So like me you also must have heard the roar of the thunder dragon, and now you are
planning a trip to the land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan. Being the only carbon negative country in the world, Bhutan is also referred to as the last Shangri-La, a mystical and harmonious place. Bhutan is blessed with pristine climate, insanely beautiful landscape, majestic buddhist monasteries and ever smiling happy people. Traveling to Bhutan from India is easy and cost effective. Treaty signed in 1949 between India and Bhutan allows the citizens of both the countries to travel freely without a Visa, this has made the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan a very popular place for Indian tourists. Visiting Bhutan will be an unforgettable experience of your lifetime. So what are you waiting for, let us dig into this step by step guide for planning the best budget Bhutan tour from India.
“THERE IS NO PATH TO HAPPINESS: HAPPINESS IS THE PATH" – BUDDHA
How to reach Bhutan from India ? By Air, Rail or Road...
Traveling to Bhutan from India by Air:
Traveling to Bhutan by air is the fastest and easiest mode but then it's not the cheapest mode. Situated deep in the valley near the river Paro Chuu, Paro International Airport is the only airport to enter into Bhutan. Surrounded by peaks as high as 18000 ft Paro International Airport is considered one of the world's most dangerous and difficult airports. There are less than two dozen certified pilots in the world who are allowed to land at Paro International Airport. But this makes the air travel more thrilling and exciting. The dazzling view of Himalayan ranges from the window of your airplane will spellbound you and you will never forget this magnificent experience. There are only two airlines operating to and from Paro International Airport, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. International flights from India to Bhutan operate from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, and Guwahati. The frequency of flights from India to Bhutan is very less and the tickets are on a higher side. On a normal day a flight from Delhi to Paro will cost somewhere around 10000 INR and from Bagdogra to Paro it will be around 5000 INR for economy class. If your dates are flexible you can always look for great deals on different websites.
Quick Tip: You can write a direct mail to Airlines and chances are that you can get a good deal.
Traveling to Bhutan from India by Train :
Traveling to Bhutan from India by train is one of the cheapest mode of travel. Indian railway is the fourth largest rail network in the world with a route length of 68,155 km and counting. With such a wide network you can easily get a train from anywhere in India and reach Hasimara, the nearest Indian railway station to Bhutan. Hasimara, situated in West Bengal, is the nearest railway station to the India - Bhutan border town Jaigaon. From Jaigaon you can cross the India - Bhutan border on foot and reach Phuntsholing, border town in Bhutan. Trains to Bhutan can be easily booked from Delhi, Kolkata, Kanpur, Lucknow, Patna, Guwahati or any major city. Availability of berths in these trains are less so you should book your tickets in advance. You can book tickets directly from IRCTC website.
New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is another railway station which offers good connectivity to Jaigaon or Phuntsholing. New Jalpaiguri is well connected with almost all the major cities in India with good frequency of trains. From New Jalpaiguri you can either hire a private car, or shared car, or a bus and reach the border town Jaigaon from where you can cross the border on foot and enter into Bhutan.
Quick Tip: From New Jalpaiguri you can plan a 3-4 days trip to either Darjeeling or Kalimpong or Gangtok.
Traveling to Bhutan from India by Road :
Traveling to Bhutan overland may not be a cheap option but then if you love road trips this could be one of your memorable trips. Indian nationals can enter from the border town Jaigaon into Bhutan with their private car or bike. After getting the tourist permit from immigration office at Phuentsholing one has to obtain a vehicle permit from Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Phuentsholing. RSTA office is located near Phuentsholing Bus stand. A nominal fee of 100-200 INR (depending on the vehicle) for the vehicle permit will be charged. Fuel is quite cheap in Bhutan as compared to that of India and you can easily find petrol stations. Driving rules are similar to that of India except they don't honk unnecessarily.
You will need the following documents for the vehicle permit:
Original Registration certificate (RC) – two photocopies required
Original Insurance Paper - two photocopies required
Pollution Under Control Certificate
Your valid id proof (only Passport or Voter Id) and Driving license.
Immigration paper or Tourist permit of the driver and all fellow travellers.
This permit will be valid only for Paro and Thimphu. For any other area a separate permit must be obtained from RGoB Immigration Office located in Thimphu. There are two checkpoint between Phuentsholing and Thimphu and you need to get your permit checked at both the checkpoints. Being a hilly region majority roads in Bhutan are narrow and full of hairpin turns with deep valleys in one side.
There is a direct bus from Kolkata to Phuentsholing run by the Royal Bhutanese Government. Bus to Phuentsholing departs from the Esplanade Bus terminal, Kolkata and it takes around 18 hours to reach Phuentsholing , Bhutan.
Quick Tip: If you want to avoid long driving you can hire a vehicle from Jaigaon.
The best budget route from India to Bhutan...
For Budget travellers : Budget travelers who don't have a time constrain and want to enjoy the flora and fauna can opt for a mix of train and road route. The best and cost effective would be to reach Hasimara by train and from there hire a shared auto which will cost around 20 INR per person or a shared taxi which will drop you at the Bhutan border. From there just take a walk and cross the border on foot and enter in Phuentsholing. From Phuentsholing you can either hire a privet car for your entire trip or can hire a shared taxi or a bus for your journey ahead.
For normal travellers : The fastest and comfortable way to reach Bhutan from India is by taking a flight to Paro. This will be little expensive but then it will save a lot of time.
Bhutan is an amazing country. It will imprint its magical memories on your soul. You will realise how easy it is to be happy with small things and be grateful for all that you have. Bhutan's culture, its climate, mountains, monasteries, landscapes, food and smiling people will make your Bhutan trip an unforgettable trip. I hope you enjoyed reading this detailed blog on How to reach Bhutan from India. If you are planning your next trip to Bhutan you must know the immigration process for Indians to enter into Bhutan. I have made a detailed video series on Bhutan travel which you can watch on YouTube .
Till then Happy Travelling.....