Getting to Bhutan
Until 1964 The Kingdom of Bhutan was accessible only by foot through the high passes of Tibet. The construction of a road from Phuentsholing on the Indian border to Thimphu and Paro made travel by car and bus possible. In the 1980s an international airport was constructed in Paro, 55 km from the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.
Travel by air
Today, Bhutans national air carrier, Druk Air, operates several flights per week from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata and Kathmandu to Paro. The modern Airbus A-319 jets carry passengers through one of the most spectacular flight paths in the world. A particular highlight is the stretch between Kathmandu and Bhutan, where one passes 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world. Weather permitting; passengers will be treated to intimate views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu und Kanchenjunga. Landing in the Paro Valley, surrounded by 4000 meter high mountains stretching across the west of Bhutan, means a visual landing is the order of the day.
Air tickets will be issued only after your visa is approved by the Home Ministry of Bhutan. To expedite this procedure, it is essential that you send us all passport information required to apply for your Bhutan visa (see below). The air-tickets cannot be issued until the visa is approved - and this process takes a week or more.
Travel by Land
The alternative of coming in to Bhutan by road is now allowed to tourists wanting to combine their visit to Bhutan with other places in India such as Sikkim & Darjeeling. Entering and departing Bhutan by surface road through the border town of Phuentsoling is the only official point of entry other than flying. Now travelers are also allowed to fly into Bhutan and exit by road through Phuentsoling, or vice versa
The town of Phuntsholing in south-western Bhutan is currently the only land border access open for international tourists. Phuntsholing lies approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra, nearby historic Darjeeling. From here begins a mountain journey of almost unbelievable beauty. The road leads from the northern Indian tea plantations through endless turns, hair-pin bends and daring stretches carved into the mountain rock via Chhuka to Thimphu. The travel time for the 175 km stretch can be more than 7 hours.
A combination of overland and air travel is also possible. All overland travel requires an Indian visa.
Traveling within Bhutan
With the exception of the Gasa district, all major towns in the 20 districts of Bhutan are accessible by road. Despite high mountains, steep slopes, and the deepest of valleys Bhutan has a relatively well developed network of roads. That said, rarely will one find a length of either straight or flat road. In some stretches one can encounter 6 to 7 bends per kilometre! Steep ascents and descents are characteristic of road travel in Bhutan and this can make travel much slower than one may be used to. Average speeds for road travel rarely exceed 30 km/h, with tourist buses making even slower progress. One is however handsomely rewarded for the long and sometimes tiring car journey, by the spectacular views of towering mountains, lush green jungle, ancient villages and majestic monasteries.
The majority of roads is sealed but can still be bumpy and is almost always single lane. Bhutans drivers know their land well and are cautious and careful drivers. The density of traffic is normally very low.
Bhutan - Travel Permit and Visa
Foreign travellers mus possess a visa for Bhutan which is granted initially for 14 days. While the actual visa is tamped on arrival in Bhutan upon payment of Us $20, visitors need to obtain visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB) in advance. The visa can be extended in Thimpu for up to six months. The operator making your travel arrangements will handle the official formalities.
Transport is provided by tour operators who have their own fleet fo luxury buses. All major places of interest are connected by paved roads.