Bhutan Travel Guide

Getting to Bhutan

 

By Air:

The flight into Paro is one of the most spectacular in the world. Whether flying along the Himalayan range, or over the foothills from Kolkata, each flight is mesmerizing and offers an exciting descent into the kingdom Bhutan’s only national airline, Druk Air operates on the following route:
  • Bangkok (Thailand)
  • Delhi (India)
  • Kolkata (India)
  • Bagdogra (India)
  • Gaya (India)
  • Guwahati (India)
  • Kathmandu (Nepal)
  • Dhaka (Bangladesh)
  • Changi (Singapore)
 

By Land:

  • If you wish to travel overland, you can enter and exit Bhutan through its southern gateway of Phuentsholing into the Indian state of West Bengal. It is approximately a five hour drive from Thimphu. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra, located approximately four hours by road from Phuentsholing. This border point is an ideal junction for those wishing to combine their exploration of Bhutan with the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal.
  • For those who would like to journey across Bhutan, there is an exit only border crossing at Sumdrup Jongkhar in southeast Bhutan to India. The closest airport is 110 km away in Guwahati. From here you a number of destinations you can fly on to including Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata and Bangkok. This is convenient for those flying into Paro in the west and touring across Bhutan without back tracking.
 

Visa/ Passport

Bhutanese embassies or consulates abroad do not issue tourist visa. The Druk Air Ticket cannot be purchased without first obtaining visa. Visa application at least eight weeks in advance  is advisable. The visitors are required valid passport and visa to enter Bhutan, except for Indian nationals. Travelers to Bhutan must have a visa approval prior to arriving in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Those who have not had a visa approval will not permitted to board their Druk Air Flight. Adventure Blossom will process Bhutan visa after receiving the full tour payment and passport copy from the clients. Without full tour payment and passport copy Tourism Council of Bhutan will not allow us to process the visa. Once we obtain the visa, we will email a copy to you which you will have to print it out and have it with you when you actually embark on a trip to Bhutan. However, your final visa will be endorsed and stamped on your passport at the port of entry to Bhutan, either Paro if entering by air or Phuntsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar by land. Currently, no foreign embassy’s or missions abroad issue Bhutan visas. Travel to Bhutan are permitted only through Government registered tour operators like Happy Trail Adventure. All Bhutan-bound travelers are advised to check their passport validity which should not be less than 6 months from the date of travel. Druk Air will not be liable and will refuse check-in of those travelers whose passport does not meet the validity requirements.  

Best Season/ Weather

Bhutan has four seasons in a year; winter from December until February, spring from March to May, summer from June to August and autumn from September until November. Though it is possible to visit Bhutan throughout the year, the best seasons to visit Bhutan are in spring and autumn. During these months of the year, Bhutan has not only favorable and pleasant climatic conditions but also has lot of on-going festivals and events within the country. Spring and autumn are also the peak season amongst the tourist and unless the tour reservation is made 2 months before the departure date to Bhutan, it is usually very difficult to visit Bhutan within short notice of your reservations. This is because of limited seat capacity in Druk-Air, the only airline that flies in and out of Bhutan and constraint of accommodation facilities and other infrastructures within the country.  

Popular Places in Bhutan

 

Thimphu

Situated at 2285m above the sea level, Thimphu  is the capital of Bhutan. It is Just over 30 years old.  This Himalayan city was built by late King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk in order to replace the ancient capital of Punakha. Serene and peaceful with its streets dotted with traditional shop fronts. Beautiful textiles in wool silk and cotton, basketwork, silver jewellery, thangkas and other traditional crafts of the kingdom are available in various Handicrafts Emporiums.

Paro

In the winter capital of Bhutan is 52 km far away from Thimphu. With patchwork fields willow glades, murmuring trout-filled streams and scattered hamlets, Paro is one of the most attractive of Bhutan’s valleys. Bursting with color and tradition, this tiny town is overlooked by dramatic dzong while hamlets and isolated farms dot the countryside. The houses here are considered to be among the most beautiful in the kingdom.

Bumthang

The valley of Trongsa and Bumthang has its own unique geographical feature that separates it from all other regions. Composed of four smaller valleys, deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. The valley is home to the sacred Jampa and Kurjey monasteries. Bumthang Tsechu (festival) along with the Paro and Thimpy Tsechu are the most popular festivals in Bhutan.

Wangdue Phodrang

This is the last town before we make entry into  Central Bhutan. Sitting on the top hill, the formidable dzong is the town’s most visible features. The town itself is the little more than enlarged village with well-provided shops and hotels. The drive from Wangdue to Trongsa is one of the most scenic in Bhutan while passing through streams, forests and villages before climbing the Petela pass on the Black Mountain ranges into the Trongsa valley. A few kilometers past the Gangtey Gompa is the village of Phobjikha, one of the winter homes of the Black Necked cranes which migrate to Bhutan from Central Asia.

Gangtey

Gangtey is the name of the valley which is considered  one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. It is a wide, and  flat valley without any trees but after walking and hard climb we come across  dense forests and of course it is  extremely rare experience in Bhutan to find such as a wide valley. Gangtey boasts its own important religious site  such as the Gangtey Goempa Monastery, situated at the head of the valley, from where we can enjoy exceptional views.

Phobjika Valley

Phobjikha is a bowl-shaped glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. It is  also known as Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery of the Nyingma sect in central Bhutan, where the graceful black-necked cranes in Bhutan from the Tibetan Plateau visit the valley during the winter season to roost.  This valley is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness.

Taksang

Taktsang ,also known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger’s Nest,  is a very popular  Himalayan Buddhist sacred site. The temple complex of Taktsang clings to the rock towering over  800 meters above the  Paro valley, and is located 2,950 meters above the sea level. It takes about 2 hours walk to reach the monastery from the road at Ramthangkha, 12 kilometers from Paro town. From  Taktsang  we can enjoy the views of surrounding majestic mountains and emerald green valleys.

Punakha Dzong

Also known as Pungtang Dewa Chhenbi Phodrang, is just the administrative centre of Punakha district. In 1955, it was the capital of Bhutan but later on the administrative centre of Punakha was relocated and made Thimphu as the capital of Bhutan. The first King of modern Bhutan was crowned in Punakha Dzong. However, it is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.

Trongsa

Trongsa (2,200m), previously called Tongsa is a town, and the administrative headquarter of Trongsa District in central Bhutan. Trongsa  was built in 1644, used to be the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty before it became rulers of Bhutan in 1907. The town of Trongsa has been developing since 1980’s, with many of the shops being owned by Bhutanese of Tibetan decent. This small town is located on the face of the ridge and at the cross-road junction of lateral east-west highway, and the road leading south to Shemgang.