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Bhutan / Travelogue

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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ˜› ) 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, Β 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 yourΒ permit done from Kolkata Bhutan Consulate. The address mentioned there in the link is not valid as theyΒ 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 πŸ™

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 πŸ˜› 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

  • […] If you are planning for a trip to Bhutan, make sure to check out Planning a Trip to Bhutan – For Indians. […]

    Reply
  • Pratik
    March 2, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    Fantastic info you given here, i can relate to you since i have also been researching quite a few for the trip and we have almost same itinerary except Bumthang !! Couple of questions tho

    1. Did you book the taxi for your entire trip from BK Tours & Travels from jaigaon ? What was the price like ?

    2.What were the hotels you choose to stay in Thimpu , Phobjika , Paro Budget hotels i guess ?.. since i am a true budget traveller

    3.I am from Odisha and i was thinking to get permits before hand from kolkata . Do all the travellers in my group need to go to get permits or just one can go with their IDs ??

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 2, 2016 at 2:30 PM

      Thanks a lot Pratik πŸ™‚ I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      1. Yes we have hired exclusive vehicle throughout our trip. The price was 3000/- per day. Whereas when I inquired the same on Bhutan side it was like 4000/- per day.

      2. I’m also a budget traveller. I choose, Hotel Zey Zang in Thimphu, Gakiling Guest House in Phobjika and Hotel Phunsum in Paro. But I’d recommend Hotel Tandin or Hotel Ghasel in Thimphu than Zey Zang.

      3. Yes. All of you need to apply for permits and all of you need to carry valid ID proofs.

      Reply
      • Pratik Mohapatra
        March 10, 2016 at 11:24 AM

        Great thanks for replying πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          March 10, 2016 at 12:06 PM

          You are welcome. Let me know if you need help with anything else.

          You can to go through my rest of the Trip Reports, if you feel so, to have a better understanding.

          Reply
          • SaMBIT NAHA
            September 27, 2016 at 3:52 PM

            Hi Krishnendu,
            First of all thanks for the article, it was quite helpful just some more info if you could give.
            a) I have planned for a honeymoon trip in Bhutan in the 2nd Week of December.My travel itiniery will be Day1 From Phuntsoling to Thimpu stay at Thimpu for 2 nights. on Day3 I will reach paro stay there for another 2 nights Day5 Come to Phuntsholing stay there for the night Day 6 Return to Kolkata.
            b) I have booked River View Resort in Thimpu and Kichu Resort in Paro can you give me a review of these two hotels.
            c) How is the night life in Paro say after 7pm is it safe to be outside hotel till say 9pm in night in paro and how far is the main market place of paro from kichu resort
            d) Can you advice on the sightseeing that one may go for if his travel will be in thimpu and paro only. considering the fact that I will not travel much and will be more interested in enjoying the natural beauty of bhutan which is the top priority.
            Thanks a Lot
            Sambit
            sambit.naha@gmail.com

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              September 27, 2016 at 6:45 PM

              Hi Sambit, I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

              Coming to your questions…
              1. You itinerary is perfectly fine given that you are going for Honeymoon.

              2. I haven’t personally stayed at either of the hotels. So it’d be better if you check reviews of the hotels in Trip Advisor.

              3. Bhutan is very safe for anyone given that they follow Matraichal Culture. We roamed around till 11PM without any issues. But nightlife at Bhutan like other hill stations are not worth anything to mention. Thimphu have few pubs but I didn’t came across one at Paro.

              But whatever be it is, do not forget to use common sense which you’d follow even in your hometown. Like roaming around at night on isolated lane etc.

              I’m not sure how far is Kichu Resorts from the market place. But if I remember correctly it’s a bit away from main Paro town. But still check Trip Advisor or hotel website once to confirm.

              4. You may do a day trip to Punakha from Thimphu and day trip to Chele La from Paro other than general sightseeings. For both of that you need to apply ILP from Thimphu Immigration Office.

              For more details on the sightseeing points covered on both the towns you may refer below links…

              Thimphu : Sightseeing At Thimphu

              Paro : Sightseeing at Paro

              Hope that helps. Let me know of you have further queries πŸ™‚

              Reply
              • Sambit
                September 28, 2016 at 10:29 AM

                Thnx Krishnendu for the prompt reply. Just few more queries.
                a) What is the estimated cab fare from pheuntsholing to Thimpu and from paro to Phuntsholing.
                b) Which place is more beautiful Thimpu or Paro since i will spend more tourist days in that place which is more scenic.
                c) Is it worthwhile to visit museums libraries zoo etc or I will be better off doing the sightseeing by a stroll or a walk down the lanes of Thimpu and Paro since natural beauty of any place attract me the most.
                d) Trekking the Tiger’s Nest is not in my plan so can you recommend a Dzong other than tatsang which is not that tireing to reach and which is beautiful.
                Thnx

                Reply
                • Krishnandu Sarkar
                  September 28, 2016 at 9:27 PM

                  Hi Sambit,

                  1. Small cabs costs around 2000/- and SUV’s costs around 3000/- for P/Soling to Thimphu and P/Soling to Paro and vice versa.

                  2. Well, I found Paro to be more beautiful than Thimphu as the former being a little quaint city. Whereas Thimphu is kind of city and have more activities to do.

                  3. Well, It’s up to you to decide I believe. If you are not interested in history and seeing the culture of Bhutan then there’s nothing to visit there.

                  4. Nothing else within your reach. Remaining everything is covered in Sightseeings.

                  Reply
          • Chirag Titiya
            April 19, 2017 at 10:17 AM

            Hi!

            We are planning to go in May second week and we are going to be riding. We will reach phuentsholing on 7th May which is holiday and would not get permit right. So I am figuring out options to get it done in advance from tour operators or bike rentals or bhutan consulate in Kolkata. What do you suggest?

            1) would you know if a friend in Kolkata can obtain a permit for us if we send him form, passport and scanned finger prints

            2) Did you find out about hotel bookings scene yet? That do we need bookings for all nights or one/few falling on proposed itinerary. Since our itinerary very much depends on when we get the permits and start for Paro.

            3) Is it mandatory to have a guide in case of offline permits? A girl working in Paro told me that even if we get permits offline we have to get a guide and since we are riding we have to book separate cab for him as well :/

            4) would you low about RTO permits and weather one can get directly in Thimphu for the whole trip since I have heard so

            Thankyou Krish. You have helped me already a lot with this blog post. Thankyou for your time and appreciate your help on this πŸ™‚

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              April 19, 2017 at 10:38 AM

              Hi Chirag,

              1. Yes Immigration Office is closed on Weekends and Bhutan Govt. Holidays. As you’d be reaching P/Soling on 7th May which being Sunday you cannot get permit on 7th, but you can definitely process your permit and proceed to Thimphu next morning i.e. on 8th.

              And no, no one can help you getting permits from Kolkata Bhutan Consulate. As all of the members needs to go there personally for biometrics.

              You can opt for Online Permit System though, but the same is not available for public and only accessible by Bhutanese Tour Operators. And if you opt for that, it’s mandatory to hire a guide.

              Another option is to fly to Paro Airport, where you’d be issued Entry Permits immidiately. Permit Office at Paro Airport works on all days.

              2. As far as I came to know, only first night booking is required i.e. where you proceed after P/Soling. If you proceed to Thimphu you have to show one night booking for Thimphu, if you proceed to Paro, you have to show one night booking for Paro. But I cannot vouch for it, as I just came to know the same from various sources from Bhutan.

              3. No. It’s not mandatory to have Guide for Offline Permits.

              4. You mean the vehicle permit? After getting Entry Permit in P/Soling you need to approach RSTA in P/Soling to get the Vehicle Permit. Without that permit you can’t proceed to Thimphu / Paro.

              Hope that helps πŸ™‚

              Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked the post πŸ™‚

              Reply
              • Chirag
                May 2, 2017 at 11:00 PM

                Thanks a lot Krishnandu.

                Any update on requirement of hotel bookings for permit? Is it required for every day or just one day. Some agents and even bike rental guy is telling me its for entire trip. I am confused as my itinerary is variable.

                I am thinking about advance bookings (just for permits) which can be cancelled at the last moment and look for budget hotels there. However if you have contacts or few names from top off your head for budget hotels in paro, punakha, thimphu and haa then let me know. Every place i look online is around 2K minimum for a night
                I have also dropped an email to b.k. to get me cheap accommodation and receipts.

                Thanks again πŸ™‚
                Blessed be your travels!

