No Inter-line agreements with DrukAir
It seems that you cannot directly check your luggage through to Paro, when flying into Bhutan.
DrukAir is a small airline and while it is not a discount airline, it has not set up any inter-line agreements, so you can't check you luggage through to Bhutan. This means you do have to enter the country (customs and immigration) and pick up your baggage and then check in at the DrukAir counter for your flight to Bhutan.
DrukAir is the only airline that flies into Bhutan and operates out of the Paro airport.
You can't buy a DrukAir ticket without a visa, and if you are a tourist, you can't get one of those without having booked and pre-paid for a tour there.
Druk Air: The Royal Bhutan Airlines
The official airline of Bhutan is Druk Air. No other airline can fly to Paro, the only international airport of Bhutan. Druk Air’s symbol is the flag of Bhutan, a dragon with orange and yellow colors. The flight itself was unique, so try to enjoy every moment. I told it in my “Fly to Paro” tip.
As far as I know, no one can buy tickets of Druk Air individually. You need to have an agency to travel there. They arrange the flight, accommodation, travel plan etc. So, don't expect much information from the website.
Our flight was from Kathmandu. This airline also flies to Delhi, Bangkok, Kolkatta, Bodhgaya and Dhaka. Their airplanes are quite comfortable. Airbus A319 is a little bit big for the valley, I think. Their flight attendants were in traditional dress of Bhutan and they were very kind and helpful.
Nepal to Bhutan by Road
The cheapest way to go to Bhutan from Kathmandu will be to follow these steps
1) take an overnight bus from Kathmandu to Kakarbhitta. This city is the border point between Nepal and India. The bus journey is around 600 kms and may take around 14-16 hrs. The journey is peaceful, although back breaking.
2) Crossover the border into India (Indian part of the city is called 'Pani tanki', meaning water tank, after clearing the immigration formalities on both sides. At this place, you will find a lot of cabs (Share taxis/bus) available for Darjeeling/Siliguri.
3) Proceed to Siliguri. This must be around 30-50 kms from Pani Tanki.
4) From Siliguri, there are lot of mini bus/taxi available for Jaigaon (last Indian city, before you enter Bhutan). There are also Bhutan Govt buses available from Siliguri (from Hill Cart Road at 7.30 am and 1.30 pm.)
5) Crossover to Phuntsoling, after completing the immigration formalities. As far as I know, there is no procedure for Visa on arrival for foreigners. Hence you need to procees the visa in advance, unless you are an Indian Citizen. Indians do not require visa.
Crossing over from Jaigaon (last Indian Town) to Phuntsholing(first town in Bhutan) is easy. Just walk over. There is a big gate. Cross the gate and you are in Bhutan
5) Take a bus to Thimphu from PhuntsholingRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Travel agency that will transport you to Lama land
In order to get from the airport to town and to go around the town you will need a travel agency. Contact them ahead of time so they arrange all your transportation needs.
Kuenga the travel agent speaks good english and he is very knowledgable on all the places that are a must see in Bhutan
Call Kuenga or send him an email at
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
What's Beyond the Sky?
Paro is the only airport in Bhutan. If you fly into Bhutan, like I did, from Kathmandu, make sure you get a seat on the left hand side (north side).
Then you will have the wonderful views of Himalayan mountains all along your one hour trip. The added value is much much more than a seat on the right hand side.
If you fail to get one, don't worry, you'll still have the chance when you get out of the country. Then you'll want a right hand side seat.
Wheels on hills
For the budget traveller, the best way to reach Bhutan is by bus. Foreigners other than Indians will probably find it easier to enter Bhutan through the charming airport at Paro. From Paro, Thimpu is a 2 hr journey by car.
From Calcutta, one can catch a bus to Siliguri, (7.30 pm-9 am) and then another bus to Joygaon (another 4-5 hours)
Or, one may take a direct bus to Joygaon from Calcutta, reaching there at about 4 pm. Phuntsoling (Bhutan) is the twin town of Joygaon (India) and one has to obtain travel permits from there. The office closes at 5 pm, so be sure you hurry up and clear your papers in time. Overnight at Joygaon/Ph'ling, the bus for Thimpu ( 8 hrs away) leaves at 6 am. It stops at multiple check points, where you have to get your travel papers stamped.
Once in Thimpu, trust the 6 seater taxis to take you anywhere you want. They are available on a share basis too. The minimum fare is 30/-
Indian Rupees and Bhutanese currency have the same acceptance level in shops, taxis and monasteries/museams.
Paro is 200 rupees away from Thimpu, on a share taxi. Inside Thimpu, one can walk the city across in about an hour and a halfRelated to:
- Budget Travel
From Guwahati in Assam I took...
From Guwahati in Assam I took bus to NewJaipaiguri, After that switched to the bus to Siliguri which has private and public(Bhutan Govt) both. Then get off in Jaigaon in India, this is the town has boader, Bhutanise side is Phunstuoling.
The easiest way to get to...
The easiest way to get to Bhutan is to fly there. The national airline Druk Air is the only company flying there. They have flights among other to Delhi, Kathmandu, Dhaka, and Bangkok. We enter Bhutan by car and left by plane to Dhaka in Bangladesh. We found Druk Air to be a good airline with nice plane and good service.
There are small minibuses going around but our friend Sonam rented a car when we was there. It was a very good way to get around and see the country. But the roads can be very difficult due to the landscape with big mountains etc. I dont remember the cost of renting a car but it was not too expensive. THE PHOTO: ME, SONAM AND THE RENTED CAR.
Druk Air has very good pilots...
Druk Air has very good pilots and it is the only way to get to Bhutan. Flight attendants are not very good at hospitality. They never smile and seem quite peeved all the time. And what is it with these Flight attendants? 'SWEETS!' Just as they are taxing to take off they will come by with a basket of candy and with no smile and pronounce 'SWEETS' with a disgusted expression as if you expect candy before takeoff. I even heard one say in Bhutanese 'I can't stand you,' (Zha Mizhu may) to a German traveler.
These attendants have a great job where they get to meet interesting people from all over the world and they act like they are meant for something better. Not all of them are like this but if they do not like their job they should get other work. I just seem to get the sour ones when I fly.
Druk Air has some of the best mountain pilots in the world! The flight is great! Very scenic and smooth! Hats off to Druk Air
With your guide. It's the only way unless you know someone.
Not easy roads
Roads in Bhutan are narrow, curvy, and the asfalt is not so good also, so it makes the moving around very slow and tiring...it is not intereting to plan long distances in one day.Related to:
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Sorry I Can't Help Adding One More Picture
that I took from the flight into Bhutan.
I loved that flight.
It was in Bhutan and Nepal that I found I was a dear lover of mountains. There are surely spirits of mountains.
Near Kuenga Chhoeling Palace Upper Motithang, Thimphu, Bhutan
Good for: Couples
I upgraded one night from the government hotels and was so glad I did. While the government hotels...more
I was there for a week last month. The hotel is 5* hotel in Thimpu. It is a joint venture project by...more
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