There are now two airlines that operate flights in and out of Bhutan. Druk Air (also known as Royal Bhutan Airlines) is Bhutan’s national carrier and Tashi Air (also known as Bhutan Airlines) is a private airline which started operating in 2013 and has brought in some much needed competition. There is one international airport at Paro, about an hour’s drive from the capital, Thimphu. There are also some new domestic routes in operation with domestic airports at Batpalathang in Bumthang, Yongphula in eastern Bhutan (close to Tashigang) and Gelephu in the south of the country.
You can have a look at the schedules on the Druk Air website and the Tashi Air website to help you plan your trip.
Druk Air and Tashi Air flights can now be booked directly yourself online, but it is usually preferable for you to ask us to make the booking for you and we don’t charge for this service. If you buy the tickets from the airline websites you have to pay for them on purchase, whereas we can hold the seats for you for a period without commitment while we discuss your itinerary with you and you take the time to finalize your travel plans. Also, if we book the seats for you we get advance notice of timing changes, we can assist you with ticketing changes and we will also reconfirm your flights for you automatically as long as we have made the booking for you. Finally we often have access to discounts which are available only to agents and not for direct bookings – we will tell you if these are on offer at the time of your trip.
You will need to arrange your own international flights to your chosen point of entry to Bhutan. You should wait until we have confirmed your reservations with Druk Air/Tashi Air before you make long haul bookings. Bear in mind also that the airline schedules for Bhutan flights are subject to frequent change, and often at very short notice, so if you can arrange flexible long haul tickets it is advisable to do so. We advise that you leave 5 to 6 hours connection time if possible and if you can plan an overnight stay each end of your trip before and after flying to Bhutan then so much the better.
These airlines do not take any responsibility for the impact of timing changes or cancellations on any other flight reservations, and we also cannot do so, which means that you will have to bear the cost of any changes to your travel plans caused by changes to the Bhutan airline schedules.
The main international routings used to fly in to Paro are Delhi, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore and Calcutta. There are also flights from Dhaka, Gaya, Bagdogra and Guwahati and Mumbai.
Bangkok flights come in and out every day with both airlines (and at busy times there are two or three flights a day) but flights on the other routings are not as frequent. Delhi and Kathmandu flights tend to be daily (or sometimes twice daily at the peak of the season). Calcutta flights run around 5 times a week with Druk Air and daily with Tashi Air and Singapore flights are twice a week with Druk Air. Flights from Dhaka, Bagdogra and Guwahati are usually twice a week in each direction.
Druk Air uses an airbus which seats 114 passengers with 20 business class seats and an ATR that seats around 40 passengers with no business class available. Tashi Air has two airbuses with 122 seats (including 20 business class seats).
Timings vary depending on whether the flight is direct or has a stopover but are broadly as follows:
Bangkok – Paro: 3 hours 15 minutes (or 4 to 4 and a half hours with stopover)
Bagdogra – Paro: 30 minutes
Calcutta – Paro: 55 minutes
Delhi – Paro: 2 hours 20 minutes (or 3 hours 20 minutes with stopover)
Dhaka – Paro: 55 minutes
Guwahati – Paro: 55 minutes
Kathmandu – Paro: 55 minutes
Singapore – Paro: 5 hours 55 minutes (with stopover)
If you would like more precise information about flight timings or options please ask and we will be happy to explain further.
The price of Druk Air and Tashi Air flights is charged on top of the tour price. Current rates for return flights are around US$430 (Kathmandu), US$660 (Delhi), US$780 (Bangkok), US$465 (Calcutta) and US$965 (Singapore). However the seats are priced in local currency but must be paid for in US$, so the price fluctuates daily and the final price can only be confirmed on issuing the tickets. As a result the initial quote we give you for the flights will always be indicative only. Discounted fares are available at certain times of year and for children and students.
The ticketing system used by the airlines allows us to hold seats for a period so you have time to decide on your dates and organise your international flights before we have to issue the tickets. For travel dates which are more than 45 days away, the ticketing date will be between 30 to 90 days from the date of booking, depending on availability. If seats are still available on the flight we can keep extending the reservation for further periods of 30 days until the flight fills up and we have to issue the tickets. For travel dates less than 45 days but more than 14 days away the ticketing date will be 7 days from the date of booking. For travel dates within 14 days, no ticketing date will be available and the flights must be paid for on booking to secure the seats.
The baggage allowance is usually 30 kg in economy class and 40 kg in business class, although this may differ depending on the routing so you should check your ticket.
