Do you ever have a plan of visiting Kingdom of Bhutan, the most beautiful Himalayan Country? Bhutan was one of my dream country to be visited, but whenever I checked the Price offered by travel agencies, I postponed my plan. My dream got fulfilled in the month of Dec 2017. The total tour plan was done by me and here I will share “How to Plan a budget Bhutan Trip from India” and the Bhutan itinerary for 7 (Seven) days. Believe me, it would cost you maximum 70% of the money, travel agencies ask for.
Here I will share the most desired Bhutan itinerary for 7 days (for west Bhutan) for the people who can’t afford more holidays at a stretch. However my recommendation is – you should plan for 15-20 days, so that you can cover all the places of West, Central and North Bhutan.
Please follow my step by step guidance to plan your Budget Bhutan Trip from India. –
How to reach:
As you might know that Bhutan is connected by Road from India. Jaigaon, West Bengal, India is connected to Phuentsholing in Bhutan. If you want to enter from West Bengal, the nearest airport is Bagdogra and nearest Railway station is Hasimara. There is another Road Border in Assam, but it is rarely used. Generally you have enter and exit from the same entry point if it is not specifically mentioned in your Permit.
Paro is the only International Airport in Bhutan. You can book your flights from Druk Airways and it is the National Airline in Bhutan. http://www.drukair.com.bt/
You can also book the tickets from Bhutan Airlines. http://www.bhutanairlines.bt/.
As there only 3-4 flights are operating for 3-4 days a week, so book your flights at least 3months before.
My Suggestion 1: The Airline Route is Preferable, if you have less time. It is most comfortable and will take minimum time to reach Paro without any Permit Issue. By Road, you have to travel almost 6-7 hours in car to reach Paro from Phuentsholing and because of Permit office, it may prolong. (Permit Office is open between 9am-5 pm closed in Saturday-Sunday and all Govt. holidays.)
- For Indian: For India, Bangladesh & Maldives, the visa is not required. For Indians, even the Passport is not required. You can show any National Identity Proof, such as Votar ID, Adhaar Card etc.
- For Other Countries: Visa is required. $40 USD is the Visa fee which will be added to your TCB (Tourism council of Bhutan) account. The Bad news is, if you are from other countries, you have to pay a fixed amount of $200-$250/day to TCB and your all cost will be covered.
Here is the main problem you would face. There are not many hotel details available in common website such as Make my trip, Booking.com or Hotels.com and the available hotel are also showing very high price. That is the main reason, travel agencies got the benefit. Here is my solution-
- http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/accommodation . It is the official website of Bhutan Tourism, where you will get many options of Hotel/guest house/farm house. Direct online booking is not possible, but you can send email and they will revert.
- My second option is you can contact Mr. Sudan: email: firstname.lastname@example.org (+97517272080). He was our driver in the tour. He is a nice guy and you can contact him to book your hotels at a very reasonable price and also can take the cab service from him or any of his contacts if required.
As there is not much public transport available for tourists, so you have to arrange Cab for local sightseeing and moving forward. Generally the minimum rate of small 4 seated car is Rs.1500/day and for 6-8 seated Car 1800-2000/day. Don’t forget to tell the driver to arrange all the permit for Punkaha, Pobjikha, Chele la pass. As per your plan of entering Bhutan, you can ask the driver to pick you from Paro or Phuentsholing. Some driver can arrange for pick up from Hasimara or Bagdogra Airport.
The currency used in Bhutan is Bhutanese Ngultrum/ Nu (BTN) and 1 Nu is equal to 1 Rs.(INR). There is another good news!! You can use any Indian currency in Bhutan. Before going to Bhutan, I knew that only Rs. 100 and below is accepted in Bhutan, so we couldn’t take much cash. (How much 100 Rs. Currency you can carry!!).
After going there, we realized that all currencies are accepted. However if you are purchasing any entry pass (which is mostly between 50-200 Nu), you have to use Rs. 100 or below notes. So basically you can carry any Indian currency in every part of Bhutan.
