Nepal to Bhutan Visa: how to get Bhutan visa from Nepal?
Traveling to Bhutan from Nepal is a simple journey, taking you across the Indian State of West Bengal to the Bhutanese border crossing at Phuentsholing, or by flight direct from Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu to the Paro International Airport in Bhutan. Bhutan and Nepal are separated by just 63 kilometers of land at their closest points, though it is not possible to make this journey across such a short distance. If you are traveling to Bhutan from Nepal, you will need to take the 404-kilometer flight or make your way overland to Bhutan, across the 180-kilometer gap from Siliguri to Phuentsholing. However, before you can even contemplate which journey you will take, you will need to get your visa for Bhutan first.
Bhutan Visa, the compulsory travel permit to tour Bhutan from Nepal
As with all nationals, with the exception of Indians, Bangladeshis, and Maldivians, a visa is required in order to get into the last Himalayan kingdom. And the Bhutan Visa cannot be obtained through the usual channels of embassies or online applications. The visa is a compulsory travel permit that allows you to enter Bhutan for a pre-set period that will be listed on the visa on the application. The visa, which is obtained through a registered Bhutanese tour operator, is the strictest visa on the planet, in terms of an application process, and it is impossible for an individual to make the application themselves.
Bhutan Visa, the compulsory travel permit to tour Bhutan from Nepal.
Bhutan Visa Application Procedure in Nepal
Applying for a Bhutan visa is not done through an embassy, cannot be done online, and there is no Visa on Arrival service at all. The only way to get a visa for Bhutan is to have booked a tour with a tour operator or travel agent that is registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan and the Bhutan Foreign Ministry. Visas for Bhutan are obtained after you have booked your tour, and it is the tour operator or travel agent that you use that makes the application on your behalf.
Once you have booked your tour, and paid the fees, the visa will be applied for from the Bhutan Foreign Ministry, through the Tourism Council of Bhutan, using the details on your passport, including your Full Name, your Permanent Address, Nationality, Occupation, Passport Number, Date of issue and expiration of Passport, and your Date and Place of Birth. An electronic copy of a passport photo and scanned copies of your passport must also be sent to the tour operator to use in the application.
Once you get a Bhutan Visa, you can visit the famous Punakha Dzong and all scenic spots in Bhutan.
The visa must be applied for at least 30 days before your expected date of travel to Bhutan, and once the application is approved, the Foreign Ministry will issue a visa clearance number, in the form of a letter. This clearance number is sent to the tour operator through the Tourism Council of Bhutan, as well as being sent to the immigration terminals at the Paro International Airport and the Phuentsholing Border Checkpoint, and both the national airlines of Bhutan, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines.
Only when the visa clearance is issued can you book the flight to Bhutan. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines will require the quoted clearance number before allowing the booking to proceed, and the number must match the one sent to them by the Foreign Ministry. Clearance for the visa usually takes around ten days, and you will normally receive the clearance number from your tour operator at least 10 days before your trip. The visa is actually issued as a stamp into your passport on your arrival in Bhutan. You will also need to have two passport photos with you when you enter Bhutan.
Bhutan Visa Fees in Nepal
The standard visa fee for travelers to Bhutan is around US$40 per person, and is payable at the same time as your tour booking. Tours to Bhutan are charged under the Bhutanese policy of the Minimum Daily Package, which is currently set at US$ 250 per day from March to May and September to November, and just US$ 200 per day from June to August and December to February. The visa fee is no different whether you are applying from Nepal or from any other country in the world, if you are not an Indian citizen. Incidentally, it should be noted that the tour operator will not make the application for the visa until the entire cost of the tour, including the cost of the visa, has been wired to the bank account of the Tourism Council of Bhutan or the account of the tour operator, which is linked to and monitored by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Validity, Extension and Cancellation of Bhutan Visa
Visas are issued for periods of 15 days, though if your tour of Bhutan is longer or shorter, then the visa duration will normally be for the exact duration of your tour. The dates of validity of the visa are actually included in the Visa Clearance Letter, issued by the Department of Immigration in the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Thimphu.