It is also possible to enter or leave Bhutan by road via Phuntsholing on the Indian border in the south-west or at Samdrup Jongkhar in the south-east. This allows you to combine a trip to Bhutan with some time in Darjeeling or Sikkim or Assam. Phuntsholing is three or four hours’ drive from the nearest Indian airport in Bagdogra in West Bengal, and about seven hours’ drive from Thimphu. From Samdrup Jongkhar it is about a three hour drive to Guwahati which has flights to and from a number of Indian cities.
It is the policy of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) that you deposit your payment well in advance prior to Travel to Bhutan. On receipt of payment only, your visa clearance letter is issued. It is very safe to transfer your tour payments to Bhutan as the payment you sent is diverted to Tourism Council of Bhutan’s account. Your payment is not paid to us until you Travel into Bhutan and your Tour concludes. You will need to wire transfer your tour payment to us in the bank details we have provided below. After you transfer the payment, please mail us the transfer receipt for us to trace your Bhutan tour payment.
Except for Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian nationals, all visitors to Bhutan require a visa.
To process with your visa to Travel to Bhutan you will have to send us the duly filled passport application form which we will send you and a copy of your passport. After we receive your payment, we will process your visa clearance letter here with the government. Remember that visa clearance takes a minimum of 10 days.
After we process the letter, we will send it to you through mail. When you Travel to Bhutan, carry the letter with you and before you board the flight, you need to produce this letter to the authority in theDruk Air check point overseas or (if entering by road) at Phuentsholing, Gelephu or SamdrupJongkhar. Then, actual visa will be stamped on your passport.
Atlantic Bhutan Conquest shall apply for visa on your behalf, and get the visa clearance for you.
VISAS FOR INDIAN NATIONALS
Indian visitors are issued a month permit upon arrival in Bhutan. No passport or visa is required, but some form of identification such as a passport or voter’s registration card is necessary. Visitors must carry about six passport size photos for the permit.
AFTER PAYING MY TOUR PACKAGE, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PROCESS MY VISA TO BHUTAN?
You should expect to get your visa only between 14 to 5 days prior to your departure. Remember to print out a copy of your visa so that you can present it at the Drukair Check-in counter and also at immigration points.
The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:
USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December (low season)
USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November (high season)
These rates are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.
On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.
The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan.
You are entitled to the following services as part of the minimum daily tariff:
• A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
• All meals
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
• An experienced driver
• A good vehicle (4WD for travelling couples or mini bus or bus for bigger groups)
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• Sightseeing and entrance fees for the museums and monuments
• All internal taxes and charges
• A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.
THE FOLLOWING ARE NOT INCLUDED:
• Travel Insurance
• Meals at 5 stars restaurants. Breakfast at 5 stars restaurant is included if you have booked a night at the hotel.
• Tips for the guide and driver
• Drukair ticketing cost is usually not included in our listed travel packages due to the fluctuation of foreign exchange.
Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.
These are as follows:
• Single individual – US$ 40 per night
• Group of 2 persons only – US$ 30 per person per night
• There is no surcharge for three pax and above
• For Trekking, for a group of less than 3 people: additional surcharge of US$ 40 per person per night will be applicable.
• Visa fee of US$ 40 per person will be applicable
All rates and conditions applied above are subject to change depending upon the policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan which shall be intimated to you as soon as our office is notified officially about it.
Tour Programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
• within 30 days of start of programme ~ no charges
• within 21 days ~ 25% of rate
• within 14 days ~ 30% of rate
• within 7 days ~ 45% of rate
• less than 7 days or without notice ~ 65% of rate
• after arrival in Bhutan ~ 100%
For Drukair tickets issued and subsequent cancellation follows as:
• 100% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
• 50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 30 – last 10 days from the date of travel.
• 25% refund permitted for tickets cancelled prior to 03 (three) days from the date of travel.
• There will also be US$70 administration fee on each ticket cancelled.
For Drukair tickets issued and subsequent reschedule, the following applies.
• USD40 or equivalent local currency for every flight reschedule less than 72hours prior to date of travel.
• No charges for business class passengers.
All the Foreign National Tourists visiting Bhutan must travel through all-inclusive package Tourism. All tours must be booked through a Local Travel Operator such as Voyage Bhutan Tours and entire arrangements in the Kingdom will be made by us.
For Clients traveling in peak seasons and Festivals time, it is necessary to book the Tour at least TWO and HALF months in advance. Festivals held in autumn and spring are peak time for tourists and without early reservation it can be difficult to confirm flights and hotels.