAH
        May 23, 2019 at 11:23 AM

        DEAR KRISH, first Sikkim in 2017, now Bhutan in 2019, with your blog! where next?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          May 23, 2019 at 2:01 PM

          Well there are numerous destinations. Although I haven’t been to all these yet, but you may consider Rajashthan / Himachal / Uttarakhand / Kerala may be? How about Jammu & Kashmir? If you can take the risk, J&K would be a life changing experience!

          Reply
          • BHARATKUMAR SHAH
            May 24, 2019 at 9:36 AM

            thanks for your guidance. Kerala, we had been some years ago. Indeed it is wonderful! J. & K., we planned 2-3 times and not materialized. Last time it was planned with help of Shri Ashish Da and others of Indiamike, but dropped because of unrest there. Now I think, why should go there when lot of other similar places are there? Some Rajashtan is also toured in school days , but not much appealing. So now I think himachal , Uttarakhand could be there! Any way, again big thanks!

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              May 24, 2019 at 7:35 PM

              Hi Mr. Bharat Kumar,
              Yes you can consider Himachal & Uttarakhand. You can also consider Andaman if you haven’t been yet.

              Reply
              • BHARATKUMAR SHAH
                May 25, 2019 at 8:48 AM

                thanks.

                Reply
  • gunjan agrawal
    September 17, 2019 at 9:45 PM

    Hello Sir,

    Your blog is really very helpful.
    we family of 5 have plan to viist bhutan from 4th October 2019 to 10th October 2019. Itinary is as follows:-
    4th to 6th Thimpu
    6th to 8th Phunakha/Wandgue
    8th To 10th Paro

    Now we are struggeling for below points:-
    1.We are arriving paro airport in the evening aroung 4:30 pm….would be possible to get the entet permit same day?
    2. Since the day we are arriving is holiday and next 2 days are weekend so how we can get route permit for Phunakha. (we already have booked our hotel)
    3. If we are getting route permit then is it mandatory to have a guide ?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 23, 2019 at 10:38 AM

      Hi Gunjan,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      1. Yes, Permits at Paro Airpot is operational 24x7x365. So you can get permits irrespective of whenever you plan to arrive.

      2. No. ILP offices are closed on weekends and on holidays.

      3. No. Guide is not mandatory.

      Another thing I’d like to point out to you is that, if possible change your plan a little bit, so that you can experience the festivals as you are visiting during that period.

      4th Oct there’s Thimphu Dromchoe (pre-festival before the actual festival) and Thimphu Tsechu (actual festival) is on 8th – 10th Oct.

      Reply
  • Ankit
    October 26, 2019 at 10:38 AM

    Hi Krish,
    Thanks for sharing informative blog about Bhutan, do you happen to know about ILP procedure if entering from Samdrup? We are planning to get immigration permit at Phuentsholing and then travel to Guwahati, later enter Bhutan from Samdrup, don’t need extension permit as we will be out within 7 days but not sure about ILP….do we need to have it for Trashigang, Mongar if entering from SJ? Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 26, 2019 at 10:58 AM

      Hey Ankit, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      Well to tell you the truth, I have been repenting now for quite sometime, that I made only upto Bumthang and returned from there. I should have made it upto Samdrup Jonkhar and exit from there.

      As I too have been enquiring regarding this now i.e. to enter from Samdrup Jonkhar and go upto Mongar and back. However locals too have very little information on entering through Samdrup Jonkhar and ILP permits. Although one of them told me, ILP’s in Eastern side are given from Bumthang, however I’m not sure how much concrete that is.

      And most of them are saying we can use Samdrup Jonkhar to exit, but not to enter. Again, I’m not 100% sure as very few people made it there and locals including local tour operators have no idea on that side.

      So if you find out something, please share with me too. It’s been quite some time that I have been planning to explore the further eastern part of Bhutan.

      Reply
  • Avijit Mondal
    November 15, 2019 at 4:25 PM

    Hello Krishnandu,

    I’m planning for a 5-6 days of family trip with my wife and son in Bhutan during mid March 2020. I’m from Kolkata only. I’m already talking to some tour agents for the package tour. Wanted to get an advise from you about the travel arrangements from Phuentsholing. Do you advise to go with pre-hired arranged car by travel agent or Can I arrange my own cab over there in each of the location ? which option would be cheaper and whether arranging the car in each location would be possible for me or not ? I plan to visit Thimphu, Paro and Punakha most likely.

    Thanks and Regards.
    Avijit

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 20, 2019 at 12:00 PM

      Hi Avijit,
      If you are planning to hire a cab everyday for your travel then having a pre-booked cab at your disposal would be much cheaper than hiring cab everyday on-spot.

