A trip to Bhutan – Kingdom Of Thunder Dragon (INR 3500 – 6 days)

Tiger's Nest Paro Bhutan

A trip to Bhutan from India—–If there is any country on Earth that qualifies as Eden – not just in part, but in its entirety? I believe it is Bhutan. The world has few secrets left and surely Bhutan is one of them. It is so stunning that, when you enter the country, you won’t ever feel like leaving it again. Mountains, Rivers & monasteries are in abundant numbers.

Tiger’s Nest is the most popular destination to visit in Bhutan. A trip to Bhutan was one of my travel goal I set a few years ago and a country I had been wanting to visit for much longer. As I was planning to visit northeastern parts of India, I knew it would be great if I could add few days for Bhutan in my itinerary.

How to reach Bhutan from India:

The cheapest way to reach Bhutan from Guwahati is to take a train to New Alipurdar and then a bus to Jaigaon. If you are traveling from other parts of India to Bhutan, you can take a train to Siliguri/Jalpaiguri and then a bus to Jaigaon. From Jaigaon you can walk across the border area and reach Phuentsholing which is the border town on Bhutan side. Visit IRCTC for train bookings.

I never Opt for tour packages as there are many reasons for it:-
  • Tour packages are very expensive, may almost cost you triple of what actually would have been, if you plan all by yourself.
  • You would be limited to follow their itinerary. You can only see those places wherever they will take you to. There will always be a feeling of some place to be missed out rather than enjoying.
  • The feeling as a bag packer is far more awesome than restricting your trip with such tour packages.

How to reach Bhutan from India

How to reach Bhutan from Guwahati India

India Bhutan border

India – Bhutan Border (Jaigaon-Phuentsholing)

Permits required to visit Bhutan from India/other countries:-

Tourism to Bhutan is not that simple. The tourism sector is managed by Tourism Council of Bhutan. TCB has set a minimum daily package. It’s US$200/US$250(Low/High season) per person per night.Visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives are exempted from this rule. Indians do not need a Visa to visit Bhutan.

Update: Bhutan has ended decades of free entry to Indian tourists visiting Bhutan, the government in Thimphu has decided to levy a daily ₹1,200 ($17) fee for “regional tourists” from India, the Maldives and Bangladesh, starting from July 2020. The fee, called a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). For more info, read Bhutan ends free entry for Indian tourists.

A valid Indian ID( Passport/Voter Id) with 2 photos would suffice to obtain a permit. You’ll be issued an entry permit at Phuentsholing which would be valid to visit Paro and Thimphu, for a maximum of 15 days.

Note: Aadhaar card, Pan Card, Driving License etc. will not be considered valid. 

Persons over 65 and below 15 years of age who don’t have passport/Voter Id can show other documents with photographs to confirm their age and identity. These include PAN card, driving licence, Central Government Health Service (CGHS) card and ration card but not Aadhaar. For more details check out the article by  The Hindu.

If you want to visit any other destinations other than Thimphu and Paro, you’ll have to get Restricted Area Permit from Thimphu Immigration Office. All the permits issued are free of cost and the Immigration Office at Phuentsholing is open only on weekdays (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Bhutan Standard Time). Also, please check for Bhutan public holidays in advance as it remains closed on those days as well.

permit Bhutan from India

Obtaining Permit at Phuentsholing

Bhutan’s currency is the ngultrum, whose value is same as the Indian rupee. The rupee is accepted everywhere in the country. Paro Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. There are no railways, though Indian Railways are planning to link southern Bhutan to its vast network.

Once you cross the border and enter Bhutan, you’ll notice the change in the architecture of buildings. There is nothing much to see in Phuentsholing, so I started inquiring about Paro route. There are many options to reach Paro from Phuentsholing. I took a minibus and reached Paro in 6-7 hours. It cost me somewhere around INR 250.

