Okay, so you’ve decided to visit Bhutan, awesome! Now it’s just a matter of getting there.
Because of its remote location, we get many clients and readers asking us how to get to Bhutan. Therefore, we thought we would lay out the best way to get to Bhutan by both air and road. Enjoy!
Reaching Bhutan by Air
Bhutan currently has only two airline operators that fly into the country. These are Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The main airport in which both airlines fly into is Paro (2,225m). The landing itself is pretty epic as the location of the airstrip among the mountains means that the pilot has to get far closer to the mountains than on other flights. Don't panic, the pilots are very experienced!
In terms of getting a flight to Paro, there are only certain cities in the world that provide connections. These are Bangkok, Delhi, Dhaka, Bagdogra, Kolkata, Gaya, Guwahati, Singapore and Kathmandu. If you are lucky enough to take a connecting flight from Kathmandu to Paro and assuming it’s a clear day, you will fly over 4 of the word’s 5 tallest mountains - Everest, Lhotse, Kachenjunga and Makalu!
Please note here that most of the cities mentioned above only have one or two flights to Paro per week and you should book well in advance to secure a seat. There is also a second international airport under construction currently along the southern border of Bhutan in Gelephu. Once this is completed then more international flights will open up.
Domestic flights within Bhutan
Some Bhutan treks involve taking a domestic flight once you have landed in Paro. However, the Paro airport is subject to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) as bad weather often obstructs take off. Delays are common in Paro as the cold mountain air brings in fog on a regular basis. When the fog is bad then the airport is closed. We always advise that you add in a few extra days into your schedule to allow for this.
Entering Bhutan by Road
Tourism is strictly controlled within Bhutan and only a certain amount of visitors are allowed into the country each year. Therefore, there are only two entry/exit points for tourists travelling by road. The first entry/exit point is at Phuntsholing in the southwest of Bhutan. The road comes in from West Bengal in Northern India. The Indian town on the other side of the border is called Jaigaon. Accommodation is fairly low quality in Jaigaon and we strongly recommend visitors to stay in Phuntsholing for the night when driving through.
Samdrup Jongkhar in the far southeast is the other entry/exit point into Bhutan and borders the Indian State of Assam. This border crossing is ideal for visitors and trekkers looking to reach the more remote eastern end of the country. From the entry point it is a simple 3 hour drive to the Indian airport of Guwahati. From here you can take a range of connecting flights that will take you onward on your journey.
Please note that once in Bhutan you will find the roads to be very narrow and windy. Speed limits are generally around the 35-40 kilometres per hour mark and we recommend extreme caution at all times. You will find that some of the mountain roads have over 10 bends for every kilometre covered, particularly in Eastern Bhutan.