How to reach Thimphu & Paro in Bhutan
Paro has the only international airport of Bhutan and is well connected by flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Dhaka, Gaya etc. Thimphu which is the capital city and government seat of Bhutan with a population of approx. 100,000 people, occupies the western valley.
It takes about an hour to reach Thimphu from the Paro airport. March, April, October and November months are peak periods for touring Bhutan. If you are thinking of visiting Thimphu and nearby places in these months, you should book your air tickets and hotels at least three months before your trip in order to avail better discount on flight tickets. You can also reach Thimphu and Paro by road from India.
Flight Services for Paro
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata), Bagdogra International Airport (near Darjeeling, West Bengal) and Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi) are the major Airports providing direct flights to Paro and it usually takes about one hour 15 minutes to reach Thimphu from Paro by car. The distance is 65 kilometers between Paro to Thimphu.
Flights from Bagdogra to Paro take 30 minutes. From Kolkata to Paro, it takes 1hr 15minutes and from New Delhi to Paro, it takes 4hr 20minutes.
The average distance between New Delhi - Paro – Thimphu is 1665 kilometers, Bagdogra – Thimphu is 300 kilometers and Kolkata – Paro- Thimphu is 865 kilometers.
The operating airlines are Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. Connecting flight services provided by other airlines like Jet Airways and Spice Jet are also available. There are no direct flights operating from other airports in India like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai etc. However there are connecting flights available through New Delhi, Bagdogra and Kolkata... Bagdogra airport being the major stop.
Flight Schedule (subject to change)
New Delhi - Paro
1) Total time: 2h 20m, Druk Air KB205
2) New Delhi - Kathmandu - Paro
Total time: 3h 25m, Druk Air International flight KB241
Departure- 11:50am, Arrival1:50pm, Connection 0h 40m, Departure-2:30pm, Arrival-3:45pm
1) Total time: 1h30minutes, Bhutan Airlines B3701, Bhutan Airlines B3715
Daily, Departure-8:15 am, Arrival-9:55pm
Tuesday and Wednesday, Departure-8:30am, Arrival-10:10pm
2) Total time: 1h30minutes, Druk Air 121, Druk Air 211, Druk Air 501
Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, Departure-8:30am, Arrival- 10:10am
Saturday, Departure-9:10am, Arrival-10:50am
Wednesday, Friday and Monday, Departure-9:10am, Arrival-10:50am
Bagdogra – Paro
Total time: 30minutes, DrukAir KB131
Tuesday, Sunday, Departure-9:00 am, Arrival – 10:00am
By car or taxi
If you wish to travel by road, you will get total three border points in India for crossing over to reach Bhutan. One is Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing in West Bengal and the other two are Bongaigaon/ Gelephu and Darangamela/ Samdrup Jongkhar in Assam.
Out of the three border points, the Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing Border is the most preferred by travelers. It is easily accessible and there are facilities for staying as well as obtaining an entry permit here easily. Jaigaon is the Indian side of the border while Phuentsholing is the Bhutanese side.
Private Taxis are available from Bagdogra airport, NJP station and Siliguri stand and private buses from Siliguri to reach up to Phuentsholing. All these road routes meet the Sevoke road which connects to the National Highway NH10. The taxi fares (small cars) from all these places range between Rs. 2500/- to 3000/-. Note that Indian transports and tourists are freely allowed to cross over the border and go 5kms into Phuensholling. Beyond that a Bhutan permit would be required. On reaching Phuentsholing, You can take a taxi or a bus to Thimphu which takes about 5-6 hours (165kms).
Distance between Siliguri and Phuentsholing is 157 kilometers and up to Thimphu is a total of 322kms. Distance between Bagdogra and Thimphu is 333kms and from Kolkata the total distance is 875kms. It takes little over 4 hours to reach Phuentsholing by car from Bagdogra Airport and from Siliguri it takes 3 hour 45 minutes.
