Things to keep in mind while traveling in Bhutan

The following are certain things that you have to keep in mind while traveling to Bhutan, which I came to know after my recent trip to Bhutan. I thought of writing about them here so that it is useful for others who are also planning for a trip there.

Getting into Bhutan

There are two ways to get inside Bhutan. One is to enter via Phuentsholing and the second option is to fly up till Paro and land there. To come out of Bhutan you can use the above two routes or come out through Samdrup as well. But you can’t enter through Samdrup.

Visa and Permit

For Indians you don’t need a get a visa in advance to enter Bhutan. You can get the permit on arrival, either at Phuentsholing or at Paro. You will initially get a permit for 7 days at Phuentsholing and using it you can visit only Thimphu and Paro. To stay more or visit other restricted places which I visited like Haa valley, Punakha or Bumthang, you need to renew your permit in Thimphu. The immigration office is located at Norzin Lam in Thimphu.

Timezone

Bhutan follows a different timezone than India. It is GMT + 6 hours, which is 30 minutes ahead of Indian standard time. Once you cross Phuentsholing all times which are displayed are in Bhutan timezone. We missed our bus to Thimphu from Phuentsholing because of this timezone difference.

No smoking

Bhutan has a very strict policy about smoking. Smoking or sale of tobacco products is completely prohibited inside Bhutan. The fine is pretty high and it also includes jail time if you are caught. So be aware of this rule.

Dress code

Bhutan has a strict dress code for its people but it is pretty relaxed for tourists. Bhutan nationals are supposed to wear their national dress (Gho for men and Kira for women) on all formal occasions and places like government office, temples, Dzongs, monasteries etc.

For tourists when you enter Dzongs you should wear full pants and shirts with collars or full sleeves. The easiest option is to always carry a jacket and just wear it when needed. Even though not needed if you happen to buy a Gho or Kira, then they will be very happy to help you wear it. But keep in mind that it is not that easy to wear and are generally quite expensive ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are anywhere near their national flag, you should remove your caps or hats. Also remove your footwear when you enter a holy place or temple. Most of the time it is clearly specified whether you have to remove your footwear or not.

Language

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha but pretty much everyone can understand and speak Hindi and English. Almost all the taxi drivers and shop keepers can also speak English. So it shouldn’t be a problem.

However if you learn a couple of words in Dzongkha like Thank you (Kadriche) or Hello(Kuzuzangbo la) and speak to them, they are very happy.

Photography

Photographing People

Bhutan people are generally shy and if you want to take a photo, it is always good to ask them. In our experience mostly they said yes. Also it is a good manner to get their postal address and send a copy to them. But don’t ask for their address if you don’t plan to send it to them.

If you happen to see anyone from the royal family then you should not photograph them, even if they are in the public place.

Photographing Places

Most of the places including Dzong and monasteries are okay to be photographed expect places where the deity are kept. The good rule of thumb is that if you have to remove your shoes, then it is not okay to photograph. Also when in doubt just ask someone and they will let you know.

Driving

You can take your own vehicle from India inside Bhutan and drive it with your Indian license. But for that you have to take a permit at Phuentsholing. You would need all relevant documents for your vehicle like RC book, pollution certificate etc. To drive Bhutan registered vehicles you need either a Bhutan license or international vehicle and can’t drive them with your Indian driving license.

If you are going to drive your own vehicle then be mindful of the rules. Almost everyone drives below 50 Km/per hour and there is absolutely no horn. Also the entire country doesn’t have a single traffic signal and I guess that should pretty much explain it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Taxi Tariff

Almost all the taxi tariff are fixed by the government and is generally considered a bad practice to bargain. We found it to be cheap if we hire the taxi for the entire day or still cheaper if you hire it for the entire trip. We hired a taxi for 8 days and paid 3000 Nu per day.

Most of the taxi’s are 4 seaters and if you are in a group of 5, then you have to hire two separate taxi’s and they follow this rule pretty religiously.

Food

Most of Bhutanese food is like Indian food, but they are very very spicy. They don’t add chilies to dishes but pretty much the entire dish is made out of chilies. You have to specify the spice level when you order Bhutanese food. You can try out some of these Bhutanese dishes, which we found to be very good. Ema Dhatse (chillies and cheese), Kewa Dhatse (potatoes and cheese) and Shawa Datse (mushroom and cheese). You also would get rice and dhal pretty much everywhere.

You can also try out kokka (a special type of noodles), channa and tea for breakfast which are also very good.

Trekking

Multi-day trekking is extremely expensive. The cost is around $150-$200 a day. It is because of very stringent rules regarding trekking and disposal of human wastes. There are lot of opportunities for half-day hikes which doesn’t require guides. You can also try out mountain biking and there are lot of beautiful trails available throughout the country. Mountain bikes are available for full day rent and the cost is around Nu 1000 per day.

Rivers and Lakes

Most of the water bodies (either rivers or lakes) are considered to be sacred places. Contaminating them or throwing stones or garbage into them is considered to be a serious offense, so be mindful of them. Fishing is also prohibited in most places.

Pedestrian Day

Every Tuesday is Pedestrian Day and no private vehicles are allowed on road and people are encouraged to walk or use bicycle. In small towns all taxi’s are allowed and in big cities like Thimphu and Paro, taxi’s are allowed based on their registration number. Taxi’s with odd and even registration numbers are allowed on alternate Tuesday’s.

Dry day

Every Tuesday is also a dry day and selling of alcohol is prohibited throughout the country.

Mobile and GPRS

It is very easy to get a local pre-paid GSM sim. You just need your permit and activation is instant. Calls to India are charged 5 Nu/per minute. There is no 3G and GPRS is very expensive. It costs around 10 NU/per MB and the connection is not that great. In Thimphu there are a couple of restaurants that provide free wifi. (The cafe and Ambient Cafe. Both are near the clock tower). In other places you can go to an Internet cafe and the cost is around 60-90 Nu per hour.

Update: Total cost

A couple people were asking me what was the total cost for the entire trip. I just did the accounts and it came to around Rs 17,500 per person for two weeks in a group of 5. If the number of people in the group is less then it might have be slightly high.

If you are planning to travel to Bhutan and if you have any specific question leave a comment below and I will try to update this post with the answer.

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265 Comments so far

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  • Anonymous says:

    What tour operator do you reccomend? I see dozens online. We are looking at being there for 10-14 days in April and want to travel and really get the feel of the people and country.
    Thanks, enjoy your blob

  • Miketyson says:

    Hi i really enjoyed this story and your experience in bhutan. i am just wondering if was in your palce. how it will be. just kidding but in the next year i will definitely explore their tradition.

  • Hey there,

    Do they still have this daily 250$ fee for tourists visiting Bhutan?

    • Sudar says:

      I am not very sure, but I still think that if you are not from India, you still have to buy the $250/per day package from Bhutan government.

      • Shafiq says:

        I am from Bangladesh is that still required for 250$ to pay for government? I will get in via India.

  • sahana says:

    Informative this is! Planning for a trip in march. Thanks!

  • Aditya Thatte says:

    Hello,
    This was very informative. Thanks,

    We are planning to visit Phunaka on Sunday, and get the permit for phunaka on Saturday.
    Are the immigration offices in Thimphu open on Saturdays?

    Thanks

  • Samar SIngh says:

    This great information will help me in planning my trip. I need an information if you can provide it will be a great help, do we require to do the same formilities at border while returning from bhutan.

    • Sudar says:

      Nice to know that you found this useful. While returning, you don’t have to do anything. Just return the permit letter and you can enter India.

  • Tulika says:

    Are the public buses safe for women? And are they too crowded or sort of comfortable?

    • Sudar says:

      Bhutan in general is very safe for tourists (and women). Most of the public buses are comfortable and not that crowded in Thimpu and Paro. They might be little crowded in central and eastern Bhutan.

      But also check when is their local festival happening. Places get a little crowded during the local town festival, but is also very colourful to watch.

  • Rounak Hasan says:

    Thanks a lot. Last December I along with 5 of my friends visited Bhutan. As we had only 7 days time in hand so we completed only Thimpu- Punkha(stay at wanngdu)–> Paro. It was really a amazing trip.. One thing I must say the hanging bridge beside the Punakha zoom is rarely known by the visitors, our driver also was unaware of that. But I had seen that pic from blog before and so we asked some locals and finally reached the bridge. It was a amazing view there..

    Coming October I am planning for another trip to rest of the Bhutan with my family, but for Phunaka should I take permission from Thimpu or I can take permit from Bhutan house or at Jaigaon?? I have made the draft itinerary like : Day 1: phuentsholing –> Day2 : Thimpu –> Day 3: Gangtey(Phobjikha) via Punakha –> Day 4: Bumthang (Chumey Valley) –> Day 5: Bumthang Day 6: Punkha (wangdue ) Day 7: Punkha –> Day 8: Punakha to Jaigaon … Is it ok?? Actually this the maximum days of leave I can manage.. ๐Ÿ™

    • Sudar says:

      Glad to know that even you were able to view the bridge.

      Your itinerary seems to be a little packed. You will be travelling a lot but may not enjoy the places. So either decrease the places or increase the number of days.

      Regarding the permit, when we went, we had to take the permit for Punkha only in Thimpu.

  • Mrs indu Pande says:

    We 2 persons r planning to visit Bhutan during October 2014 on our own from Delhi to directly Paro. We r senior citizen and want to have comfortable stay there. Will you please suggest some hotels in the heart of city of Thimpu and Paro,

    • Sudar says:

      Are you going to Paro by flight?

      It’s been nearly two years since I went there, so I don’t remember the hotel names, but there are lot of good hotels both in Thimpu and Paro. So you shouldn’t have any problem.

  • t sandeep reddy says:

    thanks dude it was very informative and i am myself planning to go to bhutan soon with few of my friends..but just curious….Do Most bhutanese really understand hindi? even in the rural areas?..effect of indian soaps and bollywood i guess. u mean i can simply speak in hindi and roam all over bhutan without any Problems?please Do reply..

    • Sudar says:

      Yes people are able to understand Hindi in most shops and restaurants at least in Thimpu and Paro. But more than Hindi, almost everyone is comfortable in English. So you should have any issues if you know English and Hindi.