The network coverage for mobile is good in big town such as Paro, Thimphu, but at the same time internet is not available at Phobjikha valley and other remote places. However the mobile network for calling is good at every places. You can buy the sim card from local market in Thimphu or Paro.
Food and Drink:
This is one of the best part of our Bhutan trip. Though every Indian, Chinese dishes are available in all restaurant, we tried and tested and ordered repeatedly all the Bhutanese Dish. Some of our favorite Bhutanese dish are-
- Shamu Dartsi: It a gravy of Cheese and Mushroom with lot of Chilies.
- Ema Dartsi: It is made of chili and cheese.
- Kewa dartsi: It is dish made of potato and cheese.
- Suja: This is the best drink I have ever tested. Every morning I started my day with this and totally forgot out kind of tea for those 7-8 days. It is kind of Soup (though people in Bhutan take this as tea) made of butter and tea leaves.
This is the perfect itinerary for 7-8 days of Bhutan trip:
Day 1: Reach at Paro/ Phuentsholing (Based on your travel plan), move to Thimphu. As you have to exit from the same point i.e. Paro/ Phuentsholing, so the Paro tour is better to keep while returning. The reason is Takshang Monastery/ Tiger nest Monastery. This trekking is one of the best part of the Bhutan trip. However it is quite tiring for people with moderate fitness, so Paro is better to be seen at last.
Day2: Local Sightseeing at Thimphu. Read my post ” Places to visit in Thimphu” for detailed itinenary of Thimphu.
Day 3: Move to Punkaha via Drochula Pass. In Drochula Pass, 4th Queen of Kindom of Bhutan made 108 nos. of Chorten in the honor of all the soldier died in the 2003 military operation. Here you can see 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan Range.
Day 4: Day Tour at Punkaha. Visit to Punkaha Dzong, which is most beautiful in Bhutan. You can do river rafting in Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu River.
My Suggestion 2: The entry fees of each Dzong in Bhutan is Rs. 500/person. There are Dzong in every big town e.g. Paro, Thimphu. The Punkaha Dzong is most beautiful and biggest among all, so if you want to cut down the budget, you can visit only Punkaha Dzong from inside and other Dzongs, you can see from outside. There are view points for every Dzong, from where you would get the awesome outside view.
Day 5: Day trip to Phobjikha Valley. :
To know more details about Punakha & Phobjikha valley, read my post“Why should you visit Punakha Valley in your Bhutan Trip?”
My Suggestion 3: Please don’t cut down this one. Believe me this would be one of the best experience of your life. People also call it Gangtey valley. If you visit in winter (Dec-Feb) you can witness Black neck Crane.
Day 6: Move to Paro and do local tour.
Day 7: Trekking to Tiger Nest Monastery.
My Suggestion 4: If you have more time than 7 days, you can do a day trip to Che le la Pass and Haa Valley.
My Suggestion 5: If you have 10-12 days, then from Punkaha, you can go up to Bumthang (Central Bhutan) in the day 6 and spend 1-2 days there before moving to Paro.
So approximately your per day cost/person would be= Rs. 1000 (for hotel, twin sharing basis) +Rs. 500 (food) + Rs. 750 (for car, twin sharing basis) = Rs. 2250/day per person. So for 7days trip the cost would be approx. . . .Rs. 15750/person. The cost will be even lesser if you travel with more than 2 person. If you check with travel agenciecies, you will realize how this blog helped you in planning cheapest Bhutan trip.
Note: The entry fees are not considered in above calculation as this has to be paid by you even if you go with travel agencies.
If you have any questione regarding the Bhtan trip, please comment below. Subscribe for getting update of my next post. if you also would love to visit Sikkim please read my Post about Sikkim trip.
Are you travelling Solo to Bhutan, why not?? Please read my experinec of Solo Trvelling to Indonesia.