Permit is required for the travelers driving inside Bhutan which can be arranged from Kolkata itself from the Royal Bhutan Consulate Office. All you need is a passport sized photo and either a voter ID card or passport photocopy as your Indian citizenship proof. It is often better to apply well in advance (at least 8-10 days earlier). Office timings are 9 to 5 but documents are only accepted till 12. Address details of the two places are given below for your reference -
Ballygunge 48, Tivoli Court, 1a, Ballygunge Circular Road, Ballygunge, Kolkata 700019
Dum Dum, 6 Mall Road, Kolkata 700 080
For more details you can log on to – www.rbckolkata.bt
Bus Service for Thimphu
You can also book a bus from Kolkata, India via the border town of Phuntsholing. The Royal Bhutanese Government runs a bus service from Kolkata to Phuentsholing. These buses depart from Kolkata's Esplanade bus terminus at 7PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for Rs. 653/- and return from the Phuntsholing Bhutan Post office at 3PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The bus journey from Kolkata Esplanade bus terminus takes about 22hrs 30min to reach Phuntsholing.
You can also get buses from Siliguri Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminal on Hill Cart Road to Jaigaon / Phuentsholing. There are two buses, operated by the Royal Bhutanese Government, plying through this route daily at 7:30 and 13:30. Bus journey takes around 5-6 hours because of a somewhat rough road. The bus fare is Rs. 180. From Phuentsholing you can take another bus to Thimphu.
From Bhutan Post office at Phuentsholing, the journey to Thimphu takes about 6hrs by bus. Usually 20 or 30-seaters buses operate in this section. The bus service runs once daily for Rs. 200/-. The total time taken during the bus journey from Kolkata is about 30hrs including 1hour of transfer. As you enter the valley, you drive on Bhutan’s first four-lane expressway, which takes you right into the heart of town, over two dramatic fly-overs and bridges.
Travel by train
If you wish to travel by train, you have to travel to Kolkata, Siliguri or NJP (New Jalpaiguri) first as there is no direct connectivity of trains from any major cities like Delhi, Bangalore or Mumbai to Bhutan.
Many day-trains as well as over-night trains run from Kolkata to Siliguri and also further ahead to Falakata (both in West Bengal). The total rail distance from Kolkata to Siliguri is 558 kilometers and Kolkata to Falakata is 655 kilometers.
After reaching Siliguri or Falakata, you can hire a private taxi to Jai Gaon which is the Indian border town to cross over to Bhutan's Pheuntsholing. The road trip from Siliguri to Pheuntsholing takes nearly 4hours and the distance is 157 kilometers (small taxi fare: Rs. 2,500- 3000), and from Falakata to Pheuntsholing, it takes about 1.5 hours and the distance is 52 kilometers.
You can also opt to travel by Train to Hasimara and then by Auto, Shared Jeep or Taxi to Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing Border, then a taxi or bus to Thimphu - This is the easiest and most convenient way of reaching the border from Kolkata and your route would be as: Kolkata - Train to Hasimara - Auto Rickshaw to Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing Border- Bus/taxi to Thimphu.
There are direct trains plying from Kolkata to Hasimara although these are very few. Journey duration takes around 13 hours to 15 hours. Only the following three trains run from Kolkata to Hasimara.
Kanchankanya Express Train No. 13149, Sealdah - 20:30, Hasimara - 10:46, Daily
Karmabhoomi Express Train No. 22511, Howrah Junction - 21:55, Hasimara - 12:15, Thursday
Kolkata Alipur Duar Special Fare Train No. 03129, Kolkata - 22:45, Hasimara - 12:20, Sunday
From Hasimara Railway Station, the Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing Border is hardly 15 kilometers and takes only 30 minutes. At Hasimara you will get several options like auto rickshaw, shared jeep or taxi to get to the border. An auto rickshaw costs around Rs. 120, a shared jeep costs around Rs. 50 per person and lastly, a private taxi costs around Rs. 400.
Another option (particularly for those who are not coming from Kolkata or West Bengal) is to take a train to New Jalpaiguri, then a Taxi or Bus (from Siliguri bus terminus) to Jaigaon/Phuentsholing Border and from there either take a shared jeep or a bus or a taxi to reach Thimphu. There are many direct Trains plying from Kolkata and other cities to New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From Kolkata the train journey to NJP takes around 10 to 14 hours. Visit this link to know about trains to NJP
. From the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, the Jaigaon/Phuentsholing Border is 157 kilometers.
From NJP you can either take a taxi to Phuentsholing (check the above section on taxi service) or alternatively go down to Siliguri by auto or taxi to take a bus (check the above section on bus service).