  • t sandeep reddy says:

    and if possible can u please write a few lines about influence of indian culture and hindi language movies on bhutan people…its really interesting to know that indian culture is making inroads in our neighbouring countries..thats even so deep

    • Sudar says:

      I am not sure if I am the right person to talk about culture or Hindi, since I don’t speak Hindi myself. But what I found out is that almost everyone is friendly to everyone especially Indians. In most cases, at least in my limited stay, I found Indians treating them badly or not respecting them and not the other way around.

  • abhilash nair says:

    Hey ! Went through your tlog. Absolutely amazing i should say. I was wondering if one can book a taxi from siliguri for an entire trip to Bhutan or is it not a possiblity ?

    • Sudar says:

      You can book a taxi from Siliguri itself for the entire trip. But it would slightly cheaper for you if you do it from Thimpu or Paro.

      • abhilash nair says:

        Thats great news. Two more questions to pester u, how much would be an estimate if i do a round trip taxi from siliguri or thimpu ? Also, will it be a difficult terrain to bike on with a pillion, incase i decide to bike through
        Thanks

        • Sudar says:

          Two more questions to pester u

          No problem at all and I am glad that my experience is helping you.

          how much would be an estimate if i do a round trip taxi from siliguri or thimpu ?

          From Siliguri to Jaigon (Indian side of the border) it costed us Rs. 2500 for a 6 seater. From Jaigon to Thimpu we hired a shared cab and it costed us Rs. 500 per person. From Paro we hired a taxi for our entire trip (around 10 days) at about Rs. 1500 per day. It was a 6 seater vehicle. If you hire all the way from Siliguri, I guess the rate may be slightly higher.

          Also, will it be a difficult terrain to bike on with a pillion, incase i decide to bike

          Lot of my friends have done the entire trip on bike with pillion. There was a 10km stretch of road between Siliguri and Jaigon which was extremely bad. This was in 2012. Not sure if they have changed it now. In Bhutan the roads are generally very good and very scenic. But you will have lot of mountain passes and narrow bends. So if you are not an experienced driver or driving rashly then it might be little problematic. Also using Indian license you can drive only Indian registered vehicles. So if you are planning to rent bikes, then you might have to do them in India itself. You will not be able to hire bikes inside Bhutan since they will be Bhutan registered.

  • Anup says:

    nice reading your experiences. is indian currency allowed or we have to get it exchanged in india. Also me and my wife and two kids 4,10 do not have the passport and voter I.D we have Aadhar UID Card and our govt. office i.d. Wil they allow us permit at Phuntesolong.

    Awaiting your response

    Regards
    Anup

    • Sudar says:

      People accept Indian currency pretty much in every place inside Bhutan.

      When we travelled we used passport. I guess passport is optional if you have valid Indian id card, but I am not sure. Kindly confirm it with someone before you travel.

  • johnny shikder says:

    im planning to visit dec 30th to jan 3rd……can i see the snow around bhutan that time?

  • CHIRAG TRAVELS PRAMOD JAIN says:

    Hi i really enjoyed this story and your experience in Bhutan .it was very informative and i am myself planning to go to Bhutan soon.
    Sir,
    is newjalpipuri is better station for further journey ? should we take taxi from newjalpipuri for entire trip ? how much days require ? will u tell the good places in Bhutan ? in which point , we have to take night stay ?, . Please also give a good itinerary .
    we are 4 adult with one children at the age of 5 years .
    it will very grateful to me ,if u give reply the above question .
    thanks & regards

  • Gururaj says:

    Brother please tell me where to get permission Indian registered bike to enter bhutan. Is it safe to ride a bike female as pillion rider ? If I go with female pillion rider I.e. as a only couple is it safe for ride in Bhutan?

    • Sudar says:

      I think you can get the permission at the border. If you are driving with Indian license then you need to have an Indian registered vehicle.

      I think Bhutan is in general very safe for girls especially in Thimpu and Paro. If you are visiting only Thimpu and Paro and will be driving only during day time then I don’t think there is anything to fear for.

      But the drive in through lot of mountain pass. So make sure your vehicle is in good shape and drive carefully.

  • sovendu jha says:

    your blog is real informative . what r the hotel charges at paro,thimphu and phunshellong and do we get it easily.

    • Sudar says:

      Nice to know that you like my blog.

      I went there in 2012 and so I don’t remember the prices now. But it was not too high and was within 2,000 per night. We were able to get the hotel without pre-booking.

  • Susrita says:

    Hi.. Thank you so much.. your posts on Bhutan by far have been the most informative as compared to all the other information on the entire web… My friend and I are travelling to Bhutan next month. we have planned our trip to and fro to Bhutan but not within.. have two questions for you..

    1. We are planning to hire a cab for Haa valley & Phunaka.. what do you think would be the approx cost since we are not planning to book for our entire trip..

    2. also, we are confused between visit Bumthang & Haa Valley (limited time).. which one would you suggest?

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Susrita,

      Glad to know that you found the article informative.

      We are planning to hire a cab for Haa valley & Phunaka.. what do you think would be the approx cost since we are not planning to book for our entire trip..

      When we were in Paro we got in touch with a cab driver and we hired him for our entire trip. He was with us for the next 10 days through out our trip and dropped us at the border on the last day. We paid him Rs. 1500 per day. Most hotels in Bhutan give free accommodation for the cab drivers, so you don’t have to worry about it.

      also, we are confused between visit Bumthang & Haa Valley (limited time).. which one would you suggest?

      How long are you planning to stay in Bhutan? If possible at least visit Haa Valley. The drive to Haa valley was very good.

  • Justin says:

    Hi Sudar,

    A great article… very well written and informative… I’ll be travelling to Bhutan next month… will be travelling solo and on a budget (typical backpacking trip)… my primary interests are:
    1. A few local sights of Thimphu (1 day)
    2. A quick trip to Punakha, and maybe touch upon Wangdue on the way back (Leave Thimphu early in the morning and be back by night)
    3. Trek to Tiger’s Nest at Paro and visit Paro dzong (1 day)
    4. Walk around Phuentsholing and pick up local souvenirs before returning back India

    What might be the best means of travelling to these places? Are public transport/sharing cabs readily available between Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Phuentsholing? In case I need to hire a cab, what sort of rates would I be looking at? Are they charged by the kilometer or by the day?

    Do hotels at Thimphu and Paro provide dormitories or budget single rooms? What sort of tariff might I expect?

    Would I require to carry only Rs. 100 notes? Would I be able to use my SBI debit card in Thimphu and Paro?

    Looking forward to your response.. Thanks and happy travelling ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Justin,

      Glad to know that you found my post informative.

      Public transport and shared cabs are available between Thimphu and Paro. For taxis they have fixed rates for each destination.

      We didn’t find many dormitories, but budget single rooms were available. For the double rooms we paid around 1000-1500 per night for two people.

      We were told that we should have 100 Rs. notes, but pretty much everyone accepted 500 or 1000 rupee notes. Our SBI and ICICI bank ATM card’s worked in Paro.

      Happy Travelling.

      • Rahul says:

        Hi Sudar,

        I and my friend are planning for a trip to Bhutan this September. there is a bit of confusion about the cost of a room/night. What would be the minimum cost per night of our stay as we are planning to go little thrifty???
        Thanks for the info.

        • Sudar says:

          When I last went there about 4 years ago, the average price per night was mostly around Rs 1000 – 1500 in a decent hotel. I am not sure what are the current prices.

  • Rajat Dogra says:

    Hi..
    we are travelling with kids…in a group of 8 adults 3 children..can we enter bhutan by road from phuentsholing and exit bhutan from Gelephu..going to Guwhati??
    Also..is the time shown in google map travelling from say phuentsholing to Thimpu correct? ?…referring to your comment that they do not drive over 50 km per hrs…Plz respond

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Rajat,

      Travelling with kids shouldn’t be a problem in Bhutan.

      I know for sure that you can enter Bhutan by road from Phuentsholing since we went through that way, but I am not sure about Gelephu. You may have to check with some one else regarding that.

      What is the time that Google map is showing?

  • Gaurav sharma says:

    Where did u stay? And any recommendation for staying in thimphu?

  • Bhanu says:

    Hi Sudar,

    Very Informative i must say for a 1st timer to Bhutan.

    Few questions as i will be going to thimpu to work & will stay for a while :-

    1) Is indian food easily accessible ?

    2) Are indian cooks available ?

    3) Are cigarettes not at all available in Bhutan ?

    4) How easy or tuff is it to buy a vehicle for an indian citizen ?

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Bhanu,

      Glad to know that my post was informative.

      1) Chappathi/Paratha’s are available in most places. Rice is also available in some places. But do taste Bhutanese food as well. We really loved it and was mostly having only Bhutanese food ๐Ÿ™‚
      2) I just visited Bhutan so I am not sure if Indian cooks would be available.
      3) No, cigarettes are strictly prohibited.
      4) I don’t have any idea about this, since I only visited Bhutan as a tourist.

  • amogh says:

    hi Sudar,
    Your article happens to be really informative, yet i have a few doubts and would really appreciate it if you could help me out.
    1) would the Phuentsholing permit office remain open on a Saturday? and the timings?
    2)Is it possible to hire a cab from phuentsholing to cover the whole trip n return to the same
    3) If yes approximate cost of the cab as its 9 of us traveling.
    4) we have 5 days in Bhutan where do you suggest we go?

    Thank you,
    Amogh

    • Sudar says:

      Glad to know that you found the article informative. Here are the answers to your questions

      1) The office is open on Saturdays, but I don’t know the exact timings.
      2) Yes it would be possible.
      3) A sumo might cost around Rs 2000-2500 per day
      4) Thimpu, Paro, Haa valley are must. If you have time go to Bhumthang as well.

  • ASHISH SHAH says:

    dear sudar

    me and my family want to go bhutan at 22/05/15. but my father was habituated of smoking so i want to know that is it possible in hotel’s room.

    • Sudar says:

      Bhutan is very strict about smoking. I think the fine is around Rs. 50,000 for first time offence and much greater second time.

      However I think there is some concession for tourists and you can carry some cigarettes for personal use, but you should strictly not some in any public place.

      I don’t know exactly what concessions are allowed. You may have to find it from their embassy office.

  • Justin says:

    Hi Sudar,

    Coming back to you with a new query…

    I’ll be carrying my passport, which bears the address of my college hostel from way back during my engg days. Now i work in Bombay, and my hometown is in north India. In filling out the entry and remote areas forms, will this difference in addresses cause me any issues? In case I carry my company i card and Aadhar card which bears my other addresses, would it help my cause at the immigration office? Or is there any simpler and better way to go about things?

