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Getting into Bhutan

03-12-2018 - 06:3:23 | Tandin Tobden

Bhutan by and large remained cut off from the rest of the world and its relative remoteness and low profile in today’s global world, one may naturally assumes it would be difficult getting there. Fortunately, with the planned economy development, accessibility became easy with both motorable roads and by air. Until Bhutan embarked on a planned economic development in the early 1960’s Bhutan mostly remained cut off from the rest of the world. The country was accessible only by foot. The two main entry points to the country was from the North and from the South. From the North, the entry was from Tibet and was possible only by crossing the high passes while from the South it was through the plain of Assam and West Bengal (India). However, with the panned economic development, accessibility became easy with motorable roads connecting Bhutan with the other parts of the country.

Today with vast network of motorable roads and air, traveling to Bhutan is easy and convenient with modern, dependable transportation system. main point of entry are through Phuntsholing in the south that links Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar the motorable road links with Indian state of Assam. Paro in the heart of Western Bhutan caters all the international flighе and is the only international airport that caters Druk Air, the National airline of Bhutan and Bhutan Airline, the recently launched private Airline.

Travel by Air
The country has so far only one international airport that caters to the needs of visitors coming in and out trough flight. However, within Bhutan, there are domestic flights to Yongphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in the central Bhutan, and Gelephu in the south-central Bhutan. The international airport at Paro is located at a height of 7,300 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains and hills as high as 16,000 feet.

Druk Air flies to the following international destination:
• Singapore
• Nepal: Kathmandu
• Bangladesh: Dhaka
• Thailand: Bangkok
• India: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, Bodh Gaya, Bagdogra and Guwahati

Bhutan Airline flies to the following international destinations:
• Singapore
• Thailand: Bangkok
• Nepal: Kathmandu
• Bangladesh: Dhaka
• India: Delhi & Kolkata

Travel by Land
Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border area open for international tourists.

Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 kilometer east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your journey then begins its mountainous climb through numerous turns and hairpin bends until you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The travel time for the 171 kilometers stretch can be about six hours.

Gelephu in the south-central Bhutan is another entry point to the country. It is approximately 250 kilometers from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three districts and travel time will be about ten hours.

Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kilometers away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourist entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest districts in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kilometers and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.

Traveling within Bhutan
Despite the major hurdle posed by the inaccessible terrain, a good road network connects the high mountain passes, all major towns and important places of visit. However, an important feature of the road system is the innumerable curves and bends that one will have to negotiate. Beside the bends, another characteristic road network is steep ascents and descents that slow down car travels. An average speed for road travel rarely exceeds 40 kilometers an hour, with tourist buses making even slower progress. One is however, generously rewarded for the long and tiring car journey by spectacular views of the mountains, the lush green jungles, the ancient villages, the majestic temples and monasteries and the many roadside restaurants and inns.

The roads are well sealed but the rides can still be bumpy as the lanes are single and narrow at most points. The advantage is that the Bhutanese are well accustomed to driving such lanes, know their land well, and are careful drivers.


If you have any questions, doubts and any other travel related problems about going to Bhutan ? Please feel free to call us at +975 17999315 OR email us at wildmountainadventure@gmail.com