The Kingdom of Bhutan remained cut off from the rest of the world until the early 1960’s. Entering the country was difficult as it was only accessible by foot from two main entry points, one in the North and another from the South. The Northern route was through Tibet, crossing high mountain passes that were inaccessible throughout the winters. The second entry route from the South came through the plains of Assam and West Bengal. The high, frozen passes in the North and the dense, jungles in the South made it extremely difficult to enter the country.
However, economic development has made the country much more accessible and there are now a network of roads entering into the Bhutan from the south, as well as one international and three domestic airports.
Today the main roads entering the country are through Phuentsholing in the south west, linking Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal and Samdrup Jongkhar, in the south east linking with the Indian state of Assam.
All visitors to enter Bhutan require a visa. Visa clearance must be obtained before coming to Bhutan and travel must be booked through a Bhutanese tour operator.
Travel by Air
The national airline Drukair flies into Bhutan from Bangkok in Thailand, Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya and Guwahati in India, Katmandu in Nepal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Singapore. The international airport is in Paro. Western most part of the country.
There are domestic flight to Bumthang (central region) operated by Druk Air thrice a week.
Paro is situated at a height of 2,300 m (7300 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft).
Flying into Bhutan’s Paro International Airport is typically an exciting experience as the descent into Paro valley brings you closer to the mountain tops. The flight between Paro, Kathmandu and Delhi is particularly rewarding as it offers spectacular views of the 4 highest mountains in the world. Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga.
Travel by land
Phuntsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar are all located along the southern border of India and are the only overland border entries open to international tourists.
The town of Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, you will begin a mountainous climb through hair-pin bends until you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The 176 km journey takes around 5 hours. Travel sickness tablets are recommended for people who may not be accustomed to the mountain roads.
Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati to Samdrup Jingkhar is about 3 hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will have to travel through Trashigang, the largest province in the country. And from there drive west to traverse four province (Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa and Wangde Phodrang) to reach the capital city Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms which takes three days journey driving about 8 hrs each day.