Why Travel to Bhutan From India

Written By: The Planet D

Bitten by the wanderlust more so than before, I had started frequently traveling, escaping to the destinations as feasible by my number of leaves (I was working full-time then, as a software developer), clubbing weekends, long holidays. So it was time for me to experiment traveling farther, away from my country India, and move out of my comfort zone so I decided to Travel to Bhutan.

Why Travel to Bhutan

I had to start somewhere. So I thought, what better than visiting my neighbouring country? So I chose to travel to Bhutan for these reasons.

  1. No visa is required (Citizens of India, Maldives and Bangladesh need no visa or entry fees to travel in Bhutan and are the only nationals that have the permit for independent travel. More information on this at the end.)
  2. Easier to convince my parents (yes, you see, I was traveling outside my country, alone!)
  3. Bhutan is not expensive

I don’t have to explicitly mention that the beauty of Bhutan that I saw in pictures online had already captivated me. And that’s what naturally convinced me to travel here in the first place!

Thimpu & Paro

I had set out on my solo trip to Bhutan, which was for about 2.5 weeks, and I came by road to the border town of Phuentsholing. After getting the permit to travel in the cities of Paro and Thimpu (Indians need to get extended permit for visiting the rest of Bhutan, which can be obtained in Thimpu). My first stop was in Paro. After taking a public bus to half the distance, I had hitchhiked at night with a Bhutanese couple, returning from their work to their home in Paro.

Are you going to Travel to Bhutan? You may want to visit Northern India as well.

Read: Our 27 Best Travel Tips from 7 Years of Traveling

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

I woke up the next day and was mesmerized by the landscape that I saw. A row of mountains stood tall, some of their peaks covered by the clouds that added to their elegance – a river quietly meandered by my guest house, the fields in front of the neighbouring homes were filled with flowers coloured red, pink and yellow. People had quickly begun their routine, hustling on the roads. After taking a stroll in the cold morning, I set out for the trek to the Tiger’s Nest monastery, one of the most revered monasteries and the icon of pride of Bhutan.

tigers nest monastery travel to bhutan
Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Although slightly tiring, it was worth the climb, and I was blessed with the lush panoramic view of the town. I spent the next few days in Paro visiting other attractions including the Dzongs, trying their local food along with chilies that were so hot, taking very long walks in the evenings, relaxing reading my books and even doing some writing.

Read: Female Solo Travel Tips for India

The Capital City of Bhutan:  Thimpu

I then travelled to Thimpu, a unique capital city. It’s hard to miss the stark contrast of the city starting to become Cosmopolitan, as compared to the rest of Bhutan. Did you know? Thimpu is the only capital city in a country in the world that has no traffic signal! Yes, there is just one junction on the main street, and you can always see a traffic police regulating the traffic using hand signals. It’s a pleasure to explore Thimpu, which is a city that blends the urban life with the traditional ways of Bhutan.

Travel to Central Bhutan

travel to Bhutan header

After obtaining the additional permit in Thimpu, I began my travel to the central regions of Bhutan. Due to the lack of time, I had to hire a taxi to reach, and it was a different experience. The driver shared interesting stories on the culture, politics and the people of Bhutan.

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Chelela Pass

The first stop was Chelela Pass, the highest motor-able road in Bhutan. At an elevation of over 3500 meters, I was shivering, absorbing the breathtaking view of the valleys, which stretched as far as my eye could behold in the horizon. Next stop was Dochula Pass, which has a shrine constructed in memory of the Bhutanese soldiers. You can view the Himalayan range of mountains, with many peaks of the hills visible from a viewpoint here.

The Former Capital of Punakha

Next, I headed to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan and the place of the confluence of the two rivers – Ma Chu and Po Chu. It’s a quaint town that offers a quiet vacation. Wangdue, located close to Punakha is also a city that attracts travelers. I spent a few days in Phobjikha or Gangtey, hiking through its valleys, staying with the locals in a homestay. From there, it was a serene traveling in Bumthang, the prettiest of all the towns in Bhutan. I did some more hikes here, ditching the vehicles for better, and spent the cold nights sipping the Tea.

