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Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians

Royal Bhutan Consulate, Kolkata

Yes, I do believe that unplanned trips are fun. But there’s a fine line of difference exists between planning and gathering information. Well, to tell you the truth, I’m planning a trip to Bhutan ever since I returned from my Sikkim Trip. Previously I planned it with my family but then various things happened and finally, my marriage was fixed with the love of my life.

Ahhh…I just couldn’t describe the dilemma I was in. Should I plan it as Honeymoon or a Family Trip as my parents are avid travellers and from a very long time they had this urge to visit Bhutan. And to tell you the truth, I have been planning this trip to Bhutan with them from a very long time. Finally, after discussing with her, I got the green signal and took the most dangerous decision that anyone would never think of, A Family-moon (Family Trip cum Honeymoon). Yes, you are welcome to go ahead and criticize my decision in comments 😛 I shared this decision of mine with many friends, colleagues and family members, and yes they all laughed on this idea of mine and gradually I stopped feeling awkward and started hiding the truth about my planning.

But I must mention, that my girlfriend (Sorry, she’s my wife now 😛 ) supported me a lot on this. With around 3 years of courtship, we both knew each other and our family very well. I still remember the day I shared my plan with her, she nodded and said “Eksonge ghurte na gele moja hoy na” (There’s no fun if you go alone). Yes…I got the best life partner. No girl (at least whom I know) would ever agree for such plan.

Various short trips were planned in between with friends, but ultimately none happened as I had to back out due to financial issue. At one hand marriage was getting nearer and on the other, I was planning for a long 2 weeks trip. Yes, you heard it right. I managed to take 3 weeks leave from my office. And all my Bengali readers would know how a Bengali marriage is. So I kept 1 week for the marriage ceremony and “Ashtamangala” and 2 weeks for Honeymoon Oops Familymoon!!

Trip To Bhutan

Trip To Bhutan

It was around May and I started gathering information regarding how should I proceed and all. The first site I came upon is Tourism Council of Bhutan and the first link under Trip Planner is Minimum Daily Package.

Let me jot down the things I came upon while planning for a trip to Bhutan. Well, I have one bad news and one good news for citizens of specific countries.

For Foreigners (Except Citizens of India / Bangladesh / Maldives) :
Like visiting any other countries, Tourism to Bhutan is not that simple. Unlike other countries, you just can’t buy tickets, get your visa done, pack your bags and land up there. There are a few more steps involved to get into Bhutan.

First of all, tourism to Bhutan is not open like other countries. The tourism sector is controlled by Tourism Council of Bhutan referred as TCB. TCB has set a minimum daily package. It’s $200 per person per night for the off-season (January, February, June, July, August & December) and $250 per person per night for high season (March, April, May, September, October & November).

What the F***?? Yes, all tourist going to Bhutan have to go through TCB Approved Agents and have to pay this price. Wait, the story doesn’t ends here. This $200 / $250 per person per night is applicable only if you are travelling in a group of 3 or more. Otherwise, you have to pay a surcharge of $40 per night if you are travelling alone and $30 per person per night if you are travelling in a group of 2.

Are you F****** kidding me? Not at all, read about the surcharges at Surcharge.

Don’t get disheartened. TCB has done this to make your travel experience in Bhutan smooth and keep away any unwanted tourists. For the price that you pay i.e. $200 / $250 you’ll get

  • A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star will require an additional premium)
  • All meals
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
  • All internal transport (excluding internal flights)
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

If you are travelling with a child, then you are entitled to some discounts. Which are…

  • The minimum daily fee is not applicable for children below 5 Years. They only need to pay $40 Visa Fee.
  • However for Children between 5 – 12 Years, a 50% discount is provided on a minimum daily fee

If you are a student, or a large group or planning a long trip, then there are some more discounts applicable…

  • You’ll get a 25% discount if you are a full-time student and below the age of 25 years.
  • One member will get a 50% discount on the daily package if you are travelling in a group of 11 members.
  • One member will get a 100% discount on the daily package if you are travelling in a group of more than 16 members.
  • You’ll get a 50% discount on Royalty Fee (i.e. $65) after 8th night. i.e. if you stay more than 8 days, you’ll get a 50% discount on Royalty Fee from 9th day.
  • And finally, you’ll be exempted from paying the $65 Royalty fee from 15th night.

And the final part of the story is, before landing in Bhutan, you have to wire transfer the full amount along with $40 as visa fee. Your Visa will be processed by TCB once they get full payment of your trip. At your point of entry, you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

Ohh wait, let me warn you, this is the price that you pay to Bhutanese Agent. So if you contact a Bhutanese Agent directly, then it’s fine. But if you go through some local agent then the price will be increased as this so-called local agent is there to do business and of course, he’ll keep his cut. Only TCB approved agents are permitted to conduct tourism in Bhutan. So if you involve any local agent, he/she will finally have to contact a Bhutanese agent to conduct your tour and thus the price gets increased. Thus I’d highly suggest if you are planning for a trip to Bhutan, try not to involve any local agents in between and directly contact TCB Approved Agents.

But, any normal people will worry about trusting a foreign agent. TCB has designed this by keeping these things in mind. The amount you transfer is kept with TCB on Bhutanese National Bank. After your tour is over it’s transferred to the respective agency. So everything highly depends on your experience of your trip to Bhutan. And let me inform you that TCB has very strict policies regarding tourism. One complaint of yours can make the agent out of approved registered agent and thus agencies do their best to please you.

Final Verdict: Well, if you think wisely, this price set by TCB is justified if you notice what they offer you for that price. In fact, you’ll have to shell out the same amount if you had planned it on your own. And I see many people complaining about that $65 Royalty Fee. But let me tell you, they use that fee specially for Hospitals. Any kind of Medical treatment in Bhutan is free for all citizens and tourists visiting Bhutan. Isn’t that amazing? Even most developed countries than Bhutan doesn’t have this facility.

But yes, these rules and prices keep off any backpackers. As backpackers would not go for 3* hotels and exclusive vehicles. And TCB has clearly mentioned that they do not want any backpackers or ex-pats in Bhutan. But being a backpacker and budget traveller myself, I feel sad for such a decision.

You can read all these details at Tourism Council of Bhutan and can comment below if you have any queries. I’d be glad to help you out and clear out any queries that you may have.

Regional Tourists (Only Applicable For Citizens of India / Bangladesh / Maldives) :
Visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives are commonly referred to as Regional Tourists and are exempted from this whole set of rules I have discussed above. Yes, that means, you can pack your bags and land up there without any visa and preliminary bookings and most importantly without the involvement of any travel agent.

Ahhh…being an Indian and keeping in mind the political relation with India, we Indians are relieved from paying this minimum daily tariff. Although Indians / Bangladeshis / Maldivians do not need Visa to visit Bhutan but need various permits to visit Bhutan. When you’ll cross the border you’ll be issued an Entry Permit at Phuentsholing, which is valid for 7 days and for visiting Thimphu and Paro only. That means with that permit you can go to Thimphu and Paro and stay upto 7 days. If you want to visit any other destinations other than Thimphu and Paro (such as Punakha & beyond), you’ll have to get Inner Line Permit from Thimphu Immigration Office for those destinations. And if you are planning to stay more than 7 days then additionally you’ll have to apply and get extension permit for the same from Thimphu Immigration Office. The good news is all the permits are free of cost.

Bhutan Entry Permit

Bhutan Entry Permit

How To Reach :

Phuentsholing is the border town on Bhutan side whereas Jaigaon being the border town at Indian side. If you are entering from West Bengal, the nearest Railway Station is Hasimara and the nearest Airport is Bagdogra. Shared cabs, Buses and private vehicles are available from Hasimara and Siliguri to Jaigaon. There are other border towns as well such as Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephu in the east which is connected to Assam in India. But the Jaigaon / Phuentsholing border in West Bengal is most convenient and mainly used to enter Bhutan by road. Or you may plan to directly fly at Paro Airport in Bhutan. Another important thing, that I’d like to mention here is, if you want to enter through Phuentsholing and exist via Samdrup Jonkhar then you have to purposefully mention that at the time of getting your permit. Generally, you’ll have to exit from the same border from where you entered unless specified exclusively.

And if you choose to fly,  then at present, there are only two carriers that fly to Paro. One is Drukair and another one is Bhutan Airlines. 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. Otherwise, you may fly to Bagdogra and travel to Jaigaon – Phuentsholing to enter Bhutan.

Documents Required For Permit :

There are 2 kinds of Permit – (a) Entry Permit and (b) Inner Line Permit (ILP). Entry Permit is issued at the time of entry at Phuentsholing / Paro Airport. This document is only valid for travel up to or within Thimphu and Paro district. If you wish you visit beyond Thimphu and Paro such as Haa, Punakha etc then you need to apply for Inner Line Permit (ILP) at Thimphu Immigration Office. If you wish to stay longer than originally allowed number of days at Entry Permit, then you have to apply for Extension Permit at Thimphu Immigration Office.

Passport or Voter ID is mandatory and only accepted documents for Adults (i.e. > 18 Yrs age) whereas for Childs (i.e. < 18 Yrs age) Birth Certificate in English is the only acceptable document. Along with the documents you’d also need 2 copies of colour passport size photo.

Please note that documents except Voter ID Card / Passport (for Adults) and Birth Certificate (for children), other documents such as Adhaar Card / PAN Card / Driving License / Ration Card etc. are not valid documents. If you don’t have Voter ID Card / Passport, then you have to apply for Identification Slip at Indian Consulate in Phuentsholing. There you have to produce any two documents from Ration Card / PAN Card / Driving License / Aadhar Card along with passport size photo. Once you acquire the Identification Slip from Indian Consulate you may approach the Immigration Office for Entry Permit.

With the above-mentioned documents and Entry Permit form duly filled, you need to approach Phuentsholing / Paro Airport Immigration Office for applying for Entry Permit. On a normal day, you’ll be done within 15-20 mins or else if there’s a rush due to holiday period then it can be a long tiring day. Try to get there as early as possible to avoid any delays. The Immigration Office at Phuentsholing is open on all days, i.e. you don’t have to worry if your plan is to reach there on Saturday or Sunday. In case it’s closed, they issue permits from a small room alongside a gate.

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

UPDATE (April 2017) : Phuentsholing Immigration Office is closed on Saturdays & Sundays and Govt. Holidays. From now on they will only issue permits from Monday to Friday (except Govt. Holidays) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. So any tourists reaching Phuentsholing on Saturday or Sunday or on Govt. Holidays will have to wait till Monday / next working day. And due to this reason, they have started facing huge rush on the next working day (mostly Monday) which has lead to a lot of chaos out there. So if possible, try to avoid landing there on Mondays during the holiday season.

UPDATE (April 2017) : Only exception to the above is Paro Airport. Irrespective of Saturday / Sunday / Govt. Holidays, you’ll be issued Entry Permit on your arrival at Paro Airport. So if your plan is to arrive there on a Weekend or Govt. Holiday, you can consider flying to Paro instead of crossing the border via Road through Jaigaon – P/Soling border.

But note that, Thimphu Immigration Office works only from Monday to Friday. So if you plan to extend your stay or visit other destinations than Thimphu and Paro, make sure you plan to have a working day at Thimphu for applying ILP.

If you are from Kolkata, you can get your permit done from Kolkata Bhutan Consulate. The address mentioned there in the link is not valid as they have shifted from 6, Mall Road, Kolkata – 700080 to 48, Tivoli Court, 1A, Ballygunge Circular Road, Ballygunge, Kolkata – 700019

NOTE : Even though there’s a Bhutan Consulate too at Delhi, but as of now, they don’t issue entry permit like Kolkata Bhutan Consulate.

UPDATE (June 2017) : Kolkata Consulate has stopped issuing permits as per order by Bhutan Govt. So now tourists visiting Bhutan have only 3 options. (1) Paro Airport (if you are flying to Paro), (2) Land Borders (if you are crossing the border by land, such as P/Soling) and (3) Online Permit (only accessible to authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators)

UPDATE (April 2017) : The process of getting entry permits from Kolkata Bhutan Consulate has been changed a bit. Same as like earlier, even now too, one can submit the forms on others behalf (i.e. their family members), but as they have introduced Biometrics here like at P/Soling Immigration Office, all the members needs to be present for the Biometrics process on the given date. The permits will then be issued on another date which can again be collected by one member on other’s behalf.

UPDATE (April 2017) : Bhutan Govt. has introduced Online Permit System which is not open to the public as of now and is only accessible by local Bhutanese Tour Operators. If you are planning to cross the land border on a weekend or govt. holiday and not planning to fly to Paro, you need to book the whole tour through the authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators and they can apply for your permit online. However, please keep in mind that, due to restrictions of TCB, authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators need to maintain certain quality standards such as they are not allowed to deal with hotels below 3* hotels and must offer you a full-time tour guide, a private vehicle at your disposal. So if you are planning for a budget tour, this is certainly not your option.

UPDATE (April 2017) : From 1st April 2017, A new rule has been introduced by Bhutan Govt. with immediate effect, is that hotel booking is mandatory for regional tourists (i.e. citizens of India / Bangladesh / Maldives) in order to get permits. You need to produce your hotel booking receipt (if you have booked directly with the hotel, they would provide your booking confirmation on hotel’s official letterhead) for at least Thimphu and Paro wherever you are moving from P/Soling. However, it’s best to book your hotels for throughout the trip, as during huge rush, consulate officers check these things more strictly.

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

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

Bhutan Entry Fee 2020

Now that the information gathering phase was over it was time for planning. In the beginning, I thought of covering whole Bhutan including Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue, Phobjika / Gangtey, Trongsa, Bumthang / Jakar, Mongar, Luthnse, Trashigang and Samdrup Jonkhar. But soon, various searches of mine revealed that Mongar, Luthnse, Trashigang are very remote and there’s no point in going there unless one wants to visit the Dzong there. So I limited this of my trip to remaining places.

I was getting anxious day by day as I couldn’t wait more and things were getting very monotonous gradually. Finally, the day came when booking period opened for January 31st. The very first task I did in the morning is booking the tickets up to Hasimara. Only a single train from Sealdah, i.e. Kanchankanya Express goes up to Hasimara, and I didn’t want to take any chance of getting into Waiting List by leaving it for later. I have to wait for another 12 days to book return tickets 🙁

I believe this is the time when I always kept searching about Bhutan whenever I used to get time. And surprisingly I never used to get bored. I kept searching and reading various travelogues of Bhutan.

By taking help of various threads from Trip Advisor Forums and India Mike Forums I chalked out a rough itinerary.

1st Feb : Day 1 : Hasimara – P/Soling via Jaigon
2nd Feb : Day 2 : P/Soling – Thimphu
3rd Feb : Day 3 : Thimphu SS
4th Feb : Day 4 : Thimphu – Phobjika via Punakha
5th Feb : Day 5 : Phobjika – Bumthang via Trongsa
6th Feb : Day 6 : Bumthang SS
7th Feb : Day 7 : Bumthang – Punakha via Wangdue
8th Feb : Day 8 : Punakha – Thimphu
9th Feb : Day 9 : Thimphu – Paro SS
10th Feb : Day 10 : Paro – Day Trip To Haa
11th Feb : Day 11 : Paro – Hike to Tiger’s Nest
12th Feb : Day 12 : Paro – Hasimara via P/Soling & Jaigaon

Trip To Bhutan Series :
Part 1: Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians
Part 2: Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon
Part 3: Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around
Part 4: Journey To Phobjika via Dochula
Part 5: The Most Historic Dzongkhag – Bumthang
Part 6: The Old Capital – Punakha
Part 7: Exploring Paro, Haa and Chele La Pass
Part 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang
Part 9: Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom

Though it was winter season and Hotel bookings were not necessary as it was low season anyway, but I thought of pre-booking hotels due to Familymoon 😛 Finally I started calling hotels by filtering out by my budget. You can find the list of hotels at https://www.hotel.bt/. Another great site to look for accommodation is TCB.

In the meantime, I also started mailing few TCB Approved Agents around September. While going through my planning phase, I must mention that of all the agents I mailed, the most responsive was Heavenly Bhutan and Bhutan TravelRouters. In fact, many agents do not cater to Indian Tourists and quotes price in USD which is not valid for Indians. Out of all the agents I mailed, only these two operators quoted a price in INR. But none of them deals in Budget Hotels. Actually TCB Approved Agents are not allowed to deal with Budget Hotels, they are allowed to only deal with Standard Hotels / Luxury Hotels, keeping in mind your experience of your trip to Bhutan, and thus the price gets increased.

Though finally, I didn’t go with anyone of them. I always like to travel on my own. But one can get a fair idea of cost involved by speaking to some agents. You can easily lower down 20% – 30% cost from what’s quoted by the agents if you travel on your own. Another thing that I came across while planning for my trip to Bhutan is, if you hire a car from Bhutan side it’ll cost more whereas if hired from Jaigaon (India Side) it’s much cheaper.

Primarily I thought of travelling by Bus. But then my plan was to visit up to Bumthang, Phobjika, Haa etc. And Buses in Bhutan is regular for Thimphu and Paro but for Bumthang, Phobjika and other remote places it runs thrice weekly. Though I’m not 100% sure about this information, but this is what I came up after googling various blogs and sites. But then I thought, well I already made my Honeymoon a Familymoon, let’s not hit the extreme point.

So, I started contacting various agents from Jaigaon. Mostly I have contacted with Mr. Sujit Goswami from Maruti Tour & Travels and Mr. B. K. Prasad from BK Tour & Travels. Both of them quoted 3000/- for Innova exclusively. And then I thought of asking for the tariff of Hotels from them. And surprisingly I found that both of them quoting lower rates from what’s quoted by the hotels. This is the case specially in Bumthang, Phobjika and Punakha. Generally, there are lots of Hotels and Budget Hotels at Thimphu and Paro. Even in high season, one can land up there and can find a room easily at peak time or at time of Tshechu (Festivals). But Bumthang and Phobjika being a remote destination, very fewer hotels exists and that also in high range.

I tried getting reviews of both Mr. Sujit Goswami from Maruti Tour & Travels and Mr. B. K. Prasad from BK Tour & Travels. I found few members from India Mike Forums have travelled with both Maruti Tour & Travels and BK Tour & Travels. Both of them almost quoted the same price but the main difference was in the payment terms. Mr. Sujit Goswami from Maruti Tour & Travels asked for 25% advance and 50% when we’ll reach and meet him at Jaigaon and remaining 25% at the end of our tour. But Mr. B. K. Prasad from BK Tour & Travels said we’ll have to deposit 20% Advance and will have to pay remaining 80% at Jaigaon before starting the tour.

Well, I was highly hesitating for going with BK Tour & Travels after this. So I was thoroughly searching for review about both of them. And then I came up with this and this. Both of them are the same review posted by the same person and after reading this I really got scared. But then at India Mike Forums I got some good reviews about him. And luckily I came in touch with one friend of my cousin who recently travelled to Bhutan on December 2015 and he did the whole trip through BK Tour & Travels. So finally I came to know that he’s the first one to start tourism to Bhutan based on Jaigaon and he’s very reputed. Ahhh… I breathed a sigh of relief.

Finally, after exchanging lots of emails with both of them, I decided to go with BK Tour & Travels. There was no point in booking hotels on my own as BK was offering better price than what they quoted over phone. So without hesitating anymore, I transferred the advance amount to his bank a/c.

Now that hotel booking was done, it’s time to get the permits arranged. Though one can easily get permits at the point of Entry but as I belong from Kolkata, I took the extra step to get it done from here to save my precious time there. I carried all the required documents along with their photocopies and photographs and filled up the form on December 28th. The lady at reception told me that the permits will only be issued after January 15th. I agreed, as my travel date was January 31st.

Royal Bhutan Consulate, Kolkata

Royal Bhutan Consulate, Kolkata

Tivoli Court, Kolkata

Tivoli Court, Kolkata

At this point let me tell you that, if you have Passport then you do not need to submit anything else, but if you don’t then you have to submit another supporting document such as PAN Card, Aadhar Card or Ration Card along with your Voter ID Card.

Now that all preliminary task was over, I could finally see my hard planned trip being a success. It’s a different kind of enjoyment that you feel inside.

