In Bhutan, tourists are categorized broadly into two groups, Regional Tourists and International Tourists. Regional Tourists in Bhutan mean tourists from India, Bangladesh, and 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 into 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 Bhutan government with a long policy of less number and high paying tourists saw this as a worrying sign and put some restriction 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.
If you are traveling by air, you are less likely to face any issue, probably because air travelers are considered premium tourists and the restriction mostly targets the budget tourists. Just make sure that you carry either a valid Passport (with 6 months validity) or a voter ID card (EPIC). However, the number of flight to Paro is limited and the fare is high. During peak season, availability of flight ticket is a big issue.
If you are traveling by road, at Phuentsholing boarder 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 traveling 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 traveling with us, we will take care of your entry formalities and assist you with the same.
Entry Formalities for International Tourists
As per government of Bhutan guideline, all international tourists visiting Bhutan must travel through a tour operator, such as us.
There is a minimum amount payable for their Bhutan travel which is set by the Bhutan government. The amount is USD 200 per day per person during lean season (January, February, June, July, August), and USD 250 per day per person during the remaining months. This tariff includes your accommodation in a 3-star hotel, food, guide charge etc. Visa fee is about USD 40 which is payable extra. Visa is processed through a tour operator such as us. Normally a visa is issued within 3 working days.