The visa can be extended, at a cost, and your tour operator will need to provide details of the extended itinerary, and you will be required to pay the additional daily package fees into the required bank account before approval. Extensions for visas in Bhutan will be applied for by the tour operator, once you have made the relevant payment, and the fee for the visa extension is normally around eight US dollars per person.
If there is a need to cancel your trip to Bhutan, then the cancellation policy largely depends on the policy of the tour operator you are using. However, since most tour bookings occur around 30 days before the actual date of the trip, there will never be a 100% refund issued. For the visa itself, as with visas from all other countries around the world, there is no refund available. Once the visa has been approved, it can no longer be canceled.
How to get to Bhutan from Nepal?
Getting to Bhutan from Nepal can be done in one of two ways, by traveling overland through Nepal, across India, and into Bhutan at the border crossing at Phuentsholing or by flying direct from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu to Paro International Airport.
If you are planning on traveling overland, then you will first need to get the local bus from Kathmandu (if that is where you are staying in Nepal) to the border with India. The closest Nepal-India border for Bhutan is located at Kakarbhitta, in eastern Nepal, which lies opposite the Indian town of Panitanki. Crossing the Raniganj Immigration checkpoint over the Mechi Bridge is relatively easy, and once across, you can get the local bus to Siliguri, the closest railway station to Panitanki.
From Siliguri, the trains run regularly and direct from New Jalpaiguri to Hasimara, the closest railway station to the Bhutanese border at Phuentsholing, and take around four hours to make the trip. Once at Hasimara, you can then get the local buses that run to Jaigaon, opposite Phuentsholing on the Indo-Bhutanese border. After crossing the border, you will normally find your tour guide and driver waiting for you, and they will transfer you to your hotel in Paro or Thimphu by private car.
You can also fly direct from Nepal to Bhutan, departing from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and landing at Paro International Airport in Bhutan. Only two airlines are permitted to land at the Paro International Airport in Bhutan, Druk Air, and Bhutan Airlines. Nepal is also one of nine airports in five countries that operate Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines flights to Bhutan.
You can take the direct flights from Nepal to Bhutan.
Flights with Bhutan Airlines run every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and depart from Tribhuvan at around 3:00 pm. The flights cost from US$ 243 for Economy, US$ 263 for Premium Economy, and US$ 279 for Business class, and take around 75 minutes for the non-stop flight to Paro.
Druk Air operates flights seven days a week, which depart from Tribhuvan at 8:55 am and 1:25 pm daily. Flights cost from US$ 196 per person for an economy fare and around US$ 231 per person business class. All flight prices are subject to change by the airlines, and are for one-way flights only.
Any extra visa or permit needed for Nepal Bhutan tour by flight and overland?
If you are traveling to Bhutan by flight from Kathmandu, then you may require a visa for Nepal if you are an international traveler. Indian citizens are not required to have a visa for Nepal or Bhutan, as there are mutual “freedom of movement” agreements in place. The Nepal visa costs around 30 dollars and can be obtained by most nationals on arrival in Nepal.
If you are traveling overland to Bhutan through India, you will also need a visa to travel through India to the border crossing at Phuentsholing. While you can get a regular tourist visa for traveling through India to Bhutan, it can be quite an expensive form most nationals, with visa fees costing from around US$42.70 to as much as US$136.70 per person.
The best option is to make your application for a transit visa, which gives you three days to cross India to get to Bhutan, Since the entire trip from Kakarbhitta to Jaigaon usually takes less than 6 hours, this is a much better option, as well as being much cheaper. The transit visa cost for India is only valid for entry for 15 days from the date of issue, and the cost ranges from US$13 to US$53 per person, depending on the Mission in which it is applied and your nationality.