Bhutan is a special destination. With the recent rise and recognition in the world of travel, Bhutan has gained a vast interests from travellers around the globe. However, Bhutan still remains an elusive destination to many. By examining tourism policies of other destinations and the apparent negative externalities that mass tourism causes to a destination, Bhutan has been dedicated to the ‘high value, low impact’ policy ever since tourism was introduced and the country decided to open its doors in the early 80’s after year of isolation.
Today, you can either enter the country by air or by road.
At present two passenger carriers operate in Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. There are flights to and from destinations like Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai. There are also domestic airports in Yongphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.
Flying into Bhutan’s Paro International Aiport is typically an exciting experience as the descent into Paro valley brings you closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you soar, you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga at their best.
Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land borders open to tourists.
The town of Phuentsholing in south-west is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, you begin your journey to Thimphu, the capital city with travel time of about 5 hours for the 170 km stretch.
Gelephu, in south-central Bhutan, is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.
The district of Samdrup Jongkhar in south-east Bhutan borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang and then finally into the capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.