All tourists (excluding Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passport holders) who wish to travel to Bhutan require a visa and must book their holiday through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners. The Soedhar Bhutan Travels is a licensed tour operator under Tourism Council of Bhutan and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators. We will take care of Visa arrangements for you.
With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa.
Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan. Your Visas are processed through an online system by us.
You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to us and we will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.
At your point of entry you, will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
Minimum Daily Tariff
The minimum daily package covers the following services.
- 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
- All internal transport (excluding internal flights)
- Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
It also includes:
- 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 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.
- USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.
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 accommodations will be arranged in the hotels and lodges approved licensed by Tourism Council of Bhutan.
The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US Dollars (US $) prior to arrival in Bhutan
Tour Cancellation Policies
Cancellation Policies for Tours and Flight
Our judicious cancellation policy protects both the parties. After you confirm your trip we will assume that you have read thoroughly, understood it and abide by it:
- Full refund will be made for the tour cancelled 30 days or more prior to arrival date.
- 20% penalty on the total tour cost for the tour cancelled less than 30 days prior to arrival date. This is because by this time hotels would be already booked and company is subject to cancellation charges for rooms cancelled in less than 30 days.
Duration lost or trip shortened due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan: No refund will be made because we will already have had paid for the hotels and other logistics.
- 100% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
- 50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 30 days – last 15 days from the date of travel.
- No refund will be made for missed connections or “no show” at the airports.
- Additional fee of US $10 is levied for every date change once the tickets have been issued.
- For every cancelled ticket, an administrative fee of US $50 is levied.
Note: We reserve the right to change the policy any time without notice.
- There shall be no charge other than visa fee of USD 40 for children below the age of 5 years.
- Children between the ages of 5-12 years shall be given 50% discount on minimum daily package rate.
- Full time students below the age of 25 years, holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions, shall be given 25% discount on minimum daily package rate.
- A GROUP SIZE DISCOUNT of 50% on minimum daily package shall be given to one person in a group of 11 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
- A 50% DURATION DISCOUNT on ROYALTY shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on ROYALTY shall be provided after 14th night.
- 100% ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT shall be provided on ROYALTY on first and/or last night for groups with night halt in Phuntsholing, Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar on arrival and/or departure
Please Note: Children below 5 years will not be eligible for GROUP SIZE DISCOUNTS, DURATION DISCOUNTS and ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT and All Children and Students will not be eligible for DURATION DISCOUNTS
Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.
These are as follows:
Single individual – US$ 40 per night
Group of 2 persons only – US$ 30 per person per night
The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.
The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.
A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to cozy little hotels and home-stays in traditional Bhutanese homes and settings. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels. Similarly, the ambience and hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible.
The types of accommodations can be divided into:
Additionally, the visitors embarking on long treks will be provided with tents and whatever other camping equipment is deemed necessary. Regardless of where they stay, visitors can be assured of their comfort and traditional Bhutanese hospitality.
The way to Bhutan: Travel by Land and Travel by Air.
The Kingdom of Bhutan remained largely cut off from the rest of the world up 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, carefully planned economic development has made the country much more accessible and there are now a network roads entering and traversing the country, as well as one international and multiple domestic airports.
Today the main roads entering the country are through Phuentsholing in the south, linking Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through the border towns of Gelephu, in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar, in the east, that link with the Indian state of Assam.
All visitors to Bhutan require a visa to enter the country (see visa under the plan tab). Visa clearance must be obtained before coming to Bhutan and travel must be booked through a Bhutanese tour operator or international partner. Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can receive a visa on entry and it is not necessary for them to book travel through a tour operator, however it is recommended. In the case of Indian nationals a passport or voters card are acceptable on entry.
Travel by Air
There are flights to destinations that include Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.
Paro is situated at a height of 2,225 m (7300 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. And there are domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan. A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border to India.
Flying into Bhutan’s Paro International Aiport is typically an exciting experience as the descent into Paro valley brings you closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you soar higher up, you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga at their best.
Visit www.drukair.com.bt and www.bhutanairlines.bt for more information.
Travel by Land
Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land border areas open to tourists.
The town of Phuentsholing in south-west is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, you begin your journey to Thimphu, the capital city with travel time of about six hours for the 170 km stretch.
Gelephu in south-central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.
The district of Samdrup Jongkhar in south-east Bhutan borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, and from there over the lateral route to Monggar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.
CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION
Visitors are required to fill up the Custom Form and hand over to concerned authorities on arrival. Following articles are exempted from duty :-
a) Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
b) 2 litres of alcohol, 400 cigarettes, 150 gms of pipe tobacco
c) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
d) Photogrphic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use.
The articles mentioned under c). & d). must be declared in Custom Form. If such items disposed off in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty.
Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited :-
a) Arms, ammunitions, explosives and military stores
b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
Also visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items. Custom authorities will not allow any old / used items to be taken out of the country if they have not been certified as non-antiques. Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival.