Before planning a trip to any destination or country, it is essential to gather information about how to reach there and how to process to get the visa in advance. Today, let’s discuss how to plan and obtain a Bhutan visa successfully traveling from Nepal (Kathmandu). Traveling to Bhutan from Kathmandu is an ideal choice and you can discover two Himalayan nations in one go as both nations share similar cultures and traditions.
Buddha Dordenma in Thimphu, Bhutan
RELATED CONTENT: All You Need To Know Before Traveling To Bhutan
Bhutan is a small landlocked Himalayan country surrounded by India to the East, South, and West and by China to the North. The Himalayan Kingdom that believes in Gross National Happiness (GNP) than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Bhutan is rich in culture, and has preserved its natural beauty on its unique way.
Bhutan is possible to visit by road from Indian borders such as Phuentsholing, Gelepu, Samdrup and by direct flights from Kathmandu, Delhi, Kolkotta, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Bangkok, Dhaka, Singapore. It is possible to travel to Bhutan via several destinations; however, as being the Kathmandu-based Bhutan tour operator, we are discussing how you can plan and obtain Bhutan Visa from Kathmandu, Nepal. The discussed procedures below are applicable for Non-(Indians, Bangladeshi, and Maldivians) as Bhutan applies different protocols for its regional tourists.
How to reach Bhutan from Kathmandu?
An approximately one-hour flight from Kathmandu takes you to Bhutan, the land of Thunder Dragon and the Last Shangri-La. You can also travel to Bhutan by road from the Kakadvitta border crossing (India-Nepal border) but you have to travel through India (West Bengal) and you will be required to have an Indian Visa in advance. So, it is easier to plan the trip by flight if you are traveling from Nepal. You will fly over the mighty Himalayas including Mount Everest and Makalu. We can call it a thrilling flight as you will be landing in Paro Int’l airport, with the short runway surrounded by hills. There are two airlines (Druk Airand Bhutan Airlines) that have regular flights from Tribhuvan International Airport Kathmandu to Paro Int’l Airport Bhutan. During peak seasons (Spring, Fall/Autumn), Druk Air operates daily flights from Kathmandu and the flight fare is reasonably cheaper than other destinations like Bangkok, Delhi, Singapore, etc. The normal flight fare would come around US$ 450 per person for both ways.
If you are flying from Kathmandu to Paro, request for the left seat and the opposite when you are flying back from Paro for the spectacular views of Himalayan Vistas from your window.
RELATED CONTENT: Bhutan Travel Information
How to process for the Bhutan Visa?
Generally, when planning to travel to any country, we apply for a Tourist Visa at the nearest embassy or get a Tourist Visa on arrival like in Nepal. However, Bhutan is an exception, in this case, you must have Bhutan e-Visa Clearance before you board on your flight to Bhutan. Bhutan e-Visa Clearance is a compulsory travel permit to travel Bhutan as a tourist. And you must process through the registered tour operator whom you are going to organize your entire Bhutan packages. The same tour company process for the Bhutan e-Visa clearance and send it to you by email.
Before you process for the Bhutan Visa, you have to select your lifetime Bhutan tour package with the tour company. After you are satisfied with the itinerary and price. The operator will request your passport copy (color-scanned) and payment of the tour package. Bhutan visa can only be processed once the required trip amount is sent to the operator. It takes a minimum of 72 hours to generate your e-Visa clearance. However, during peak season, it might take longer, so plan the trip ahead of at least two weeks of your tour start date. Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) approves the Bhutan e-Visa Clearance once the visitor has paid the full tour amount and visa cost. You can book your Bhutan tour direct with the registered tour company or reliable international tour companies depending on your convenience.
Once you receive a Bhutan e-Visa clearance from your tour operator, you will have to make a print and show it to the airline’s counter during check-in. If you are traveling from Kathmandu, your tour operator based in Kathmandu will help you get all the hard copies and hand them over to you before your flight. Once you reach Paro immigration, a stamp is made on your passport. As traveling in Bhutan independently is NOT allowed and you must go through a registered tour operator, your guide/representative will be waiting for you with your name card to transfer you to the designated hotel. Your guide in Bhutan holds all the necessary travel permits and guides you throughout the entire trip in Bhutan. However, you are still free to stroll around the market and the city on your own in your free time.
What are the requirements to obtain a Bhutan Visa?
