Bhutan's remote location and mountainous terrain place some considerable constraints on travel and transportation, as does the country's strict tourism policy aimed at regulating tourist arrivals so as to preserve its unique identity and traditions. While transport links to the outside world are not what you might call ideal, they help to retain the magic and splendour of one of the world's last 'living museums'.
Inside Bhutan, the narrow winding roads pass through hills and valleys rising up steeply at some places and going down spectacular inclines at others. The distances between destinations are generally short but journeys can take a long time. However, the splendid scenery and unspoilt natural beauty of the land makes travelling Bhutan a most enjoyable experience.
Our Bhutan Transportation Guide is a must view resource to help you make your way around the magical Kingdom of Bhutan. You will discover that meeting strict entry requirements will be well worth effort as you take a step back in time, engulfing yourself with the striking beauty of Bhutan's enchanting landscapes and the simple ways of the Bhutanese people. As you must have pre-arranged tours and accommodation to enter Bhutan, we recommend taking a look through our Bhutan tours and Bhutan Hotels
Most travellers prefer to fly to Bhutan. The alternative is to enter by road through India. The sole airline that operates flights to and from Bhutan is the national carrier Druk Air. Visa formalities and advance payment for the tour have to be completed before you can be issued an air ticket. Travellers usually have to change flights in India, Thailand or Nepal which means that visa requirements for one of these countries will also have to be met before departure.
Paro is the only airport in Bhutan and the national carrier Druk Air serves the country along with private airline Bhutan Airlines. Druk Air operates flights from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Kolkata (Calcutta), Gaya, Yangon, Singapore and Mumbai. There are daily flights from Bangkok and three flights a week from New Delhi, with more services running during the festival season in October.
While travelling to and from Bhutan by air is more convenient than going by road, it is not without its hassles. Fares are expensive and delays common. Tough operating conditions at Paro, 2200 m above sea level, situated in a deep valley and surrounded by hills and mountains, are made tougher with a short runway. Often, cloud cover and inclement weather makes things even more difficult. It is always a good idea to plan for delays and allow ample transit time for your connecting flights.
Transport to and from the airport is arranged by your local tour operator.
One can enter Bhutan by road at Phuentsholing travelling from the Indian state of West Bengal. The 180 km ride from the border town of Phuentsholing to Thimphu makes for an unforgettable ride along a most scenic route. There is another crossing point at Sampdrup Jongkhar from the Indian state of Assam but because of political unrest in the state this route is often closed.
There is no domestic air service in Bhutan, so travelling is mostly done by road. In interior areas, mules, yaks and ponies are still used for transport. Bicycling, which is being heavily promoted, and walking are other alternatives.
Tourists usually don't have to worry about transport in Bhutan as the cost of everything is included in pre-arranged tour packages and tour operators arrange all Bhutan transportation needs.
The road network is fairly good and roads, though narrow and winding, are paved and generally well maintained. Still it is hard to go beyond a leisurely pace in most areas and 40 kph is the average speed. During rainy periods mud flows and landslides are common while in northern areas snow can block traffic for hours. The scenery is invariably spectacular; still many visitors do carry some reading material.
Buses and minibuses are main public transport in Bhutan. They are cheap, but often jam-packed and uncomfortable. Driving is a big challenge so most people hire cars in Bhutan. Moreover, you need a route permit to travel beyond the free zone (Thimphu, Pheuntsholing, Paro).
Trophel Tours & Treks is accredited by Tourism Council of Bhutan (License No: 1030972) and member of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Global Sustainable Tourism Council.