Bhutan, officially called the Kingdom of Bhutan is one of our neighbours which offers ample reason for Indian citizens to visit this beautiful country. This landlocked country is a great tourist attraction and at the same time, perfect for budget travellers. India and Bhutan have had friendly relations for a long time. Bhutan is easily accessible and economical as 1 Bhutanese Ngultrum (it’s currency) equals nearly 1 Indian Rupee. Check this post and start making your plans to visit Bhutan.
No visa for Indian tourists to visit Bhutan
Bhutan has restrictions over tourism, so people from the west need to spend a lot of money to travel to Bhutan but the same doesn’t apply to Indians. Bhutan is quite welcoming towards Indian tourists! In fact, Bhutan and Nepal are the only neighbouring countries of India, where Indian citizens are not required a visa.
Documents required to enter Bhutan
- Voters Identity card
- Indian Passport (not mandatory)
- 2 passport sized photograph
- Duly filled application form (you’ll get at the immigration office)
To enter Bhutan by road or flight, you require either a valid Indian passport with a six months validity or a Voters Identity Card (VIC). Aadhar is not an acceptable document to enter in Bhutan. After submitting the above-mentioned documents at the immigration office you’ll get an entry permit. It usually takes 1 hour to get the entry permit of Bhutan at the Phuntsholing border.
Documents required to enter Bhutan with own vehicle
- Entry permit issued by the Bhutanese Immigration department
- Driving licence
- Vehicle’s Registration certificate of vehicle
- PUC (Pollution under control) certificate
- A simple application to get the vehicle’s permit, addressing Sr. Regional Transport officer, Phuentsholing, Bhutan (There is no prescribed format)
If you wish to drive your vehicle (car or motorcycle) registered in India, you are required to obtain a Route Permit from the Road Safety and Transport Authority office in Bhutan after obtaining the entry permit from the Department of Immigration.
How to reach Bhutan from India
Bhutan by train:
The nearest railway station from Phuntsholing border is Hasimara (West Bengal). Catch a train from New Jalpaiguri (Siliguri, West Bengal) and then take a shared auto to Jaigaon/Phuntsholing border. You don’t need a reserved seat on the train since it’s not very crowded and the journey is not very long. It takes around 3 hours. The route from New Jalpaiguri to Hasimara is quite scenic. Trains pass through a jungle which is home to elephants. Indian Railways operate all the trains at slow speed for the safety of elephants.
- Hasimara railway station to Phuntsholing border – 19 kilometres
Bhutan by Road:
Phuntsholing is the gateway to Bhutan. The entry point is known as Jaigaon/Phuentsholing border. Jaigaon is on the Indian side of the border and Phuentsholing is on the Bhutanese. You can get a direct bus for Phuntsholling from Siliguri. There is also a direct bus service from Kolkata’s Esplanade bus terminal to Bhutan.
- Siliguri to Phuntsholing border – 156 kilometres
Bhutan by air:
You can travel to Bhutan by flight but it not recommended as it is expensive. Two flights connect India to Bhutan, Bhutan Airlines and Druk air. These flights operate from Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, etc. These flights take you to Paro Airport, which is the only international airport in the country. Flight from Kolkata to Paro takes 1 hour 10 minutes whereas Guwahati to Paro takes 55 minutes.
Airports in Bhutan
- Paro Airport is the only international airport in the country.
- Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang is a small domestic airport that underwent upgrades through 2010. Yongphulla Airport was scheduled for completion in January 2010 but as of January 2015, the airport remains closed due to ongoing runway repair.
Embassy of Bhutan in India, New Delhi
- Address: Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021.
- Contact Numbers: 011-26889230, 26889809, 26889807
- Website: http://www.mfa.gov.bt/rbedelhi/
Royal Bhutanese Consulate, Kolkata
- Address: Bhutan House 6/1Mall Road, Dum Dum Kolkata-700080. Landmark: Near ILS Hospital
- Contact Numbers: 033- 25600756, 25600490, 25593676
- Website: http://www.consulkolkata.org/bhutan.html
- Bhutan, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan
- Druk Air: https://www.drukair.com.bt
- Bhutan Airlines: http://www.bhutanairlines.bt
Other valuable tips
- For travel between cities, buses are the cheapest. They run on fixed times every day but there are only 1-2 buses to a particular destination in a day.
- Food is not expensive. You can eat at nice restaurants without spending too much money.
- Do not take any tourism packages. They will unnecessarily charge you a lot of money.
- No need to plan in advance. The people are friendly and will help you in need.
- You are not required to spend a minimum amount of 250 US dollars per person per day like the western tourists. Indians are exempted from this rule.
- You do not need to submit any pre-planned itinerary anywhere. Feel free to travel at your will. But note that you will be issued travel permit only for the town of Thimphu and Paro from the border town of Pheuntsholing. To travel further, you need to obtain a permit from Thimphu immigration office.
- The cheapest and the best way to travel within Bhutan is the Coaster Bus which is a 40 seater bus, operated by various private bus owners.
Best time to visit Bhutan
March, April, May, September, October & November are the best months to visit Bhutan. Spring season from March to May is the best time for nature lovers when the rich and vibrant colours of flora can be seen. The moderate temperature during Autumn is a good reason to visit Bhutan between September & November.
Bhutan is perfect country for Solo travellers. Check solo travelling tips for Indians
1 Nu (Ngultrum) = 1 Rupee (approx)
(Ngultrum is pronounced as Naltram) Indian Rupee is happily accepted everywhere.
+0600 GMT or +0030 IST
(In Layman’s language = if its 1:00 pm in India, it will be 1:30 pm in Bhutan)
Petrol is cheaper than India
Popular Tourist places – Starting from Nu 500 to Star hotels
Less popular places – Starting from Nu 250 to Nu 700 or maybe more
Phuntsholing – 200 metres
Paro – 2240 metres
Some useful Bhutanese words
- Guzuzangpo – Namaste (in Hindi), Hello
- Kadinche – Thanks
- La – Sir, Ji (in Hindi)
- Lhakhang = Temple