We recently backpacked to Eastern and Central Bhutan. No doubt that Bhutan and Bhutanese people are awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this beautiful country. However, we realized that there are limited accommodation options in Bhutan, especially for budget stay. Thimphu, being the capital city provides the maximum options otherwise other cities (Paro, Punakha, Khuruthang, Haa Valley) have quite limited options.
A. Why so?
Bhutan has tourism policy which focuses on ‘High value, low impact’ and thus allows tourists only with a minimum daily tariff fixed ($250). All tourists except Indians can visit Bhutan only by booking through government approved tour operators who in turn take care of lodging, food and travel through the daily fixed tariff. Tour operators book stay in the hotels (usually high end ones). Government regulations too restrict putting daily budget travelers in budget hotels.
Only Indian travelers are allowed to plan their itinerary and travel on their own. So self booking option of Bhutan hotels is primarily exercised by Indian tourists or Bhutanese travelling within the country. That is the reason for limited number of budget hotels available in Bhutan. Actually, you will not find any hostels (not even Youth Hostel) in Bhutan. For the same reason, Bhutan hotel listings on websites like TripAdvisor, Agoda, Booking.com and Airbnb too are very limited.
B. So, what to do?
Research well and book in advance
So in case you are backpacking to Bhutan (most probably from India), do research well in advance online and keep the list of your preferred hotels ready with contact details. Please refer next section for a list of websites which can come handy for your research. Give a call to your selected hotels and book them on phone itself. Online booking options for Bhutan Hotels are almost nil, so booking on call would be the best option.
Book through travel agencies based in India (Jaigaon and Alipurduar)
There are few tour operators which focus only on Indian tourists and have contacts with Bhutan Hotels. They usually have negotiated rates and can quote lesser than what hotels themselves will quote. You may do a quick online search and talk to few. (We did not try this option our self but read few blogs where people tried this option)
C. Details about Bhutan hotels
Following are few websites where contact details of Bhutan hotels and home stays are mentioned:
Also, based on our stay, following are few tips for booking hotels in key Bhutan cities. Hope this comes handy for your planning –
‘Norzin Lam’ is the central road and most of the hotels are concentrated on this road, near Clock Tower, almost next to each other. When we reached Thimphu, we found that all good budget hotels were full. Even others had last few rooms left which we did not like much. We finally landed at ‘The Woods Hotel’ near Clock Tower. Rooms are big but management is completely unprofessional. Not recommended at all.
Compred to Thimphu, hotels in Paro are spread out (with some concentration around Town Square) and you may really walk a lot in case you are planning to explore on the spot. We stayed at Hotel Peljorling in Paro and will recommend it for a budget stay.
Haa Valley Hotels
Haa Valley is beautiful but not so frequented with tourists, so stay options are also super limited. Only 3 hotels 🙂
- Hotel Tak Sing Ching Druk (Mobile: +975-77458274/77387134)
- Ugyen/Chimi’s Homestay (Mobile: +975-17111116)
- Risum Resort (Mobile: +975 – 17972992)
We stayed at Hotel Tak Singh Ching Druk. Location is great, just next to bus stand. Rooms are small but clean and accommodating. However, owner lady was quite indifferent and not hospitable.
Punakha and Khuruthang Hotels
Ahh! This was an experience. Very limited options – only 1 hotel in Punakha and 5 in Khuruthang. There are few resorts but they are good 7-8 KM drive from city. When we reached Khuruthang in evening, we found that these hotels too were all booked for National Book Fair was on in Punakha. Finally, we got a room in Damchen Resorts. This is an awesome resort with seating on river side. By the way, we also collected the contact details of the hotels, so that it can come handy to you –
- Punaka: Only 1 Resort (Zhingkham Resort, Mobile: +975-2584722/23/24/25)
- Khuruthang: Only 5 hotels in the city. Most of the resorts are far from the city.
- Hotel Yeosel Rabtenling (Mobile: +975-17641733/16935149)
- Hotel Zomlha (Mobile: +975-77656959)
- Hotel Sher Ling/Shivalik (Mobile: +975-17110847/77110847)
- Damchen Resorts (Mobile: +975-2584367/2584368)
- Hotel Y.T. (Mobile: +975 -2376014)
Hotel Update for getting Bhutan Permit: You also need to show a confirmation of your hotel booking for initial days of stay in Bhutan. You have to carry the print out of email confirmation. Also, you need to present your itinerary for your stay in Bhutan. You may refer our blog here for more details about getting Bhutan Permit.
For Booking your hotel in Bhutan, you may consider using Booking.com. They do not require any upfront payment or card details for booking you stay.
We hope that this information helps you plan your Bhutan trip. Do leave a comment if you get have any additional information for fellow backpackers.
Happy exploration of beautiful Bhutan!!