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How to Plan a Bhutan Tour for Indian Tourists

How to Plan a Bhutan Tour for Indian Tourists

Guide on How to Get to Bhutan, Best Time to Travel, and Bhutan Visa Free for Indians

November,14 2019 BY Master Kungga Dundruk 0 COMMENTS

For tourists from India, Bhutan is a magical and mesmerizing land where Buddhism has combined the tranquility of this mountain kingdom with the natural peace that belief can bring to the body, mind, and soul. For Indian nationals, with the freedom of movement they have into Bhutan, it is a popular place for tourists to travel, to get a better view of the Himalayas in the north of the kingdom and experience the sacred religious sites that the country is well known for.

Since the 1949 Treaty between India and Bhutan allows reciprocal freedom of movement between the two countries, with just a valid passport or ID required, it is simple and cheap for Indian nationals to travel to Bhutan. An organized tour is not required as it is for other nationalities visiting Bhutan, and the government-issued Minimum Daily fee does not apply. Bhutan and India share a border in the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, and Assam, and Indian nationals can enter via the Paro International Airport or through one of two overland border crossings, at Phuentsholing and Gelephu. The southeastern crossing at Samdrup Jongkhar is an exit only crossing, for those exiting Bhutan to India to head to eastern Assam.

As a prestigious Himalayan tour operator, we offer you a variety of Bhutan tours covering India, Nepal, and Tibet. Check the most classic Bhutan tours and useful India to Bhutan travel guide below.

Bhutan Visa & Permit Free for Indian Citizen

Indian nationals do not need a visa for travel into Bhutan, as they have a reciprocal agreement that allows them freedom of movement. Identification is required for traveling across the border, and this can be a valid passport with at least six month’s validity remaining, an Indian Voter ID with your photograph, or an Identification Slip that has been issued by the Indian Consulate office in Phuentsholing once you have presented some proof of your Indian citizenship, such as your birth certificate, Aadhar Card, etc. Processing takes just 15 minutes, and a contribution of 100 rupees for the Army Welfare Fund is required.

How to Get to Bhutan from India? Multiple ways to travel from India to Bhutan.

Get to Bhutan from India by Flight

With only one international airport in Bhutan, the Paro International Airport, there are limited options for traveling to the kingdom by air. The only airlines permitted to operate flights into and out of Bhutan are the national carrier, Druk Air, and the newer Bhutan Airlines, a private airline operating with the permission of the government. International flights to Bhutan operate from Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, and Guwahati.

Flights to Bhutan from India are actually more expensive than from the non-Indian locations that operate flights to Paro, starting at around 11,000 INR for a single flight from Delhi, or from around 5,500 INR for an economy flight from Bagdogra. However, while the flights can be a little costly, the service provided by Druk Air is very good, with friendly and attentive crews and good Indian meals (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), although there is no in-flight entertainment.

Notice: Flying to Paro International Airport is the fastest way to travel, but far from the cheapest. However, if time is of an issue, this is the fastest and easiest way to get to Bhutan. If you are thinking of flying to Bagdogra then search around on the various websites for the cheapest flights, as some sites offer better discounts than others. Tashi Air is a local domestic airline operating only within Bhutan. Their main flights operate between Paro and Bumthang, which helps with faster travel over the long distances for those that want to explore the western areas of Bhutan.

Get to Bhutan from India by Train

Train networks in India are extensive, to say the least, and you can travel from one city to another easily by train. Every city in the country is linked to the rail network, and most of the towns and villages are too, with a few exceptions in more remote areas. With such a vast rail network, it is easy to get across the entire country to Bhutan by train.

Rail travel is the cheapest way to reach Bhutan from India, and the closest railway station to Jaigaon, the Indian border town on the Indo-Bhutan border, is Hasimara, in West Bengal. Trains run to Hasimara from Delhi, Kolkata, and Kanpur regularly, with minimal connections and changes. If you are traveling long distance to Bhutan, it is best to book the tickets well in advance, to be assured of a seat on the required date. This can be done online and an e-ticket can be sent to your email or phone. If it is sent to your phone, you can use it direct without needing to print it.

New Jalpaiguri is another station situated quite close to Bhutan, and from there you can get a connecting train to Hasimara or travel by car or local bus to the border crossing town of Jaigaon. The timetable for all trains to Hasimara and Jalpaiguri is available on the Indian Railway’s IRCTC. Tickets can be booked for the entire trip from your home town to Hasimara or Jalpaiguri, although you cannot choose the connecting trains all the time, and have to ride the trains listed on the ticket. Here we have updated the latest trains to Hasimara and Jalpaiguri for your reference.