I reached Paro at around 4:30 PM. It gets dark very early in these parts of the globe. With help of wiki travel, I searched for a budget stay and got the same for INR 500/per night.

Note: –Bhutan Standard Time (BTT) is 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST) and +6:00 Hours to that of GMT.

Paro City Bhutan

Paro City Bhutan

Getting a SIM card in Bhutan is easy. Show your entry permit to get a SIM Card. There are two network operators Tashi cell & Bhutan Telecom and both gives pre-activated sim card. Tashi Cell offers SIM Card for Nu. 200 with talk time of Nu. 200, so I took the same.

Paro City Bhutan

Paro City


Wow!! Just the feeling you get when you enter this beautiful city. One of the best cities that I have traveled to. The view is breathtaking from every corner, it is surrounded by mountains and Paro Chhu River flows through the main town. It’s like a replica of the paintings we used to draw in our childhood. There is such peacefulness everywhere that you will definitely fall in love with the city.

I came across many local Bhutanese and they are truly humble and honest people by nature. They would help you in the best way they can and won’t ever cheat you.

Rinpung Dzong Paro City Bhutan

 Rinpung Dzong Paro city

Hike to Tiger’s Nest on the trip to Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest the iconic symbol was the main reason, I wanted to visit Bhutan. It is 10 km from Paro city, perched high on the mountainside above the Paro valley. I had been dreaming of Tiger’s Nest trek for years and it absolutely did not disappoint me. The views from the hike to the top are stunning and the best part was yet to come.

It’s a three hours hike, but I was so excited to reach the top, that it took me just one and a half hour to reach. As I reached very early, I was the alone tourist out there, thus I got a chance to click amazing pictures with no human in the background. Otherwise, it is generally very crowded.

onacheaptrip tiger's Nest

Amazing feeling to take a selfie with Tiger Nest Bhutan in the background

The Tiger’s Nest will always remain as one of my favorite places. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the world. You will love every bit of the trek.

For my complete trek to Tiger’s Nest do check  Hike to Tiger Nest.

I used the following backpack during this trip and will highly recommend it. (Quechua Forclaz 60 Backpack)

Quechua backpack

Thimphu-“The Capital City”

After spending 2 amazing days in Paro, I headed for Thimphu which is an hour drive from Paro. The entire route is embraced with some spectacular views. Thimphu offers a fascinating glimpse into Bhutanese life. It also features the impressive Tashichho Dzong, which stands above the city.

World's Largest Buddha Statue Bhutan

World’s Largest Buddha Statue Thimphu on trip to Bhutan

Mainly the hotels and lodges are present near clock tower area. Also, clock tower has an open amphitheater where different programs are organized all over the year. I was lucky enough as a cultural program was going on at the clock tower. It was amazing to witness the cultural dance program depicting the true style of the Bhutanese. Check out more details of Thimphu on Wikitravel.

clock tower Paro City Bhutan

Clock Tower Thimphu on trip to Bhutan

cultural dance clock tower a trip to Bhutan

Cultural festival at clock tower on trip to Bhutan

Thimphu Bhutan

A river flows across Thimphu on trip to Bhutan

Thimphu to Phunaka

After spending a great time in the capital city, it was now time to head toward Phunaka. Phunaka is around 3 hours ride from Thimphu and is famous for Phunaka Dzong. Lots of shared taxis regularly ply from Thimphu to get to Phunaka.

Phunaka Dzong

It is known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong meaning ” “the palace of great happiness or bliss”. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most ravishing structures. The Dzong is located at the junction of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley.

Phunaka Dzong

Phunaka Dzong

cute kid Bhutan

Cute kid on trip to Bhutan

cute kid Bhutan

Cute kid on trip to Bhutan from India

What I saw was mostly the Western parts of Bhutan, I would love to go back to explore more into the eastern parts of Bhutan. It’s a mystical, spectacular country with lovely and happy people. If you really tired of your daily routine and really want to spend some peaceful days of life-Bhutan should be your destination. I can assure you will love each and every moment you spend in this delightful country.

Looking for more places to visit in that part of the globe? Check out my blog post on – A solo trip to North East India and Bhutan (30 days – expenditure 21,000 INR).

Do follow me on Instagram as I am regularly posting travel posts and stories over there. Also, you can message me on Instagram if you want to join me on my next trip.

Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my post on What’s in my Backpack.

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60 thoughts on “A trip to Bhutan – Kingdom Of Thunder Dragon (INR 3500 – 6 days)

  1. What a beautiful country bhutan is…I am making a plan to visit it. I have heard that they have imposed a new charge on the foreign travelers. Do you know about it?

  2. Hi Abhishek,

    I have to start from bangalore to (bagdogra or guwahati) not yet decide . Please suggest me after (bagdogra or guwahati) airport which place have to go.

  3. I read somewhere that we will be charged 500rs to visit tigers nest …2.) I have a tent so can I pitch tent at uphills to reduce my accomodation cost or I have to take permission from the authorities

    1. Hi Bibeb, the year I visited the Tiger’s Nest, entry fees wasn’t there. I guess they have recently started charging for the same. Still I am not sure is the entry for the trek or to go inside the monastery premises. It would be helpful if you can update me once you visit the same.

  4. Hi Abhishek,
    That was a wonderful blog ! Keep travelling. I am thinking to visit Bhutan from 13 Dec – 17 Dec(5 days) from Hyderabad.
    Please guide me for the trip and can we hire a cab for the stay over there for better experience


    1. Hey Sanjeeb,

      You can plan 2 days for Paro, 2 for Thimphu and one for Punakha Dzong. Yes you can definitely hire a cab over there. If you need more details text me on my Instagram handle(@onacheaptrip). Wish you a great journey !! 🙂

  5. Hi Abhi,

    Thanks for the wonderful blog. I heard that permit will not be issued to a solo male traveler. is it true ? If so , how did you manage to get your permit ? please let me know. i am planning to travel to bhutan on november 1st week.

    1. Hey, thank you Shanth. There is nothing like that permit won’t be issued to a solo male traveler. Just take a valid Indian Id and you can make the permit at Phuentsholing. Happy traveling!!

  6. Hi
    I am from India….I hold a valid passport. My son of 11 years hold dont have passport now…can he travel (indian) to bhutan with out passport…he has Adhar card

    Thanks for the wonderful information

  7. I’m visiting Bhutan in a week. Is it true that you need to show them hotel bookings for the time of your stay? Lovely blog. Keep travelling and keep blogging.

    1. Hey Lenore, I assume that you mean to say that is hotel booking required to be shown while getting the permit. No, you don’t need to!! Happy traveling 🙂

  8. Amazing blog and according to me, traveling is such a beautiful experience and it does not have any relation with the age, so you never get late for going on a vacation.

  9. I know that we can’t enter on saterday and sunday in bhutan but my question is, can we come out of country on saterday and sunday ??

    1. Yes, you can come out of the country any time, your permit will be taken back on your way back to Phuensholing. Also, you can enter Bhutan on Saturday and Sunday as well, but you would have to stay in Phuensholing as entry further ahead is prohibited without a valid permit.

  10. Hi,

    I have visited Bhutan earlier in year 2015 and it is really a breathtaking place with peace of mind, mountains and rivers all around. Everyone must visit there at least once for a wonderful exposure and experience towards nature.

    Nice blog. Keep it up!

    Thanks and Regards,
    Ajay Sherawat

  11. Hi Abhishek,
    I am thinking of visit Bhutan in 1st Week of June. where Moonson is peaking of its mood. Is it a good time to visit at the beginning of the June? How many days is required to cover the main places including tiger nest? I also wanted to go through budget travel. I can’t afford to go through any tour agencies. Can you please guide me?