                Reply
                • Jahnavi
                  June 24, 2017 at 10:41 AM

                  Yes please. I’m also looking for the same details.

                  Reply
                  • Krishnandu Sarkar
                    June 24, 2017 at 10:52 AM

                    Hi Jahnavi, Yes hotel booking reciept is mandatory as per new rules. But it depends on the Immigration Officer that whether he allows you with just one hotel booking reciept for your immidiate destination or asks for hotel booking throughout your stay.

                    Various tourists have given various feedbacks regarding this.

                    But it’s best to book all the hotels before proceeding in order to avoid last minute hassles.

                    Reply
      • sam
        November 28, 2017 at 10:21 PM

        Hi,

        We a group of 5 planning to visit Bhutan next month. Could you pls help us plan the itinerary?

        Reply
      • Aparna Ghosh
        March 12, 2018 at 12:43 PM

        hi Krishnendu. I wnt to visit Bhutan on 19.03.2018. can you give me the information about booking of hotels in Bhutan? I want to stay at chophel Norki , Thimpu
        How can I book it?
        Or is it necessary to book hotels in advance?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          March 12, 2018 at 11:17 PM

          Hi Aparna, Yes it’s mandatory to book hotels in advance else they won’t issue you permits. Sorry I lost the contact number of Chophel Norkyi.

          Reply
        • Aparna Ghosh
          March 13, 2018 at 4:02 PM

          Thanks krishnandu. Do you have any idea about Druk Tour & Travels, Jaigaon. Kindly let me know.

          Reply
          • Krishnandu Sarkar
            March 13, 2018 at 8:48 PM

            Hi Aparna, Nope. I travelled twice to Bhutan and both the time I opted for BK Tour & Travels.

            Reply
  • […] of the same, as it was just 2 weeks left for my marriage and after that my long time hard planned Trip to Bhutan. Within a moment I got a call from him, saying the same thing. He knew it was not possible but […]

    Reply
  • Roshan Patel
    March 16, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    Interesting And Very Informative Post it is. I Like this Post.

    Reply
  • […] I have tried my best to compile the information one would ever need to plan a trip to Bhutan at Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians, still if you need to know anything else, let me know in comments, I’ll be more than glad to […]

    Reply
  • Razzaq Siddiqui
    March 19, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    This is an extremely informative blog post! The kind you van take a print out and keep it with you.
    I am going to bhutan next month and I may do that πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 19, 2016 at 12:55 PM

      Thanks a lot Razzaq for your appreciation πŸ™‚

      Have a great holiday πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • sood
    March 20, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    very informative !!thanks

    i am planing to take a corporate group of 40-50 people in april 2016 from north india. I am looking for 2nights and 3 days accomodation in good resort . all travelling by air to Paro . what do u suggest

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 20, 2016 at 12:45 PM

      Hi Sood, Thanks a lot πŸ™‚

      You can check hotel.bt and refer the price accordingly.

      If you are looking for high end resort, look nowhere else than Uma Paro.

      Reply
    • Rudra Dhar
      May 30, 2016 at 6:56 PM

      Hello,
      For my return I will be taking flight from Bagdogra (Siliguri). So, can you suggest me where I can get bus for travel from Phuentsholing to Siliguri. Where in Phuentsholing is the bus stop and the timings for that, especially in the evening.

      Thanks,

      Reply
  • Alok Pandey
    April 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Amazing Blogpost Krishnandu…. I am planning to sikkim in last of june…definetely I am going to take ur help πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • smit
    April 12, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    Post is very helpful.
    I am planning solo trip to bhutan. I just had few queries.
    1. What was your per head expenses for this trip?
    2. I am thinking of making on the spot booking for hotels, Is it convenient or not?
    3. I am solo traveler & on a budget trip so hiring a private taxi would be expensive for me. Is there any public transport or shared private transport facilities for the travelling?
    4. Is it possible to cover bhutan within a week trip?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      April 12, 2016 at 1:58 PM

      Thank you smit. I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      1. For us it was around 20k per head.

      2. Yes. You can go for spot booking. Even at peak season you can manage to find a hotel easily. As I already mentioned there are many hotels in Thimphu and Paro so spot booking is not an issue here.

      But if you are travelling further east towards Phobjika, Bunthang etc. then you might like to prebook as those being remote destinations very less number of hotels exists. And the distance from one hotel to another is not that short. So hopping between the hotels and bargaining can be an issue. Also due to handful number of hotels most people travelling there prebooks them. So availability can be an issue during peak season. On lean season it’s fine.

      3. Yes you can travel via Bus or can hire Cabs for point to point drop. Shared cabs are not something common in Bhutan.

      4. Depends on which places you’d like to cover. You cannot certainly cover whole Bhutan in one week. But you can cover Thimphu, Paro and Punakha.

      Reply
  • R Dhar
    April 29, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    Hi,
    I was checking that you stayed in hotel Zey Zhang at Thimphu and at hotel Phunsum at Paro. For you both the hotels were given by your tour guide BK Travels? How much did they charge for both your hotels? How were the hotel rooms?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      April 29, 2016 at 8:33 PM

      Yes, I booked all the hotels from BK as he was offering me less tariff than what’s quoted by the hotels when I called them directly.

      I didn’t quite liked Zay Zang. I’d say Hotel Thimphu is much better in terms of VFM. And Hotel Phunsum was really good.

      Cost of Hotel Zay Zang : https://krishnandusarkar.com/capital-of-bhutan-thimphu-in-around/

      Cost of Hotel Phunsum : https://krishnandusarkar.com/exploring-paro-haa-and-chele-la-pass/

      Reply
      • Aladin
        August 30, 2016 at 6:41 PM

        Hi,
        BK is suggesting me Hotel Horizon/Welcome Home, how are these? Looks like these are far from city. Do you think staying a bit away is good or close to the Tower square?

        Thanks

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          August 30, 2016 at 9:05 PM

          Not sure about Hotel Horizon, but Hotel Welcome Home is out of the town. No it’s not wise to stay in outskirts of the city. Best is to stay near clock tower. Ask him to provide Chophel Norkyi / Hotel Zey Zang or some other hotel.

          I’d prefer Chophel Norkyi over Zey Zang.

          Reply
          • Rudra
            September 6, 2016 at 12:21 PM

            You stayed in Phunsum at Paro, but it is located in Geptey not in Paro Town. So how did you manage your dinner and breakfast in Geptey? Did you go to Sonam for dinner?
            Also do you know the Hotel Sinchula Villa in Geptey, Paro. How far it is from Phunsum?

            Thanks

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              September 6, 2016 at 2:13 PM

              Hi Rudra, Don’t get confused with the different lane names. Hotel Phunsum is in Paro only. In hill stations often this confusion occurs because of different road name. For E.g. Darjeeling and Gangtok.

              Hotel Phunsum have inhouse restaurant. So you can choose to have food there only. Most hotels in Bhutan have inhouse restaurant.

              Else Sonam Trophel is just 2-3 minutes drive or a 10mins walk away.

              During our 3days stay we took one lunch and one dinner at Snam Trophel. One lunch at Hotel Dragon and rest at our hotel only.

              Other than that there are lots of restaurants available around Phunsum.

              Reply
              • Rudra
                September 6, 2016 at 2:19 PM

                ok, I got it. Btw, do you know about Hotel Sinchula Villa or Hoteel Pelri Cottage in Paro. How are these hotels.

                Thanks.

                Reply
                • Krishnandu Sarkar
                  September 6, 2016 at 4:45 PM

                  Hi Rudra, I’m sorry but I’m not aware or have any experience with any of the either hotels. So can’t comment much on them.

                  Reply
  • R Dhar
    April 29, 2016 at 9:26 PM

    Hi,

    Do you have any idea about Nirmal Lodge in Thimpu? This time BK is offering this.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      April 29, 2016 at 9:32 PM

      Nope. Ask him weather the hotel is in Norzim Lam.

      Also if you are keen on some specific hotel, you can ask him to provide the same too.

      Reply
      • Rudra Dhar
        May 8, 2016 at 8:20 AM

        you mentioned got the permit from Kolkata, where is the office and what is the procedure to get the permit? I plan to visit Thimphu, Paro and Phunaka, so are all the permits issued at Kolkata office? How long does it take to get the permit?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          May 8, 2016 at 10:12 AM

          Hi Rudra, Please take some time to read the post above. I have furnished all the details there along with map.