Here are the requirements to process the Bhutan Visa through the tour operator:
- The full amount of the tour package
- Visa Fee (USD 40 for the entire trip)
- Color Scanned Passport Copy
- Visitor’s local address and contact details
- A detailed day-by-day travel itinerary
As Bhutan Visa cannot be processed individually, you must go through the registered Bhutanese tour operator. However, you can book the trip with an international tour operator that is partnered with the registered local tour operator in Bhutan.
Is it possible to extend the duration of my Bhutan Visa?
Yes, it is possible to extend the duration of your Bhutan Visa while traveling in Bhutan. However, the extension has to be done by the same registered tour operator and TBC holds the complete right whether or not visa should be extended. If you want to explore the country longer than outlined, you can extend the Visa, but you will be required to pay the additional daily package fees and transferred the required amount to the concerned bank account before TCB approves your Visa. Moreover, you can also extend the travel days beyond your existing Bhutan e-Visa clearance through the tour operator before the trip. In this case, the existing visa will be canceled and re-issued with another e-Visa clearance.
When is the ideal time to visit Bhutan from Kathmandu?
Bhutan is possible to visit all year round. The ideal time to visit Bhutan from Kathmandu would be during spring and fall/autumn as temperature is mild and most of their festivals take place during these seasons. Bhutan has two seasons such as peak season and low season. Peak seasons are spring (March, April, May) and fall/autumn (September, October November) and low seasons are winter (December, January, February) and summer (June, July, August). The fall/autumn season is the busiest time for tourism in Bhutan as the autumn season shares mild temperature and less rain. And the second busiest season is spring, the spring is blossoming of local flowers, which make the country beautiful and vibrant. Also, spring season is popular for lush green forests and landscapes.
Nepal and Bhutan share a subtropical climate with similar weather conditions, hence planning the trip for Nepal and Bhutan at the same time is an ideal decision. However, Thimphu and Paro are colder than Kathmandu as they locate high in elevation. We would suggest to bring some extra warm clothes specially during the winter season.
Accommodation and meals in Bhutan
Your tour package is inclusive of your entire accommodation and meals in Bhutan. The minimum daily package fee includes your standard accommodation (3-Star hotels minimum) in cities and the best available guesthouses in the remote towns. The minimum daily package fee also includes three sitting-meals a day including Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner on a buffet plan at government’s certified restaurants. Your dining is more of local dishes than the Chinese and continental. You can also upgrade the hotel as per your choice with an additional fee and dine out for the dinner at your own expense.
Useful Tips for Bhutan tour traveling from Kathmandu
- Bring enough cash in USD or withdraw from the ATM Machine in Kathmandu as ATMs in Bhutan are not reliable sometimes and it is not widely available. Although, you are on a Full Board package, you may need some extra cash for shopping, tipping, drinking, etc.
- Taking photos at some of the Dzongs or monasteries is prohibited. Make sure to check with your guide before clicking photos.
- Wearing shorts and shoes inside the monastery and Dzongs are not allowed; make sure to check with your guide before entering the monuments.
- You are free to stroll around the city on your own to eat or buy souvenirs but you can NOT travel from one city to another or enter the monuments without a guide as traveling in Bhutan independently is not allowed except for Indians, Bangladeshi, and Maldivians. Check the update of recent changes for regional tourists including Indian traveling in Bhutan.
- During your visit to Bhutan, do NOT forget to try their local dishes including local butter tea. Some of the popular locals’ dishes are Ema Dasti, Hogay, Nosa Pa, and Dumplings. Be aware of their taste as some of the dishes are extremely spicy.
- Smoking: Bhutan has banned all types of sales and production of tobaccos and smoking is restricted in public areas. However, hotels accommodate smokers and restaurants have indoor smoking zones. As you cannot buy cigarettes in Bhutan, you have to bring necessary numbers of cigarettes from home or Kathmandu.
- As you will be hiking Tiger’s Nest Temple, bring comfortable hiking shoes (Sports shoes are fine), walking sticks, day bag, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and etc. To know in detail, check the blog: All you need to know about the hike to Tiger’s Nest.
Did you know? We already have some popular tailor-made itineraries traveling from Kathmandu that are liked by most of our clients for a long time now, click on the link to check the itineraries below:
- Bhutan Tour From Kathmandu (7-9 Days)
- Everest Base Camp Trek and Bhutan Tour (17-19 Days)
- Bhutan Kathmandu Lhasa Tour via India (entering from Phuentshhiling border) for 15- 16 Days
Our main focus to prepare this travel blog is aware you on how to reach Bhutan and how to obtain Bhutan Visa from Kathmandu. You shall only make your perfect trip once you are well prepared and gather all the information before heading for the destination. And our expertise can help you plan and visit both Himalayan nations in One Go.