Bhutan, a Buddhist Country in Eastern Himalayas also called Kingdom Of Happiness, is known for monasteries, unique culture and awe inspiring landscapes of mountains and beautiful valleys. Bhutan is a popular tourist destination particularly among Indians as an international holiday destination yet easy accessibility. It is unlike any other holiday destination.
In Bhutan Buddhism is not just a religion but the way of life of its people. Dzongs are fortresses built during the 17th century to ward off invasions by the Indian & Chineese rulers and are important institutions of Buddhist education, administration and spirituality. The festivals and celebrations is an experience in itself of Bhutanese culture and traditions.
Till the mid of 19th century, Bhutan was not accessible from the rest of the world. However today Bhutan is accessible through both road and air and has made limited modernization and development. Bhutan is one of the safest countries to travel in the world where environmental protection and cultural preservation is seen as priority over economics.
If you are in India there are three ways you can approach Bhutan.
The most convenient yet a costly option is to fly into the city of Paro which is the only airport in the Kingdom of Bhutan. There are direct flights from Indian cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati & Bagdogra Airport. These flights are operated by Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. From Paro you can commence your tour and end it and fly out to onwards destination. This is the shortest way to avail a Bhutan Tour Package. Alternatively you can fly in to Bagdogra Airport which is in West Bengal connected by all Indian Airlines operator from all major cities of India. This is much economic option but you need to enter Bhutan after travelling by road for 170 Kms and enter through Phuentsholing. Phuentsholing can also be approached by train & road from Rail heads like New Jalpaiguri, Hasimara, New Alipurduar, etc.
Bhutan tour packages start from 4 Nights 5 days with 2 Nights stays at Thimpu and Paro each. If you are not in a hurry then you can add one more night stay at Punakha town. If you are approaching via Bagdogra and then by road then Phuentsholing is a good option for overnight stay and enjoy a break from long road journey and enjoy some great views of the gradually declining Dooars region. Phuentsholing is also the entry point where most Indian tourist enter the country hence you need wait for some time to process the permit formalities. Other than Punakha Haa Valley, Phobjikha Valley, Bumthang and Wangdue is also important places in a Bhutan tour package Itinerary. It is entirely upon the tourists interest and available time to plan a Bhutan Tour.
If you are more inclined towards adventure like trekking, camping, rafting, etc. then you are heading towards one of the most safest destination even if you are a solo female traveler. People are most welcoming and tourist friendly. The most popular trek in Bhutan is the Tiger Nest Monastery one both for leisure tourist and pilgrimage. Then there is a 3 days Owl Trek to even 21 days Snowman Trek and many others in between of different durations. For Whitewater Rafting and Suspension Bridge head for Punakha, for Rock Climbing visit The Nose, Thimphu & for Kayaking – Wang Chhu, Puna Tsang Chhu.
Bhutan is a unique destination unlike any other in the world. Nature, Culture and tradition and spirituality is only on offer in this country where development is not measured in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product. Known as Kingdom of Happiness it is also the only carbon negative country in the world. Use of plastic bags, smoking in public places, use of vehicular horns are either banned by law or avoided by the citizens voluntarily.
The best way to reach Bhutan is by air. The only international airport in Bhutan is in Paro and it is called Paro International Airport. It is around 7 kms from the city. Direct flights to Bhutan are available from Kolkata, Bagdogra, Guwahati and Delhi. Connecting flights from cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai is easily available. Bhutan’s has two airlines, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines and operates flights from Paro airport to Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Bangkok.
Travelling to Bhutan by car is a popular way to reach Bhutan especially for those people who love going on road trips. There are three border points - Jaigaon – Phuentsholing Border, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. Phuentsholing only have immigration facilities for tourists trying to reach Bhutan by road. It is around 170 kms from Bagdogra in West Bengal. It is easily accessible and you can even halt here before you head on towards Bhutan.
Bhutan does not have a train network. From India tourists can reach rail heads like Siliguri(NJP), Hasimara, New Alipurduar, etc. and then avail taxi or bus to reach Bhutan. Hasimara Station is only 17 kms from Phuentsholing.