          No, you’ll only get the Entry Permit that is issued from P/Soling Gate. Rest are same. You have to permit for Punakha from Thimphu.

          Note that permits at Kolkata are not issued instantly as it’s done in P/Soling Gate. It may take around 20-30 days to get the permit from Kolkata. So submit it beforehand. This is to avoid standing in a long queue at P/Soling.

          I highly suggest you to take your time to read the post above. All the details are furnished there.

          Reply
  • […] Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians […]

    Reply
  • Rajib Das Mukherjee
    May 5, 2016 at 6:39 PM

    Yayayayay!! Thank you so much Krishnandu for such an amazing, mind blowing detailed information about Bhutan. We are 6 travelers planning to go to Bhutan in November 2016. Initially the plan was to travel by road from Hyderabad (since we almost try and travel wherever possible by road), but then it is too time consuming and some of us are working class professionals and leaves might be an issue. So we dropped the ‘by road’ idea and chose to fly to Bagdogra and then hire a car from Jaigaon / Siliguri, and must I say, your blog gave us each of the things we needed for the next phase of our info gathering. Thank you so very much!! (mishti khawabo) πŸ˜€

    Just one quick question : Can I get the permit issued for all of us from RBC, Kolkata (as I visit Kol every month for work) ? or is it mandatory to have all of them physically present while we apply for the permit ?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 5, 2016 at 8:49 PM

      Hi Rajib, Thanks a lot for your appreciation πŸ™‚

      Yes, if applying at RBC Kolkata, one of you can go and submit all the forms and documents on behalf of others.

      You can go through other posts related to Bhutan, if you need help with Hotels, Drivers and Costs. Specially https://krishnandusarkar.com/tashi-delek-bhutan-himalayan-kingdom/ where I have jotted down all the contacts at single place.

      Reply
      • Rajib Das Mukherjee
        May 6, 2016 at 9:50 AM

        Ahh, Thank you so much for the information on this regard.!! Have a great weekend πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€

        Reply
  • Pawan
    May 6, 2016 at 8:09 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    I have booked the tour with one of the tour operator but is not able to transfer money to them. They have provided wire information which contains the details of Bhutan National Bank but none of the banks are able to transfer money. May you please let me know how you transferred money to them.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 6, 2016 at 9:00 PM

      I didn’t went with any of the agents. I did the whole tour on my own. And the agent from whom I hired car was from Indian side.

      Anyway, transferring money to BNB from India and other countries have different procedure.

      Check the link for India : Fund Transfer for Bhutan National Bank

      Reply
  • […] Krishnandu Sarkar (Flavour: Did thorough research to shortlist hotels and to come up with the itinerary) […]

    Reply
  • Vivek @ LifeAfterFI
    May 8, 2016 at 8:21 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    I have mentioned few kind words about your blog in my latest post (On my blog). You might want to check!

    PS: Your blog really helped us in coming up with our Bhutan itinerary and this is just a small way to show the gratitude πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 8, 2016 at 10:17 PM

      Hi Vivek, I’m glad that it helped you. And thanks a lot for the mention πŸ™‚

      Went through your entire post, it was great!!

      Would love to follow you on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram!!

      Reply
      • Vivek @ LifeAfterFI
        May 9, 2016 at 1:21 AM

        Good to know that you liked my Bhutan post πŸ™‚
        As of now, I am not very active on social media. Will soon create a facebook page. Right now, perhaps the best way to remain in touch would be through my blog.

        I am looking forward to see you on my blog πŸ™‚

        Reply
  • Abhishek
    May 11, 2016 at 9:18 PM

    Hey..

    I have read your trip to Bhutan. Really appreciate your efforts to note down and share every little details of the tour.

    Would like to know the weather in the month of July end. I am planning to go that time will that be OK ?? I have checked many forum and on google but couldn’t decide as wont be able to enjoy in case of heavy rain.

    thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 11, 2016 at 9:37 PM

      Hi Abhishek, Thanks a lot πŸ™‚ I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      Well, to tell you the truth, I’d avoid monsoon in hilly areas. And that affects your tour too.

      Weather is something which cannot be predicted by none of us.

      A small google search on Thimphu Forecast and Paro Forecast shows it’s raining heavily.

      Even Tourism Council of Bhutan warns about the same.

      So considering all the things, I’d say it’s better to avoid Monsoon.

      Reply
  • Abhishek
    May 19, 2016 at 11:01 AM

    Thanks Sarkar for your reply.
    Really appreciate your efforts in reply.

    After considering your suggestion of avoiding to travel to Bhutan in monsoons, I am planning to go in the month of September, and have few concerns regarding the same.

    1. I reside in New Delhi and have limited budget, so would like to know what would be the best option to reach Bhutan (by air or train or any other route)

    2. What would you suggest if I rent a car and drive by myself rather than book cab for whole trip with driver?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 19, 2016 at 11:09 AM

      Hi Abhishek,
      1. Train is most convinient if you are in budget.

      2. No one will give you car to drive yourself. It doesn’t works that way!! So if you hire exclusive vehicle that will come with driver too. An Innova will cost around 3k per day (including driver’s TA DA too).

      If you are less number of persons then you can hire small car which will cost less too!!

      Other options instead of booking exclusive vehicle is hirin point to point taxi where needed. Or travelling via shared cab. And there are buses too though very rare.

      Still exclusive vehicle is most convinient depending on how many persons you are.

      Reply
  • Abhishek
    May 19, 2016 at 12:55 PM

    Thanks for reply.

    Me along with my wife planning to go and hiring small car wont be an issue.

    If we plan to go by train from new Delhi which route we need to take ??

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 19, 2016 at 2:14 PM

      Hi Abhishek,
      Well if you are 2 persons then you can hire small exclusive vehicle.

      Regarding Train, the nearest railway station is Hasimara. So I’m not sure whether there is any train to NJP or Hasimara from Delhi. You can check IRCTC for that. But also take into account the time required for train travel too.

      From Kolkata its a one night journey. So what we generally do is catch train on friday evening after office and we reach at next morning. But for you it may be different. So in that case you have to take in to account your number of leaves too (I hope)

      Also if you are planning to travel via AC then I believe a flight to Bagdogra will also cost almost same.

      So checkout both options and opt for what is convinient for you financially and according to time both.

      Reply
  • Moumita Ghosh
    May 24, 2016 at 3:40 PM

    Hi Krishnendu,

    Hopefully you can recognize me.We had same college and obviously same trade as well ECE πŸ™‚ It is a very informative blog which I come across when I am searching for Bhutan trip.Very nice…Could you please give me some information regarding food cost ? and also you mentioned 3000/- is the per day cost for car rent for how many person? We are planning to go 8 persons so which type of car will be available for that and what could be the cost ?

    Regards,
    Moumita

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 24, 2016 at 8:35 PM

      Hi Moumita, Well, I was not in ECE. I was in BCA. Are you talking about CIEM?

      Anyway, thanks a lot for your appreciation πŸ™‚

      Generally dishes used to cost within 100/- – 150/- on small food joints or road side restaurants or on budget hotels. So I hope you can calculate it accordingly.

      We hired Innova and it was 3000/- per day. We were 6 people. I don’t think Innova will be able to accomodate more than 6 people comfortably. So you might need to go for Tata Hiace Bus which is very common in Bhutan for 8 people or otherwise you have to adjust it in Innova or Xylo but that won’t be comfortable enough.

      You may check Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom for details of costs.

      Reply
  • Sandeep
    May 29, 2016 at 10:35 PM

    Nice and informative read Krishnandu πŸ™‚
    I recently completed a solo North Sikkim through Lama Travels, courtesy your blog. So any amount of thanks wouldn’t suffice πŸ™‚
    My next destination will be hopefully Bhutan. This time though, I want to go for a trek in the Bhutanese mountains and not just a sightseeing trip.
    I wanted to ask whether any tour operators on the Indian side conduct trekking in Bhutan? Do you have any information about this?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 29, 2016 at 11:01 PM

      Hi Sandeep, Thanks for your appreciation πŸ™‚ I’m glad that my post helped you to have a tour within budget. πŸ˜€

      Regarding Bhutan, I’m sorry, but only Registered Bhutanese Tour Operators are allowed to conduct trek in Bhutan. Even though Indians are allowed without any involvement of Tour Operator, but trekking cannot be done alone. Trekking must be arranged from a Bhutanese Tour Operator only.

      So if you are planning for trekking in Bhutan it’s always best to go with Bhutanese Tour Operator.