Contacts :
B. K. Prasad of BK Tour & Travels : +91-9593837520 (India), +975-17601325 (Bhutan). You can also mail him at bktourandtravels@gmail.com.

B. K. Tour & Travels

Mr. Sujit Goswami of Maruti Tour & Travels : +91-9609791522 (India). Otherwise you can mail him at sujitgoswami22@gmail.com.

Mr. Thinley Dorji of Bhutan TravelRouters : +975-17814514. You may also email him at btravelrouters@gmail.com. You may also contact him at Facebook or his Facebook Company Page.

Mr. Raju & Miss Menuka from Heavenly Bhutan : +975-17617107 / +975-517661700. You can mail them at heavenlybhutan@gmail.com. You can also contact them via their Facebook Page. They are very reputed. You can read about their reviews at Trip Advisor Forums

The next part of my trip report is continued at Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon

Trip To Bhutan Series :
Part 1: Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians
Part 2: Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon
Part 3: Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around
Part 4: Journey To Phobjika via Dochula
Part 5: The Most Historic Dzongkhag – Bumthang
Part 6: The Old Capital – Punakha
Part 7: Exploring Paro, Haa and Chele La Pass
Part 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang
Part 9: 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.

412 Comments

  • go here
    July 2, 2018 at 3:09 PM

    Hi there, I desire to subscribe for this website to get latest updates,
    thus where can i do it please help out.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 2, 2018 at 9:12 PM

      Hi, Whenever you open my blog, you get a pop-up to subsribe. You can use the form to subscribe 🙂

      Reply
      • Bhumika karnik
        December 6, 2019 at 6:55 PM

        Thank you very much for posting such a detailed travelogue.it is helping us for our
        Bhutan visit preparations.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          December 10, 2019 at 7:46 PM

          Thanks a lot Bhumika, I’m glad that you found it helpful 🙂

          Reply
  • RAJ KUMAR SOM
    July 4, 2018 at 11:19 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    I must appreciate your work and it is very helpful and important information for me. I am reading your block regularly. We are three (my wife, my sister and I) persons are planning to visit Bhutan in the month of November 2018. My proposed itinerary is as follows:-

    11.11.2018
    (Sun day) Board train no. 13149 Kanchankanya Exp. from Sealdah at 20:30 hrs for Hasimara.
    12.11.2018
    (Mon day) Reach Hasimara at 10:46 hrs. Pick up from Hasimara for Phunetsholing. After processing permit, transfer to hotel. Night
    stay at Phuentsholing
    13.11.2018
    (Tue day) Morning drive to Kharbandi Gumpa & Drive to Thimphu & overnight stay in Thimphu
    14.11.2018
    (Wed day) Morning proceed to make permit of Dochula Punakha, and Phobjikha (Gangtey) for next morning] and go for local site
    seeing tour of Thimphu including visit BBS Tower, SAARC Building (From Out Side View), Library, Handicraft Emporium,
    memorial Chorthen, Buddha point , Folk Heritage Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang & Overnight stay in Thimphu.
    15.11.2018
    (Thu day) Thimphu to Dochula Punakha site seeing Punakha. Morning drive to Dochula pass (3,080m) . Later drive to Punakha visit
    Punakha Dzong built strategically at the junction of Pho Chu & Mo Chu River, Suspension Bridge, and Chimmi Monastery.
    Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
    16.11.2018
    (Fri day) Morning drive to Phobjikha overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goenpa. Night stay at Punakha.
    17.11.2018
    (Sat day) Morning drive to Paro on arrival time checks in to the hotel over night stay at hotel in Paro
    18.11.2018
    (Sun day) Paro local site seeing
    In the morning drive to Paro and go for a local site seeing including visit Nya Mey Zam Bridge, Rinpung Dzong, , Kichu
    Lhakhang , International Airport , Museum and Overnight stay in Paro.
    19.11.2018
    (Mon day) Paro to chellela side seen
    Morning drive to Chelle La Pass and drive back to Paro and overnight stay at hotel in Paro.
    20.11.2018
    (Tue day) Morning visit Tiger’s Nest, and overnight stay at hotel in Paro.
    21.11.2018
    (Wed day) Paro to Phuentsholing to Hasimara drop. Board train no. 13150 Kanchankanya Exp. at 16:47 hrs from Hasimara for Sealdah.

    I contacted with BK Travels and Maruti Tours and Travels.
    BK travels give me car rent for Wagonor (P/ling to P/ling) Rs. 22,500/= + pick up and drop Rs. 1000/= plus accommodation in 1 DBL + extra mattress, total Rs. 22,000/=.
    Hotels: P/ling: Asian/centennial/shetal residency (AC) @ Rs. 1800/= + Rs. 600/=
    Thimphu: Kenny/Shangrila/Shantideva/Horizon (Dlx) @ Rs. 1800=-+ Rs. 600/=
    Punakha: Tashiling/Rigzum/Lingar/Kingaling @ Rs. 200/= + Rs. 600/=
    Paro: Season/Sonam/Hotal KK/ Blue Puppy @ Rs. 1800/= + Rs. 600/=.

    Maruti Travels give me car rent rate (I asked the for car only) Rs. 2500/= per day + pick up and drop Rs. 1000/=.

    I shall be glad if you please inform me the following:-
    1) Is the above mentioned itinerary ok or require any changes? if so, kindly do the needful.
    2) Hotels listed above are good or not?
    3) Rate of car rent is correct or not?
    4) Shall I opt BK package (car+ hotel) or maruti travels (only car) and arrange hotel by own?
    5) INR Rs. 500/= and Rs. 2000/= is acceptable in Bhutan?
    6) Any other important information.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 5, 2018 at 9:30 PM

      Hi Raj,
      Thanks a lot & I’m glad that you liked my post.

      Regarding your queries…

      1. Yes, the itinerary is perfectly fine. However I’d suggest one small change i.e. stay at Phobjika on 15.11.2018 and at Punakha on 16.11.2018. Becuase you won’t be able to enjoy Phobjikha by just a mere day visit for few hours. You need to stay there to enjoy the valley and experience the rarest Black Necked Cranes.

      2. Yes. All are standard hotels. Choose Centinnel at P/Soling, Shantideva at Thimphu, Kingaling at Punakha, Sonam Trophel at Paro.

      3. Yes the rate seems to be good.

      4. It depends on you. If you can take the headache of managing hotels on your own, then you can go for vehicle only package. Else if you don’t want to do that, go for the whole package from BK.

      5. Yes. But only in P/Soling, Thimphu and Paro excluding any Govt. establishments.

      6. Nothing much. You can read through the whole series to get an idea of experience of mine. And if you have any specific questions, I’ll be glad to help.

      Reply
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    July 14, 2018 at 8:20 PM

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  • Anonymous
    August 3, 2018 at 8:14 AM
  • Sandip Gupta
    September 5, 2018 at 2:53 AM

    Hi Krishnendu,

    Thanks for such an informative and detailed blog. I have one question. How is the food in Bhutan? I am from Kolkata and am very particular about my food. I need good Bengali or North Indian food. My whole family is very particular about food. No beef, no pork. I am planning to travel in Jun/July 2019. Though it is 11 months away but I have started planning from now. I will be traveling in a large group with 3-4 families (all married and with kids). I prefer good hotels (preferably 3 star) for comfortable stay. Should I book a package from Indian tour operator or Bhutanese tour operator? I am planning for a 6 nights 7 days trip and want to cover Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for sure. How will be the weather in Jun/Jul? How much will be average approximate package cost per person for the entire trip? Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 5, 2018 at 7:32 PM

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

      Regarding food, you can try Bhutanese Cuisine like Rice with Ema Datshi (Chilly Curry), Kewa Datshi (Potato Curry) etc. Those are their staple food and you’ll get everywhere across Bhutan. But definitely those are not prepared like we do in Bengali Cuisine. You can get Bengali Cuisine, however definitely they won’t taste like back in home. Few North Indian items are also there, however again, it’s limited. Chinese Cuisine are very popular (Like Veg Fried Rice, Chicken Fried Rice etc.). I’m not sure exactly what you are looking for, however you can expect to get Rice, Dal, Sabji, Chicken Curry etc. But don’t expect them to taste like restaurants in Kolkata.

      Well, you can book your tour from Jaigaon based Tour Operators or from Bhutanese Tour Operators. Definitely the experience with Bhutanese Tour Operators would be more better, but due to various restrictions of TCB, they won’t be able to offer you cheap packages. But going by your preference, it doesn’t looks like you are looking for Budget Tours. In that case I’d suggest to check Heavenly Bhutan. You can recommend them this blog of mine for some possible discounts.

      Well Jun / July is complete monsoon season. So if you don’t mind going out in rains, then there’s no issue. But if you don’t want to do that, avoid till August or Mid – Sep.

      Package cost varies on various factors, like choice and standard of rooms, choice and standard of food and restaurants, mode of transport etc. But just to give you an idea, Standard Rooms at 3* Hotels would cost you around 2000/- – 3000/- per night, Food cost is generally around Rs. 500/- Rs. 800/- per pax. If you choose to have an exclusive vehicle, an Innova would cost you around Rs. 4000/- per day, a Winger / Hiace Bus (9 Seater) costs around Rs. 4500/- per day. If you are a big family, a 19 Seater Coaster Bus costs arounds Rs. 8000/- per day.

      Well the above are indicative rates and varies based on season.

      Reply
  • bharath
    October 22, 2018 at 8:35 PM

    hi, I recently picked up a bike for touring and the bike is not yet registered in my name. I am planning a troad rip to Bhutan in Nov 18 and was wondering if i need to get any authorization letter from the previous owner(as the vehicle stands in his name still ). do you have any format of the authorization letter to share ?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 23, 2018 at 7:23 PM

      Hi Bharath,
      Well as far as I know you need to produce the Licence and documents for your vehicle which can confirm that you own the vehicle. That’s the reason still 3rd party self driving vehicle hiring doesn’t works in Bhutan like like Zoomcar.

      Reply
  • Shantanu Agarwal
    October 29, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Hello Krishnandu,

    Wonderful blog. The information and experiences provided by you are very detailed and helpful.
    I am planning for a trip during the last weekend of December, 2018.
    I have booked my flight from Delhi to Bagdogra on 23rd December, which is a Sunday.
    Is the permit office still closed on Sundays or is it open?
    Also, please let me know do I need to book hotel stay in advance for my complete stay in Bhutan to get the entry permit?