    Suggestions requested please…

    Thanks,
    Justin

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Justin,

      Since there is no need for Visa I think it should be fine.

      But do carry more than one ID, so that you can use the supporting documents if needed.

  • Sudhir Mehra says:

    Planning trip to Bhutan in May
    How is the weather in this month.
    Pls suggest some Budget hotels in Thimpu and Paro.
    I am travelling by myself.
    Will cross border at Phuentsholing.
    Your information was very helpful.

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Sudhir,

      I travelled during September – October time, so I don’t know much about whether now. But I think it will be very pleasant.

      I don’t have names of budget hotels, but I am sure you will be able to get them.

  • Deep says:

    Great article…one of the best from so many out there..
    We are reaching hasimara at 1030 ( kanachankanya exp which happens to be late by 2 hrs generally )..
    how much possibility is that we go to phuensholing..take permit and go to thimphu the very same day ??

    we are on a 7 day trip..the 7th day we are returning so basically on a 6 day trip..We dnt want to waste a half day staying at phuentsholing..
    Thanks.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Susrita says:

      Hi,

      I was in Bhutan last week and took the same approach as yours. Our train was late by an hour but from Hasimara reaching Bhutan gate is easy. take a tempo which take Rs.60 to the gate. its a quick 20km ride. you go across the gate on foot and it took us less than an hour to get our permit.

      Taxi stand is 5mins walk from the permit office. Cab to Thimpu is Rs. 650 (Rs.550 after bargain) and takes around 5 hours.

      We reached in the evening around 7.

  • Swati says:

    Hello!
    Must say a very informative article…
    Just like Justin I am planning to travel alone to Bhutan from Siliguri
    It will be a solo backpacking trip so I wanted to ask you how safe is it to travel alone for women?
    I plan to do Thimpu and Paro… I am headed to Sikkim and want to explore Bhutan so will be intending to travel there around beginning of 2nd week of May
    Its completely unplanned as I wont get time to do any bookings..

    • Susrita says:

      Hi I visited last month, and you may carry cigarettes but you need to declare at the immigration office. There is a board right at the gate with this declaration notice. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Swati,

      Glad to know that my article was useful.

      It will be a solo backpacking trip so I wanted to ask you how safe is it to travel alone for women?

      Even though we travelled as a group, I would say Bhutan as a country is pretty safe. We didn’t had any issue throughout the entire trip but had many positive experiences where people went beyond to help us.

      Its completely unplanned as I wont get time to do any bookings..

      I think it’s fine. You would find lot of places to stay both in Thimpu and Paro.

  • Justin says:

    Hi Sudar and Swati,

    A quick update on my solo backpacking trip to bhutan… I was there for 5 days.. did Thimphu, Paro and Punakha… used public transport, sharing cabs, tagged along with other travellers I met on the way and hitch hiked. It was an unplanned trip, taking things as they came…

    The place is awe inspiring, the people are wonderful and words simply cannot do justice to the experience. All in all it was one of the best trips i’ve been on. And the best part was, i discovered to my pleasant surprise, travelling solo was a great experience as I was free to tweak my plans as I wished, travel when and where I wanted and spend as much time as i wished at places i found charming.

    Describing my entire trip here would be extremely bulky, so feel free to get in touch with me at funkyjude@gmail.com

    Happy travelling ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sudar says:

      Great to know that you had a wonderful trip.

      It’s been a couple of years since I visited Bhutan but now your comment bought back those memories again. I should plan to visit Bhutan sometime soon ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sudar says:

      Also if you don’t mind me asking, how much it costed you in total? I thought it would be helpful for others to know the cost so that they can also plan accordingly.

    • Sumit Mukherjee says:

      Hi Justin and Sudar,

      Thanks a lot to you two. Reading both your accounts has given me a lot of courage for my own solo trip two weeks from now.

      My planned trip is a bit longer (around 10-11 days) and I would really appreciate if you could answer my questions, Justin and Sudar.

      1) Since it’s a longer trip, naturally I plan to visit the more remote places like Cheli La, Bumthang etc. How are the transport options to these places? I heard catching the sunrise at Cheli La is a must. Any idea about the hotels over there and the transport options from Paro/Thimpu?

      2) You said that getting a permit for solo travellers is tough? What kind of reassurances do the authorities look for? Do they ask for bribes?

      3) Since INR also works over there, can I hope to find ATMs at all the places I go or do I withdraw in bulk at the beginning itself? Do hotels and other merchants (cabs, moutain bike renters, etc.) accept cards?

      4) You mentioned about renting the entire cab. At which specific locations did you have to do this? What was the cost?

      Really looking forward to your replies. I promise to share my own experiences once I’m done and hopefully its helpful to future travellers here.

      @Justin P.S.:Sorry for being buggy but I emailed you too so that I could get your viewpoints :).

      • Sudar says:

        1) Since itโ€™s a longer trip, naturally I plan to visit the more remote places like Cheli La, Bumthang etc. How are the transport options to these places? I heard catching the sunrise at Cheli La is a must. Any idea about the hotels over there and the transport options from Paro/Thimpu?

        There is public transport from Thimpu to these places. You can also take a taxi.

        There are decent places to stay there, so you should be able to find a place to stay.

        2) You said that getting a permit for solo travellers is tough? What kind of reassurances do the authorities look for? Do they ask for bribes?

        I travelled as a group, so I don’t know that happened. Justin might be able to answer this.

        But I don’t think they will take bribes ๐Ÿ™‚

        3) Since INR also works over there, can I hope to find ATMs at all the places I go or do I withdraw in bulk at the beginning itself? Do hotels and other merchants (cabs, moutain bike renters, etc.) accept cards?

        You may find ATM in Paro and Thimpu. But the more remote places you go, the less change of finding an ATM. Carry cash if possible.

        In most places you may have to pay by cash. Paying by credit card is not possible in all places.

        4) You mentioned about renting the entire cab. At which specific locations did you have to do this? What was the cost?

        We rented a cab from Paro for the entire trip. We payed around Rs.1300 per day and had him for around 10 days.

        Let me know if you have any more questions.

  • Justin says:

    Sudar, just to reiterate, your blog is very well done and it was extremely helpful in allaying my initial hesitance in undertaking a solo unplanned trip.. that too to another country ๐Ÿ˜€ .. Thanks once again mate…

    I’ve already started chalking out my next trip to Bhutan.. a long one this time, covering eastern and central Bhutan :)…

  • Justin says:

    It cost me roughly 1700 bucks a day, food, transport and accommodation included… I was exploring around towns most of the time and hotels were just to crash during the night, but even though they were budget hotels, travelling solo, I had to bear the entire cost… Had to hire an entire cab a few times … If you are travelling in a group then the cost will be lower… The ideal group size is 4 or multiples thereof, as cabs will not allow a fifth person, and you’ll need to hire a separate cab…

    Also, stick to bottled water there… it’d be a pity to waste a few days getting used to the local water…

    Solo travelers (Swati) a word of caution, In case you are entering via P/ling, then you might face some resistance in obtaining a permit. Reason being that the Bhutanese authorities are concerned that there is no one to take responsibility in case something happens to a solo traveler… I was the first at the counter but it took me a couple of hour to get my permit (which is rare, it usually takes half an hour)… I was interviewed by the regional immigration officer about why I’m travelling alone and what will I do in case something happens… After I quoted that their tourism dept site does not state any restriction about solo travelers and wrote an undertaking about being solely responsible for myself, the officer let me through

    • Sudar says:

      I travelled as group and even for us the cost was around the same, but that was in 2012.

      We were using bottled water for a day or two and then switched to local water after seeing the streams ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for your note about travelling solo. I didn’t know about it since we travelled as a group. It is an useful information for people who want to travel solo and/or backpack.

    • RICHA P says:

      hello justin,i am planning to travel solo ,i will be landing in paro.is there anything that i should keep in mind for immigrationcoz i donot want to be returned back from the gates.have you heard of any case where people were returned back.response awaited and thank you very much.

      • Sundeep Reddy says:

        Hey Justin,

        I am also planning to travel solo this march. Please let me know if you have seen any cases where someone is sent back because of the solo travelling issue. I’ve read couple of other blogs and got mixed answers. Let me also know if there is any way to confirm the same with Bhutan Tourism.

        Thanks in advance!

  • Justin says:

    So I guess inflation is a nonexistent concept in Bhutan ๐Ÿ˜€ .. That’s great!!

  • keneth says:

    Hi Sudar,

    You had mentioned Rs 17,500 as you total cost. Does this include travelling to and frm P/ling, that is, the total cost incurred?

    And is there any local alternative to rice dal and chillies?(I will eat anything that will not kill me ;))

    • Sudar says:

      Rs. 17,500 is the total cost excluding the flight fees to Bagdora.

      Bhutan has rice, dal and chillies in almost all hotels ๐Ÿ™‚ You can also try to eat their chicken curry. It was very good.

  • manis kafley says:

    can we enjoy the mountain biking with our indian Driving licenes.

    • Sudar says:

      By mountain biking do you mean the motor cycle or the normal cycle?

      To ride the normal cycle you don’t need any license. We were able to do it.

      To ride the motor cycle the license requirement depends on the registration details of the vehicle. If you are riding a Indian registered vehicle then you can use Indian license. If you have to ride Bhutan registered vehicle then you need Bhutan license.

  • Aniket says:

    Thank you Suadarmuttu for the wonderful writing. We 4 of us and a 2 year old kid are planning for the 7 days Bhutan trip is August.. which places do you suggest? Also do you think we should book our hotels in advance as we have kid along with us?

    Do you advise fly in or use road transport?

    Thank you again
    Aniket

    • Sudar says:

      You can go for Thimphu, Paro, Cheli La and Haa Valley.

      You may have to book your hotel in Cheli la and Haa Vally but it is generally available.

      Flying to Bhutan will be very expensive. If you are fine with it then you can fly to Paro directly. Otherwise you can fly to Bagdora and then take a taxi from there.

      Also my name is Sudar Muthu and you got it completely wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Mithun says:

    Hi Sudar,

    Your article is very helpful and its great of you for replying consistently for 3 years. I had few questions if you or anyone else could help.
    Me and my friend is planning for a bike trip from siliguri.

    1) Is it compulsory to take a local guide with you?
    2) What is the distance between thimpu and punaka? Google doesn’t show the distance for whatsoever reason?
    3) Are 2 days enough to enjoy the places at thimpu, punakha and paro each

    • Sudar says:

      Your article is very helpful and its great of you for replying consistently for 3 years.

      Glad to be of help ๐Ÿ™‚

      1) Is it compulsory to take a local guide with you?

      If you are Indian, then you don’t have to. If you are a foreigner then it is compulsory to take a tour package that includes guide.

      2) What is the distance between thimpu and punaka? Google doesnโ€™t show the distance for whatsoever reason?

      Thimpu is the capital of Bhutan and is more of a city. Punaka is a town and is very beautiful.

      3) Are 2 days enough to enjoy the places at thimpu, punakha and paro each

      Two days should be fine. If you can spend more days then spend it in Paro. There are lot of places (like Tiger’s Nest) to visit in Paro.

  • Justin says:

    Hi Sumit,
    Adding to Sudar’s inputs…
    1. You can cover Cheli La on the way to Haa valley. Buses from Paro to Haa Valley are very infrequent and the route is circuitous. A more time saving option would be to hire a cab from Paro. For Bumthang, there are buses plying, though not very frequently. So you could hire a cab in case you bump into fellow travellers wishing to split with you. In case you are willing to splurge then you can take a flight from Paro to Bumthang, but then its missing the point of a solo backpacking trip ๐Ÿ™‚ Bus schedules are here:
    http://www.rsta.gov.bt/download/bus_schedule.pdf
    Hotels are readily available and knocking door to door for single rooms should be sufficient.
    2. No BRIBES!! That’s taboo there. They despise the bribe culture prevalent in India. They are mainly concerned that if anything happens, then who will take responsibility. I had to write an undertaking at p/ling that I take full responsibility for my stay in Bhutan.
    3. Usually shops in Paro and Thimphu accept cards. In Paro, I managed to find only Maestro ATMs. Thimphu has visa compatible ATMs as well. They dispense cash in Ngultrum. I faced a charge of Rs. 22 on my transaction there (withdrew 5k). Other than in Thimphu and Paro, I didn’t come across any other ATMs/swipe machines.
    4. I was fortunate to find travellers for each leg to split costs. You are bound to run into them if you keep your eyes peeled. Try to keep your schedule flexible to accomodate other travellers as that will substantially reduce your costs. The only place where I needed to rent an entire cab was to Paro dzong and National Museum. He charged 400 for both, including waiting charges.

    • Ankit Shah says:

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks a lot for your valuable inputs. I have a question regarding your third point: Usually shops in Paro and Thimphu accept cards. In Paro, I managed to find only Maestro ATMs. Thimphu has visa compatible ATMs as well. They dispense cash in Ngultrum. I faced a charge of Rs. 22 on my transaction there (withdrew 5k). Other than in Thimphu and Paro, I didnโ€™t come across any other ATMs/swipe machines.

      a) Will a normal Indian visa debit card work at the ATMs you mentioned? Because the back side of my HDFC visa debit card says that it’s not valid for payment in foreign exchange in Nepal and Bhutan.

      b) What is the max limit per withdrawal?

      I am travelling to Bhutan for a month. So this information will be very useful.

      Thanking you in advance.

      Warm regards,
      Ankit

  • Sumer Singh Chouhan says:

    For stay in Bhutan, there is only hotels are available or some cheap guest house or religious dharamshalas (like in India) also available?

    • Sudar says:

      Apart from hotels some cheap PG/Guest house were available, but I didn’t come across any dharmashalas type places.

      Also the PG/Guest house depends on the city.

  • Suneel says:

    Hi Sudar !!
    Thanks for helping too many people through a very detailed and informative description of your journey. I am the next in queue ๐Ÿ™‚ Planning to visit Bhutan with my wife in first week of december. Just want to ask if finding an average hotel by ourselves would be a big deal. Trying to save money by not asking some travel agent.

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Suneel,

      When we went in late 2012 we stayed in Bhutan for around 15 days and we didn’t do any bookings prior. We just went and were able to find decent hotels to stay in all the places.

      We didn’t go through any travel agent and were able to find taxi’s and hotels everywhere.

  • Bhargab Kumae Das says:

    Hi, I am a resident of Assam in India and own a commercial 8 seater Toyota Innova. I want to travel in Bhutan by my car. I am in possession of a valid commercial driving license and all the documents of the vehicle is up to date. What the formalities are to take my vehicle to Bhutan?
    Regards
    Bhargab

    • Sudar says:

      I know that getting personal vehicles into Bhutan is easy if you have the vehicle papers and driving license.

      I am not sure what is the process for commercial vehicles.

  • Sudipta says:

    We are planning to travel to Bhutan by Dec end this year. Just wanted to know that the permit should be made from Kolkata as we will be travelling from kolkata or it can be directly made from Phuntocelling?

    • Sudar says:

      If you are a citizen of India then you don’t need to get any permit to travel to Kolkata or from Kolkata to the India/Bhutan border.

      You need to get the permit only to enter into Bhutan and that you can get in at the Bhutan immigration office at the border. The Indian side of the border is called Jaigaon and the Bhutan side of the border is called Phuentsholing.

  • Deepshikha says:

    It’s a very informative post, thank you! We are looking for cheap and safe places to stay in Bhutan, for two, in Paro and Thimpu. Do you have any suggestions? Are there hostels?

    • Sudar says:

      Nice to know that you found my blog post useful.

      As far as I know there weren’t any hostels or dom in Thimpu or Paro. But we found some in Punaka.

      There are a couple of budget hotels available in Thimpu and Paro. I went around 3 years ago so I don’t have their names, but I guess you should be able to find them easily once you arrive there.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hey Sudar,

    This is a great post! We are travelling in a group of 4 in the end of September (we’re from Bangladesh!). We will be in Bhutan for 3 days and 3 nights, and our return flight is early morning on the 4th day.

    I was wondering if these 3 days will be enough to cover Thimpu, Punakha and Paro or should we just stick to Thimpu and Paro?

    How long does it take to get the permit for Punakha? Our flight arrives at 10.30 am, and as far as I know it takes about 1-2 hours to reach Thimpu, and another 3 hours to reach Punakha. So I don’t think we’ll have much time to go around Punakha that way! Should I reduce a day in Paro ( I wanted to stay there for 2 days) and take up a day in Punakha and go to Paro directly from there?

    • Sudar says:

      There are lot of places to visit in Paro. So if you want to visit most of them then you will not be able to go to Punakha. I would suggest you visit only Paro and Thimphu, but try to visit all the places there.

      It took us about 30 minutes to extend the permit to go to Punakha.

  • Debasmita says:

    Hi Sudar!

    After a long searching, I found you blog, Its really Interesting, And informative. And your are also active in your blog.

    I am planing to go Bhutan in month of December 2015 for 5 nights 6 days. I contacted some travel agent , They told that as per Bhutan tourism guideline that i must took a guide with me? Is It true??

    And I want to travel mostly western part of Bhutan. So definitely I will cover Thimpu And Paro.

    Could you please suggest me any other place (I basically love the nature)within my travel period. I would like to know from thimpu From every hotel I will get the view. Or better to stay in city of thimpu.

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Debasmita,

      If you are a citizen of India then you don’t have to buy the travel package from Bhutan Government that includes a guide or hire a guide yourself. If you are not a citizen of India then it is mandatory for you to buy a travel package from Bhutan Government that includes travel and a guide for the entire trip.

      Thimpu is more of a city and you can cover it in a day. So I would recommend you to spend most of your time in Paro and if possible go to Haa valley.

      • Debasmita says:

        Thanks for replying.

        Will you suggest that same electric plug point are in bhutan’s hotels?

        And If i m not carry the cash, then indian ATM s like axis, HDFC, state bank ATM are there?

        • Sudar says:

          Bhutan uses the same electrical socket like India. So you don’t have to carry anything extra.

          You may not find many shops that accept credit cards. There are ATM’s but you may have to check with your bank before hand whether you can use your debit card in Bhutan.

          It would be safer to carry cash. Pretty much everywhere they will accept Indian rupees.

  • Indradeep Bhattacharyya says:

    Hi,

    I shall be visiting Bhutan with my family in October. We are a group of seven. Can someone suggest from where I could hire a big car for the entire trip?

  • nazia says:

    Hello sir i m Bangladeshi. Me and my friend plan to visit in bhutan 5th Oct to 10 Oct by air in paro city..so i want to know three things that for 2 girls how much will be the taxi fare for whole day including sight seeing.wheather the fuel cost included or not with the fare..and is it possible to see chele la pass and punakha within 1day.we have very tight schedule. We want to visit paro Thimpu and punakha..
    The second things is wheather we should hire the taxi separatelly like for paro city 1 taxi then for Thimphu city another new taxi or same taxi will take us all the 3 cities..
    Finally the hotel cost both in paro and Thimpu for two girls so we need 1room mainly we want cheaper hotel like 2*/3*..
    Another thing should we need the permission for punakha or chele la pass..like u wrote this that’s why i ask..
    Thanks in advance.. and sorry for my bad English writing..

    • Sudar says:

      Hello sir i m Bangladeshi.

      Hello ๐Ÿ™‚

      for 2 girls how much will be the taxi fare for whole day including sight seeing.

      We paid around 1500 per day. But we hired the cab for 10 days. So if you just hire for a day, then it may be slightly costly.

      wheather the fuel cost included or not with the fare

      Yes

      ..and is it possible to see chele la pass and punakha within 1day

      It will be little tough.

      The second things is wheather we should hire the taxi separatelly like for paro city 1 taxi then for Thimphu city another new taxi or same taxi will take us all the 3 cities..

      You can do it both ways.

      Finally the hotel cost both in paro and Thimpu for two girls so we need 1room mainly we want cheaper hotel like 2*/3*..

      It will cost you around 1000-1500 per night.

      Another thing should we need the permission for punakha or chele la pass..like u wrote this thatโ€™s why i ask..

      Yes. You need to extend your permit to visit those places.

      sorry for my bad English writing..

      Not a problem. English is not my native language as well ๐Ÿ™‚

      • nazia says:

        Hello sir, thanks for your reply..I’ll help us a lot. We want to know another important thing which is “is it necessary to take permission to go to chele la pass” if it is then from where we can take the permission and how much it will cost to take this means whether we need to pay any fees /service charge for taking permission.
        And for punakha we have the same questions. Like from where we take the permission and is there any cost like permit fees/entrance fees.mainly i don’t know what does this cost called…
        TIA
        Nazia

  • aseem says:

    Hello,
    Me and a friend will be arriving at Phuentsholing on 22nd September by bike. We will need a permit to enter Bhutan (both are Indians). And we will also need a further permit to visit Wangdue. However from what I got to know online 22nd September is a nationwide government holiday and 23rd to 25th is the Thimphu Tsechu which is a holiday in Thimphu.
    a. Will the permit issuing agency at Phuentsholing be open on 22nd? We will need permits for both of us and our bike.

    b. Will the permit office in Thimphu be open on 23rd to 25th? We need to go to Wangdue on the 26th.

    Thanks in advance for your helpful answer! Cheers! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Sudar says:

      Sorry Aseem,

      I am not sure whether the immigration office will be opened or not because of the holiday. You may have to check with the them directly.

  • NALAN says:

    Carrying infants to Bhutan during Jan-Feb is comfortable or not…

    • Sudar says:

      Since Bhutan is on top of the mountain the air pressure will be less and I think it may not be very comfortable to travel with infants, especially if they are very small.

  • Devosmita Bhattacharya says:

    Hello Sudar. ๐Ÿ™‚

    First of all, great writing. Love the details. (y)

    I am planning a trip to Bhutan with my family on December.

    I have three questions for you :

    1. If I use Indian sim cards in phones while in Bhutan, will the call rates be STD or ISD?

    2. You have mentioned that Tuesday is a Pedestrian Day in Bhutan and no private vehicles are allowed on road. Is this rule applicable for the citizens only or tourists too? If it is applicable for tourists, then what are the other options for travelling?

    3. Two of my family members, who are going in that trip, are senior citizens and both of them have arthritis. Will it be too hard for them to bear the cold?

    • Sudar says:

      Glad to know that you found it useful.

      If I use Indian sim cards in phones while in Bhutan, will the call rates be STD or ISD?

      Unless you have international roaming enabled, your Indian sim card won’t work. If you have enabled international roaming then they will be charged at ISD rates. It would be cheaper for you to get a local sim there. That’s what we did.

      You have mentioned that Tuesday is a Pedestrian Day in Bhutan and no private vehicles are allowed on road. Is this rule applicable for the citizens only or tourists too? If it is applicable for tourists, then what are the other options for travelling?

      In most places you will have this observed only for half the vehicles. (ie) Vehicles with registration number ending in odd number will be allowed one week and the next week it will be even numbers.

      Two of my family members, who are going in that trip, are senior citizens and both of them have arthritis. Will it be too hard for them to bear the cold?

      It will get a little cold especially in Cheli La and Haa Valley. Thimphu and Paro should be fine.

  • Dominic P says:

    Dear Sudar,
    The beauty of your decision to share this experience of yours online is helping so many ppl and gaining mileage even after years…

    3 Words : Nandri/Valarga/Vanakkam

    Regards,
    Me~

  • Lakshmi says:

    We are going in october 1st week.
    Can you Pl specify where and what to shop in bhutan.
    Is there any festival in october?

    • Sudar says:

      What type of shopping do you want to do? Do you want to buy some souvenirs?

      There may be some city/town festivals. You may have to check some local sources to confirm it.

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      Yes, October is peak season in Bhutan, you will find a lot of India Tourist there.

      If you have booked your hotel earlier than its good or else you will get problem in booking.

      Regards
      Himnshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan

  • ctr says:

    Do you have to provide accommodation for car drivers or is there any other facility especially when traveling in winter?
    Is it better to rent for the whole trip or rent by the day in every city?

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      In Some hotels they provide accommodations for drivers,

      You can rent whole trip so that you can enjoy tour trip without thinking about what next to plan.

      Regards
      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan
      h.shekhar@outlook.com

  • ranjan dasgupta says:

    I am going for a solo trip to Bhutan I shall be staying overnight and travel next day to Paro. what are the local bus timings and charges..?

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Ranjan,

      If you are travelling alone, you may have to give a self-declaration while getting the permit.

      I don’t have the local timings with me.

  • Ravi says:

    Dear Sh Sudar

    The blog is informative.Pl confirm that for Indians are not charged Tourism Tariff as in case of foreigners and we can make our own arrangement without having to pay 200 dollars.
    Thanks

  • Anton says:

    Hi Sudar,

    I find this blog very helpful. I am planning to go to Bhutan by next year. I am from the Philippines by the way. If that will be the case should I need to pay for the tax tariff? What can you advise for a solo-traveller? I have a friend there that I would like to visit. I appreciate whatever info you can provide to me.

    Thanks,

    Anton

    • Sudar says:

      As far as I know, I think you may have to get the tour package from Bhutan government.

      Kindly check their travel website to confirm.

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      No, its compalsary that you have to take package from Bhutan government, you can Travel solo after paying 200$ per day as travel traiff.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      9990596594, h.shekhar@outlook.com
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan.

      • Anton says:

        Hi Sudar and Shimanshu,

        Thanks for the info. So just to clarify I need to take a package from the government of Bhutan or can I do solo travel? I understand that I need to pay the daily tariff. I just would like to clarify if it’s possible for me to do solo travel. I appreciate your response.

        • Sudar says:

          You have to take a tour package from Government of Bhutan and can’t travel solo. Only Indians are allowed to travel solo.

        • Himanshu Shekhar says:

          You have to take a tour package from Government of Bhutan and canโ€™t travel solo. Only Indians are allowed to travel solo.

          i will help you in getting Package from Bhutan Government.

          Himanshu Shekhar,
          +91-9990596594, h.shekhar@outlook.com

  • cza says:

    Thanks for the information on the blog.
    How much is the cab rate and driver tips for Indian travelers?

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      its, depend on you what cab you hire, around Small cabs, Rs. 2000 and SUV cabs, Rs. 3000 per day including fuel, driver no other charges you have to pay. And driver will act like tourist guide in Hindi and English Language, if you want more details please contact me +91-9990596594, or h.shekhar@outlook.com.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan

  • Abhay says:

    Hi Sudar,

    I find this blog very helpful. Me & my friend is planning to go to Bhutan in next month from (6th-12th Nov’15). I am planning to enter from Phuntsholing, Bhutan sides. What can you advise for a solo-traveler? Will i be able to get 2 co passengers who can join us for entire trip which will be cost effective for entire trip. We can use money for better accommodation.
    Below are the locations i am looking to visit:
    1. Tiger Nest- Around Paro
    2. Buddha Point
    3. Drukgyel Dzong- Paro & Paro Rinpung Dzong- Aound Paro
    4. Punakha/ Wangadi- Chimi Lhakhang , Punakha Dzong and Iron Bridge
    5. Haa Valley
    6. Cheli La Valley

    Will i be able to visit all these places in 6-7 Days ??
    Any one interested to join with us on the trip please contact on below email id: mech.abhay2015@gmail.com

  • Gurmeet says:

    It’s very helpful of you (Sudar and Himanshu)

    The blog is very informative

    I am planning for a solo bike trip and have few questions, pls help me out on them..

    1) I will be reaching Kolkata from Bangalore through flight on 25th Nov (night) and after that which place should I go to take bike on rent?

    2) Is it very risky and difficult for a solo bike rider to do a bike trip of Bhutan? Given the bike could break on the way and how is the route, is it too complex and unsafe for a solo biker?

    Regards,
    TIA

    • Sudar says:

      Nice to know that you found my blog useful.

      You may have some difficulties in getting a permit if you are travelling solo. Someone else also mentioned it in the comments here and you may have to give a declaration letter saying that Bhutan is not responsible if something happens to you.

      Where ever you are renting the bike, make sure you rent it before getting into Bhutan. With Indian driving license you can only drive India registered vehicle. You won’t be able to rent bikes after crossing the border.

      If you are going to restrict yourself only to Thimphu, Paro or Cha Valley then there it will usually safe, but if you are going further east then it may be slightly unsafe.

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      As you required, i have mailed you all the details related to this tour,

      if you still have any doubt i will be happy in clearing it.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan
      9990596594
      h.shekhar@outlook.com.

  • Tarun says:

    Can I use my pulsar 200 rs in Nepal for 12 days trip?

  • Neeraj Banga says:

    Hi Sundar,

    Details provided by you is really useful. I am planning my trip from Gurgaon to Bhutan by road. I will be driving my own Innova from Gurgaon.

    Planning to spend 4 nights in Bhutan. I was looking at making Paro as my base in Bhutan and then move around Bhutan. Is it a good idea or should stay in Paro for 2 nights and then 2 nights in Thimphu. Please suggest. is it advisable to take a local guide there to move around the places.

    Regards

    Neeraj

    • Sudar says:

      There isn’t much to see in Thimphu.

      If you have only 4 days, then I would suggest you spent 3 days in Paro and one day in Thimphu.

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      There isnโ€™t much to see in Thimphu.

      If you have only 4 days, then I would suggest you spent 3 days in Paro and one day in Thimphu.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan
      9990596594,
      h.shekhar@outlook.com

  • Biswapriyo Biahop says:

    I want to plan a trip on May with 20 persion in total group and we plan to stay Jaigown 1d.. 3d thimpu and 1d at Paro. as a group leader I have some questions for make our trip success.. that is as under..
    1. Is it is possible that we book a CAB bus for our 20 people only from phuntsolling ? how much it take to book the total bus?
    2. or is it is possible to book SUMO type car hire for us and what is the cost for that
    3. Is it is possible to get accomodation at thimpu or paro or joigow where we can stay in low cost and arrang cooking for us? becoz we plan to take a coock and cooking arrangment with us for the trip
    4. In our 3 night stay where u suggest to go for sightseen ?

  • Paramita Das says:

    Hi,It is a very useful write up to travel Bhutan.I am planning to go to Bhutan In May by flight.Do I required any travel agent to move around inside Bhutan? If I am hiring a taxi from Paro for 3 days to go to Thimpu from where we can book the taxi?

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      No, Its Not required to have travel agents to move around, you can ask taxi driver, he will help you in visiting places and sightseeings.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan
      9990596594,
      h.shekhar@outlook.com

  • shalaka says:

    Hey,

    thank you for the useful info, out of all the blogs and sites I read for a traveler’s feedback, yours seemed the best. All though the cost that you have mentioned is a little less to believe and by now I guess it should be atleast one and a half times of it. I am planning for a trip to Bhutan around april or may, we are a group of 5. I am planning to take my family along. my parents are in their late 50s. wanted your serious suggestion on this. although both my parents have a sporting spirit and coped up well on our J&K trip in snow. I am worried if Bhutan would be the same, specially tiger’s nest trek. Dad exercises regularly and has no ailment mom suffers from high BP. do you think its advisable to plan this trip for them? Please reply. This kind of info is really tough to find. hoping to hear from you.

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Himanshu Shekhar says:

      Yes you can Plan this trip, Here its very safe and your dad will enjoy this trip but Tigers Nest Will be a Problem for him.

      Himanshu Shekhar
      Phuntsholing, Bhutan
      9990596594,
      h.shekhar@outlook.com

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Shalaka,

      Nice to know that you found the info useful.

      The cost I have mentioned is what we spent when we went in late 2012 in a group of 5. We didn’t stay in Ultra luxury hotels, but at the same time not in dorms. We travelled in a taxi all around and didn’t use public transport anywhere.

      I am sure your parents will enjoy it. But Tiger’s nest may be a little tough. Don’t do it in one stretch and try to take rest all along. There are a couple of resting places on the way where you can try to catch breath.

  • Great tips! I want to mention that There are limited credit or debit card ATMs in Bhutan. It is preferable to have travelers cheques or cash.Thanks for sharing this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rajat says:

    Hello Sudar,

    Thank you for your helpful info, can you please let me know that, in Tuesday will it be difficult to get any cab/sumo for returning from Paro to phuentsholing?

  • Praneeth G says:

    Hello Sudar,

    First of all, one of the best posts on travel tips to Bhutan and the informatio is short n crisp.
    Thanks for that.

    I am having an Indian passport and working in Singapore, planning a trip to Bhutan on dates – 7FEB to 13FEB, 2016.

    I have a query regarding this.

    I read some posts, that Bhutan immigration wont allow Indian male solo travellers. How much of it is true? Can you pls suggest any authoritative body whom I can contact to confirm the same?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thanks a lot.

    Cheers,
    Praneeth G.

  • Richa says:

    Hello sudar, very informative article .i also wanted to bother you and ask bit about Bhutan . I am planning to travel solo (female ) to Paro towards the end of Feb for 4-5 days. My main aim is to visit the Tigers nest. Do you think I will be able to have a good trek to tigers best keeping the weather in mind as Feb is still winters and also as I am travelling solo ,would you suggest to pre book the hotel room coz few hotel on the net are quiet expensive and I read in one of your answers that you got rooms for 2-3k per night ,whereas in the Internet Rooms are starting only from 4-5k per night .any help from you would really help me in planning my trip as this is the first time I am planning to make a solo travel. Many thanks

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Richa,

      Nice to know that you found my article informative.

      Others have mentioned that they had issues at immigration while travelling solo. Make sure you read about it. We travelled in a group so we didn’t had any issues.

      Tigers Nest is a very beautiful place to trek, but it is not easy. If you are completely new to trekking and not used to much physical activity then it would be tough. We trekked it when the whether was around 20C, but trekking it under 10C is going to be more difficult.

      We went there around 4 years ago and at that time getting a hotel was very easy and we didn’t made any advanced booking. But I am not sure how things have changed recently.

  • Pooja says:

    Hello,

    I am Pooja from Mumbai and plan to visit Bhutan along with my husband during March this year. I haven’t traveled much before as I never had the opportunity. However, now I see it possible and I love to read about travels, experiences and journeys. We plan for a 6 nights, 7 day trip. I have a couple of questions in mind, it would be kind of you to help me out here. So here I go…

    1. What budget should I set for the both of us. I am not looking at luxury travelling. I wish to experience the place like a local so please suggest me in those lines.
    2. I wish to go beyond Thimphu and Paro, I would like to explore picturesque places elsewhere in Bhutan, not just the known and famous ones. Let me know which places can I go where I experience nature at its magical best.
    3. Any suggestion for places to stay.
    4. What kind of adventure activities are there. I am keen on Hiking and trekking, where and how do I book these.
    5. Any kind of offbeat activities that you are aware off such as mindful practice retreats etc that I can take. Anything that would make our trip memorable?
    6. I am looking for using public transport, let me know how to figure this. How to know where to catch the public buses. how helpful are the people over there.

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Pooja,

      What budget should I set for the both of us. I am not looking at luxury travelling. I wish to experience the place like a local so please suggest me in those lines.

      You can check the post above to see how much we spent. You can also checkout our itinerary at http://sudarmuthu.com/blog/bhutan-trip-itinerary/

      What kind of adventure activities are there. I am keen on Hiking and trekking, where and how do I book these.

      Don’t miss out Tigers Nest in Paro. It is a slightly difficult trek but worth doing.

  • akash says:

    Hi,

    We are planning a trip to Bhutan this March. We are having some problems in booking the cars. Do you have few contacts which can help us book a car in comparatively less cost. Our plan to visit places in according to the dates are as follows:
    1) hasimara to Phuentsholing
    2) Phuentsholing to Thimphu
    3) Thimphu to Punakha
    4) Punakha to Phobjika(a day excursion)
    5) Punakha to Paro
    6) Paro to Hasimara

    It will also be helpful if you can comment on my trip itenary . Any modifications for good is always welcome.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks,

  • Tayan som says:

    Hi ,

    Firstly thanks for this type of elaborate description which helps a novice like me very much .

    We are 17 people in our community planning to visit this oct in bhutan for 5 days and 4 nights , hasimara station to hasimara ,

    Now we are facing problem like food costing in bhutan , can you please advice on the same , mostly indian normal foods are preferred , no fascination required .

    Thanks in advance ,

    Tayan

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Tayan,

      Nice to know that you found my notes helpful.

      Now we are facing problem like food costing in bhutan , can you please advice on the same , mostly indian normal foods are preferred , no fascination required

      For our entire stay we ate in hotels and it wasn’t that expensive. But it was around 4 years ago. Not sure how things might have changed now.

  • Hemanth says:

    Hi Sudar

    Would you remember the hotels you stayed in the various places in Bhutan ? I’m planning a trip with my family in May and have started the bookings ..

    Many thanks for your reply. Have a good day!

    Regards
    Hemanth

  • viral kumbhani says:

    is there online permit issue of Haa valley, Punakha or Bumthang

  • Rakhi says:

    Hi Richa

    Even i am keen to visit Bhutan in feb/mar 16 but hesitate to travel solo.
    Would you mind if i can join you.

    Regards
    rakhi

  • Bikash Jyoti Pathak says:

    Hello,
    I am sorry, but my post shall be long. Hope you bear with it and revert back.
    We are planning a trip to Bhutan from 25th March,2016 up to 31st March,2016. We are a group of 3 guys. We are planning the Bhutan circuit as follows:- Phuntsholing-Paro-Takhtsang-Thimpu-Punakha-Phobjikha-Phuntsholing.

    25th Mar,2016:- Alipur Duar to Phuntsholing.
    26th Mar,2016:- Phuntsholing to Paro. Partial sightseeing in Paro.
    27th Mar,2016:- Takhtsang Trail and then to Thimpu for overnight stay.
    28th Mar,2016:- Special entry pass and partial sightseeing.
    29th Mar,2016:- Early morning march to Punakha. Overnight at Wangdue.
    30th Mar,2016:- Wangdue to Phobjikha and back to Wangdue/Thimphu.
    31st Mar,2016:- Thimphu to Phuntsholing.

    The trip looks hectic I can understand, but we want to cover the max we can with the limited we have.

    Now the questions I have are as follows:-

    1. Can any omissions be done in my itinerary??
    2. Can we hire a cab for the 3 of us for the entire duration of our stay in Bhutan from Phuntsholing itself??? If yes, can I get a fair approximation of the per day fare of any such cab??? How many Ngultrum/day tariff it shall be???
    3. I have heard and seen that March-April is mentioned as peak season in Butan for tourism for the various Festivals. But with a further research and tallying with the dates of these festivals, I came to see that the Festivities are actually from Mid April and not during the duration of our stay in Bhutan. So shall finding accommodation be difficult during this time of our travel???
    4. I don’t know if ACCUWEATHER is right this time or not, but the website was showing March temperature pretty much always negative of 0 deg C!!! Is it going to be this cold??? Can anyone give me the exact weather profile how it shall be end March or a near rough approximation of the weather????
    5. Last and the most important one, shall travel permits be issued on a Saturday or Sunday (let it be a 2nd/4th Saturday, Sunday or any National Holiday Day in Bhutan)??? Is the Thimphu Office office closed on any particular dates/days that may need us to alter our plans for getting the permits for entering restricted areas???

    Please help regarding this matter.
    Thanking in advance.

    • Sudar says:

      Yes, your itinerary looks very hectic. You would just be going to different places without enjoying anything. I would suggest you remove Wangdue and Phobjikha.

      You should be able to hire a cab. When I went 3-4 years ago, we paid around Rs. 1500-2000 per day. Not sure how much it has changed.

      We went in Sep. But I heard that whether would be mostly around 0C in most places during March.

      Last time we went, we were able to get the permit on Sunday in Phuntsholing. But again, I am not sure how much it has changed since then.

  • KausikM says:

    I will say great information for Bhutan travelers, I love it.

  • Sharath Dongre says:

    Thanks,, Crisp information & very useful.

  • Roshan Patel says:

    Thanks for sharing this informative post with us. After reading this post, I got enough knowledge on Bhutan.

  • susantopaul says:

    HI

    Just a beauty of a blog. Thanks. Just one question

    1 Indian Reg car with four Indian boys. Will all of them be able to drive in bhutan with Indian driving license?

  • jagtartravel says:

    Great post.Thank you great information provide for Bhutan travelers,I like it.I got enough knowledge on Bhutan.

  • Jayesh says:

    Good morning sir,

    Excellent information, all in one type. I have different type of question. I want to practice meditation – may be 30-45 days in Bhutan in some good monastery. Good here means one which provides a room to stay, veg food, meditation cell/monastery with some defined monk (who might be master of Sutra pitaka. … Or may be with Vajrayan tradition)….

    What should I do?
    Who should be contacted?

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Jayesh,

      The information that I have posted is only based on my own experience travelling to Bhutan in 2012. So I am not sure if I would be able to help you with information regarding meditation.

    • Ankit Shah says:

      Hi Jayesh, were you able to find the right information? If yes, please share… I’m planning a one month trip in September and hope to spend a week or two in a monastery. From what I heard from a friend, it is easy to do this… probably need to get a relevant permit. I’m trying to contact some local Bhutanese people to get concrete information. In the meantime, if anyone has any relevant information please share… thanks!

      Ankit

  • Rajesh says:

    Hi Sudar,

    Very informative blog.

    Any inputs on how well can a pure vegetarian survive in Bhutan.

    Thanks for your inputs.

    • Sudar says:

      The posts that I have written about Bhutan are all based on my experience travelling there around 4 years ago.

      When we went we were not restricting ourself to only vegetarian food. So I don’t know how difficult it would if you have to restrict yourself. But my guess is that you should be able to get good options.

  • CP Gupta says:

    I wish to travel to Bhutan by my own private vehicle registered in India. What are the formalities that need to be completed before travelling with regard to vehicle?

    • Sudar says:

      I think if you have a drivers license then you can drive.

      But you may have to carry all original documents for the vehicle.

    • Mithun Gupta says:

      You just need to have original documents and a valid DL. They give you the required permit based on that. The RTO in pheuntsholing is nearby bus stand. Process is simple doesn’t take much time if the documents are proper.

  • Subir sharma says:

    Hi sudar. First of all thanks 4 such a wonderful itinerary. I’m planning to visit bhutan with my wife from 18/5/16 to 25/5/16 (journey days included). Can you suggest us how to plan our visit? We want to enter bhutan from newjalpaiguri. Would it be okay to hire a taxi for our trip or go for local transportation ? Also could you provide us contact nos. Of taxi operators that you used during your trip? Kindly enlighten us. Thanks in advance

  • Subir sharma says:

    Hi sudar. First of all thanks 4 such a detailed itinerary about ur trip to bhutan. I’m planning to visit bhutan with my wife from 18/5/16 to 25/5/16 (journey days are inclusive). We want to enter bhutan from newjalpaigudi(njp). Would u suggest us how to plan our visit during aforesaid days? Would it be okay to hire a taxi 4 our trip or should we use local transportation as being frank our budget is 20000-25000 .Also could u pls provide us contact numbers of taxi operators that u hired during ur visit? Thanks in advance.

    • Sudar says:

      It’s been more than 4-5 years since I went. So I don’t have details about the cab driver.

      First make sure you can enter Bhutan via newjalpaigudi. I don’t remember having that option when we went.

      For 2 people the budget you have might not be enough I guess.

  • Rohan says:

    Hello !

    There are a lot of posts online saying Bhutanese immigration officials do not give a permit to a solo male traveller.

    Is this true ?

    And if not, did they question you ?

  • BALRAM says:

    Hi… thanx for such an informative blog… its indeed very help for 1st time traveller….. i m planning in july-august this year…. what winter clothing will you recommend? i have special interest in visiting tiger’s nest… and Lord Buddha statue….. keeping that in mind i asked… Thanx in advance.. Regards.Balram

    • Sudar says:

      I think it will be pretty cold during July near Tiger’s nest. You may have to check what is the temperature during the days that you are planning to visit and then carry clothes accordingly.

    • C P Gupta says:

      Tiger nest will take almost 4 hour trekking one way. Buddha point is reachable by car to the top of hill. However, the raid is though wide but steep gradient. Small car packed to capacity may pause difficulty. I went during June so no additional clothing were needed. However, during winter you may need moderate winter clothings.

  • DEBASIS says:

    I shall go Bhutan in the month of October 2015. I want to go Tiger Nest. Pl. inform me whether the road is very narrow or not as I have fear of falling sloppy from narrow road.

    • Sudar says:

      Do you mean Oct-2016?

      The trek to Tiger Nest is not narrow, but is quite steep. Also in some places you can see the entire valley. If you have fear for heights then I am not sure if you will be able to do it.

  • Mukesh says:

    I would like to know about the Bhutan entry visa for the Burmese Students who are studying in Magadh University, BodhGaya with student visa.
    They want to visit with my private car.
    So before doing our trip I have doing confirm for them.
    Can they visit Thimphu, Paco,Tiger Nest with their passport?

    Regards,
    Mukesh

    • Sudar says:

      Sorry Mukesh, I don’t have that information since my knowledge is only limited based on the travel that I did around 4 years ago.

      You may have to contact someone in Bhutan immigration to get this information.

  • soumen kumar says:

    Can anyone tell me whether I use me or not my Indian SBI debit card in Bhutan? Please help me as soon as possible.

    • Sudar says:

      Most Indian credit/debit cards would work in Bhutan if they are international cards.

      But even then you may have to call up your bank to enable it. So I guess the best option for you would be to call up the bank and ask them.

      • DEBASIS says:

        Can any one say the transaction charge for each usage of debit Card at Bhutan ATM?

        • Sudar says:

          It varies from bank to bank and also depends on the card type that you have. The best way to find this information is to call up your bank and ask them.

  • Sutapa says:

    Hi, your blog is very informative and nicely written. Thank you for sharing these informations. I am planning to visit bhutan, mainly Thimphu, paro and punakha with another couple in next October. My son is 3yrs old. I want to know whether he can go on this trip. How will be the weather, spcly the temperature then. Plz let me know as early as possible so that I can make ki plans.

    • Sudar says:

      Glad to know that you like my blog.

      It may be slightly difficult but possible to go with a 3 year old. In Thimphu and Paro the temperature would be between 15C-25C, but might be more cold in Punakha.

  • Dr, D. Mandal says:

    Can you provide me information regarding some budget hotel at Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, Bumthang, Trongsha as well as the ph. no of the hotel/email address? As I planning to go this part in this october so I need this.

    • Sudar says:

      It’s been more than 4 years since I travelled and I don’t have any information about hotels now.

    • Ashok Kamath says:

      Hotels & Stays:
      Bhutan ISD code is +975; Bhutan mobile numbers are only 8 digits against 10 digits of India.

      the hotels that we stayed in Bhutan.

      Hotel 89 in Thimphu is a medium budget hotel. Phone No. +975 – 77 10 00 16. It is opposite Hotel Le Meridian and in the heart of the city. In the main road of Thimphu, Norjim Lam ( Norjim Road. Lam means road in Bhuranese and Norjim Lam is Thimphu’s main road albeit it is a one way. Many roads in Thimphu are one way. Keep a watch out for road signs) there is one signal where police man gives hand signals. Take a left at the junction and after 50 mtrs on left is the hotel.

      Paro: Hotel Sonam. It is at the end of the Paro town on left towards the Tiger’s Nest and Drukgyel Dzong road. Room tariff are about 2-2.5K but negotiable to 1.5-1.8K per night. Rooms are clean and spacious. you can email them at hotelsonamparo@gmail.com. contact number: 17004434 / 08274444 /08275555.

      Phunakha: Instead of Punakha, it is advisable to take a room at Lobeysa which is about 10-12 kms before Punakha or at Kingaling about 3 kms from Lobeysa towards Bajo town.
      The reason is from Lobeysa it is easy to go to Chimi Llakhang ( you can go on a leisurely trek through lush fields from Lobeysa town to Chimi Llakhang and it will take an hour or so) and to Punakha Dzong via Bajo town the roads are good and more scenic than the regular route. Kingaling Hotel about 3 kms further down Lobeysa town is awesome with room tariff about 1500 for a double room. Kingaling Hotel contact: Mob: 17792625 (Tenzin Wangdag) 17536515 ( Reservation). The supervisor Mr. Karma is an awesome helpful guy there.

      • DEBASIS MANDAL says:

        Kingaling Hotel is costlier.It appears from the website of Tourism council of bhutan that single bed is Nu 2000/ and Doublebed is Nu.2600/.Tax is there also on this rate.
        So Kingaling hotel is not a budget hotel.

  • manish agrawal says:

    which places can we visit?
    where can we exchange our currency?
    how many places are in thimpu & paro to see?
    which month is better to visit bhutan?

    • Sudar says:

      There are tons of places to visit. You might have to pick them up based on what type of places you prefer.

      We just used Indian currency and when we retrieved cash from ATM we got Bhutan currency.

      • Manish says:

        Please tell me which month is better?
        I saw on internet that june july is rainy season and not good to travel..

        • Sudar says:

          I travelled only once in September and know only about that month. But I have heard that July will be very rainy.

        • Ashok Kamath says:

          Sorry to Barge in Sudar’s blog. I just returned from a 10 day motor cycle ride to Bhutan. Though it is monsoon, the rains are sporadic and just drizzling. In our 9 day stay it rained for 15 minutes only 2 days. So rain is not an issue. Monsoon, the rivers are full, lot of water falls and generally green everywhere. We had a great time riding between 20th June to 28th June in Bhutan

  • Raj says:

    Sundar,Iam planning a trip to Bhutan by December(winter).Iam from Tamil nadu and we four of us planned to go by train.I want to know about the following things since we go on a budget trip…plz provide the information for listed below.
    #what will be cheaper room price per person per day?
    #what will be normal food price?
    #is their any amount required for getting permit?
    #our budget assumption is โ‚น12000 per person…..what is ur point of view?
    #how will be the climate in December?
    #alcohol price?
    #do we need to carry the money by hand or ATM is available?
    #what is the cost of public transport to go to local sightseeing?

    Thank you.

    • Sudar says:

      I visited Bhutan around 4 years ago. So I have no idea what is the current cost. I have posted the amount that it took us to travel 4 years ago.

      As far as I know you don’t have to pay anything for getting permit.

      Climate in December will be very cold.

      We didn’t had alcohol so no idea about the price.

      Have some money in hand and then you can also use ATM.

      • Ankit Shah says:

        Hi Sudar,

        I am travelling to Bhutan with my wife in September 2016 for one month.

        I found your blog very insightful. I have one question…if you can please help:

        Are ATMs easily available in the main cities – Thimphu, Paro?
        Which cards are acceptable?

        I just visited an HDFC Bank branch in Mumbai, and they said that neither my debit card nor my forex card would work in Bhutan. They suggested I carry everything in cash.

        I was not convinced with their explanation. I can’t be carrying so much cash on me. There has to be a way I believe. Could you please help?

