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A man riding a bike on theseBhutanese bridge
Written by Shamanthika on April 24, 2020 Share on

An ultimate travel guide to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Kuzu Zango La, Bhutan!

Kuzu Zango la means ‘Hello’ in Bhutan. 2020 is indeed the year to say Hello to Bhutan! Lonely Planet will nod in agreement. Yes, this tiny yet picturesque Himalayan country is ranked number one on the list of Lonely planet’s Top countries to visit in 2020. Bhutan is famously called as the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Druk, the thunder dragon is featured on the country’s flag is rooted in the Bhutanese mythology.  It is also the Symbol of National Importance.

Stunning natural landscapes, breathtaking snow-capped Himalayan views, unspoiled pine forests, pristine villages, distinctive Buddist culture, majestic monasteries make it appealing to many travelers across the world. Being the last great Himalayan kingdom, the country practices an amalgamation of traditional and contemporary style of living. The best part of your Holiday in Bhutan is that it lets you have a flexible, unusual, and interesting itinerary. You can choose to ride the mountain bike one morning and experience the adventure drive.  Or you can choose a salubrious farm stay and relax with nature. Else, you can wander around in the markets as the sun sets and see crimson – robbed monks coming to the town from the hills. When in Bhutan, you will be spoilt for choices; you will want to experience anything and everything.

Add this country in your 2020 bucket list and get ready to experience this gorgeous tiny country!

Bhutan monastery
Image Source: Unsplash

How to reach Bhutan?

By Air

The easiest and fastest option to reach the tiny Himalayan country is flying into it. There are several flights that connect major Indian metro cities Paro, the country’s only International airport.

By Rail

Hasimara is the nearest railway station to India which is about 17 km from the Indo – Bhutan border town called the Jaigaon. Trains are the most cost-efficient way to reach Bhutan and it connects major Indian cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Ranchi, Kanpur to Hasimara. Another station that offers better connectivity is New Jalpaiguri. You can prebook your seats at the IRCTC website itself. Although the journey takes a longer time, the routes have better connectivity.  And of course, the best choice for budget travelers.

By Road

If you want to reach Bhutan by road, you should first reach the border town of Bhutan, called the Phuentsholing. The Jaigaon town in West Bengal is only 4.3 Km this Bhutanese town. Private cabs are available for hire which can be used to commute inside. Also, from the national airport at Bagdogra in West Bengal, the Bhutanese border town is 170 Kms. Its approximately 5 hours drive. The airport also has prepaid taxis, that will take you inside the country.

Bridge in Bhutan
Image source:

Travel Tip

The budget traveler way to reach Bhutan is combining the flight and roadway. Take a flight till Bagdogra and then hire a cab to Phuentsholing. If you are booking in advance then you can also book flights at a cheaper price.

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Getting a Tourist Permit – Visa

Indian travelers don’t require a visa to Bhutan, they will be granted an entry-cum-stay permit at the immigration offices upon entry. The travelers will have to submit a passport with a minimum of six months validity or Government-issued ID cards such as Voter IDs. These documents will be verified before the hand over of tourism permits. If you are flying directly to Paro, you can get your permits from the Paro International Airport.

List of documents to be submitted

  • Copy of Government-issued ids like Voter’s ID or Passport
  • Accommodation vouchers as proof of stay
  • Passport Size Photo
  • If you are driving yourself, you will need to obtain a Route Permit from the Royal Safety Transport Authority (RSTA), which will be issued at the bus station at Phuentsholing.

Hacks for obtaining the Tourism Permit

  • Early birds can enjoy an advantage. Going early in the morning to obtain the Permits, you can dodge the long queue. Plan your day such that you will reach Phuentsholing around 08:00 AM or 08:30 AM.
  • Fill the form accurately. Do not forget to mention all the details.
  • If you need to take photocopies, you can reach out to the  Photostat shops just opposite to the Immigration office.
  • This Tourist permit allows you to visit Thimphu, Paro, and Punaka. In order to visit Bumthang and several other tourist attractions, you will need a separate permit.
  • In order to ease the process of getting Tourism permits, the Bhutanese Government has launched the Online Permit System, which facilitates this process. You can process these permits through registered Bhutanese tour operators and others who have been certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB).

Booking your accommodation

Bhutan will welcome you to its pristine Himalayan landscape, snow-capped peaks, and its most serene traditional villages. So, In addition to Hotel accommodations that you can choose to stay, pick up a traditional homestay that is located in the interiors. The concept of Homestays is very common among the Bhutanese locals and many have grabbed the opportunity to serve tourists the authentic way. You can learn to cook local dishes with your host, relax in the garden with a cup of butter tea as the host’s family performs a local dance, later dine with them.  Starting from Phuentsholing to the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu, you can find budget homestays and hotels.

Traditional bhutanese doll dance
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Currency Information

The officially and locally accepted currency in Bhutan is Ngultrum. The country is a small Himalayan kingdom and does not have very advanced banking services. However, at the Paro International airport, currency exchange services are available. The ideal way is to exchange at the airport itself and then proceed inside the country. Few Hotels also offer a currency exchange service at their reception. Another important point to note here is inside the town, credit cards/cheques might not be accepted, hence it’s always advised to carry the cash in hand.

The best time visit the Himalayan country

The best time to visit Bhutan is during its post-monsoon season. Late September through October, you will be greeted by clear blue skies, pleasant, sunny weather. This makes your day the best to roam around Bhutan. You can also experience snowfall at higher elevations.

Monks worshipping in the monastery
Image Source: Unsplash

Bhutan is indeed a perfect holiday choice for 2020. This little Himalayan country will amaze you with its pristine resources, warm people and you will take back memories which will be worth a lifetime! We, at Pickyoutrail, have the best packages and we will help you craft an amazing itinerary exclusively for you!

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