In Bhutan, tourists are categorized broadly into two groups, Regional Tourists and International Tourists. Regional Tourists in Bhutan mean the tourists from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives who do not require a visa to enter Bhutan. International Tourists are tourists from all other countries who must carry a Visa to enter Bhutan.
Entry Formalities for Regional Tourists
Till a few years back, regional tourists could enter Bhutan with minimum documentation. Soon a large number of Indian tourists started Bhutan travel and the country of about 800 thousand people received close to 200 thousand Indian tourists in 2017. Somewhat overwhelmed the Bhutan government with a long policy of less number and high paying tourists saw this as a worrying sign and put some restrictions on regional tourist arrival. The rules are dynamic and change from time to time. The discretion of the govt official in this matter is also important.
During COVID-19, Bhutan was closed for all tourism activities. The country has now reopened for tourists with a new set of rules. A daily fee has been imposed on regional tourists, and an entry fee to different important tourist sites has been applied.
If you are travelling by air, you are less likely to face any issues, probably because air travellers are considered premium tourists and the restriction mostly targets budget tourists. Just make sure that you carry either a valid Passport (with 6 months validity) or a voter ID card (EPIC) if you are an Indian tourist. However, the number of flights to Paro is limited and the fare is high. During peak season, the availability of flight tickets is a big issue.
If you are travelling by road, at the Phuentsholing border you have to apply for a permit with the same set of documents, you will also have to submit a tour itinerary and your hotel vouchers copy. Once the document is processed there will be a biometric recording of your data before you are issued a permit. An Indian tourist is not allowed to revisit Bhutan again soon. If you are travelling by Indian Vehicle, you have to next go to the transport department and get a permit for the vehicle issued as well.
The permit issued from Phuentsholing is valid for a visit to Thimphu and Paro only. For visiting Punakha and beyond, you have to get a new permit issued from Thimphu. If you are travelling with us, we will take care of your entry formalities and assist you with the same.
The rules for entry into Bhutan are changing regularly. We strongly recommend you consult our travel experts regarding the latest rules before venturing into Bhutan.
Entry Formalities for International Tourists
As per Government of Bhutan guidelines, all international tourists visiting Bhutan must travel through a tour operator, such as ourselves.
There is a minimum amount payable for their Bhutan travel which is set by the Bhutan government. Normally a visa is issued within 3 working days. For more details on the latest entry rules, consult our travel executives.