      You can go with Bhutan Travel Routers or Heavenly Bhutan. Both of them caters to Indian tourists and would charge you based on Indian economy only. You can find the contacts of both of them above in this post.

      Other than the above, you can also try to contact other tour operators from TCB Approved Tour Operators List too.

      Reply
  • Sandeep
    May 29, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    Thanks!
    I am planning for a trek in October -November so I guess i have enough time to plan.
    Will get back to you for any other clarifications.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 29, 2016 at 11:18 PM

      Sure. You can always ping me if you need any help. I’ll be glad to help you out πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Rudra Dhar
    May 30, 2016 at 8:31 PM

    Hello,
    For my return I will be taking flight from Bagdogra (Siliguri). So, can you suggest me where I can get bus for travel from Phuentsholing to Siliguri. Where in Phuentsholing is the bus stop and the timings for that, especially in the evening.

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      May 30, 2016 at 9:34 PM

      Hi Rudra, Please check the RSTA website. Though it’s down now, but the site have all the details you need.

      You’ll get the schedule of buses and rates too.

      You can ask local people to direct you to the RSTA Stand at P/Soling.

      Reply
  • Ashok Kumar
    June 20, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Dear Krishnandu
    Excellent blog about Bhutan.I had not read any blog better than this yet.Very helpful for travellers specially for Indians.I along with my wife (both in early 30s) with my mother in law had planned for 5-6 days Bhutan trip in August.Our tentative plan is

    9th/Tues Arrive Paro in afternoon,Transfer to thimpu,if time available then apply for permit for Punakha,Haa

    10th/Wed Thimpu sight seeing

    11th/Thurs Thimpu to Punakha

    12th/Fri Punakha to Paro,sight seeing

    13th/Sat Day trip to Haa via Chela pass

    14th Transfer to Phuetsoling

    15th Phuetsoling to Siliguri,Bus at evening

    Is there any route to travel Punakha to Haa directly?If yes then how much time it would take?As my mother in law would not go for tiger nest hike so planning to skip Paro and visit any other place.Any other itinerary suggestion is welcomed.We are arriving Paro on 9th by flight and have to reach Siliguri before 7pm.

    Thanx and Regards

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      June 20, 2016 at 9:31 PM

      Hello Mr. Ashok, Thank You. I’m glad that you liked it. No there’s no direct route to Haa from Punakha you have to go via Paro.

      Your itenary is perfectly fine.

      Reply
  • sandip shaw
    June 20, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    Hi krishnandu your blog is really very informative. we are a group of 18 planning to visit bhutan on new years week 2017. have few queries 1. do u have any idea whether the RCB kolkata is issuing permits for paro n thimpu ( i read in one of the blogs that as of 2015 they have stopped issuing the permits from kolkata)
    2. we are not going to stay in haa valley so do we need a inner line permit for visiting haa ( haa is in our iteneray on paro ss).
    thank u

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      June 20, 2016 at 9:34 PM

      Hi Sandip, Thank You for your kind words πŸ™‚

      1. Yes RCB Kolkata still issues permit. I went on this February and made permit from RCB Kolkata only. Actually in the end of 2015 they were shifting their permit office from Dumdum to Tivoli Court in Ballygunge Circular Road, thus at that moment they stopped issuing permit for 2-3 months. It have been resumed after that.

      2. I’m not aware whether you can visit Haa with the Entry Permit. You can ask RCB from r the clarification though.

      Reply
      • sandip shaw
        June 26, 2016 at 5:48 PM

        hi krishnandu, i enquired with rcb tivoli court regarding the permits. we have to obtain haa valley permits from thimpu.
        we have contacted bk tours for a cost overview and they have given us a transportation cost of 7000/- per day in a coaster bus. they have also included the cost of hotels too. they have quoted hotel zay zang for thimpu. want your opinion whether we can book our hotels directly and use bk for transportation and ss. ( i personally feel they will not agree).
        another important question : why didn’t u click photos of the punakha dzong after dark? also trachi choe dzong in thimpu. we will stay in punakha only if we can see the dzong lighting at night orelse we will go back to paro or thimpu after punakha ss.
        i must say my family enjoyed browsing your snaps of bhutan.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          June 26, 2016 at 11:18 PM

          Hi Sandip, Well then it’s clarifiried that anywhere you go beyond Thimphu and Paro you have to obtain Restricted Area Permit. And Haa is different Dzongkhag (district) than Thimphu and Paro.

          Yes, BK will ofcourse agree for whatever you decide. You can ofcourse book the hotels directly. In my case, BK offered me lower price than whats quoted by the hotels directly. So I outsourced the hotel bookings too from him only. But it’s not mandatory to take a packaged tour from him. You can also take just a car.

          Regarding Punakha Dzong, the place where we stayed (Kingaling), is not nearer to the Punakha Dzong. So it was not possible to ride upto dzong after dark.

          And regarding Thimphu Dzong, you can say it my idioticy. I just missed it. Even I wanted to click one night view of Punakha and Thimphu Dzong. But I just couldn’t make it for the Thimphu Dzong. I regret it even now. The first night we were in Thimphu, I thought that the lighting of Paro Dzong is the best. But when I came to know it isn’t, and instead it’s Thimphu Dzong which has the best view after dark, I couldn’t make time for it.

          Thanks a lot for your appreciation πŸ™‚

          Reply
          • sandip shaw
            June 27, 2016 at 11:04 AM

            hi again, ooohh i see … most people are suggesting we stay at punakha for the night view. do u know any hotels which could be in close proximity to the dzong in punakha. so that we can walk down for some snaps.
            another query bro, do u think it might snow heavily and block dochula pass in the first week of jan?
            i must appreciate your prompt replies. thanks a ton for all the info and replies.
            i was going thru ur photos on other destinaton. love ur work . keep it up .

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              June 27, 2016 at 9:35 PM

              Hi Sandip, Yes even I’d suggest you to stay at Punakha for a night. You’ll love the place. But unfortunately I’m not aware of such Hotels near the Dzong. I think Damchen Resort is very close.

              But I highly doubt your requirement of view of Punakha Dzong from your Hotel. But staying within close proximity is possible. But remember one point, is that, those hotels will be highly priced.

              If you manage to find something better, do let me know too πŸ™‚

              Regarding weather it’s really unpredictable. No one can predict the weather in hills. But when we visited in Feb, we spotted snowfalls in Dochula while coming back from Punakha. But I don’t think, it’ll get blocked by heavy snowfall.

              Even if it gets blocked, don’t worry, as roads get cleared within few hours by army / policy / local people. So you won’t face any issue.

              Thanks, I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

              Reply
  • sandip shaw
    June 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM

    hi krishandu,
    thanks for ur opinion. we are planning to visit the iron hanging bridge in punakha . Any inputs on that bro.
    i’ll get back to you with another set of queries next week.
    take care and keep up this good work.
    sandip

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      June 28, 2016 at 11:13 PM

      Hi Sandip, Thanks a lot for the complement πŸ™‚

      No, I don’t have any idea about which iron hanging bridge you are talking about. The one over the river?

      Reply
      • sandip shaw
        June 30, 2016 at 1:01 PM

        hi
        yes krish the one over the river.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          June 30, 2016 at 8:25 PM

          Hi Sandip, You can visit it as per your wish. No special suggestions is necessary for that πŸ™‚

          Reply
  • Ashok Handa
    July 13, 2016 at 10:46 PM

    Hi
    Thums up for the details. I have travelled almost entire India and Gangtok I could not visit in my earlier tour to Darjeeling and Kathmandu. After many years I am making it in September. Just want to visit Bhutan along with my wife for only 2 nights due to tight schedule . Pl advise whether to stay in Paro or Thimpu to make best of my short stay.We are Sr. citizens.I can engage a small cab from Indian side. Should I book Hotels through Trivago etc. or bargain when we reach Bhutan. Your valued tips will encourage me.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 13, 2016 at 11:13 PM

      Hello Mr. Ashok, First of all I highly disencourage you to visit Bhutan for just 2 nights. Because that way you won’t be able to see or experience almost nothing that Bhutan has to offer.

      Now, If you still insist, I have no idea where you’ll be coming from and how. Whether you’ll be flying to Bhutan or planning to enter Bhutan by road?

      If you are entering via Road then you have to halt 1st night at the Border and on 2nd day you can move to Thimphu or Paro.

      Now considering you have 2 days in hand, I’d recommend Thimphu over Paro.

