Getting Into Bhutan

Bhutan has always remained cut from the rest of the world until recently when it opened its doors to international travelers. Entry into the country was only possible from north and south entry points. The northern course was through Tibet, crossing high mountain passes and the southern route was through the plains of either Assam or West Bengal.

Today, visitors can enter Bhutan through land as well as by air. September through November and February through April are the two most popular times of the year when Bhutan receives high tourist influx to its only international airport in Paro. Most foreign visitors make a multi-country trip including Tibet, Nepal and India along with Bhutan.

By Air

The country’s only international airport in Paro is situated at 7,300 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains as high as 16, 000 feet. Druk Air, the national flag carrier, and Bhutan Airlines has scheduled flights to destinations including New Delhi, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kolkata, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Mumbai, and Singapore. Bhutan Airlines’ destinations are limited to Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu only.

There are no direct flights to Paro from US, UK, Canada or Australia. As a matter of fact, no international flights fly into Bhutan besides the country’s flag carrier Druk Air, and Bhutan Airlines. So most of the world travelers need to fly to a destination that has a connecting flight to Bhutan such as India, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh or Singapore and then fly into Bhutan.

The flight between Kathmandu and Paro is one of the most popular and exciting flights where you get to admire incredible views of 4 of the highest mountains on earth.

By Land

The land bordering areas open to tourists are Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar. The most common border town for entering via road is Phuentsholing, on the south-west region, is a border town with the Indian state of West Bengal and is about 170 km/106 mi from Thimphu, the country’s capital. Those travelers wishing to visit Sikkim or Darjeeling either before or after visiting Bhutan would prefer entering and exiting via Phuentsholing. A road trip from Thimphu to Phuentsholing is a 6-hour drive. From here, another 6-hour road trip will land travelers to Sikkim and also Darjeeling.

Gelephu is another entry point to Bhutan and it lies in south-central region. It is approximately 250 km/155 mi from Thimphu. Traveling time is somewhere around 10 hours traversing across three districts through the sub-tropical areas and the alpine zone as well. Likewise, Samdrup Jongkhar in the south-east region is an entry point bordering Darranga in Assam, which is about 150 km/93 mi away from Guwahati. To reach Bhutan’s capital from this entry point, travelers have to pass through Trashigang, Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa and Wangdue Phodrang covering a total distance of about 700 km/435 mi and requiring a minimum of 3 days for the journey.

International Flights

Druk Air, the flag carrier of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and Bhutan Airlines both operate international flights into the country’s only airport in Paro located around one and a half hour-drive from the capital city of Thimphu. The national carrier has a fleet of modern Airbus A-319 and ATR planes and flies in and out of Bhutan from:

  • New Delhi (DEL) – India
  • Bodh Gaya (GAY) – India
  • Kathmandu (KTM) – Nepal
  • Mumbai (BOM) – India
  • Guwahati (GAU) – India
  • Dhaka (DAC) – Bangladesh
  • Kolkata (CCU) – India
  • Changi (SIN) – Singapore
  • Bagdogra (IXB) – India
  • Bangkok (BKK) – Thailand

Bhutan Airlines began its international flight operations since 2013 and its flight sectors include Bangkok (BKK) – Thailand, Delhi (DEL) – India, Kathmandu (KTM) – Nepal, and Kolkata (CCU) – India.

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