I came home from Bhutan feeling rejuvenated, more experienced and with a lot of memorable experiences. I had successfully embarked a solo journey to a faraway country, and it became one of the best travel experiences. I stepped out of my cosy zone many times. I realised the importance of being happy. (The Bhutanese are a bunch of happy people, with a healthy, optimistic attitude about life!) It made me try things that I hadn’t tried before – food or stay or experiences and gave me a better perspective of bigger things in life.

How to plan to Travel to Bhutan

Here is a practical guide on all that you need to plan your travel to Bhutan.

travel to bhutan visas
Visas and Costs for Travel to Bhutan

Visa & Costs for Travel to Bhutan

As stated earlier, except the nationals of India, Maldives and Bangladesh, all other travelers need a valid visa to enter Bhutan.

You need to obtain the visa through a recognized tour operator along with booking a tour. It costs 40 US dollars. To stay away from the scams, it’s better to book with any of the tour operator listed on their tourism website.

As for booking a tour, there is a ‘minimum daily package,’ which is a fixed cost that’s also mandatory for all the travelers arriving with visa. It simply means that you can’t travel/backpack independently but have to book any tour and hire a guide compulsorily. I’m sharing the updated details of the package as displayed on Bhutan’s tourism website for your reference here:

The minimum daily package covers the following services.

  • A minimum of 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may 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

The daily Bhutan package also includes:

  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:
USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.
USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.
These rates are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.

Reaching Thimpu: Flights connect major cities of the world to Thimpu, although direct flights are very expensive. The best and the cheapest way is to fly from India or any neighboring countries.

Indians can reach and enter Bhutan by road. I have shared the complete details on ways to enter Bhutan and the process of obtaining a permit for Indians on my blog.

Traveling in Bhutan: If you are eligible to travel independently, then this applies to you. Except for Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Haa valley in the western Bhutan, the connectivity within the rest of the country is not that great. The public transportation facilities are limited. While there are frequent buses to Paro and Punakha from Thimpu, there are a few scheduled buses to Bumthang, Mongar, Gelephu and other eastern towns. It takes 10 to 12 hours to travel from Thimpu to central regions by Bus.

If you are traveling in groups, cabs are the best way to travel around in Bhutan. Make sure to agree on a price before you begin traveling.

Ideal Itinerary:

I’m not a follower of fixed itineraries, but the usual circuit followed by the travelers is this:

5 days to 1 week: If you have up to a week’s time in Bhutan, you should prefer visit western Bhutan. Places are well connected and close by, which allows you to explore more and cuts down the journey time. Paro, Punakha, Thimpu and Haa Valley can easily be done in a week.

8 to 15 days: Including the places that I mentioned above, most of the places in Central Bhutan can be explored in 15 days. Of all the places in that region, Bumthang needs a few extra days, and it’s also the prettiest of all!

Overall, 12 to 14 days are ideally needed to travel in Bhutan, to make it to most of the destinations comfortably.

Weather:

Most of Bhutan is covered with snow between the end of December until March. April is the season when the flowers bloom, especially the famous rhododendrons. If you want to witness any of the local festivals and get a glimpse of the rich Bhutanese culture, and also weather wise, you should visit Bhutan between the end of September to December.

Food

The local cuisine is excellent although spicy and needs to be tried at least once. If you are calorie-conscious, too much of cheese may not be for you. There is western/continental food available in most of the restaurants. It’s not hard to find Indian food as well. Also, Thimpu and Paro have some good cafes.

first time travel to bhutan
Tips for First time travel to Bhutan

Reshma Narasing is a solo female traveler and a travel blogger/ travel writer from India. She is a backpacker who looks out for unique travel experiences by involving with the locals, getting to know the culture, and exploring offbeat destinations. She has extensively traveled solo in India and to some countries in Asia. She shares her travel stories on her blog The Solo GlobetrotterFacebook –TwitterInstagram

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Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

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  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

41 thoughts on “Why Travel to Bhutan From India”

