GETTING TO BHUTAN
How to Reach Bhutan
Bhutan, a nation that remained isolated from the world until the early 1960s, has now opened its doors to global travelers. The once arduous journey by foot has given way to modern transportation options, making Bhutan more accessible than ever. Here’s how you can reach this enchanting Himalayan kingdom in the present day.
Travel by Air
Bhutan boasts its sole international airport in Paro, located at a remarkable altitude of 7,300 feet and surrounded by towering mountains and hills. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the national airline of Bhutan, operates flights connecting the country to various international destinations. You can catch a Druk Air flight or Bhutan Airlines to Bhutan from cities like Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, and Singapore.
The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is especially exhilarating, as it offers breathtaking views of four of the world’s highest peaks – Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kangchenjunga. Weather permitting, this journey provides a truly awe-inspiring spectacle.
Within Bhutan, you can take domestic flights to Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan, making it more convenient to explore this beautiful country.
Travel by Land
International tourists have three land border entry points to choose from when entering Bhutan: Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Phuentsholing, situated approximately 170 kilometers east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra, is the gateway to Bhutan’s mountainous terrain. The journey from Phuentsholing to Thimphu, the capital city, involves navigating numerous turns and hairpin bends and typically takes about six hours to cover the 176-kilometer stretch.
Gelephu, located about 250 kilometers from Thimphu, offers an alternative entry point to Bhutan. Travelers taking this route will experience the transition from sub-tropical regions to alpine zones before reaching Thimphu. This journey passes through three districts and usually takes around ten hours.
Samdrup Jongkhar, in eastern Bhutan, serves as the sole entry point for those coming from Assam, India. The town is approximately 150 kilometers from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, and the journey takes about three hours. Travelers entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will embark on a scenic journey through Trashigang, the country’s largest district, followed by stops in Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang, and, finally, the capital, Thimphu. This route spans about 700 kilometers and generally takes a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.
Upon your arrival in Bhutan, immigration officers will endorse your permit. It is essential to be present in person, and you may be required to carry your passport (along with some passport photographs) or a voter’s registration card. If you plan to travel by road, the endorsement is done at the entry points in Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu. If you arrive by flight, your entry will be through the Paro Airport. Bhutan welcomes you to explore its rich culture and stunning landscapes, so make your travel plans and embark on a memorable journey to this Himalayan jewel.