Bhutan is a Buddhist Kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas. It was mostly hidden from the world until recently when it opened for external world some 25-30 years back. China borders in north and India in the south and can only be approached from Indian side.
Though Bhutan is a Kingdom with a King there is a full fledged democratic constitutional system. Mahayana Buddhism is the state religion with about 20% Hindu population.
Bhutan has 60 percent of its land under forest cover and 51% of the Kingdom is protected land, highest percentage for any country in Asia. It is mostly a mountainous country with Subalpine vegetation on the higher elevations and lush subtropical in southern plains. Bhutan's highest peak is Gangkhar Puensum which stands at 7570 meters or 24840 ft is claimed to be unclimbed till date.
Historically speaking during the 17th century Bhutan as a kingdom was spread across large parts of north east India and Nepal. During the British India Bhutan ceded large parts during the Bhutan War November 1864. Bhutan had no regular army, and security forces existed were of dzong guards armed with matchlocks, bows and arrows, swords, knives, and catapults. After British left the subcontinent India and Bhutan recognized each others sovereignty and shares a very cordial mutual relations.
Bhutan opened to tourists in the year 1974 in effort to earn foreign exchange and promote their very unique culture and traditions to the outside world. Bhutan promotes "high value, low impact" tourism and charges daily fee of US$ 250 for tourists from countries other than SAARC nations. All tourists (groups or individual) has to travel on a guided tour package. Foreigners cannot travel independently in the kingdom and required to be accompanied by a guide. Indians however are free from such restrictions as of now and can travel freely.
Thimpu is the capital of the country with most tourists activity centered here. Paro and Taktshang Monastery(Tiger's Nest) overlooking the Paro Valley is also one of the most visited destination. Bhutan is mainly a nature, cultural and spiritual holiday destination and is in stark contradiction with other popular holiday destinations like India, Thailand, etc. Destinations other than Thimpu and Paro include Punakha, Bumthang, Phobjikha and Haa Valley offers vast expanses of scenic beauty. Trekking and camping is
a also a way to absorb the essence of the beautiful carbon negative countryside.
Dragon King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Is Bhutan worth the money?
Bhutan is very good and cool place to visit. Bhutan is very different from any other country and well worth the money - the culture is different as it has been shut off from the rest of the world for so long with the focus today on high value tourism that doesn't impact on its environment.
What is the best time to visit Bhutan?
Other than 3 monsoon months, Bhutan tour is enjoyable. October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan as the air is clear and fresh with sunny skies. January and February even though is bit chilly and experiences snowfall, but after that until June the climate remains dry and pleasant. In spring the rhododendrons bloom, flooding the road side & valleys with color.
Is Passport required to go to Bhutan for Indians?
Indian nationals intending to visit Bhutan are required to carry any of the two valid Travel Documents Valid Indian Passport having validity of minimum 6 months; and/or Voter Identity Card, issued by the Election Commission of India. No Visa is required to visit Bhutan for Indians.
Why Bhutan is a Great Honeymoon Destination?
Bhutan is one of the most famous destinations for honeymooners which offer hill station atmosphere, the last Shangri-la, amazing sunset & sunrise, cool and comfortable atmosphere, ancient temples and forts, and much more. It is a perfect getaway for romantic destination and honeymoon.
How many days Indian can stay in Bhutan?
15 days, With the entry permits, Indian tourists can stay up to 15 days in Bhutan with possibility of extension subject to approval by the Immigration.
Is Bhutan a safe place to visit?
Bhutan is one of the safest destination for tourists even for solo female travelers. Some treks take you to great elevations where breathing difficulties may arise so take time to acclimatize. Street dogs make a lot of noise at night and rabies is a risk; always be cautious around guard dogs in the hills.
Is alcohol banned in Bhutan?
No, you can carry alcohol in Bhutan. It's not prohibited and you get any kind of alcohol cheaper than India. Indians choose to purchase alcohol, including the expensive brands, from shops in Bhutan.
Is smoking allowed in Bhutan?
Bhutan is the only country in the world that completely bans the sale and production of tobacco and smoking is banned in public places. Tourists can bring in 200 cigarettes, but ask your guide to find a place where smoking is allowed.