  1. Hi! Compliments for an article so well written that it takes one back in time.
    Life in Bhutan has been simple and shall continue to maintain its tranquility.
    It is nothing short of a paradise. That why so it is named as “The Only Carbon Negative Country in The World”.
    Thank you so much for sharing a detail & informative article. The way you have shared all in detailed it shows the depth of your knowledge about the territory.
    I’ve read a lot of articles about Bhutan, but yours is a distinct one. All Useful piece of information with amazing pictures.
    You have very well penned all the details. Due to pandemic traveling to Bhutan is banned as of now. Wish everything will be back in normal sooner and will be able to travel the mesmerizing sights of “World Happiest country”, Bhutan.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for sharing this informative article. I am planning the same trip and I would recommend everyone to research before visiting. I have experience of the same, check out my blog to know more.

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  3. Hi Reshma, it was indeed a great read so much of information in single blog & pictures were just amazing…thank you for the info..cheers

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  4. Hey Reshma, the pictures are amazing. Learnt a new fact today – Thimpu being the only capital of a country with no traffic lights. I hope to travel to Bhutan soon.

    Reply
  5. There is something magical about Bhutan, the simple yet mesmerizing land somehow manages to touch your soul, balm it with peace, and even mend the broken heart. The salubrious climate, the breathtaking views, and the majestic monasteries may seem a cliched way to describe the beauty of Bhutan, but each word used for this gorgeous country is in its purest form. Visiting and exploring Bhutan can be a wonderful experience, something you will never forget. So, do you also want to have this unforgettable experience? Yes, well, then this blog is for you. Allow me to help you with the finest Bhutan travel guide that will let you plan your Bhutan tour from India in the best possible way. Below is the step by step guide that will help you plan your tour without any hassle or confusion to this land of Thunder Dragon. So, let’s get started!

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  6. Thanks for the blog. Your blog reminded me of my good time there in Bhutan. You have clearly covered all aspects of Bhutan in this article so it will be very helpful for first-time travellers or anyone planning to visit Bhutan.

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  7. wow, beautifully written about Bhutan. Thank you, Reshma for your genuine contribution. Love to hear more from you.

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  8. Informative contents & beautiful pictures. Try to visit eastern Bhutan coinciding with Bhutan festival. You can exit from samdrup jongkhar and fly from Guawati India.

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  9. hi reshma,
    loved to read about your Bhutan trip.Hope you enjoyed your trip to Bhutan a lot.
    God Speed….
    regards
    Sudhanshu

    Reply
  10. Travel to Bhutan is really an amazing experience. Thanks for mentioning all the major attractions of Bhutan, it will help a lot to many travelers.

    Reply
  11. Great place. You share the information about Bhutan it’s a really helpful information.Travel to Bhutan it’s great journey. I am glad to find it. There are so many developers working on this part but this is one of the best innovative post ever. Thanks for such post.

    Reply
  12. I did travel Bhutan when I was a kid and thought one day I would have a bike trip. Finally last month I went on a bike trip from Siliguri to Thimphu. I had to rent few bikes for my friends and I must say it was amazing trip, the one we will cherish forever.

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  13. This means that travelling to Bhutan for said citizens is much cheaper, as they pay only for their actual use of services. This also means that they can organise it all by themselves, although a local agent can help much.

    Reply
  14. This means that travelling to Bhutan for said citizens is much cheaper, as they pay only for their actual use of services.

    Reply
  15. Beautiful place! Lovely pictures! seems a like place worth visiting. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your first solo travel.

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  16. Thanks for share…………..Bhutanese art and crafts, particularly those that are religious in their thematic content follow strict iconography rules.

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  17. Thanks for share…………..Travel to Bhutan by availing the Bhutan tour packages and have a wonderful travelling experience.

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  18. Thanks for Share valuable info…..Traveling the countryside of Bhutan We left Thimphu for the former capital city of Punakha and some traveling through the countryside.

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  19. Beautiful place! Lovely pictures! seems a like place worth visiting. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your first solo travel.

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  20. It seems you enjoyed a lot there. Do you have some recipes of local food of Bhutan ? . Nice picture gallery. I never visit Bhutan yet but would try to visit there at least once.

    Reply