bhutan visitor guides

Getting to Bhutan

Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan is a small landlocked country located in South Asia, in the Himalayan mountain ranges, sandwiched between the two giants of Asia; China to the north and India to the three directions; south, East and West. While the two neighboring nations has the highest and second highest population in the world constituting more than 36% of total world’s population, Bhutan has a population of only seven hundred thousand.

Keeping in mind the size of country (38394 km square) and population, visionary leaders has kept Bhutan away from the outside influences to preserve its unique culture, tradition and natural resources which indeed have helped in maintaining its sovereignty and independence. Due to this reasons Bhutan opened very late to the outside world.

Only in the year 1974 Bhutan opened first time to tourism, guided by its philosophy; High value and Low Volume.

To keep its culture, tradition and environment intact and undisturbed, but at the same time to earn revenue for the country and give its visitors the best Bhutan experience, all the visitors (except from three neighboring countries, India, Bangladesh and Maldives), have to pay a minimum fee of USD 250 per person per night stay in Bhutan during the month of March, April, May, September, October and November and USD 200 during the month of December, January, February, June, July and August. Extra fee of USD 40 as Bhutan visa fee per person and small group supplement of USD 40 per night stay for single traveler and USD 30 per person, per night stay for dual/couple travelers are applicable on top of the minimum fee set up. In this way Bhutan is able to bring in high value tourists with less volume avoiding mass tourism.

Well …… How can I get to this tiny nation?

It is bit complicated as there are few procedures to be followed. All the tourists planning for a Bhutan holiday must get in touch with a licensed local tour operator and let them plan your holiday. Only licensed tour operators are authorized to process Bhutan visa for the tourists.

The other thing you must be aware is, once finalized with respective tour operators, the entire tour payment must be paid in advance. However the money is kept in Tourism Council of Bhutan’s bank account and tour operators get access to it only after the completion of tour.

Only after the tour money is being deposited, respective tour operators are allowed to apply for visa on behalf of their clients. Visitors must mail a scanned copy of passport photo page to their tour operators as a document proof for visa application. Once the visa is approved, tour operators will mail you a visa clearance letter. On producing this letter at the arrival, your actual visa will be stamped on your passport.

Get your Bhutan visa, book a flight ticket and you are set to go. Everything within Bhutan including guide, accommodation, tour vehicles and meals would be taken care of by your tour operator.

Booking flight to Bhutan

Is there any international airport in Bhutan?

Yes but only one. Located under Paro district, Paro International Airport (IATA-PBH, ICAO-VQPR) is the only international airport in Bhutan. Only the two flight companies of Bhutan Drukair and Bhutan Airlines operate from Paro International Airport to few of international destinations within South Asia and Southeast Asia as follows.


Drukair (IATA-KB, IAO DRK), Bhutan’s national carrier was commenced in the year 1983 and today it operates to 5 countries within South Asia and Southeast Asia from its base at Paro (PBH). Today Drukair has 3 airbus A319 with a seating capacity of 118 (16 business and 102 economy) and 1 ATR with a seating capacity of 48.

City Country IATA ICAO Airport Refs
Bangkok Thailand BKK VTBS Suvarnabhumi Airport
Singapore Singapore SIN WSSS Singapore Changi Airport
Kathmandu Nepal KTM VNKT Tribhuvan International Airport
Dhaka Bangladesh DAC VGHS Shahjalal International Airport
Delhi India DEL VIDP Indira Gandhi International Airport
Kolkata India CCU VECC Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
Guwahati India GAU VEGT Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport
Siliguri India IXB VEBD Bagdogra Airport
Gaya India GAY VEGY Gaya Airport Seasonal
Mumbai India BOM VABB Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Seasonal

Bhutan Airlines

Bhutan Airline (IATA-B3, ICAO-BTN) is Bhutan’s first private airline commenced in the year 2013. As of today Bhutan Airlines has 2 Airbus A319 and operates to 3 countries with its base at Paro International Airport.

City Country IATA ICAO Airport
Bangkok Thailand BKK VTBS Suvarnabhumi Airport
Kathmandu Nepal KTM VNKT Tribhuvan International Airport
Delhi India DEL VIDP Indira Gandhi International Airport
Kolkata India CCU VECC Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport

How to enter Bhutan via land or by road?

Bhutan shares land border with India and china but has accessible road only from India. Though there are numerous border crossing points between two countries but for tourists there are only three entrance points as follows:

1. Phuntsholing: Located southwest of the country, it is 5 hours drive from Thimphu (160 km) the capital city of Bhutan. Phuntsholing is a small commercial town which shares border with Indian town of Jaigaon under West Bengal district and serves as the main entrance point for both trade and tourists entering by road.

Annually more than 60% of regional tourists (Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivians) and about 7% of international tourists enter Bhutan by road and of this more than 90% use Phuntsholing as their main entry and exit points. Nearest airport to Phuntsholing is located at Siliguri, India (Bagdogra Airport, IXB); around 4 hours drive (170 km).

2. Gelephu: Located at south central region of Bhutan sharing border with Indian state of West Bengal is Gelephu, another entry and exit point for tourists entering Bhutan via road. From Gelephu to Thimphu, the distance is approximately 250 km and takes travelers through sub-tropical regions before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. The journey traverses across three districts in about 10 hours.

3. Samdrup Jongkhar: Located at South eastern region of Bhutan, this is the only entrance point which will lead towards unexplored eastern Bhutan. It share border with Indian state of Assam. The nearest airport to Samdrup Jongkhar is located at Guwahati, India (Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, GAU); about 3 hours drive (100 km).

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons