Getting into Bhutan

Before Bhutan embarked on a planned economic development in the early 1960s, Bhutan by and large remained cut off from the rest of the world. The country was accessible only by foot from two main entry points in the North and South. From the north, the entry was from Tibet and was possible only by crossing the high passes while from the South it was through the plains of Assam and West Bengal. However, with the planned economic development, accessibility became easy with motorable roads connecting Bhutan with the other parts of the country.

Today the main points of entry are through Phuentsholing in the South that links Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar that link with the Indian state of Assam and through Paro, where the entry is through Druk Air, the National airline of Bhutan.

daThe country has so far only one international airport that caters to the needs of visitors coming in through flight. However, within Bhutan, there are domestic airline to Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan. The International airport at Paro is located at a height of 7,300 ft above sea level and surrounded by Himalayas and hills as high as 16,000 ft. Druk Air flies to destinations such as Bangkok, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Guwahati in Assam and Singapore. The flights between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over the four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you soar higher up, you can enjoy the spectacular display of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makaly and Kangchenjunga at their best.

Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border areas open for international tourists. The town of Phuentsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, your journey then begins its mountainous climb through numerous turns and hair-up bends till you enter Thimphu, The capital city of Bhutan. The travel time for the 176 kms stretch can be about six hours drive.

busGelephu, in south-central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.

Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point from the eastern part of Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering to Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest district in the country and from then over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangduephodrang and then finally into Thimphu, the capital city. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.