Train Route No. Departs Arrives Duration Distance
New Delhi to Hasimara (15484) 06:35 18:43 36:08 1619km
Kolkata to Hasimara (13149) 20:30 11:05 14:35 703km
Kanpur to Hasimara (19305) 04:05 06:51 26:46 1207km
New Delhi to New Jalpaiguri (12436) 09:25 11:55 26:30 1491km
Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri (12363) 09:05 18:55 09:50 563km
Kanpur to New Jalpaiguri (20502) 00:34 18:00 17:26 1024km
Guwahati to New Jalpaiguri (20502) 05:25 14:15 08:50 488km
Gaya to New Jalpaiguri (15619) 12:55 03:30 14:35 637km

Notice: If you are planning to travel by rail to Hasimara, then it is best to book your ticket well in advance, as far as 120 days before your date of travel. Trying to book tickets within the last week before the date of travel may leave you with no seats on certain stretches of the route due to high bookings.

Get to Bhutan from India by Overland Road Trip

Traveling overland by car is not one of the cheapest ways to travel to Bhutan if you are traveling from as far away as New Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Pune, etc. However, for those traveling from Kolkata and other areas closer to Bhutan, it can be a much cheaper and easier way to travel.

Indian nationals can take their own cars to Bhutan, although they do need to obtain a permit to do so. The permits are available from the Regional transport Office in Phuentsholing, once you have crossed the border, and cost around 200 Ngultrum (Bhutanese Currency), which is around 200 INR.

For those wishing to travel to Bhutan by bus, there is a bus service that runs daily to Phuentsholing from Kolkata, which is run by the Royal Bhutanese Government. The buses leave on a direct route to Phuentsholing from the Esplanade Station in Kolkata, and the journey takes around 18 hours. The buses are comfortable and have a toilet for use while the bus is moving.

Notice: For those traveling overland, there are plenty of trains from all across India that converge in West Bengal, and can connect you to the closest railway stations to the border crossing points. With a huge railway network across the entire country, travel is relatively easy. Road travel is the longest and most expensive option, as it can be a long drive from Kolkata and New Delhi to the border with Bhutan.

Get to Bhutan from India by Multiple Ways

If you want to cut the cost of traveling a long distance to Bhutan, or just want to take in the scenery at a certain point along the routes, then you can mix and match your travel methods to make the most of lowered prices and discounts as you like. The closest airport to Bhutan is at Bagdogra in West Bengal, around four hours from Phuentsholing by road and close to Siliguri, a connecting railway station for getting to Hasimara. Flights from New Delhi to Bagdogra cost from around 2,500 INR, and if you have E-cash, you can earn 500 INR in your E-cash account. See details about how to prepare a Bhutan trip from Delhi

New Delhi / Kolkata - (flight) - Bagdogra - (road) - Siliguri - (train) - Hasimara - (road) - Phuentsholing

Flights from Kolkata can cost from as little as 1,800 INR, with a 500 INR E-cash earning as well. Flights take just 1 hours 20 minutes, and if you take a morning flight, it allows you plenty of time to sort out your train tickets to Hasimara once you arrive. The benefit of flying into Bagdogra first and then traveling overland is that it not only cuts down your total journey time but allows you to explore the parts of Sikkim and West Bengal before heading into Bhutan.

Another way to travel to Bhutan to cut costs is to take the trains to Hasimara, and then hire a car to drive into Bhutan for the rest of your trip. Hiring a car for the duration of your stay in Bhutan can work out to be a lot less costly than having to use hired cars and drivers once you get there, as the public transport system in Bhutan is not as good as in India, with very few railway lines and infrequent buses that run at irregular intervals and often not to where you want to go.

When is the best time to travel to Bhutan from India?

Traveling to Bhutan is best done when the rainy season is over, as the monsoon in southern Bhutan is influenced by the Indian monsoon and the rains can be very heavy. Monsoon is normally from around late June to the end of September, so from October to March is the best time to travel Bhutan. Bhutan has five seasons - spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter and the summer months from April to mid-June are the peak times for tourism in Bhutan, when the country is busiest with tourists. This is the best time to visit the north of the country, traveling up into the Himalayas for trekking or sightseeing, and for the south, the best time is in the winter months, when the weather is cooler and there are less people.

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If you are planning to enjoy a trip to Bhutan from Inida, yet have no ideas of how to sort it out the details, no worries! We would like to hear your tour plan and offer free professional consultancy and viable solutions. Please feel free to contact us.

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