Paro Taktsang: Hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery Bhutan, Bhutan Tourism, Places to visit in Bhutan, Trekking in Bhutan, best trek in Bhutan, Bhutan Tourism 9 day Itinerary for Bhutan Trip, Bhutan Backpacking trip

Bhutan

The best way to explore Bhutan, the land of happiness is to back-pack through its interiors. Hike to offbeat trails, visit its monasteries and splendid Dzongs and come back with a refreshed soul. Only India, Bangladesh and Maldives citizens are allowed to travel Bhutan on their own (by getting an Entry permit). Citizens from other countries are charges a minimum daily budget of $250 per person.

So, if you are from one of these countries, use this opportunity to back-pack through this beautiful land of happiness and smiles. Here are the blogs from our 9- Day Bhutan Backpacking Trip. Please click on each place to read about respective blog.

Planning your Bhutan Trip

P.S. – Bhutan Permit Office remains closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Bhutan Public Holidays. A good number of our readers commit this mistake of reaching Phuentsholing over weekend and then get stuck there. Please plan your trip judiciously.

Experience Bhutan

Where to go in Bhutan

Bhutan Hikes

Bhutan Hotel Booking

Hotel Update for getting Bhutan Permit: While applying for Entry 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/online booking. 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.

Booking.com

Bhutan Travel Guide

Internet accessibility in Bhutan is an issue and there are good chances that you would not be having good internet connectivity beyond Thimphu and Paro. Also, most of Bhutan places are not marked on Google maps. So, we suggest to carry a physical copy of Bhutan Travel Guide. We usually prefer Lonely Planet guides.

Buy your Bhutan Travel Guide from  Amazon.in|Flipkart.com

ATM Cash Withdrawal in Bhutan

Indian Bank ATM cards no longer work in Bhutan. You can check at the back of your ATM card also as it is clearly written  – Not valid for payment in Foreign Exchange in Nepal and Bhutan. So, please call your bank and confirm upfront to avoid inconvenience during your trip. This was not the scenario few years ago but there have been recent changes with respect to ATM withdrawal using Indian Bank cards.

Follow us on Instagram for our Bhutan Picture Stories

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Happiness run when you fly above earth.

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We hope that this helps you plan your Bhutan trip better. Backpack through its interiors, go for hiking to its monasteries and please drop us comments in case you need any help or want to share more information with fellow travellers. We usually respond in a day or two unless we are out on an offbeat trip 🙂

Happy Hiking !! Happy Exploration !!

37 thoughts to “Bhutan”

  1. A big THANK YOU for creating this wonderful blog. The experiences you penned down are very inspiring and your photos are truly mesmerizing. This is perhaps the only authoritative place to get all this useful info for Indian tourist to Bhutan. I have a few questions though:
    1. You mentioned that prior booking f buses is mandatory. So what is the process for that? Is it possible online?
    2. Where can one get the shared cabs from? Do they look any different from the private ones? (Perhaps you could make a separate blog post on transportation, like have for accommodation and immigration).
    Cheers and happy travelling!!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Himanshu. Really feels great when fellow travelers appreciate your work :). For your queries, please find our responses below –
      1. Prior booking of buses can be done only from the city stand from where the bus originates. Online booking is not possible at all. Most of these bus stands do not even have phone nos for inquiries. Different private operators operate buses for different routes and we were even surprised to find that the person sitting at a window was not aware of the route/timing details for the window next to him/her 😛
      2. Getting shared cabs is easy. Bhutan cities are very small and you can ask anyone about taxi stand and easily walk (Usually next to Bus Stand only). So, this is an easy part.

      We had considered writing a blog on transportation too but had dropped the idea thinking that who would use Public Transport like we are mad about it but we were wrong :). Will certainly add a post about travel.

      1. Thank you for your prompt reply. Will definitely keep this info in mind. Btw, the real fun of travelling to a new place is only by foot, or public transport where necessary 🙂 I am sure you would agree!

  2. Thats great we are looking for places like tiger monastry.musueums and other places till now we have not started sketching down the plan.but for June we have planned.Off beat explorers blog is so useful and we are going to plan 70 percent from this blog..will keep posted on any updates we make.

  3. Your blog is so good. I am planning my trip to Bhutan using the blog as my guide book! Thank you for taking the time to do this in so much detail, allowing travellers like us the luxury of good advice.

  4. Hi,

    I am planning a trip in the end of August. I will be travelling from Mumbai. I can’t find details of any flights to Bhutan on the internet. Could you please help me in planning the travel from Mumbai to Bhutan?

    1. Hi Shruti,

      You will not be getting direct flight from Mumbai to Bhutan. Flights to Bhutan are operated by Drukair (https://www.drukair.com.bt/) who opearate flights from only Kolkata and Delhi to Paro (only airport in Bhutan). You can check the airlines website for the flight timings and charges. In case you are looking to travel by bus up to Thimphu, you can refer our itinerary here.

