Getting into Bhutan
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 links with the Indian state of Assam and through Paro, where the entry is through Druk Air, the National airline of Bhutan.You will have to produce your visa (arranged by Us) and passport at the Immigration counter upon arrival. The Online Immigration system (Tashel-Online system) was designed and developed by our CEO in his earlier capacity as the Project Manager while working for the Tourism Council of Bhutan. If at all any problems arise (rarely happens, only in the case of very last minute bookings or missed flights), all you need to do is give us a call and we’ll handle it immediately.If you are from India and Bangladesh, which are major markets for The Bhutan Travelclub, you need not have a prior visa arrangement because of bilateral agreements between our countries. You just have to carry your passport (also some passport photographs) or voter’s registration card and the permit will be issued on entry. If you plan to travel by road, the endorsement is done at the entry points in Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu.
Travel by Air – Flying into the Land of the Thunder Dragon
Bhutan’s national air carrier, Druk Air, operates several flights per week from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Guwahati and Kathmandu to Paro. The modern Airbus A-319 jets carry passengers through one of the most spectacular flight paths in the world. A particular highlight is the stretch between Kathmandu und Bhutan, where one passes 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world. Weather permitting; passengers will be treated to intimate views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga. Landing in the Paro Valley, surrounded by 4000 meter high mountains stretching across the west of Bhutan, means a visual landing is the order of the day.The country has so far only one airport that caters to the needs of visitors coming in through flight. However, an international airport is under construction in Gelephu that will eventually provide passengers with a choice of their entry to Bhutan. The Bhutan’s only international airport at Paro, is located at a height of 7300 ft above sea level.Our guides will be waiting for you at the airport and you will be ushered into the comforts of your vehicle to begin your holiday.
Travel by Land
Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border areas open for international tourists. The town of Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your journey then begins its mountainous climb through endless turns and hair-pin bends till you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The travel time for the 176 km stretch can be more than 6 hours.Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms 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 in eastern 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 Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest District in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangde Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.A combination of overland and air travel is also possible. All overland travel requires an Indian visa. Our guides would have prepared everything for a hassle-free entry/exit in and our of the country.
Best Times to Travel
Bhutan has a season for everyone. The Kingdom stretches across all climatic zones; from the sub-tropical jungles in the south, to the moderate heights of 2000 – 2500 metres in the centre and up to the alpine world of the towering Himalayas and glaciers of the north.
In Winter, there is beautiful sunshine and the days are pleasantly warm. However, it could reach -5 to -6 degree Celsius during the night. The South of Bhutan beckons during the Winter. Dry and pleasant conditions make this the best time of year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitudes or a bicycle trip along quiet mountain roads. The trekking routes in the high mountains are covered in deep snow and are impassable at this time of year. The impressive and endangered Black Necked Crane spends the winter in the high valley of Bumdeling (in eastern Bhutan) and Phobjika (in central Bhutan).
In Spring the trekking season commences in moderate altitudes. Above 3000 metres spectacular rhododendron forests bloom. It is also the perfect time for a rafting tour. In Paro, one of the largest monastic festivals – Paro tshechu – takes place.The temperature is pleasantly mild even up to the Alp regions. Rain comes only in May as the harbinger of the approaching monsoon.
The Summer brings with it the monsoon, but this should not deter travellers. In the settled areas of the medium ranges of Central and Western Bhutan pleasant summer temperatures without heat or humidity can be found. Rain falls for short periods daily but is manageable with adequate planning and equipment. Treks in high mountain areas, e.g. the Snowman Trek, are characterised by mild temperatures, verdant green meadows, and pastures of Blue Poppies and Edelweiss. Nomads tending their yaks in the high Alps are a common sight.
Autumn is the traditional high season in Bhutan. September and October have the highest number of tshechus (monastic festivals). Trekkers particularly enjoy the clear view of the mountains in October and the low rainfall. Rice harvest means a picturesque landscape remarkable terraces and changing colour.
Temperatures and vegetation in the altitudes between 200 and 300 metres are comparable to the moderate climate of middle Europe. The tree line lies just under 4000 metres. During winter there is little precipitation. Snow falls rarely below 2500 metres.