    Thanks in advance
    Best Regards
    Shantanu

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 29, 2018 at 8:30 PM

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

      Yes the permit office are closed on weekends. Anyway you don’t need to worry much as you are flying to Bagdogra on a Sunday so it’d take you around 5 hours to drive to P/Soling. So you need to get the permits next morning and proceed as per your plans.

      Yes you need to show Hotel Booking reciepts of Thimphu and Paro to get the permits. Also due to peak season best is to book hotels in advance else on spot prices will be higher.

      Reply
  • SANDESH BHAT
    November 8, 2018 at 10:50 PM

    Krish!

    Fantabulous blog. I got answers to almost all of my questions. I remain with a couple now.

    1. I plan to take permit in P/Soling as fly from Bangalore to Bagdogra. However, on my way back from Bhutan i plan to take a flight back using Druk Air to get back to Bagdogra since I have a 8 year old kid and by then he would have no excitement to take the same route back to P/Soling. Question is: Will i get such a entry permit, enter in P/Soling exit in Paro? Or does the permit force me to exit in P/Soling itself!

    2. Do you have any hotel/homestay recommendations at Ha valley? I plan to go only uptill Dochula on the east bound and not further but would like to go to West.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 9, 2018 at 9:02 AM

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

      1. Yes definitely. Just mention your exit route in the permit, and you are good to go.

      2. Yes, check out Ugeyn’s Homestay at https://haavalleyhomestay.com/. You can also consider Chimi’s Homestay (which is Ugeyn’s Sister) if you are unable to find Ugeyn’s one vacant. This is one of the best homestay available in Haa. However before reaching out there, do consider the points about how it’s like to stay in a homestay at Bhutan. It’s not same as in India where homestay culture is more like guest house. You’d really be in rural areas. So don’t go by the reviews of foreigners as they tent to manage the same, however all the fuss is with the Indians.

      It’s not like I’m not recommending that, as I really enjoyed my time with them, but just that I’m trying to get you to practical points.

      Reply
  • edd
    November 13, 2018 at 10:36 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    I must appreciate your work and it is very helpful and important information for me. We are four friends planning to visit Bhutan in the month of January 2019 (5.1.19-12.1.19). But, we are not getting reserved train tickets (13150 Kanchankanya Exp) directly from Hasimara to Kolkata as we wish to check out from hotel in P/sling on 12.1.19 at around 11am.

    The tour operator (Sunshine Travels, Alipurduar) have booked train tickets for us from NJP to sealdah. Surprisingly the ticket dont have any PNR or price, but they claim it to be a valid and confirmed ticket and also it is booked through Bhutan qouta and not Indian general quota.

    Cud you kindly help in this matter?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 14, 2018 at 5:13 PM

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

      Well Indian Railways always assign a PNR for a ticket booked irrespective of any quota. If the tour operator is not sharing the PNR with you, probably it’s a fraud. They haven’t got any tickets for you.

      And remember, Indian Railways have same oppurtunities for general people and agents. So if you are unable to get a ticket on a particular train on a particular day through IRCTC, there’s no way the agent can help. They do not have any kind of access to any kind of extra previledges / quotas.

      Considering the 120 Advance Reservation Period, tickets for Jan have started being allocated from September onwards. Considering this route to be always busy, it’s always best to get the tickets at earliest possible date. However you are too late now.

      So either you can get a Waiting List tickets and hope to get it confirmed. However if the WL is too high try for Tatkal. Else you have to check out the flights to Bagdogram of which the cost must have gone too high by now. Again flight tickets are best bought 4-6 months in advance.

      Reply
      • Edd
        November 15, 2018 at 12:51 PM

        Thanks for sharing this much needed info. We have now booked tickets from Alipurduar (Padatik express). Initially, the agent were supposed to drop us at Hasimara as per the itinerary. But, now as they are dropping us at Alipurduar Junction, they are asking for additional 1500rs as cab fare. Kindly suggest what would be the approx fare as I can no longer trust them.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          November 15, 2018 at 7:10 PM

          Hi Edd, 1500/- is not too high, however try to bargain it down to 1200/- or so, as it’s a off season anyway.

          Reply
          • Edd
            December 18, 2018 at 3:09 PM

            Many thanks for the help. I recently came across that today (18.12.18) there is heavy snowfall. As we planning to visit Bhutan from Jan 6- Jan 12 next year, is it safe to go?

            Moreover, it has been predicted that the weather might be very bad in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha during this period with the average temp being 5 Degree Celsius.

            Kindly mention if any precautions need to be taken??
            Or any suggestions which you think will be helpful for us going forward??

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              December 18, 2018 at 6:20 PM

              Hi Edd, Yes Bhutan recieved it’s first snowfall of this year today. It’s definitely safe to go to Bhutan as Bhutan is not kinda place where routes gets blocked due to snowfall. So in terms of tour it’s not an issue at all.

              Definitely if you do not fear winter. We locals here are much accustommed with these kind of temperatures. So it’s not an issue for us.

              In terms of precautions, definitely bring proper winter clothes, head covers, proper shoes and yeah that’s it.

              Reply
  • bharat shah
    November 24, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Hi! I am Bharat Shah from Surat, Gujarat here. Once I did our Darjeeling-Sikkim tour in April-May 17 happily with all helps from your blog. Now we , 4 including 3 senior citizens (+1 kid 13 yrs perhaps) are planning tour to Bhutan in coming April-May 19. I have gone through all your posts 2-3 times and got some ideas. It seems a little difficult compared to earlier tour, but I hope we would again happily carry our tour with your help again. As we want to use direct trains from Vadodara, I find two alternatives, as of now: 1. We can reach at 00:45 at New Alipurduar( NOQ) by Okha-Gauhati Express on 29-04-19 (Monday), and return on 15:30 from NOQ by Kamakhya-Gandhidham- Express on 08-05-19 (Wednesday). In this case, we need to stand at immigration office for permit on Monday, rush day! We will get 9 nights 10 days for the tour,which are 2 days less than your tour. 2. We can reach at 00:45 at New Alipurduar( NOQ) by Gandhidham -Kamakhya Express on 30-04-19 (Tuesday), and return on 15:30 from NOQ by Gauhati-Okha Express on 13-05-19 (Monday). In this case ,we have to wait for one day at Thimphu for extension and Remote Area Permission , as 02-05-19 being Bhutan Govt. holiday. We will get 13 nights 14 days for the tour, which are 2 days more than your tour. 1.Kindly guide me itinerary for both options for optimization. 2.There are other fears also, such as , in first option, if we don’t get permit on same day. 3. As we are touring April-May, there may not be Black necked Crane s at Phobjilka. thanks for such informative blog. -bharat shah

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 24, 2018 at 8:42 PM

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

      Well if you plan to reach at 00:45, you should have your hotel booked at NOQ and pre-informed about your late arrival. As it’s more of a ghost town by that time.

      Well I’d suggest option 2 as it gives you more number of days to explore the country. Well if you reach on 30th at 00:45 hours, then early morning you can drive to P/Soling and get the permits and proceed to Thimphu. It’d be a long day considering you are senior citizens. However the positive side is that you can easily get the ILP on 1st May in that case.

      This would work as long as you didn’t confused 00:45 hours with 30th or 1st. As past midnight is considered as next day. Do you really mean 00:45 hours on 30th?

      Regarding your worry about not getting the permits, I won’t exaggarate it, but yes, due to Peak Season and being holiday for May Day, it really doesn’t matter much, as you’d have to face the crowd anyways. But it’s true that the crowd would be lesser on Tuesday – Thursday than Monday or Friday.

      Yes there’d no Black Necked cranes during that time. Those can only be experienced during Winters.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        November 25, 2018 at 11:24 AM

        thank you for your prompt reply. yes, I mean 00:45 of 30-04-19 in second option. These long route trains( ours is 48 hours’) are always late by some hours, so I think, there would not be problem for night stay of 29-04-19, but we may not reach the immigration office in early hours, if the train be late by 7-10 hours. Please suggest me the itinerary for both options, considering in both cases, we have to stay first night ( 29-04-19 for first option and 30-04-19 for second option) at Phutentsholing , as I think ,the permits would be available late evening , or next day, and we have to get fresh, keep our luggage after so long train journey. kindly optimize it by leaving some places In first case, and in second case , by suggesting any extra place or more time at any place/places as per your thinking. It would be great help to us. -bharat shah

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          November 25, 2018 at 7:38 PM

          Hi Mr. Bharat, If you reach at around 00:45 hours, you don’t have much scope to move to P/Soling at that late night. So in that case have a hotel booked nearby the Station and pre-inform them about your late arrival. Now as you said long route trains get delayed, in that case if it reaches by around 2AM or 3AM, I even doubt whether hotel staff would open the gate for you at that time.

          However if it reaches late by 7 – 10 hours i.e. 6AM or 7AM in the morning, I’d suggest instead of taking rest, proceed to P/Soling, get the permits and proceed to Thimphu. Although this is a very bad idea considering you being group of Sr. Citizens. However if you manage to do that, then you buy out extra day at Thimphu for ILP.

          BTW, most importantly, I guess you are under wrong impression. Ppermits are available at morning (from 9AM BST i.e. 8:30AM IST), not during the evening.

          Else if you don’t want to strech it that long, you can do it like…
          30th : NOQ – P/Soling
          1st : P/Soling – Thimphu
          2nd : Thimphu Sightseeing
          3rd : Get ILP. Thimphu – Phobjikha
          4th : Phobjikha – Bumthang
          5th : Bumthang Sightseeing
          6th : Bumthang – Punakha
          7th : Punakha Sightseeing
          8th : Punakha – Paro
          9th : Paro Sightseeing
          10th : Day Trip To Haa
          11th : Hike To Tiger’s Nest (May be??)
          12th : Paro – P/Soling
          13th : P/Soling – NOQ

          Well, now here are few points…
          1. I have kept it a bit relaxing wherever possible considering you are a group of Sr. Citizens
          2. A lot of Sr. Citizens do trek to Tiger’s Nest. But if your condition doesn’t permits that, then you can add one more break at Trongsa while on your way or back to / from Bumthang. Let me know if you would be doing the trek or not, accordingly I can modify
          3. As 2nd May is holiday in Bhutan you have to get the permits on 3rd Morning and then proceed towards Phobjika which is not at all an issue.
          4. On 30th if you reach NOQ at midnight then stay at a hotel there and proceed to P/Soling on morning. Else if you are reaching late, better move to P/Soling and take rest.