      Bhutan is still behind ages and doesn’t operate via Internet. So you’ll only find handful number of hotels online for Bhutan. That also only high end ones have tied up with the online providers.

      So for Bhutan, I’d recommend you to do it their way. Look at https://hotel.bt and sort out hotels based on your price range (though the ones quoted there is mostly outdated, so just add 200 – 500 more as that would be the actual price) and call them up for the current rates and booking.

      And if you want recommendation from my end, I’d recommend Hotel Tandin among budget category.

      Also let me inform you that september is almost end of monsoon in Bhutan. So expect some light showers. It may not rain all the day but sometimes heavy rainfall can occur during some time of the day. So if you are not reluctant to go out in rain you may proceed with your plan.

      But again, lastly, if you seek my suggestion, I’d say plan it another time when you’ll have more time in hand to explore Bhutan. One must spend atleast 4-5 nights in Bhutan. Else the tour is not at all justified.

      Let me know if you need help with anything else πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Ashok Handa
        July 19, 2016 at 2:39 PM

        Thanks Mr.Sarkar for your suggestions dt 13th July for my proposed Bhutan Visit in Sep16. Actually I have 2 days spare with me after my 2 days in Darjeeling followed by 2 days in Gangtok . I agree with you that just 2 days is no enough for Bhutan . Please guide me if I stay another 2 days in Gangtok or come down to Kalimpong for 2 days and if so ,please let me have your / available tips for that tour. I hail from Jalandhar in Punjab . From NJP I will go to Deoghar and Patna.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          July 19, 2016 at 4:47 PM

          Have you been to other places in Sikkim? In that case you can explore North Sikkim / Ravangla – Pelling / Kaluk. You may like to explore East Sikkim too.

          Even if you want you can enjoy some offbeat areas around Darjeeling such as Tinchuley / Lepchajagat.

          If you wish you can come down to Kalimpong too or enjoy Lava – Loleygaon / Rishyap / Kolakham / Charkhole / Pedong.

          So various possibilities are there. Let me know your itinerary and total number of days, I may suggest you something better.

          But trying to visit Bhutan will be useless anyway. As you’d spend one day moving to the Indo-Bhutan border from Gangtok / Darjeeling / Bagdogra / Siliguri if you travel by road. And another day will go to travel to either Thimphu or Paro from the Border.

          So you get no time to explore Bhutan.

          Reply
          • Ashok Handa
            July 20, 2016 at 12:11 PM

            Thanks Dear. I will come to Bagdogra by flight on 15th Sep. Stay overnight at Siligury, travel by train to Darjeeling by train on 17th ,
            leave for Gangtok 18th Morning leave / stay back till 22nd as I have to catch night train from NJP to Bhagalpur ,then visit Jyotirling at Baidyanath nd take evening train to Patna for a conference. I have my hotel booking through Sterling at Darjeeling and Gangtok from 16th to 20th. My wife does not enjoy long travel by road. So I have to plan an alternative to Bhutan visit as your good suggestion, for 21st nd 22nd. Waiting for your valued suggestion.

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              July 20, 2016 at 12:15 PM

              First of all you can’t travel to Darjeeling by train. Toy trains from NJP to Darjeeling had been stopped long ago. So you have to go via Shared Cab / Exclusive Cab.

              For those 2 days move to Pelling. On 21st Gangtok to Pelling and on 22nd Pelling Full Day Sightseeing.

              Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              July 20, 2016 at 12:19 PM

              Sorry I missed that you have to catch train from NJP on 22nd. In that case you can’t enjoy Pelling Sightseeing.

              So you have two options, you can move to Pelling on 21st if you just want to experience Mt. K sunrise on 22nd, as you have to move to NJP on 22nd Morning and can’t do sigtseeing.

              Else you may stay at Ravangla on 21st and enjoy the sightseeing before checking in to the hotel. Next day you can move to NJP.

              Reply
              • Ashok Handa
                July 23, 2016 at 7:51 PM

                Thanks again.
                I have already booked train on 15th . It is passenger train and runs thrice a week. Since Pelling is further distance and wife is not so keen to travel more. So guide me if Kalimpong is worth for two days or another place / places. Bothering you again

                Reply
                • Krishnandu Sarkar
                  July 28, 2016 at 9:03 PM

                  Hi Ashok, First of all sorry for replying a bit late, I was on holiday to Goa!!

                  Can you please post the day wise itinerary, as I have completely lost the context and it’s very tough to suggest something without knowing exact day wise plan.

                  From where you think Pelling is further distance? From Gangtok, Pelling is nearer than Kalimpong. But from Darjeeling, Kalimpong is nearer than Pelling.

                  Yes you stay 2 nights in Kalimpong, or if you happen to be in Darjeeling I’d suggest an offbeat destination Tinchuley. πŸ™‚

                  Please let me know the itinerary you have prepared, I’ll modify it if needed πŸ™‚

                  Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 13, 2016 at 11:16 PM

      Also I’d like to add one more point, being Sr. Citizen if you don’t feel reluctant to hop through hotels here and there, then book hotels on spot as you’d get better deal on spot as September being off season.

      Reply
  • kumarjit sengupta
    July 18, 2016 at 6:46 PM

    Hi Krishnendu.

    Really good blog,its so nice of you. I am planning to go to Bhutan and have also contacted BK for the tour. However one point to clarify with you,he is offering me a Santro or wagon r, as I am travelling alone . But I am apprehensive as it’s a hilly area ,would be it a risk to travel by a small car?.should I insist on Innova or Sumo?.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 18, 2016 at 10:28 PM

      Thank You Mr. Kumarjit, Thank You for your appriciation πŸ™‚

      Well that’s not an issue. Because most of the taxi’s in Bhutan is Swift Desire or kind. And roads in and around Thimphu, Paro and Punakha is in good condition.

      Only post Punakha roads are not that good as road widening work is going on.

      So as per my opinion it’s not convinient to invest in a bigger vehicle if you are travelling alone.

      Reply
      • kumarjit sengupta
        July 19, 2016 at 6:52 AM

        Thanks sir for the response. I will be travelling in small car then. BK’s cost included the car charges and double bed room hotels. I think it would be wise to bring some friend along to share the costs or . he charge per head?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          July 19, 2016 at 7:02 AM

          You don’t need to call me Sir!! Just call me Krishnandu.

          No BK doesn’t charge per head. So for upto 4 people in a small car cost should not get change. But yes he might have booked hotels on single basis so on twin sharing the price may be increased a bit and for triple sharing he’d charge for extra matress as he did with us.

          But then he has nothing to do there. It depends on the hotel’s policy. So for some hotel it might be like for single or twin sharing the tariff might be same in that case you don’t have to give anything extra if you bring another friend.

          Just clarify it with BK once.

          Reply
  • Ashok Handa
    July 25, 2016 at 6:55 PM

    Dear Krish
    My query dated 23rd is pending .
    Seems it escaped your attention .
    Please respond .

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 28, 2016 at 9:04 PM

      Hi Ashok, No it isn’t!! I’m sorry for replying a bit late, I was on holiday to Goa with limited Internet Connectivity!!

      As I already responded to your main query up there, can you please post a day wise Itinerary, as that would really help, because I have completely lost the context over various posts.

      Reply
      • Ashok Handa
        July 29, 2016 at 12:41 PM

        Thanks.
        My itinerary is as under
        Reaching Bagdoagra from Delhi on 15th Sept.Stay overnight in Siligury.
        Leave for Darjeeling by train on 16th Stay at Darjeeling 16 & 17
        Stay in Gangtok 18 & 19
        20th & 21st is available with me as I have to catch night train from NJP.
        If I go to Pelling then my journey on 22nd will be longer for my wife.
        I have a choice to stay back at Gangtok or go to Kalimpong or some other place.
        Waiting for your valued suggestions

        Ashok Handa

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          July 29, 2016 at 4:18 PM

          Hi Ashok, As you have 2 days with you Pelling the best destination you can explore. I dont know why your wife feels on 22nd Pelling to NJP will be long journey because Gangtok to NJP needs almost same time.

          Anyway you can move to Ravangla and explore Ravangla and Namchi else you may proceed to Kalimpong.

          Ravangla and Namchi is near to NJP than Pelling to NJP.

          Reply
          • Ashok Handa
            August 2, 2016 at 1:37 PM

            Thanks dear Krish for the input.
            We will enjoy 2 days in Kalimpong this visit and if
            get another opportunity in life ,then we will visit Bhutan.
            Since I visit Kolkata many times, can you suggest some destination
            which can be linked along with Puri. Had been to Gangasagar twice.