        Thanks in advance!

        Warm regards,
        Ankit Shah

        • Sudar says:

          Hello Ankit,

          When I went to Bhutan 3-4 years ago, we were able to use the following cards both in Thimpu and Paro.

          – Citibank credit card in shop in Thimpu
          – ICICI debit card in ATM
          – SBI debit card in ATM

    • Ashok Kamath says:

      You get cheap rooms starting at 800/- twin sharing per day. For 1500/- you get very spacious rooms that can accommodate a 3rd person too. Room tariff can be bargained and brought down by 20% or so.

      A budget hotel dishes cost 100-150/- per plate. A meal for three for us came from Rs. 250/- ( at S.P.Restaurant, Mothithang, Thimphu ) to up to 750-1000/- for 3 persons in upscale hotel with multiple non veg dishes. A staple Rice Dal 2 curry , salad etc is about 80-100/- normal rate.

      December is slightly cold but not extreme. It is bearable as Bhutan geographically is not very high. Thimphu is about 2400 mtrs above sea level which is similar to Ooty (2240 mtrs abv sea level ). But due to topography it is not as cold as ooty in December.

      Alcohol: The local whiskey K5 & Misty peak cost about 700-800 per bottle of 750 ml. The quality is extremely good. Druk11000 or Druk15000 beer cost about 60-80 bucks a tin. Bhutan does not pur tax on liquor. So many international brands / scotch are available at almost half of Indian price. All coz of tax relief.

      Carrying cash is better. It is a safe country. No need to Carry only 100s. You can carry 500s n 1000s too. ATM’s work great in Thimphu n Paro, so no issues. Credit card not accepted in smaller joints.

      Bhutan is a very small country. Total area about 38000 sq kms. The important tourist places Thimphu, Paro and Punakha are within 125 kms to each other. Thimphu to Paro is 55 Kms and Thimphu to Punakha in other direction is 67 kms. Local transport buses charge about 400-500 bucks per person for local sight seeing and 100/- for Paro or Punakha. Only Bumthang is 200 kms away from Punakha and takes a full day to travel. Even Pobjika / Gangtey is 60 kms from Punakha. Pobjika is famous for black necked crane an endangered bird. Local transport is very affordable and nothing to be concerned about.

  • Amit Kumar Bose says:

    Recently I heard there are no restriction for cigarette smoking in hotel. Is it true?

    • Ashok Kamath says:

      Smoking is banned in Bhutan, but cigarettes are available clandestinely and people smoke in remote areas like on hills while driving. My friend did smoke his regular puffs but out of public site and at isolated roads during the ride. This is last week report. I just came back from Bhutan.

  • Nirav Ray Baruah says:

    Very informative, planning for a visit next week with my family of 3, and also drive down in our own vehicle. How’s the road from phuentsholing to Thimphu, is it a single lane road or a bigger one and how long does it take

  • Dash says:

    I will be travelling duo from Bangalore and planning to cover Thimpu and Paro.

    Is 2.5 days fine for covering both Paro and Thimpu?

    So would taking a flight from Blore-Delhi-Paro be fine?
    In that case, can the permits be obtained from Paro?

    • Sudar says:

      2.5 days is mostly fine, but if you want to unwind and enjoy both the places, then you might need more time.

      If you fly to Paro then you can take the permit there. But if you are going by road, then you can take the permit in Thimpu.

  • vidya rao says:

    is bhutan’s condition somewhat like kashmir….like im talkin about terrorists n all

  • seshu says:

    hi

    i am planning to go for a 4-6 days trip to bhutan in the last week of August 2016 and i am trying to visit thimphu, paro and punakha.

    i am a solo traveler and i would like to keep my plans very flexible.

    1 Since my planning is loose can i find my accommodation on the go with the help of local people or do i have to rely on pre-bookings.

    2 Can i find shared cabs/local transport to popular tourist places, if i want to avoid hiring rental cars.

    BTW it was a pretty detailed debrief and a pretty informative forum for Bhutan tours especially for indians

    • Sudar says:

      Hello Seshu,

      1) You should be able to get accommodation on the go. That’s what we did.
      2) Yes you have lot of shared cabs/local transport available especially in Thimphu and Paro.

  • Alok says:

    Where can a get a bike on rent in bhutan

    • Sudar says:

      You won’t be able to get bike for rent in Bhutan, because you need Bhutan license.

      The rule is that if you have to drive Indian vehicle then you can use Indian license. If you have to drive Bhutan vehicle then you need Bhutan license.

  • Javed Akhter says:

    Hi Sudar, We two people want to go to Bhutan from Kolkata during October for 7-8 days. Please suggest a suitable itinerary for our trip.
    I have also some queries-
    1. what documents are needed to get permission for visiting Bhutan??
    2. What may be the approximate expenditure for two persons??
    3.Can you suggest some budget hotels in Bhutan??

    • Sudar says:

      1) You would need any Govt issued id proof. It would be better if you can carry a passport.
      2) and 3) I travelled around 4 years ago, so I don’t know what are the current rates.

  • kuldeep says:

    g8 Information…

    i just want to know that is it possible to travel in evening or night from phuentsholing to Thimpu?

    if yes, Timinings or contact of local traveller at Jaigoan.

    • Sudar says:

      We went in the evening. I am not sure if it is possible to do it in night though.

      The road has lot of narrow bends and you will be climbing up the mountain. I suggest you travel during day time.

  • Chetan says:

    We are four friends coming from western India Maharashtra State to Bhutan by road in our own car Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. we will reach Jaigaon on 13th morning. we plan to take our own car into Bhutan.. is it possible? what documents we require for the same? Can we get a Guide cum Driver to drive us in and around Thimpu, Paro?
    Regards
    Chetan Kankaria

    • Sudar says:

      As far as I know to drive an Indian registered vehicle inside Bhutan you just need India issued driving license and RC book. You would also require your passport or other government issued id card for immigration.

      I am not sure whether it would be possible for you to get guide or driver. I know for sure you can get taxis.

  • Guna says:

    Hello sundar and all.. Hope all are doing good. We four of us are planning to Bhutan (thimphu&paro) next week for 5days.
    Hope that’s sufficient.. could you please let us know is it good to hire a cab rental or taking shared taxi/dhuk dhuk to roam around..?

    Is carrying E-cigaratte is allowed?

  • Nitin says:

    Hi,

    Wanted to know if I can solo ride my Bike to Bhutan from India.. Is there a ban to travel alone with bike reg. from India to bhutan..?

    • Sudar says:

      I don’t think there is any ban. But you may have to give an undertaking saying that you are responsible for anything that happens to you.

  • S Datta says:

    Dear Sir
    Your post is very helpful.
    My wife (62) and myself (67) planning to visit paro & thimpu thru phutsholing.
    It will be for 6 days max .
    How is the idea? We will not be able to roam around much. Basically sit & enjoy the scenario.
    Shall be obliged to hear your comment.
    Regards
    S Datta
    Kolkata

    • Sudar says:

      6 days for Paro and Thimpu is good.

      I would recommend you spend more time in Paro than Thimpu. You can relax and unwind in Paro. It is a very beautiful place.

  • Pooja says:

    Hey,

    Very informative and helpful.
    I am planning a trip in Oct.end for 6 days. I want to drive down. can we stop n camp while travelling? and get we get the permit online or before hand or we need to be physically present.

    • Sudar says:

      I don’t think they would allow you to camp anywhere because of security reasons.

      Also as far as I know, you have to physically go there to get the permit at the border. I don’t think it is possible to get it online.

  • Kishor says:

    17500 rupees for a single person for two weeks is a great deal. I will visit this Himalayan kingdom soon. Met some nice people from here.

  • Pooja says:

    Hi,

    Day 1: I am reaching Hasimara on 28th Oct and staying put there for permit,
    Day2 & 3: Thimpu
    Day4&5: Punakha
    Day6&7: Paro
    Day8: back to hasimara

    Please suggest if this is good enough an itinerary or I am missing something that can be covered?

    Thanks ya!

  • Pooja says:

    Is there a possibility of getting self drive cars for Bhutan form either Siliguri or around?

    • Sudar says:

      I am not sure if it is possible, since I was not looking to hire any self drive cars. But we did get lot of taxis till the border.

  • Sushant Kotian says:

    Hi Sudar,

    You blog is very descriptive and very useful for the first the first time visitors.
    Although you had your trip quite a while ago but yet you have tried answering all the questions very well. Good memory bro ๐Ÿ™‚

    Well i am planning to travel Bhutan in the month of Nov 16 for 4N & 5D. My planned itinerary goes as below:

    Phuentsholing-Paro-Thimphu-Punakha-Phuentsholing

    There are few tips which i need from you:
    1. What is average per day rent of a bicycle? (for local travel/trek etc.)
    2. Is non-veg food easily available in the above cities?
    3. How can one know about the standard local transport/Cabs in terms of tariff and frequency?
    4. Is it safe for a Solo traveller in these cities- by safe i meant crime rate?
    5. Are there any time restrictions for the travelers to move around in these cities?
    6. For a solo traveller what tips can u give, so that i do not get into some kind of trouble?
    7. Being a solo traveller, are there any restrictions on the permit (I know many fellow solo travellers have asked this question, but has the answer changed over the years?)

    It would be really great if you take some time out to reply me.

    kadriche,

    Sushant
    Mumbai

    • Sudar says:

      1. What is average per day rent of a bicycle? (for local travel/trek etc.)

      I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about Rs. 500 per day for bicycle.

      2. Is non-veg food easily available in the above cities?

      Yes, non-veg food is available everywhere, but veg might be little difficult ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. How can one know about the standard local transport/Cabs in terms of tariff and frequency?

      Ask anyone. They will be giving you the correct price.

      4. Is it safe for a Solo traveller in these cities- by safe i meant crime rate?

      No (or very little) crimes happen there.

      5. Are there any time restrictions for the travelers to move around in these cities?

      Nothing I was aware of. But once it gets dark there isn’t much happening around cities.

      6. For a solo traveller what tips can u give, so that i do not get into some kind of trouble?
      7. Being a solo traveller, are there any restrictions on the permit (I know many fellow solo travellers have asked this question, but has the answer changed over the years?)

      I didn’t do the trip as solo. But I heard someone posting here that they asked you to sign a waver that you would be responsible for anything that happens to you or something like that.

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