          However if you are doing on 29th then it’d be like…
          29th : NOQ – P/Soling
          30th : P/Soling – Thimphu
          1st : Get ILP. Thimphu Sightseeing
          2nd : Thimphu – Punakha
          3rd : Punakha Sightseeing
          4th : Punakha – Paro
          5th : Paro Sightseeing
          6th : Day Trip To Haa
          7th : Hike To Tiger’s Nest (if you wish to). Move to P/Soling
          8th : P/Soling – NOQ

          Again, I have also kept this a bit realxing considering your ages.

          Hope that helps 🙂

          Reply
  • bharat shah
    November 26, 2018 at 11:51 AM

    Dear Krish, I wished and I got! Yes , your detailed reply! I liked your both itinerary. As it may be incidental, but the itinerary for short tour suggested by you is same as prepared by me. though for different reasons! i found by searching MMT site for my tour dates, i found no hotels even with my stretched budget of 2500-3000 per room per night except in Thimphu and Paro. So I tried by advancing our tour by one week and i found hotels available in one more city, Punakha. Your short tour itinerary exactly calls for three cities’ stay. I thought, still not more hotels are linked to MMT, and there is no other aggregation site for Bhutan hotels, so for budget travelers, there is no more option available for advance hotel booking in Bhutan. Have you any other safe , practical option in mind? we will miss Bumthang and Phozilka for short tour. is there any chance to have a look to them from Punakha, in case we reach Timphu on first day by luck?- bharat shah

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 26, 2018 at 7:37 PM

      Hi Mr. Bharat, Well the reason you are not getting much hotels in online portals like MMT is because Bhutan is ages behind and they choose to preserve their culture while the whole world proceeded towards so-called modernization. And that’s the reason Bhutan has become an unique country and that’s why it attracts so many tourists around the world.

      Except very few handful number of high end hotels, most budget and mid-range hotels are not available online. Best is to book them by calling the hotel directly or rely on a local tour operator (either Bhutan Based or Jaigaon Based). You can easily get hotels starting from 1200/- onwards without much issues.

      Sending an E-Mail to the hotels won’t help either, as most of the time their inbox is full or they either don’t check mails often. Although, this is not the case will few reputed hotels through, but true for most budget and mid-end hotels.

      I’d recommend to contact a tour operator to get your hotels booked. You can check with Mr. B. K. Prasad – bktourandtravels@gmail.com, with whom I have travelled 3 times till now and will also be leading a group this December.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        November 27, 2018 at 9:01 AM

        Dear Krish, thank you very much for your guidance in the matter. it is immense help and encouragement to me, as sometimes i get disheartened for trivial reasons. yes , again i will come to get guidance, when needed.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          November 27, 2018 at 10:17 PM

          You are welcome 🙂

          Reply
          • bharat shah
            November 29, 2018 at 8:50 PM

            Dear Krish,
            I reroute my tour as under for 9 nights’ Bhutan tour:
            1st day: 28-04-19 Monday: reaching NOQ on Monday and rush to the immigration
            office for basic permit and reached Paro for N/H
            2nd day:29-04-19 Tuesday:Day Trip To Haa and Paro SS, as far as possible
            3rd day: 30-04-19 Wednesday: Hike to Tiger’s Nest and Paro SS as far as possible
            4th day: 01-05-19 Thursday : Paro- Thimphu , getting extension of permit and RAP from immigration office and do local SS
            5th day: 02-05-19 Friday: Thimphu – Phobjika via Punakha
            6th day: 03-05-19 Saturday: Phobjika – Bumthang via Trongsa
            7th day: 04-05-19 Sunday: Bumthang SS
            8th day: 05-05-19 Monday : Bumthang – Punakha via Wangdue
            9th day: 06-05-19 Tuesday: Punakha –Thimphu: SS in Punakha
            10th day: 07-05-19 Wednesday: reaching NOQ back to board on train starting at 15:30 hr.
            my thinking for first Paro , instead of Thimphu is: in case we cannot get permits on day 1st, and to cancel any leg of tour without disturbing other stays. For Thimphu, if i have to do that, i have to change the stays at 2-3 places, which will not be feasible as hotel bookings are fixed. for Paro, i can drop Haa day tour or Tiger nest hike, and need not to change other stays. Kindly advise whether it is doable. If everything will go as per planned, we will use Haa day tour, Tiger’s nest hike day spare time, if any, for Paro local SS. THANKS IN ADVANCE -BHARAT SHAH

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              December 9, 2018 at 9:16 PM

              Hi Mr. Bharat, Well there are few issues with your modified plan.

              1. You cannot do both Haa and Paro Sightseeing on a Single Day
              2. It’s not a wise idea to approach Tiger’s Nest without acclimatizing
              3. Reachng NOQ from Thimphu in a day can be challenging. Instead go to Thimphu first and end it with Paro. Paro to NOQ would be more easier

              Reply
              • bharat shah
                December 9, 2018 at 10:24 PM

                THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE. – BHARAT SHAH

                Reply
      • bharat shah
        December 10, 2018 at 5:33 PM

        quote; ‘I’d recommend to contact a tour operator to get your hotels booked. You can check with Mr. B. K. Prasad – bktourandtravels@gmail.com, with whom I have travelled 3 times till now and will also be leading a group this December.”
        I think, you have traveled Bhutan for more than once, but I can’t find any post of your other trip in this blog. Anyway, I like to know that you stayed Phuntsho Chholing Lodge, Wangdue Phodrang any time. If yes, kindly give your review for it. -bharat shah

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          December 10, 2018 at 9:44 PM

          Hi Mr. Bharat, Well remaining was group tour. I was leading a group of 15 – 18 pax. So I have updated the same post with the dates as per the changes.

          Reply
          • bharat shah
            December 11, 2018 at 9:07 AM

            Dear Shri Krish,
            thank you for your reply. Kindly give the link for the said post, so I can read it.
            -bharat shah

            Reply
  • Himavat
    December 8, 2018 at 12:10 PM

    Yes exactly . Its nice place to visit must.

    Reply
  • Himavat
    December 8, 2018 at 12:11 PM

    Nice blog to see

    Reply
  • S. Karmakar
    December 13, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    Thanks Krishnendu for your continuous help to all the tourist planning to go there . Got a good and useful information about Bhutan just because of your blog .

    We would like to visit Bhutan during Mar’19 and We have below tentative plan (can change, as appropriate) . We would be 3, me, my wife and 9+ year old son .

    19-Mar-19 – Reaching Phuntsholing, Get permit if possible…Stay there
    20-Mar-19 – Get Permit, if not on 19-Mar and traveling to Thimpu, SSon the way possble, Stay there
    21-Mar-19 – Thimpu SS, Stay at Thimpu
    22-Mar-19 – Thimpu to Punakha, SS on the way possible, stay there
    23-Mar-19 – Punakha – Paro, SS on the way possible, stay at Paro
    24-Mar-19 – Paro SS, Stay at Paro
    25-Mar-19 – Paro to New Alipurduar via Phuntsholing , SS on the way possible, Stay at New Alipurduar

    We have below query and requirement :

    1> Estimates to hire a cab (4 seater) from 20-Mar-19 onwards until 25-Mar-19 for 6 days

    2> Permit possible on 19th May if we reach Phuntsholing by 3 pm

    3> What are the places can be covered in these 6 days with descent travel plan

    4> Approximate charges for good hotels (with good reviews) with view facing rooms as per above itinerary .

    5> 20-Mar being holi festival in West Bengal, will there be any type of issues in Bhutan as we are anyway entering there by 19-Mar

    6> What would be the charge for picup from New Alipurduar to Phuntsholing hotel on 19-Mar afternoon

    7> Any good travel agent contacts apart from two you provided . Few tourists expressed dissatisfactions for both of them and I didnt like BK Prasad’s attitude while I called him . Still I sent initial mail to them for estimates .

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 14, 2018 at 7:51 PM

      Hi Mr. Karmakar, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      1. A 4 seater cab would cost you around Rs. 2200/- – Rs. 2500/- per day.

      2. No. Very less chance. You can try it once though, but most probably you have to get it next day early morning.

      3. Your travel plan is perfectly fine. I’d recommend to stick with it.

      4. Good Hotels is a vague word, it depends and varies from person to person. Just to give you an idea, Budget Hotels (which are very good to me, being a budget traveller) starts from Rs. 1100/- onwards. Standard hotels starts from 1500/- onwards.

      5. No. Holi is not celebrated in Bhutan. So you won’t have any issues.

      6. Around Rs. 2500/- or Rs. 3000/- or so.

      7. I haven’t dealt with others personally. For India based operators I mosty deal with BK, even visiting this year again during XMas. Yes he’s bit arrogant if you speak to him, but trustworthy and never faced any issues in terms of tour. For Bhutan Based operators please check with Heavenly Bhutan.

      Reply
  • bharat shah
    December 14, 2018 at 1:24 PM

    dear krish,
    i like to know 1. whether porters are available to carry luggage from taxi to hotel, if there is no road up to hotel, as in Darjeeling and Gangtok, taxi are not allowed up-to hotels, but there we got porters everywhere, but Bhutan being rich country ( only 7 lacs population?) , I have doubts.——-bharat shah 2. any idea about retiring room at New Alipurduar station?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 14, 2018 at 7:54 PM

      Hello Mr. Bharat,

      1. Yes, hotel ladies will help you carry your luggage to your rooms and back while checking in and checking out. Unlike mens, here it’s female dominating country so 90% of the staffs are women.