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              August 2, 2016 at 1:49 PM

              That’s great!! Enjoy your holiday πŸ™‚

              Well Puri is not in Kolkata. It’s in Odisha. There are many destinations in North Bengal and South Bengal too!!

              But if you want something near Puri, you may try Chandipur, Chandrabhaga and Gopalpur

              Reply
  • Sumita
    August 11, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    Hi Krishnandu
    I too am an avid traveller and a recent blogger. Over the past one week I’ve just been mailing and talking to travel agents/ taxi guys trying to fix either a trip to Arunachal( Tawang circuit) or Kaza Spiti.
    No one is giving me a good budget plan. Today I decided why not go to Bhutan ? i came across your blog post and its amazing. Must have taken you so much time and effort to write this and looking at the comments, I can see how many people have benefited from it as well. Okay we are planning to go in October( Durga puja time) from Delhi. Going on 9/10 and returning on 16/10. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      August 11, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      Hello Maam, I’m glad that you liked it. Yes as I always travel in budget I love to do all the planning myself. And I always draft them here on my blog so that other people can be benefitted from this.

      What kind of suggestions you want is not much clear to me. Are you seeking an itinerary?

      In that case please let me know whether the mentioned dates are including you travel dates and how are you planning to reach Bhutan i.e. via Flight or Train.

      Else I believe this post and the other series have everything one needs to know.

      Reply
  • Hitessh Jain
    August 13, 2016 at 7:52 PM

    Hello,

    Amazing post!!!

    Can you please assist me in the initial phase of planning for the Bhutan trip?

    My queries are below and I will be really happy if you could take some time in responding the below queries. Thanks in advance!!!

    I am from Chennai and I am planning to visit Bhutan in the late December(Nearing Christmas-New year).

    1) First of all, Can you please advise me if it is advisable to visit Bhutan in the month of December?

    I am planning to take flight from Chennai to Kolkata.

    2) Can you tell me the exact route from Kolkata to reach Bhutan.
    How long is Jaigaon from Kolkata? How long does it take in Train.
    From Jaigaon, How long is P/sholing? Whats the best mode of transport?

    3) Is 8 or 9 days enought to visit, Paro-Thimpu-Bumthang(Inclusive of travel to and fro from Chennai?)

    4) I am going to travel with my wife, so if I outsource my cab and hotel booking to any tours an travels like BK from India for the whole trip, any idea how much will it cost for my whole trip(Jus t an approx figure)

    5) I am a pure vegetarian, will I get Veg food there?

    My budget is 30K per head including travel to and fro from Chennai. Is this doable?

    Your inputs will be highly appreciated.

    With Regards,
    Hitessh Jain

    Reply
    • Hitessh Jain
      August 26, 2016 at 9:30 AM

      I appreciate your response to my query.

      I have few more questions.

      1) I got to learn from someone that I can reach Bhutan via bagdogra. So how long is P/sholing from bagdogra? How long will it take to reach P/sholing from bagdogra? What would be the ideal mode of transport?

      2) How many days will it take for me to cover famous sight seeing spots in Paro, Thimpu and bumthang?

      3) If I depend on public transport in Bhutan, do we have connectivity for all the above spots I mentioned.

      I am really sorry of I am bothering you with so many dumb questions.

      It would be really great if I get your email address.

      This is the first abroad trip I am planning, so kindly bear with me. Thanks in advance!!

      With Regards,
      Hitessh Jain

      Reply
  • Krishnandu Sarkar
    August 14, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    Hi Hitessh, Thank You and I’m glad that you liked it!!

    1) First of all, Can you please advise me if it is advisable to visit Bhutan in the month of December?

    I am planning to take flight from Chennai to Kolkata.

    A. December is off season. So everything will be on lower side on December like Hotels, Cars etc. So ofcourse you can visit in December. But in December it will be cold. Nights will be 1-3 degree. But most standard hotels offers room heater and budget hotels offers it for 100 – 200 bucks.

    2) Can you tell me the exact route from Kolkata to reach Bhutan.
    How long is Jaigaon from Kolkata? How long does it take in Train.
    From Jaigaon, How long is P/sholing? Whats the best mode of transport?

    A. Only Kanchankanya Express from Sealdah goes to Hasimara and it takes one night around 15 hours by train.

    From Hasimara, Jaigaon is around 30 minutes distance. Jaigaon and P/Soling is side by side. Jaigaon is the Indian side and P/Soling is the Bhutan side. So it’s just a step across the border.

    You can also consider flying to Paro from Kolkata.

    3) Is 8 or 9 days enought to visit, Paro-Thimpu-Bumthang(Inclusive of travel to and fro from Chennai?)

    A. Well for Bumthang you need 2-3 more days unless you choose to fly there from Paro. Bumthang have local airport.

    4) I am going to travel with my wife, so if I outsource my cab and hotel booking to any tours an travels like BK from India for the whole trip, any idea how much will it cost for my whole trip(Jus t an approx figure)

    A. Cost depends totally on you like what kind of hotels you choose and all. But just for an idea budget hotels will cost around 1100/- and standard hotels will cost you around 1700/-.

    Note that these costs are valid only for December. And if it’s only two of you a small car for your entire trip would cost around 2200 – 2500 per day inclusing driver’s TA/DA.

    Now fooding depends on you like the choice of restaurant and choice of menu.

    5) I am a pure vegetarian, will I get Veg food there?

    A. I’m sorry but Veg Restaurants in Bhutan is not at all common. But Veg foods are available in any restaurants. So if that’s okay with you, then you can always order Veg items from the menu at any restaurant. Hotels Ghasel in Thimphu is a pure Veg restaurant.

    My budget is 30K per head including travel to and fro from Chennai. Is this doable?

    Well again, cost depends on the luxury level you choose. I think I have given you the basic idea of the cost above. So you can calculate it on your own based on that.

    Reply
    • Hitessh Jain
      August 26, 2016 at 9:31 AM

      appreciate your response to my query.

      I have few more questions.

      1) I got to learn from someone that I can reach Bhutan via bagdogra. So how long is P/sholing from bagdogra? How long will it take to reach P/sholing from bagdogra? What would be the ideal mode of transport?

      2) How many days will it take for me to cover famous sight seeing spots in Paro, Thimpu and bumthang?

      3) If I depend on public transport in Bhutan, do we have connectivity for all the above spots I mentioned.

      I am really sorry of I am bothering you with so many dumb questions.

      It would be really great if I get your email address.

      This is the first abroad trip I am planning, so kindly bear with me. Thanks in advance!!

      With Regards,
      Hitessh Jain

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        August 26, 2016 at 11:22 AM

        Hi Hitessh,
        1) I got to learn from someone that I can reach Bhutan via bagdogra. So how long is P/sholing from bagdogra? How long will it take to reach P/sholing from bagdogra? What would be the ideal mode of transport?

        A. It’d take you around 4 Hours. Ideal mode of transport would be to hire a private taxi from Airport.

        2) How many days will it take for me to cover famous sight seeing spots in Paro, Thimpu and bumthang?

        A. Paro and Thimphu can be covered in 4 days (2 days each). But Bumthang is far away around 2 days drive and another 1 full day is needed to cover Bumthang. You can also go to Bumthang by domestic flight from Paro.

        3) If I depend on public transport in Bhutan, do we have connectivity for all the above spots I mentioned.

        A. Public transport i.e. Bus is well connected within Thimphu and Paro. But post that, other remote destinations have Buses only twice or thrice a week and need to be pre-booked. Best is to hire a cab for those areas.

        I am really sorry of I am bothering you with so many dumb questions.

        A. It’s absolutely okay!! No issues at all!!

        It would be really great if I get your email address.

        A. You can mail me at krishnandu@krishnandusarkar.com

        This is the first abroad trip I am planning, so kindly bear with me. Thanks in advance!!

        A. Ofcourse!! Even when I planned for the trip it took me 3 months to find out all the details as very less people travel beyond Thimphu and Paro and finding such blogs and information was a tough job!! I’m always here to help!! πŸ™‚

        Reply
  • Alok
    August 15, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    Dear Krishnandu

    Thanks for inspiring people like me through your adventures and passion of sharing information. It is very helpful.