      Yes hiring cab everyday at Thimphu, Paro and Punakha won’t be an issue, but keep in mind the above point.

      Reply
  • Ramesh Narwal
    December 7, 2019 at 10:23 PM

    Hi Krishnandu
    First of all I would like to congrats and share my sincere thanks on such a wonderful and informative post on travel to Bhutan. In fact, I had never seen such exhaustive and detailed post on travel to any place by anyone. You deserve Oscar for travel posts,
    Every query has been answered already.
    Just provide the following queries :
    1) procedure and documentation required for taking private car in Bhutan from India.
    2) I would be travelling by car from Guwahati. Is Phuentsholing entry is the best option.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 10, 2019 at 8:00 PM

      Hi Ramesh, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found the article to be helpful 🙂

      1. If you are planning to drive your private vehicle, after getting Entry Permit, you need to head to P/Soling RSTA for Vehicle Permit and you need to produce the Entry Permit along with your Driving License and Vehicle Papers. Please keep in mind that vehicle papers should match with your driving license else if you are hiring it from vehicle rentals or someone else, you’d also need to produce an authorization letter.

      2. Yes. best option is to enter through P/Soling.

      Reply
  • […] Bhutan Permit System has changed a lot since the article was written. And it has become impossible to track down and highlight all the changes here. So I have come up with a more specific post focusing on Permit system. You may please check the same at Bhutan Entry Permit – All You Need To Know […]

    Reply
  • Sujay Saha
    February 12, 2020 at 12:27 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    I have seen your blog on Bhutan Entry Permit. Its wonderful. I am planning for a family tour there. But the day when I plan to reach there is Saturday. And as per your blog the immigration office will be closed in the weekends. So I am thinking about the tour operators. I found a link about the operators in your blog. Could you suggest any operator among that list who are reliable? And if I opt the operator how much will be the per person cost for the entire tour? Please let me know.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 12, 2020 at 12:54 AM

      Hi Sujay, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found this blog helpful 🙂

      Yes, Immigration Office at P/Soling is closed on Weekends and Holidays. So, as you are planning to reach on a Saturday, here are few options for you.
      1. Obviously consider changing your dates, if budget is the most important factor for you.

      2. You can consider flying to Paro directly. Immigration Office at Paro Airport works on all days irrespective of Weekends and Holidays. There are two airlines that operate to Bhutan (a) Druk Air (b) Bhutan Airlines. Druk Air is cheaper and better option for Indians.

      3. If you must travel on Weekends through the P/Soling border, then you can book your tour through Authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators. As they can process your permit online in advance. Online Permit is not accessible to public at the moment. However, this way your budget would go up a bit considerably. However, you’d get every penny in return as quality of service! As tour operators in Bhutan have to maintain stringent policies of TCB, they can’t deal with anything below standard 3* hotels. They would also allocate you a private vehicle with a driver for your whole tour, a private guide for your whole tour. So obviously you get what you are paying for.

      So as you have mostly fixed for option 3 i.e. go with authorized tour operators, there are lots of tour operators in Bhutan and recommending one over the other is really not possible that way. However, I and my acquaintances have good experience with Heavenly Bhutan. I found them to be value for money without pinching a hole in your pocket.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
      • SUJAY SAHA
        February 12, 2020 at 9:57 AM

        Hi Krishnandu,
        Thank you very much for your suggestions..

        Regards
        Sujay

        Reply
  • […] Update (April 2017) : Bhutan Permit System has changed a lot since the article was written. And it has become impossible to track down and highlight all the changes here. So I have come up with a more specific post focusing on the Permit system. You may please check the same at Bhutan Entry Permit – All You Need To Know […]

    Reply
  • Neela
    February 26, 2020 at 5:21 PM

    Hi Krishnandu thanks for sharing this wonderful information.?I’m traveling solo.I have confirmed hotel bookings from booking.com. do they accept it? Is it really difficult to get permit for a solo traveler??

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 26, 2020 at 7:48 PM

      Hi Neela,
      I’m not 100% sure if they would accept booking.com, as previously there had been issues with booking.com before because they knows bookings made through that site is not a confirmed booking.

      They do accept MakeMyTrip, GoIbibo, Airbnb etc.

      Well, there’s nothing official about it, however Bhutan discourages regional solo travellers. Being said that, a lot of solo travellers did gain entry without much hassle in past and few of them have been denied permit. I don’t know what exactly plays the role there. But I believe, if your document is correct and in order, they won’t be denying you permit.

      Reply

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