      2. No idea. These regions being very close to my home, I never had to look for retiring rooms. However I guess it’s there, but can’t say for sure.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        December 15, 2018 at 10:13 AM

        thanks for your reply. -bharat shah

        Reply
  • bharat shah
    December 14, 2018 at 1:32 PM

    Dear Shri Krish,
    I like to know whether porters are available in Bhutan tourist spots for carrying luggage from taxi to hotel, in case taxi is not allowed up to the hotel. 2. any idea about retiring room at New Alipurdaur railway station. thank you. —bharat shah

    Reply
  • bharat shah
    December 26, 2018 at 5:05 PM

    Dear Krish,
    Have you any idea how one can send payment for hotel booking to the hotel’s bank account in Bhutan from India, in case we book hotel room directly with hotel? i tried to google, but couldn’t. The hotelier seems ignorant, and offers payment at time of check-in, but then how can we show receipt voucher to the immigration? and how can we be sure without payment?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 5, 2019 at 1:26 PM

      Hi Mr. Bharat, You can ask them to share their Indian Bank Account (if available). Else you can also do international transfer either online or by personally paying a visit to your bank. Ask the hotel to share all the necessary details in that case.

      If the hotelier offers payment during the check-in, I do not see an issue here. You can simply ask them to mail you the booking voucher on their letterhead.

      Well then let me tell you a breif story. Before visiting Bhutan you need to really understand that, Bhutan is a country where they preserved their culture and that’s the reason people are now rushing to Bhutan. In their words, they didn’t do anything to preserve their culture, but the whole word advanced so fast and they didn’t.

      They have different perceptions about life. Money is not at all a factor there in Bhutan. So unlike us / other countries they do not run after money. And thus instead of GDP Bhutan is measured with GNH (Gross National Happiness).

      So I know when you say “Ignorant”. And once you visit you’ll see all of them are “Ignorant” in terms of business. Well they are really not ignorant, but it’s a very different thing. They are very lovely, peace loving people with soft nature. It’s like if you ask someone for help, they will leave what they were doing and go with you to help you out.

      But, they are not business minded. So in India, at a hotel if you ask for hot water, you are assured to get the same within 10-15 minutes. But there in Bhutan, you have to keep following up with them to get your work done. So yes they are “Ignorant” in that way.

      It’s like if you ask them something and they don’t have an answer, they will simply smile and say “What should I do Sir?”. This is not the answer you expect in India or other countries. You expect them to fix it / come up with an answer / solution when you ask something. However there, you are expected to help them solve their problem.

      I’d say it’s a beautiful country and lovely place to stay back if you can cope-up.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        January 5, 2019 at 2:37 PM

        DEAR KRISH,
        Thank you very much for your detailed reply particularly about your reading of Bhutanese mind set. I got experience while getting hotel booking directly. Your guidance is valuable for me. THANKS.

        Reply
  • Sunil Chawla
    January 16, 2019 at 1:47 PM

    Lovely Post
    Highly Informative
    I have just started planning for my trip to Bhutan in July / August year
    Is this the right time to travel to Bhutan
    Thanks a Lot
    Sunil Chawla

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 24, 2019 at 9:37 PM

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

      Well, July / August is not a good time to visit Bhutan, as it’s full fledged monsoon during that period. So if you really don’t mind going out in rains then it’s fine, else better plan for some other time.

      Also during this period, you might not be able to approach other than the generic circuit of Thimphu – Paro – Punakha, due to common cases of landslides further towards the eastern part.

      Reply
  • sudhanshu singh
    February 4, 2019 at 10:06 PM

    hii,
    Very nice to know about your experience in Bhutan.i will love to know more about your experience in Bhutan.i myself will be leaving for Bhutan soon it will be a great help if you provide some insight.
    thanks and regards
    sudhanshu

    Reply
  • thambi
    February 12, 2019 at 5:24 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    thanks for the great blog – it is helping me plan properly.
    i just have a query regarding the Travel agent to chose.
    i am doing bhutan for 6 days/5 nights and have requested quote from many agents
    i am taking the package from Paro airport till Phuenstoling drop.

    BK has quoted 27k for hotel +Vehicle in Deluxe hotel- but i have heard many mixed reviews of him- so i am having hard time finalising on him- even though he is the most economical but just worrying about the risk of it (as many have reported bad experiences with their drivers)

    ChenRay – Local bhutan agent is quoting me around 36k for a couple.

    Maruti travels is quoting me 24.5(2* hotel) and 28.5 k (3*hotel)

    and an agent”golden vacations” via Travel Triangle is quoting 39k.

    please suggest which should i go for based on the peace of mind agent and affordable as well

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 14, 2019 at 10:56 AM

      Hi Thambi, Well personally I won’t be able to help you choose Tour Operator. That you have to do it on your own and make up your mind.

      I can definitely help you with facts and recommendations though. But it doesn’t mean if things didn’t went wrong for me, it won’t be for you too. As there are many depending factors involved here.

      Okay, now coming to the point, I have done 6 tours with BK and I was satisfied with his service. However yes, you are absolutely right that, your tour mostly depends on the driver you’d get. If you get a good driver, it’d be a lifetime memory, else the same will be ruined. For me, I got good drivers. Indian based tour operators are generally cheaper than Bhutan based tour operators due to obvious reasons like, Bhutan Based Tour Operators have to maintain certain standard, else your one complain to TCB can ban their license forever.

      Generally Bhutan based drivers / persons are more good and more responsible than Indian based driver. Again due to the obvious reason and their nature.

      So if you want A class experience, defintiely go for Bhutan based tour operator. Else if you want cheaper and value for money deal, then you’d have to take risk for choose a Indian tour operator. The risk is, if the driver is good then everything will be great.

      Another tip is to choose Jaigaon based tour operators if you are going for Indian Tour Operators. Kolkata / other regional tour operators hardly have much connection / say if anything goes wrong during the tour. Instead Jaigaon based operators living close to Bhutan have their connections and a voice in case things go wrong.

      Reply
  • Steve
    February 14, 2019 at 1:34 PM

    Hello,

    My name is Steve. I’m interested in advertising on your site.

    I wanted to ask do you publish sponsored posts on your website? And, if you do, how much do you charge for such service?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Regards,
    Steve

    Reply
  • Swathi
    February 21, 2019 at 4:16 PM

    So finally how much did it end up costing for a couple, in Indian rupees?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 22, 2019 at 12:32 PM

      Hi Swathi, Costing depends on a various factors for e.g. the standard of hotels, standard and type of meals, mode of transport etc. For us it was around Rs. 20,000/- per head Kolkata – Kolkata for 12N/13D.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        February 25, 2019 at 1:10 PM

        i think that is in yr. 2016. now it could be at least 1.5 times for similar tour, could not be?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          March 8, 2019 at 8:08 PM

          Hi Mr. Bharat, Well I’m still arranging tours to Bhutan for few of my friends and all I can say is price didn’t changed much. It’s still more or less same in lean season and yes it gets high a bit during peak season.

          Reply
          • bharat shah
            March 9, 2019 at 7:50 AM

            thanks for your guiding observation.

            Reply
  • Harish Morwani
    March 13, 2019 at 5:29 PM

    very informative and explained in details

    Reply
  • bharat shah
    March 20, 2019 at 7:19 PM

    Recently more and more Entry Fees are introduced for sight seeing places in Bhutan. You have recently toured ti Bhutan.Will you give the details of such fees, or the source from where we can know the fees? I noticed that for Dzongs at many places, they are as much as 300 pp. What is special about Dzongs ? Are all different from one another?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 25, 2019 at 8:45 PM

      Well yes, Previously most of the Sightseeing Points were free of cost. Now due to huge influx of tourists they are now generating revenue to keep things running.

      Entry Fees at Dzongs now costs Rs. 300/- per head. Also they assign a guide to a group of around 10 tourists (by clubbing them out), to help tourists understand their cultural heritage. Also to keep a tab on tourists so that they do not touch things unknowlingly.

      Districts in their language (Dzonkha) are known are Dzongkhang. Now every disctrict have monarchichal and political head office which are Dzongs. So yes Dzongs are special. It’s where the monarchical head and The Royal Family lives. Also Dzongs comprises of all the political ministry offices. So you can guess that it’s one of the most secured place in Bhutan.

      Other sightseeing points have entry fee varying from Rs. 50/- – Rs. 100/-.

      They also imposed entry fees for Tiger’s Nest which is now, Rs. 500/- per head. Well this restricted aged people / kids who used to attempt to go upto Mid-Point, as doing that now, is a loss of money. But it’s upto you.

      For a tour of Thimphu, Punakha and Paro, it’d cost you around 2500/- per head for the entry fees.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        March 26, 2019 at 11:32 AM

        thank you for detailed reply.

        Reply
  • Priya Singh
    April 23, 2019 at 11:56 AM

    I appreciate the kind words you wrote and I’m glad that you found some information that can help you with your site.

    Reply
  • Archisman Ghosh
    April 29, 2019 at 9:28 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    I am thinking about going to Bhutan around chrismas this year on honeymoon.
    It will be very helpful if you can help me with the following questions.

    1. Have you booked all the cars and hotels from B.K travels? Do they give options on hotels?
    2. What you have to book by yourself other than permits and Kolkata-Jaigaon travels?
    3. does the cab fare of 3000/- includes total travel cost per day?
    4. And most importantly, for the itinerary you mentioned what was your approximate cost?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 21, 2019 at 11:58 AM

      Hi Archisman,
      1. Yes. Previously I booked everything myself, then later realized that BK is offering the same hotel at cheaper rates. So I booked everything from BK. Yes he gives options on hotels as per your budget. It’s upto you to choose from 3-4 provided options (obviously based on the availability). Or even you can ask him to book specific hotel if you wish to.

      2. I don’t understand your question. What exactly do you mean?

      3. Yes. It includes Driver’s TA/DA. BTW it’s not always 3000/- per day. It depends on the rush and season. During Christmas the rate might increase a bit.

      4. I forgot sorry. However I have furnished all the detailed costing on my blog. You may please check the whole series and sum up may be?

      Reply
  • Viraj
    June 30, 2019 at 6:51 PM

    Hi Krish Da,

    Me and my are planning to road trip to Bhutan in September.
    Can you please let me know if we need to book hotels for entire trip or only Thimphu is fine?
    Also AIRBNB booking is considered or only it should be hotel booking?

    Thanks,
    Viraj

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      June 30, 2019 at 8:54 PM

      Hi Viraj, Hotel booking voucher for only Thimphu and Paro would be okay. I’m not sure if AirBnB booking is accepted or not.