    I am planning to travel to Bhutan with my wife from 25 Aug to 10 Sep (13 days), entering via Phuentsholing, but planning to exit via Samdrup Jongkhar. Quick questions please:

    1. Is it legally allowed to enter and exit from different points?

    2. If yes, is it too difficult to balance sight-seeing w/ so many places enroute? Or is it manageable?

    3. We would love to do a trek that’s memorable yet not too difficult for our avg. fitness levels. Can you recommend something?

    4. Should we expect a high price surge during this season?

    Thanks a lot for anything you’d share, in advance.

    With regards,
    Alok Sharma

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      August 15, 2016 at 9:22 PM

      Hi Alok, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      Below are your answers

      1. Is it legally allowed to enter and exit from different points?

      A. No. But you must mention the same while filling up your Entry Permit form.

      2. If yes, is it too difficult to balance sight-seeing w/ so many places enroute? Or is it manageable?

      A. Well 13 days is not enough to do that. According to me, you must add 3 more days to exit via Samdrup Jonkhar. In that case you’d be able to cover all the place along with Sightseeing.

      3. We would love to do a trek that’s memorable yet not too difficult for our avg. fitness levels. Can you recommend something?

      A. Tiger’s Nest / Paro Taktsang at Paro.

      4. Should we expect a high price surge during this season?

      A. Not at all. September is off season. Season starts from October.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have further queries πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Bashyam
    September 8, 2016 at 5:30 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    Wonderful blog, I’m regularly reading up updates to your Bhutan blog and new reader queries. A family of 4 – 2 adults and 2 kids (1-12 yr old and another 5 yr old) are planning a Bhutan trip in May 2017, approximately a 12-day stay trip.
    I understand that yours was a mostly sight seeing trip given your parents’ age etc. Do you think any trek is feasible for a 5-year old- what about Tiger’s nest? Did you obtain permit to trek?

    Also curious: Were your parents fairly healthy to trek and if yes, were there any considerations why you chose to sight see , instead of trekking more? Was it due to reasons like having through tour operator etc?

    Again, greatly enjoyed reading your blog and detailed and diligent replies.

    Appreciate a response,

    Thanks in advance
    Regards,
    Bashyam

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 8, 2016 at 8:53 PM

      Hi Bashyam, Thanks a lot for your appreciation and I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      You may hike to Tiger’s Nest. That might not be an issue given the age of your kids. But even easy trekking can be a challenging task for them specially for the 5 year old. First of all walking through steep hilly terrains, camping and availability of food and water. So considering all the situations, I’d say keep the trek for future adventure once they grows up.

      But Tiger’s Nest can be done. But everyone is different and have different ability to walk. Tiger’s Nest is not an easy task too. But till the mid point you’ll find pony’s. So even at some point if you feel like they aren’t able to walk anymore, you can come down.

      You do not need any permit to do the trek. There’s only two kind of permits…
      1. Entry Permit : Which you need to obtain while entering Bhutan (at Land Border / Paro Airport). With this permit you can travel only to Thimphu and Punakha
      2. Restricted Area Permit : This one is needed if you want to go beyond Thimphu and Paro and this one is issued at Thimphu Immigration Office.

      Kindly read the above post thoroughly, everything regarding permit is mentioned there.

      Well, my dad is really very healthy (even more than me), so he and my aunt who is more or less a bit healthy (as she walks everyday) could do the hike to Tiger’s Nest. But my mom and wife was unable do the trek as they were like continuously puffing after every 10 steps. So they went back.

      I must say, even though most of the people does this hike over a period of time, but do not take this lightly, as the road is steep and more steeper after mid-point. And post that you have to cross 700 stairs. But generally people who are healthy completes this within 4-5 hours and people like me, took 8 hours. So as you have entire day with you, that’s not an big issue. But you must make sure to come down before sunset, else it’ll be a big issue.

      I haven’t booked through tour operator. Being an Indian, I’m permitted to travel on my own without engagement of any tour operator. I just booked the hotels and car through B.K and did the entire planning on my own before contacting him.

      Just in case, if you haven’t came across Hike To Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang yet, please have a look. Most of your queries will be answered there regarding Tiger’s Nest.

      Thanks a lot and sorry for late reply due to my IT Schedule πŸ™‚

      Let me know if you have further questions

      Reply
  • Bashyam
    September 8, 2016 at 5:37 PM

    Krishnandu,

    Sorry forgot to ask: Do you know of any home stays in Bhutan and the ways to book them? Also what they cost and include? Do they normally serve veg food?

    Regards,
    Bashyam

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 8, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      Hi, There are lots of homestay’s in Bhutan, you may take a look at Homestay’s in Bhutan.

      One of the most common homestay is Haa Valley Homestay.

      There are hardly any veg restaurants in Bhutan. But every restaurants do serve veg food. So that’s not an issue.

      Every homestay have different cost, so you have to call them and take rates. Like for Haa Valley Homestay, they charge around 850/- for double bed room. Meal charges extra.

      But this can vary across homestay’s. So some homestay may include meal charges too. But as I already said above, to have exact information about a particular homestay, you have to call them up.

      Reply
  • Bashyam
    September 8, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    Krishnandu,

    Thanks a lot for the quick reply. I didn’t think you were late on your reply at all. Your passion in maintaining this blog and your quality and to the point responses are a pleasure.

    Yes, closer to the date, I’ll read up your blog and questions /answers again and plan accordingly.

    If I understand it right, an Indian citizen can choose and do own treks (based on your /home stay owner’s knowledge / hotel Manager’s knowledge) so long as one obtains Entry Permit and Restricted Area Permit (optional)- is that right? No need to take any trek related permissions – correct? But it looks like trekking w/o tour operator (except Tiger’s Nest) looks like a tall ask – is that a correct assessment?

    Looking at the prohibitive costs, most travelers, at least at this point, do more sightseeing than trek related tours I guess.
    An organized trek from this operator costs per person easily 1000 USD to 2500 USD per person! Is that how it is? What do you think?
    B/w, do you intend to travel to Bhutan in the future for pure trekking purposes. From what I read, Bhutan travel for sight seeing and trekking purposes almost seem exclusive.

    https://heavenlybhutan.com/trekkings-in-bhutan/

    Reply
  • Anup
    September 15, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    Hi Krishnandu!

    Can you help me with the timimgs of buses (morning) from New ALipurduar to Phuentsholing?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 15, 2016 at 10:55 PM

      Hi Anup, Sorry I’m not aware of the exact bus timings from New Alipurduar to Phuentsholing / Jaigaon.

      Reply
  • Anup
    September 15, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    Also is it possible to get hotel at Paro and Thimphu at rock bottom rates in December? May be around Rs.700-800 ?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 15, 2016 at 10:58 PM

      Yes. Try Hotel Ghasel / Chophel Norkyi in Thimphu and Hotel Phunsum / Hotel Sonam Trophel in Paro.

      It’d max go upto Rs. 1000/- per night.

      Reply
      • Anup
        September 17, 2016 at 1:33 PM

        Thanks for your comments! Just want to know if there is any portal from where i can find bus timings from new alipurduar to jaigaon and vice versa? Probably I will reach new alipurduar early morning and I am not sure if buses ply from New Ali’duar or Alipurduar Junction..
        Also On my onward journey I reach Phuentsholing in the afternoon say around 1:00 to go to New Ali’duar

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          September 17, 2016 at 6:23 PM

          Hi Anup, Unfortunately I’m not aware of any online schedule where you could check bus from Alipurduar / New Alipurduar to P/Soling and vice-versa.

          Here’s a bus schedule from Bhutan’s official RSTA which you can refer for Buses within Bhutan and to and from Siliguri.

          Reply
  • Anup
    September 17, 2016 at 1:39 PM

    Is it true that Single travelers (Indian Citizens) will no longer be issued permit to visit Bhutan? Do I need to travel in group to get permit?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 17, 2016 at 6:24 PM

      Not so. Recently I’m aware of many Indian tourists who have traveled solo and got entry without any issue. So don’t worry about that.

      Reply
      • kamal
        December 26, 2017 at 9:04 PM

        Even I heard about this. I will be travelling with my friends. While returning, I will be coming back alone. So, will there be any issue with the permits. I want to know how the permits are given, group permit or individual permit so that it will not hamper my return journey.

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          January 3, 2018 at 11:08 PM

          Hi Kamal, Nope. While returning there are not much procedures to follow. You just need to keep stamping it back through the checkposts and at last checkpost the permit will be kept back. That’s it!!

          So no worries!! BTW permits are always individual ones. But they prefer families more than Solo Travellers.

