How to get to Bhutan

By | May 4, 2022

Overview

The Kingdom of Bhutan approaches tourism development with caution to protect the country’s unique nature and culture. All tourists, whether traveling in groups or individually, must book a pre-planned and professionally guided tour through a Bhutan-registered tour operator or its overseas affiliates. The basic price is set by law. However, many tourists spare no effort to get to know the breathtaking mountains and valleys of this amazing country. Bhutan’s tourism industry is based on sustainability, i.e. environmental friendliness, social and cultural compatibility as well as economic efficiency. Druk Yul, as the peaceful land is called by locals, means “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Many historical events have become legends and no longer traced exactly, but what is certain is the arrival of Guru Rinpoche, who is believed to have brought Mahayana Buddhism from Tibet in the 8th century. Bhutan, the last kingdom of Mahayana Buddhism, was never conquered or ruled by foreign hands.

Getting there

Arriving by plane

According to top-medical-schools, there are no direct flights to Bhutan from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Bhutanese airlines Drukair (KB) and Bhutan Airlines (B3) offer international non-stop flights to Bhutan from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Kolkata, among others. Turkish Airlines (TK) connects Frankfurt/M., Vienna and Zurich via Istanbul with Kathmandu; Onward flight to Bhutan with Drukair (KB). Lufthansa (LH), Austrian Airlines (OS) and Swiss (LX) offer non-stop flights to Bangkok.

Note on arrival by plane

Since Paro Airport is located in a deep valley at 2,236 m and climate conditions change quickly, the return flight from Bhutan may be delayed by hours or even days due to weather conditions.

Flight times

Frankfurt/M. – Paro: 15 hours 50 minutes; Vienna – Paro: 16 hours 55 minutes; Zurich – Paro: 16 hours 25 minutes

Departure fee

None.

Arrival by car

By land, Bhutan is accessible from India via the border towns of Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in southern Bhutan. Long-distance bus: Royal Bhutanese Government buses connect Kolkata with Phuentsholing (journey time: 22 hrs 30 mins) with onward journey to Thimphu (journey time: 6 hrs). Tolls: Bhutan has no toll roads. Documents: In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license must be carried.

Arrival by train

There are no rail connections to Bhutan. The nearest railway station is Siliguri in India.

Transportation

Traveling by plane

There is no domestic air service in Bhutan.

Traveling by car/bus

The road network covers approx. 8,050 km; more than half of it is paved. The main thoroughfare runs from Phuntsholing in the southwest to the capital Thimphu and from there over high Himalayan passes through central Bhutan to Samdrupjonghkhar in the southeast. There are no roads in the northern mountain ranges of the Himalayas. Tolls: Bhutan has no toll roads.

Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic

Left

Condition of the roads

Roads leading to the major sights are relatively well developed. During the monsoon season, from June to September, many roads are often impassable due to heavy rainfall.

Car rental

Rental cars can only be booked with a driver at the airport in Paro and in the cities.

Taxi

Taxis are available in towns and at the airport in Paro.

Coach

There are regular bus connections between the larger towns. Due to the winding mountain roads, however, relatively long travel times must be planned (travel time: Phuentsholing-Thimpu: approx. 6 hours).

Regulations

There is no general speed limit in Bhutan; the road layout does not allow any higher speeds anyway due to the numerous mountain passes.

Documentation

In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license is required.

Locally on the way by train

There is no rail transport in Bhutan.

How to get to Bhutan