    1. Not sure about this since Tango and Cheri Monastery are slightly far off. Also, there was no checking of the permit like they do at Tiger’s Monastery. We will suggest you to enquire at Thimphu or Phuentsholing Permit office when you reach there.

  5. Hi, Could pls let me know if there are any other places to be visit in Bhutan. As per your blog, you have mention 3 Hike. If we just do any one hike, then which are other option to explore. Thanks

    1. Hi Jalpa,

      You may refer all the places we visited and our itinerary here – All cities in Bhutan have half day hiking options as you can hike to near-by monasteries. In case, you just want to do one hike, go for a hike to Tiger’s monastery in Paro.

  6. Hello Amar ,

    I am planning a trip in May. Can I visit without booking any guide or tour package ? How easy it is to get the entry permit. If we are going by any broker or travel operator.
    Infact I just really want you to compare between package tour and backpacking tour to Bhutan.

    We are a group of 5 6 young people so we are a really interested in doing the budget trip.

    1. Hi Aishwarya – Please find answers below –
      1. Yes, you can visit without a guide or tour package. We will recommend a backpacking trip compared to any tour operator. It will be less costly and more enjoyable in a group and can easily be done.
      2. Getting Permit is also an easy task. It is issued on the spot once your produce valid documents Passport/Voter ID. Please read more details at our blog here – https://offbeatexplorers.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1124&action=edit

  7. Hi AnuAmar.. This is a great blog .. I am so glad that you write so many little things that one can easily plan a trip to Bhutan on its own.. I am too planing a trip there with my brothers .. Its all boys trip.. By reading your blog completely, I think there is no need of anything else to plan further more.. Appreciating your efforts.. Thank you very much for your so nicely written blog… Just one question…What is the per night staying cost in INR in Bhutan…

    1. Hi Viren – Thanks so much for your appreciation. It keeps us motivated to write.
      For stay – Hotel Charges in Bhutan is slightly higher compared to India and you too do not get any hostel options. For a decent budget hotel, you should be able to manage anything above INR 800 per night.

  8. Hello AnuAmar,

    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog. I have read all the writings and really appreciate your effort to pen down the details. Have a couple of questions.

    1. I will travelling alone on the 1st of April for 7 days. Since I will be travelling alone, I have to rely on public transport. Do we get shared cab/bus from
    a. Paro to Chelele Pass
    b. Paro to Haa Valley
    c. Thimpu to Punkaha

    2. Do I need to carry my Indian Passport with me to enter Bhutan or will my Voter ID/Driving License allow me to get a permit?

    3. Are 500 and 2000 rupee Indian notes accepted as a legal tender in Bhutan?

    1. Hi Prasenjit

      Thanks so much for your appreciation 🙂 Please find response to your queries below –
      a. Paro to Chelele Pass – Usually No as Chelela Pass is on Paro-Haa Valley route used less frequently and there is an alternate route for public transport cabs. You may look for hitch-hiking to reach Chele La Pass or find someone else who could share a cab with you.
      b. Paro to Haa Valley – Yes. Public Transport Cabs but again depends how many other people are there.
      – There are 2 daily buses (one morning and another afternoon) from Thimphu to Haa. We will suggest if you directly reach to Haa from Thimphu and then go Paro via Chele La Pass route. Paro to Chele La Pass is not a public transport route and you again may need to book a cab. Actually this was the only route on which we had booked a cab in Bhutan.
      c. Thimpu to Punkaha – Enough Shared cabs available any time during the day. This is pretty easy.

      2. Either Passport or Voting Card will work. Driving License is not accepted as identity proof for Permit.

      3. Not sure about this as we had gone prior to demonetisation 🙂 Please update us post your trip. Will update on our blog for guidance to fellow travellers.

  9. Hi AnuAmar,
    Really appreciate your help. I did not find anyone on the 1st week of April and as a result will travel solo. It has been confirmed that we need to book hotels in advance and show booking confirmation to get a permit from Phuntsholing as per the new rule from May 2017. Since I am on a budget tour and prior booking is costing me a lot, I have decided to get hold of agents in Phuntsholing and seek there help for hotel booking. If you can help me on this regard, it will be of great help.

    One more help, do I need to buy a new SIM once I reach Bhutan or will my Vodafone India number be active? Do I have to activate international roaming?

    1. Hi Prasenjit – We have collated certain hotel booking details at our page here. You may call certain hotels and try to book over email or google based on these details. We are sure that you would be able to get certain details – https://offbeatexplorers.com/bhutan-hotels/

      For SIM – Please buy local Bhutan SIM. Your India number can work but charges are really high.

    2. I am planning to go from Paro to Chele La pass on 4-Apr. If you are interested, we can book a cab together. Please let me know.

      Also regarding the prior booking, try booking.com through which you can make reservations for budget hotels and you dont have to pay in advance.

  10. hi, I am planning to hike up tigers nest with my 9 year old and 15 year old daughters.
    is it a wise idea. they are active kids and have done treks before.

  11. Firstly thank you so much for all your efforts in penning down everything you can. I have been reading through all the queries and your responses as well. Very much appreciated. 🙂 I have planned my trip to Bhutan from Dec 19th to Dec 26th. Unfortunately the early morning flight to Bagdogra got cancelled. Now reaching Bagdogra by 10:50am. So might have to stay back in Siliguri on 19th n reach pheuentsholing on 20th morning.

    1. Thanks so much Vamshi 🙂 You may also reach Phuentsholing on the same day 19th by evening and can get your Permit next day as soon as Permit office would open. This way -i) You can break your journey to Thimphu over 2 days else you would first be travelling to Phuentsholing and then to Thimphu same day making it tiring for you ii) Secondly, you will get your Permit first thing in the day (without rush) and have more flexibility to plan your day ahead. Suggestion in case you donot have any specific plans for exploring Siliguri 🙂

  12. Hi Anumar thank you very much for this blog. Information’s are helpufull. We are planing our trip on march 4th to march 8. We are gonna start our journey from Bangalore. On 2nd of march we leaving bangalore to calcutts . On 3rd night We coming from Calcutta through train to hasimara(till now our train seats are in waiting list). 9th morning we have comeback to Calcutta, But our return train tickets are not booked. So, I want to know about buses from Bhutan to Calcutta. Can we get bus from Bhutan to Calcutta ? How can we book the bus tickets ? If we can’t book bus tickets ,is that possible to get bus from any of Bhutan bus station ?.

    We are unmarried couple, is that any difficulties to get permit and rooms in bhutan? Should we book different rooms in different places inside Bhutan ? Should we book all the rooms prior to our trip to get permit pass ?

    How about we exchanging our Indian currency to Bhutan currency in the beginning ? Is it useful ?

    Mainly we are concerned about our return travelling from buthan to India

    1. Hi Guru, Please find answers to your queries below –

      1. Return Ticket – So if you start from Thimphu and want to go up to Calcutta, it would be really long journey by bus and too much tiring. Thimphu to Phuentsholing, you will easily get buses (actually bus/taxi is the only way) and it will take around 8 hours. Now from there to Calcutta, it will be very long journey and not sure even if you will get any buses. So our suggestion is to try for train tickets else look for flight from Bagdogra to Calcutta. Bagdogra is around 5-6 hours from Phuentsholing. We will not suggest bus journey from Phuentsholing to Calcutta.
      2. Permit and Hotel – No, there is no permit restrictions for unmarried couple and same for hotel. So dont worry about that. For Permit Pass, you need to show booking only for first few days of stay. We will suggest to use booking.com to book your hotel as you may cancel your booking till last moment (pre-payment is not there for most bookings on booking.com). Once you reach Bhutan, you may search locally and if you find something cheaper, you may switch hotels.
      3. Exchanging Money is not required. Indian currency works well in Bhutan. You may also call your bank if you can use your debit card to withdraw money in Bhutan. Earlier it was allowed but there have been few restrictions for usage of Indian Debit cards in Bhutan from last 2-3 years

      Hope this helps you to plan your trip better.

  13. Thank you very much for the reply. I have some more queries…
    1.From Bhutan to calcutta Flight costs are very high, we are not gonna come back by flight. Do you know how much time the karmaboomi express will take to reach Calcutta(Another train showing waiting list).? As per IRCTC train will reach on 2:20 pm. Because the same day we have to leave calcutta and need reach Bangalore same day before 7pm

    2. We can start from Thimpu and end the trip on paro right ? And from Paro we can directly come to Phuentsholing to leave buthan right ?

    3. Is that haa valley is part of thimpu or should we take extended permission for that ?

    4. What if we take a two wheeler for rent in Bhutan ? Is that required or safe ?

    5.We have to book One room at in thimpu & one in paro right ? Or should we book a room in any other places as we move ?

    Thanks for your patience, if you have time please reply 🙂

    1. Hi Guru, Please find details below
      1. Trains are always uncertain 🙂 However checking online status, Train has usually been late by 2 -3 hours in last 1 week, so it would be difficult for you to head to Airport and then take a flight for Bangalore and reach before 7 PM. Even if you book at flight for 4:30 PM, You should check in by 3:30 at the latest and it would be rush even if train reaches at right time.
      2. Yes, very much possible. Most people do these cities on their Bhutan trip
      3. For Haa Valley, you will need an extension of permit. It is not part of Thimphu or Paro.
      4. Two Wheeler is not suggested, also you will not get one easily in Bhutan on Rent. We will suggest to use shared cabs while travelling from one city to another.
      5. Haa valley have limited stay options, so you may call a property in advance and book your stay.

      Hope this helps you plan better 🙂

Happy to hear from you