      Reply
  • viraj
    June 30, 2019 at 10:13 PM

    Thanks Krish for your prompt response.
    Your blog helped me a lot for my Sikkim tour last year.
    I have prepared below itinerary for my Bhutan bike trip. Pleas let me know if it is fine.

    Day1-Sun 15-Sep
    Goa-Siliguri(8.30AM)-Phuenstoling

    Day2-Mon 16-Sep
    Pheunstoling-Thimphu

    Day3-Tue 17-Sep
    Thimphu

    Day4-Wed 18-Sep
    Thimphu-Punakha

    Day5-Thu 19-Sep
    Punakha-to-Thimphu

    Day6-Fri 20-Sep
    Thimphu-to-Haa

    Day7-Sat 21-Sep
    Haa-to-Paro

    Day8-Sun 22-Sep
    Paro

    Day9-Mon 23-Sep
    Paro-to-Siliguri

    Day10-Tue 24-Sep
    Buffer day

    11-Wed 25-Sep
    Bagdogra-Goa

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 1, 2019 at 9:22 PM

      Hi Viraj,
      Yes the plan is perfectly fine. You can utilize the buffer day for hiking to Tiger’s Nest at Paro. So it’d be 3N at Paro instead of 2N.

      Reply
      • Viraj
        July 1, 2019 at 10:36 PM

        Hi,
        I had kept buffer day, as I was planning to split Paro to Siliguri journey if we get tired of riding. I was planning to hike Tiger nest on Day7-Sat-
        21-Sep Haa-to-Paro. After I reach Paro probably at around 11am or 12pm. Will it be ok?
        Or else I can do it on day 8.
        Thanks,
        Viraj

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          July 1, 2019 at 10:50 PM

          Hi Viraj, Yup you can do that considering you are experienced with hiking and camplete the hike even after starting by around 11AM or 12PM.

          I’d recommend to keep aside Day 8 for Paro Sightseeing.

          Reply
          • Viraj
            July 1, 2019 at 11:11 PM

            Thanks a lot Krish Da.
            I will do that.

            Viraj

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              July 2, 2019 at 10:15 AM

              You are welcome 🙂

              Enjoy your holiday 🙂

              Reply
              • Viraj Prabhudesai
                July 9, 2019 at 3:54 PM

                Hi Krish Da,

                I have modified my itinerary a bit. Let me know, if it will be ok to travel to Haa in the afternoon after doing Tiger Nest Trek and stay at Haa.

                19 Sept-Thurs-Day 5 | Punakha-Paro
                ,Punakha Dzong: Most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan,Khuruthang: Township near Punakha Dzong
                Leave for Paro in the afternoon after doing remaining sightseeing in Punakha
                About 4 Hrs ride, depending upon the breaks you take in between, Overnight at Paro

                20 Sept-Fri-Day 6 | Paro-Haa
                Trek to Tiger’s Nest start at around 7am
                Leave for Haa after lunch
                About 3 Hrs ride, depending upon the breaks you take in between,Overnight at Haa with stone water bath.

                21 Sept-Sat-Day 7 | Haa-Paro
                Visit Haa Dzong,Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple)
                Leave for Paro after lunch, visit enroute Chele La Pass and walk between Prayer Flags
                About 3 Hrs ride, depending upon the breaks you take in between, Overnight at Paro

                22 Sept-Sun-Day 8 | Paro
                Visit Paro Dzong,Town Square of Paro,National Museum
                Overnight at Paro

                Reply
                • Krishnandu Sarkar
                  July 9, 2019 at 9:17 PM

                  Hi Viraj,
                  Well you can do that considering you are done with Tiger’s Nest by afternoon. Paro – Haa is around 3 hours journey. So if you are done with Tiger’s Nest by afternoon you can move to Haa.

                  However I personally won’t recommend that, as mostly you’ll be tired and hungery after the hike. So think wisely if you can manage to travel 3 hours without taking any rest after such a long and strenuous hike.

                  Reply
                  • Viraj Prabhudesai
                    July 10, 2019 at 10:02 AM

                    Thank You Krish Da,

                    I will consider that before heading towards Haa.

                    Thanks,
                    Viraj

                    Reply
  • Surya
    July 10, 2019 at 1:10 AM

    Great travelblog, thank you Krishnanduji!

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 10, 2019 at 10:43 AM

      Hello Surya,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      Reply
  • Uma
    August 19, 2019 at 11:39 AM

    we are planning to travel to Bhutan between 29/8/19-2/9/19. Just 4 days. Read from google that it is monsoon. We have a 9 year old kid. Is it advisable to travel during this time?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      August 20, 2019 at 11:02 AM

      Yes it’s a full fledged monsoon in Bhutan. So unless you don’t mind going out in rains I don’t see any issue here. Else, I’d recommend to postpone your plan, because you might not be able to enjoy the trip and sightseeings.

      And if you do plan to visit, then stick to Thimphu, Paro and Punakha only. As there are not much risks of landslides involved, as these are pretty lower altitude regions and with roads in good condition. However venturing out to further east than Punakha is an issue though. Although with 4 days in hand you won’t be able to go beyond Thimphu, Paro & Punakha anyway.

      Reply
      • Uma
        August 20, 2019 at 11:54 AM

        Thank you so much for your reply and advise. We will plan it someother time.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          August 20, 2019 at 12:15 PM

          Yeah! Considering a family tour with kid, that’s the best decission.

          Reply
  • Souvik Jana
    August 29, 2019 at 8:21 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    Amazing blog.
    We are a group of 5 visiting Bhutan in December. Please suggest changes if any in our travel plan.

    Day1-Mon 23rd Dec Phuentsholing – Thimphu
    Reach Phuentsholing by 8am. Get passes and reach Thimphu by evening. Night at Thimphu

    Day2-Tue 24th Dec
    Thimphu local visit. Night at Thimphu

    Day3-Wed 25th Dec
    Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula Pass. Local sightseeing at Punakha. Night at Punakha

    Day4 – Thu 26th Dec
    Punakha to Gangtey valley and back to Punakha

    Day5 – Fri 27th Dec
    Punakha to Paro. Sightseeing in Paro. Stay in Paro

    Day6- Sat 28th Dec
    Tiger Nest Trek

    Day7-Sun 29th Dec
    Paro to Phuentsholing and back

    Also is it possible to visit Haa/Chelela Pass in Day5 or Day6?
    I also find a lot of Airbnb offering cheaper homestays. How reliable is it?
    . Thanks a lot in advance.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      August 29, 2019 at 10:12 PM

      Hi Souvik, The plan seems to be perfectly fine. Nope I don’t see any scope to include Haa / Chele La Pass on Day 5. Including the same on Day 6 would be too tiresome and hectic.

      What I’d suggest instead is, get rid of the Day 4 and add that to another night at Paro and go for Chele La Pass / Haa on that day. Because making a day trip to Phobjika / Gangtey won’t be of much help. You’d be spending most of the time on road that day instead of enjoying Gangtey Valley. To enjoy Gangtey / Phobjika, you need to stay for a night there and enjoy the rarest Black Necked Cranes and hike through the Gangtey Nature Trail.

      I haven’t used AirBnB as of now so can’t comment much. But you can go ahead but first ask the host if they will be giving you hotel booking authorization letter. You’d need this to show your hotel booking which is mandatory to get permits.

      Also, don’t want to make you afraif, but make sure to reach P/Soling a night before and stay there. So that you can go as early as possible on 23rd. Because of XMas Holidays, Permit Office at P/Soling faces huge rush. Last Year around 500 people missed their permits. So you can guess in such cases, your whole plan and booking would be at stake.

      Reply
  • Samlha Tours
    August 30, 2019 at 3:11 PM

    Nice…Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • Viraj
    September 13, 2019 at 4:32 PM

    Hi Krish Da,

    Sorry to bother you again.

    We are reaching Bagdogra on Sunday morning 8.30am.
    Can we get shared cab for Phuenstoling/Jaigaon from Bagdogra? And how much will it cost?
    Or else From where can we get bus for Phuenstoling/Jaigaon? is it from Tenzing Norgay bustand or PC Mittal bus stand?
    Considering we will reach Siliguri by 10am.

    Thanks,
    Viraj

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 14, 2019 at 11:11 AM

      Hi Viraj, Local Shared cabs are not available from Bagdogra. There’s a company named Wizzride, they runs luxury vehicles (mostly Innova) on shared mode from Bagdgora. You can book through them. It costs around Rs. 700/- per head.

      For Buses, you can get bus from Siliguri Tenzing Norgay Bus Stand.

      Reply
      • Viraj
        September 14, 2019 at 11:51 AM

        Thank you Krish Da.
        I will check wizzride. Or else I’ll board the bus from Tenzing Norgay bustand.

        Thanks,
        Viraj

        Reply
  • Kaushal Soni
    September 29, 2019 at 9:52 PM

    Loved the post!

    Keep it updated.

    Reply
  • Sonam
    October 1, 2019 at 8:25 AM

    Hello,

    Thanks for this post. I have a few questions about visiting Bhutan in Oct/Nov as an Indian passport holder. I would like to do an extended trek 15-16 days plus spend a few more days in the cities. Let’s say 20 days in total. I would like to fly in and out of Kolkata.
    So, does this mean I will need additional permits to spend more than 7 days in Bhutan? If so, then is this available on arrival in Paro (airport)?
    Secondly, while I would like to hire a guide for the trek (for example, Laya Gasa Trek), if I understand correctly, they should not be charging me at the rate of US $250/day for this correct? I am trying to understand what the max rate/day should be. Should it be excluding just the US $65/day Sustainable Development Fee and will the surcharge be applicable if there are only 2 people?

    Would like to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 2, 2019 at 7:36 PM

      Hi Sonam, Nope, the rate of US $250/day is not applicable for Indians. Now, you need to understand that Indians are allowed to visit Bhutan on their own (without involving any local Bhutanese tour operator) just for cultural tour. However for trekking, Indians must go through local authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators. This is mandatory. However, instead of that Minimum Daily Fee, they would charge you on actuals same as like any other tour operator in India that you’d hire for other destinations in India.

