Bhutan, the happiest country in the world, officially known as Kingdom of Bhutan lies on Himalayas’ eastern edge. This landlocked country is known for its dzongs, monasteries and beautiful landscapes where Buddhist culture embraces the global development. Still untouched and untroubled by external influences, this country has a charm that can’t be described in words.
It is particularly difficult (read expensive) to travel to this Asian kingdom, but not for Indian nationals. Due to strong ties shared between Bhutan and India, Bhutan allows Indian passport holders to explore the surreal landscapes by providing direct entry permits on border towns and in Thimphu.
Phuentsholing and Gelephu are most popular entry points to enter inside Bhutan via road from India. You can fly directly to Paro (the only airport in Bhutan) too if you prefer airways over roadways.
Pro Tip: You can stay in Phuentsholing or Gelephu even without a permit. However, this access would be restricted to certain areas only.
Get Right Documents
Following documents are required for Bhutan permit.
- Application form (will be provided on site)
- Hotel confirmation
- Birth certificate (if below 18 years)
You need to carry photocopies of passport and birth certificate for submission. Printouts of hotel confirmation are required, at least one hotel confirmation for one day is required in either Paro or Thimphu, for rest of the days, it is okay if you do not have confirmed booking. In case if you miss on any of the photocopies, not to worry, there are shops close to immigration offices which can help you complete your document set for submission.
Pro Tip: Carry a pen with you and keep an extra copy of your documents.
Timing Is Everything
Bhutan immigration offices are open from 9AM to 4PM in winters and till 5PM in summers. These centers are open from Monday to Friday only, so if you happen to end up at either of the entry points over weekend, well, there won’t be anything else left to do but to enjoy the place, as you won’t be allowed to travel anywhere further without permit.
Pro Tip: It is always advisable to reach at center 2 hours prior to the closing time.
Process Is Set But Avoid The Rush
Bhutan immigration office has a set process which they follow. Once you are ready with your application, you will be sent forward to provide your fingerprint and a photograph will be clicked at that time. Post which you will be asked to wait, it is possible that you are called inside by an officer for an interview where he/she asks you few questions to understand your purpose of visit. You should receive your permit in about an hour (off season) but during peak season it may take up to 3 hours. The validity of this permit would be 7 days, if your trip is longer than this duration, not to worry, you can always visit Thimphu immigration office to extend your permit duration.
Pro Tip: Punakha, Phobjikha, Trongsa, Bumthang etc may require special permit. You need to fill up additional forms along with the original permit.
It Is Good To Go
You are all set now to explore the Kingdom Of Bhutan. However, before you do so, take at least 2-3 photocopies of your permit. Keep your permit handy as you would have to show it to officials at many check posts on your way inside Bhutan.
Well, that’s all we have for you folks! The happiest land on this planet is calling you, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!