    1. Hi, I am not pretty sure about the climatic conditions of Bhutan in month of June, but still if it rains and if you are ok to get a bit wet, everything should be fine than. You can cover Paro, Thimphu and Phunaka in 5-6 days. I can help you with a budget itinerary if you can give me your start point and no of days you have in hand.

      1. Hi Abhishek,

        I am planning to visit Bhutan in the moth of october. I have booked tickets till Hasimara.
        I am planning to spend around 6-7 days over there, but i haven’t booked any hotels yet.
        Please guide me for budget trip.

        I am travelling solo

        1. From Hasimara, take a bus for Jaigaon PS. From Jaigoan you can cross the border and get the permit work done at Phuensholing. from Phuentsholing catch a bus for Paro. You can stay at Paro for 2-3 days. You don’t need to book anything, just go there and inquire at few hotels. You will get a good one in range of INR 400 to INR 500/ night. From Paro you can head for Thimphu and stay there for 1-2 days. You will get cheap hotels near the clock tower area. From Thimphu Phunaka can be covered on a day trip. From Thimohu you can return all the way back to Hashimara. Hope that helps!!! Happy traveling!!

          1. Hi. Thanks for the wonderful blog.
            Can you guide me for the travel route from mumbai. I’m planning to visit bhutan in november from 7 Nov onwards for 6 days.

            1. Hey Sujit, thanks for the appreciation!! You can fly from Mumbai to Guwahati or take a train whichever is feasible for you. From Guwahati, take a train to New Alipurdar and then a bus to Jaigaon. Hope that helps 🙂 Let me know if you still have queries. Happy traveling!

        1. The expenses are from Guwahati to Bhutan and back to Jaigaon.
          1)Guwahati to New Alipurduar – Train sleeper (INR 240)
          2)New Alipurduar to Jaigaon PS bus/Phuentsholing (60 INR)
          3)Phuntsholing to Paro (250 INR)
          4)Paro to Thimphu (100 INR)
          5)Thimphu to Phunaka (400 INR return journey)
          6)Thimphu to Phunsholing(300 INR)
          7) food expenses( 1000 INR-6 days)- was carrying a lot of snacks along with me.
          8)stay 2 days required as 2 nights were in the train and 2 I stayed in own tent( 2 days * 400 = 800 INR)
          9)sim – 200 INR

          Total-INR 3110( 300-400 INR personal expenses and few tickets)

    1. Hi sorry I can’t help you with the same as I don’t book hotels from websites. I search for hotels/lodges/dorms directly once I reach the place.
      Anyways thanks for reading 🙂

      1. Thank you so much..i am planning to visit bhutan for 10days …as mentioned by u they issue visa only for 7days. So what should i do u stay more then 7days

        1. Sorry for mentioning 7 days. The permit can be obtained for 15 days to visit Paro and Thimphu and can be further extended for 15 days more from Thimphu. A special permit is required for other parts of Bhutan which can be obtained from Thimphu.

  12. I am in Europe. I have seen a lot of natural stunning sceneries. But I am not sure why I want to travel Bhutan after reading this blog and looking at the pictures. Great job buddy.

  13. Hi Abhi ,
    Amazing blog !!Truely inspired me to visit Bhutan.
    well , i like the pictures . May I know which camera is that which you used for photography ?

    1. Thanks Deepika!! Yeah you definitely visit Bhutan.I am using a basic Dslr ,Canon 1200 d to be more specific .Also do have look at Everest base camp blog to see some more stunning clicks!!!!

  14. Hey…any proper best time to visit?? Or anytime is fine?? Nd must appreciate your way of expressing the thoughts…very well written…kudos to you buddy..

    1. Thanks Bhawar!!!
      October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan.In January or February, Paro and Thimphu may experience a one-day snow.Only avoid going during the rainy season(June -July-August)

  15. Paro city: the view is breathtaking, and the tiger hill: just wow!
    This post is full of amazing pictures, I loved it????

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