      Although, Bhutan Tourism Board belives in High Quality tourism. Thus local Bhutanese Tour Operators are bound to follow those minimum standards like cannot deal with anything below 3* hotels. Also the package would include a private vehicle for you and a personal guide throughout the trip. For treks, they would also arrange the necessary permits, portars, cooks etc (whatever you need for the trek).

      Well, at Paro while furnishing your itinerary, the immigration officers might give you the permit for throughout the duration of your stay in Bhutan. If that’s not the case, you need to apply for Extension Permit at Thimphu while applying for ILP. The Entry Permit provided at Paro airport will only cover your permit for Thimphu and Paro. If you wish to visit any other destinations then you must apply for ILP for those destinations at Thimphu.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
      • S
        October 3, 2019 at 1:36 AM

        Thanks for the response Krishnandu. I heard back from a few guides that Bhutan government has stopped giving permits to Indian citizens for treks bordering China..go figure…
        Hope they open things up in the near future. I don’t mind paying the guide fees, just don’t want to pay more than what is necessary.
        Might have to look at Nepal or Tibet if this doesn’t work out.

        Thanks again.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          October 5, 2019 at 11:11 AM

          Hi Sonam, Well I’m not sure of that. you anyway have to go through authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators for Treks. So you may contact few of the reputed ones and you’d know for sure if they are allowing Indians or not.

          Reply
  • […] Planning Your Trip To Bhutan : You might like to go through the detailed post, if you are Planning A Trip To Bhutan. […]

    Reply
  • Rimi
    January 17, 2020 at 12:48 AM

    Hello,

    Thank you for this amazing blog! This was the most informative thing I could find online.

    Quick question for you, if you would know – I am planning a trip for 4 adults and 1 child (5 years) to Bhutan sometime in early 2012. All of us hold Indian passport except the child, she hold a U.S Passport. Would you know if the minimum $200/$250 fee would apply to her in which case I would have to book only through the Bhutanese Agents for all of us?

    Reply
    • Rimi
      January 17, 2020 at 12:49 AM

      Sorry I meant early 2021 (not 2012).

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        January 17, 2020 at 2:30 AM

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

        Regarding your query, yes, as your daughter is holding US Passport she’d have to go through the mandatory minimum daily fee and you must book the whole tour through Bhutanese Agents. However as she’s a child there are some discounts applicable.

        The discounts applicable for childrens are.
        1. Childrens below 5 Years only need to pay the Visa Fee of $40. No Minimum Daily Fee is applicable to childrens below 5 years.

        2, For childrens between 5 – 12 years, a 50% discount is given on Minimum Daily Fee. So as your child is 5 years old and next year she’d be 6 this is applicable to you. However please note that, as you hold Indian Passport, she’d be treated as solo traveller. There’s a surcharge of $40 per night for solo traveller. So you’d be given 50% discount on $240 / $290 ($200/$250 + $40) per night.

        Reply
        • Rimi
          January 17, 2020 at 5:03 AM

          Thank you fir the quick response. My daughter actually will be a few months shy of 5 when making this trip, so I guess only need to spend $40 for her Visa.
          But then can an Indian tour agent (like the BK Tours and Travel) help with her visa?

          Reply
          • Krishnandu Sarkar
            January 17, 2020 at 10:34 AM

            Hi Rimi,
            Ahh that’s great then. No. As she’s a US Citizen, she must book the whole tour through authorizedBhutanese Tour Operator. Only Bhutanese Tour Operators can get the Visa.

            Reply
  • Pallavi
    January 25, 2020 at 12:25 PM

    Hey Krishnandu,
    First of all thanks for such a detailed post and the pain you are taking to respond to each of the query.
    I am planning to reach Baghdogra on 23 Rd or 24th Feb. Could you confirm if Bhutan border is closed on 23, 24 and 25th of Feb 2020. If yes, is there any way I can get the permit? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 27, 2020 at 11:43 AM

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

      23rd Feb being Sunday, the Immigration Office will be closed. However if you reach 23rd, you can process your permit next morning i.e. on 24th and proceed to Thimphu. Permit office will be open on 24th and 25th Feb.

      As Bagdogra to P/Soling is around 5 hours, there’s no way you can reach Bagdogra and get the permit same day. So it’s good to reach on a Sunday and stay at P/Soling. And process the permit next day.

      Reply
  • Pallavi
    January 28, 2020 at 4:41 PM

    Thank you for your prompt reply.
    All the agents are saying that 21 to 25 Feb is official holiday. And my problem is that I am reaching Baghdogra on 24th feb morning. But I can’t get the permit on 25th also due to holiday. So if I go for offline permit I need to wait till 26th which means my 2 days 24 as well as 25 will be wasted. What would
    you suggest pls?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 28, 2020 at 6:56 PM

      Hi Pallavi, Well, I don’t see any holiday on those dates. But in this case I’d always trust the local agents as they are always updated on such cases.

      And if that’s the case, then either you need to change your travel dates or travel via flight to Paro. Because Immigration Office at Paro are always open irrespective of any holidays.

      Reply
      • Pallavi
        January 28, 2020 at 9:42 PM

        Thank you, Krishnandu. Unfortunately, I have already booked my tickets 🙁 So now, I am planning either to spend 24th and 25th in Phuentsholing and taking permit on 26th or take an online permit. I hope I don’t regret it later.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          January 29, 2020 at 10:39 AM

          Okay. I do understand. Let me ask my sources in Bhutan about the holiday on 21st to 25th Feb. I’ll get back to you as soon as I get any update.

          But as you have already booked your tickets, I think even if there’s a holiday, there’s pretty much nothing that you can do. However, I’ll confirm you for your peace of mind.

          Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          January 29, 2020 at 10:51 AM

          Hi Pallavi, Yes I just called up one of my friend in Bhutan. You were right. 21st to 23rd Feb is Birth Anniversary of the King and 24th – 25th Feb is Losar (Tibetian New Year). I attended Losar last time when I was there in 2016. However I entered before all these festivals.

          So it’s a long holiday. Although he’s not quite sure whether the Immigration Office will be closed for such a long time. But generally, Immigration Office at P/Soling is closed on Holidays and on Weekends.

          Reply
          • Pallavi
            January 29, 2020 at 8:09 PM

            Thank you, Krishnandu,
            I am eternally grateful that you went out of your way to get this info. Given that you are a travel enthusiast – if you ever plan to visit Uttarakhand and need any assistance, I will be more than happy to help.

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              January 29, 2020 at 8:28 PM

              Hi Pallavi, Thanks a lot 🙂

              As I have almost covered whole North East, I was planning to start exploring Himachal and Uttarakhand from next year onwards. I shall connect with you when I start planning 🙂

              Reply
  • Mukul Gupta
    February 23, 2020 at 8:51 PM

    Hi Krish
    I read your blog. We are a group of 4 families total 14 persons in all. I am planning to take Toyota Coaster (19 seater) from BK travels (as per your reccomendations) for a trip to Bhutan from 8 June to 14 June 2020.

    We can afford Rs 2,00 per night per family for hotel including extra Mattress.
    What you suggest : shall we book hotels on our own or BK travels can give us better deal.
    Also suggest me some good hotels/homestays in
    Thimph, Phunakha and Paro.

    Regards

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 24, 2020 at 11:44 AM

      Hi Mukul,
      Do you mean Rs 200 or Rs. 2000 per night per family?

      If it’s Rs. 200/- it’s too low. If it’s Rs. 2000/- it’s a good budget. Budget hotels in Thimphu and Paro is well within the range of Rs 1200/- – Rs. 1500/- per room per night. And in Punakha it’d be around Rs. 1500/- – Rs. 1800/- per room per night. Extra matress are charged at Rs. 200/- – Rs. 500/- depending on the hotel.

      So, on an average you can easily get rooms with 1 extra matress within that budget.

      Well, generally I found BK to offer lower rates than direct booking. May be because of the bulk business he deals with.

      P/Soling : Hotel Shelgoen is one of the best budget hotel I came across in P/Soling for Rs. 1100/-. Sheetal Residency is also on par with Shelgoen but I never stayed there. However, if you are looking for little bit better option then Hotel Centennial nearby Shelgoen wins hands down at around Rs. 1700/-

      Thimphu : You can go for Hotel Tandin / Hotel Kenny / Hotel 89 / Amma Suites / Hotel Grace etc. These will cost you around Rs. 1700/-. If you are looking for more budget hotels then check out Hotel Zedhen / Hotel Horizon / Hotel All Seasons are good options at around Rs. 1300/-. Hotel Welcome Home is also good, but it’s a bit away from market. Hotel Tandin / Hotel Kenny is my personal favourite here in Thimphu.

      Paro : Hotel Sonam Trophel / Hotel Tashiling / Hotel KK / Blue Poppy are good options at around Rs. 1700/-. My personal favourite is Hotel Sonam Trophel. The bengali cuisine is something to die for at Hotel Sonam Trophel. Hotel Yarkhil / Hotel Dragon / T Lodge are more budget options with around Rs. 1300/-.

      Punakha : Hotels at Punakha are a little bit costly than Thimphu and Paro. At Punakha, Hotel Kingaling has always been my choice. However at same budget there are Hotel Tashiling / Hotel Rigzum etc. These are all around Rs. 1800/- or so.

      NOTE : These are indicative rates, so please take it with a pinch of salt and keep +/- Rs. 200/- or so.

      Reply
  • Jay Bhanushali
    March 9, 2020 at 4:11 PM

    Hello Krish,

    I went through the blogs and would like to thank for such a descriptive narration. That helped me a lot in finalizing Bhutan as the destination.

    I am planning for a couple trip on occasion of my 1st marriage anniversary (on 19th May)

    I am planning to start from Bagdogra Airport on 14th May, Thursday. Can you please help me with an itinerary for around 8-10 days (budget trip).

    Regards,
    Jay

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 10, 2020 at 10:22 PM

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

      Well you may follow
      14th : Bagdogra – P/Soling
      15th : P/Soling – Paro
      16th : Paro Sightseeing
      17th : Hike To Tiger’s Nest
      18th : Paro – Thimphu & Thimphu Sightseeing (Also Process ILP)
      19th : Thimphu – Punakha & Punakha Sightseeing
      20th : Punakha – Phobjikha
      21st : Phobjikha – Thimphu
      22nd : Thimphu – P/Soling
      23rd : P/Soling – Bagdogra

      Reply
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