          Reply
  • Nithin
    September 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM

    hi krishnandu sarkar,
    i am a package traveller but after reading ur post i am really excited to travel bhutan…
    As i am from bangalore,i will fly to bagdogra with my partner and baby..
    Can u pls help me which is the best mode of transport which is pocket friendly and also safe…
    i have got fair amount of idea after reading ur posts and other friends FAQ, but little confused as i have never travelled backpack…
    please help me…

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 19, 2016 at 1:59 PM

      Hi Nithin, Considering your situation hiring an exclusive vehicle throughout your trip would be best.

      Reply
      • Nithin
        September 19, 2016 at 11:26 PM

        ok…thanks…what will be the budget in bhutan for 5 days..standard hotels and exclusive vehicle…approx..

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          September 19, 2016 at 11:32 PM

          Budget Hotel starts from Rs. 1000/- – 1500/- DBR per night and goes up the ladder as you keep increasing your luxury and standard of the hotel. And a small exclusive vehicle costs around Rs. 2200/- – Rs. 2500/- per day (including driver’s TA/DA).

          Hope that gives you a basic idea of budget. Let me know if you need help with anything else πŸ™‚

          Reply
  • Ramesh
    September 25, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    I am single male of 52 years. I plan to visit Bhutan for 6/7 days. I am budget traveler. Can you suggest any conducted tour operator charging around Rs. 1500 per person pr day.At the end of the tour i would like to continue to Nepal, hence suggest disembarking points on the return journey for onward journey to Kathmandu. Please say a word about altitude sickness also

    Thanks

    Ramesh.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 25, 2016 at 5:38 PM

      Hi Ramesh, No tour operator can offer you a tour for 6-7 days for 1500/- per person. Best would be to do on your own.

      Try to book the budget hotels youself bu calling them and also you have to travel by Bus to keep the cost on the lower side.

      But still I feel 1500/- per day is very low even if you do it on your own and visit there on off season.

      AMS is not an issue at Bhutan but some acclimitization is necessary which would not be a problem if you do not start hike on the first day.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more queries. I’d be glas to help πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Arun Jutur
    September 27, 2016 at 8:51 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    Thanks for sharing the information – i wanted to know while filling the entry permit form – is it mandatory to fill the address where we will be staying in BHUTAN.

    Please do let me know.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 27, 2016 at 10:33 PM

      Hi Arun, No. If you have pre-booked hotels, you can just put the hotel name there. Otherwise just leave it blank.

      I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Arun
        September 27, 2016 at 10:40 PM

        Hi Krishnandu,
        Thanks for the quick response, appreeciate it. I wanted to know if last January would be a good time to visit, and do we need to carry winter clothing.

        Thanks in advance
        Arun

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          September 27, 2016 at 10:57 PM

          January is winter season and would be chilly!! Check Climate in Bhutan

          Yes you need to carry winter garments and make sure wear them in layers instead of one single thick garment which restrict air flow.

          Days will be a bit warmer than night. Most standard hotels provide room heater free of cost and budget hotels charge Rs. 100/- – Rs. 200/- per night for room heaters.

          Reply
  • Anonymous
    October 3, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    4.5

    Reply
  • SMK Reddy
    October 4, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    Please inform if post-paid BSNL phone works there. or international roaming is required?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 4, 2016 at 8:48 PM

      Hello Mr. SMK Reddy,
      You need to have International Roaming, as it’s a different country. But International Roaming is not cheaper and also call costs are high. So it’s always better to get a Bhutanese SIM Card (Either Tashi Cell or Bhutan Telecom). As the call rates to India from Bhutanese Operators are Rs. 4/- and local call rates varies from 10p to 50p per minute.

      Reply
  • Arpita
    October 12, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Very informative blog. I had few queries. We are reaching Bhutan on Monday(17th Oct). Since this is season time, would we still be able to get rooms in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha without any prebooking?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 18, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      Hi Arpita, First of all extremely sorry for late reply as I was travelling in East, West and South Sikkim throughout last week with limited internet availability at such high altitude. Thus I couldn’t get back to you in time.

      Well, as it’s 18th today, I think you have already reached Bhutan. At Thimphu and Paro there are lots of hotels, so yes even in high season, it’s possible to find a room without any prebooking. But that may be a bit odd location wise.

      So if you are keen on some specific hotel, it’s always best to book it in advance. Else even in high season you will find rooms on spot at Thimphu and Paro. But at Punakha I’d suggest to pre-book hotel as there are not much hotels like in Thimphu and Paro.

      Well, as you are already travelling, let me know if I can be of any help. Also I’d love to hear your experience when you are back

      Reply
  • Rajeev
    October 22, 2016 at 10:22 PM

    Krishnandu

    Very informative blog. Thank you putting it all together. Two questions:

    1. As train reaches Hasimara around 10:30-11am , is it possible to reach Paro or Thimpu same day instead of staying at Phuntsholing (Google map shows about 5 hours journey between Hasimara and Thimphu).

    2. What kind of ID proof is needed for kids (age 14 and 9) for entry permit. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 22, 2016 at 11:23 PM

      Hi Rajeev, Thank you and I’m glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

      Coming to your queries…
      1. Well do not believe Google Maps about hills. Because technically they use 60kmph to calculate the hours but practically it’d be different. P/Soling to Paro is around 4.5 hours and P/Soling to Thimphu is around 7 – 8 hours. Yes, if you already have the permits or you get it as soon as you reach P/Soling, you can surely proceed towards Thimphu. But note that even if you start early, it’d be around 8 – 9 PM to reach Thimphu. So two points I’d like to emphasize…

      A. If you are doing this, make sure you have advance hotel booking, as things gets closed by 8 – 9 PM in hills. So inform them the same in advance.
      B. This would / can be a really long tiring journey. As you’d be getting off from the train same morning. So take that into account too.

      Being said everything, I’d also like to say, many tourists have done this to save one day. But it’s up to you whether you can get out of the comfort zone to save a day πŸ˜›

      2. School ID Proof along with Birth Certificate would be enough.

      Reply
      • Rajeev Kumar
        October 24, 2016 at 12:29 PM

        Thanks Krishnandu!!!

        Another thing I learned was Alipurduar can be other station which is fairly near to P/Soling and has several trains. We are planning to reach there early morning (4am) and hence I was thinking that it might be feasible to reach Bhutan same day. Any idea, how early we can get Entry permit from P/Soling. Thanks.

        Also are there any places/points on the way from P/Soling to Paro/Thimpu. Thanks.

        Regards
        Rajeev

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          October 24, 2016 at 3:09 PM

          Hi Rajeev,
          Yes Alipurduar is another nearest station from Jaigaon.

          P/Soling Immigration Office works from 9AM – 5PM on Mon – Fri. When I visited there they used to issue permits from a small room along the gate but nowadays I have heard that they have completely stopped issuing permits over the weekends. Though I cannot personally vouch for that.

          Time to get the permits depends on the number of persons inthe queue.

          So if you are reaching Alipurduar by 4AM, you’d be there by 5AM at max. So you can join the queue at the earliest.

          But sometimes they only accept applications on the first half and issues the permits after lunch. There’s no 100% fixed procedure for that but decides it based on the rush.

          Yes while proceeding towards Thimphu from Phuentsholing you can go to Kharbandi Monastery and Crocodile Park.

          Reply
  • Anonymous
    November 1, 2016 at 3:54 PM
  • Anonymous
    November 5, 2016 at 1:51 PM

    1.5

    Reply
  • […] From My Sikkim Trip Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians A Holiday At Lava – Lolegaon – Rishap […]

    Reply
  • midhun
    November 21, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    First of all excellent write up.This one will be helpful for many bhutan visitors,thanks for sharing.
    Two questions:
    1)I’m planning to take my personal vehicle to bhutan.what are the procedures? How can I obtain permit for my vehicle?

    2)As I’m from Mumbai is it possible to get all the permits from Mumbai itself before starting my trip?

    TIA

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM

      Hi Midhun, Thank You and I’m glad that you liked it!!

      1. First you have to obtain Entry Permit as described here and then you need to head to RSTA in order to obtain vehicle permit. There you need to submit photocopy of Entry Permit, Driving Licence, Documents of your car, Photo ID proof along with Photographs.

      2. As far as I’m aware Bhutan Consulate is there only in Kolkata and Delhi. So being from Mumbai you need to get it at the Border itself I believe.

      Reply
      • Midhun
        November 21, 2016 at 3:24 PM

        Thanks a lot…appreciate your quick response

        Reply
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