Getting a Bhutan permit is quite easy provided you have all the relevant documents. The immigration office is just a couple of minutes walk from the Bhutan entry gate and opens at 9 AM. You need the following documents:
1. Entry Permit form – Fill in the basic details
2. Passport / Voter ID (Mandatory) photocopy
3. 1 Photo
4. Itinerary of your trip
5. Hotel Booking confirmation (For Thimphu / Paro)
6. In case of no Passport / Voter ID, you need to carry original PAN / Aadhar / Driving License (Atleast 2 IDs are compulsory). Visit the Indian Embassy & submit the documents and pay a Army Welfare fund fee of Rs. 135 and get your documents verified by an official.
Process for Bhutan Permit:
Get all the documents in order and submit the same at the counter outside. Solo travelers face an issue generally in getting permit. Once the documents are verified by the 1st counter officer, you need to hang around for your name to be called.
Once they call your name, get to the 1st floor office where the immigration officer will take fingerprint scan & photo. He may ask basic details like is this your first visit etc. Then, he will direct you to another counter to submit the form. After a while, they’ll call out your name for collecting the permit.
The entire process was completed within 1.5 hours with zero charges. The permit is applicable only for visit to Thimphu / Paro and valid for 7 days. You need to get it extended / get another permit for restricted areas like Punakha / Haa Valley at Thimphu Immigration office.
Tips: Get your documents ready beforehand and submit by 9AM so that you can complete the formalities and proceed to Thimphu or Paro on time.
Indian currency of is accepted all over Bhutan. Bhutanese currency (Ngultrum) has equal value to Indian Rupee. 1 INR = 1 NGULTRUM. Carry more of Rs. 100 notes as some places do not accept Rs.500 and Rs. 2000 currency. We carried Rs. 10k per person and was enough for the trip.
Vehicle for Trip:
You can get a taxi from the taxi stand for your entire tour. It is advisable to have your own vehicle for the entire trip as public transport is scarce and local cabs may turn out to be expensive. We hired a Bolero car for 7 days at a cost of Rs. 2,900 per day. You need to bargain and get the best rate possible. A small car like Wagon R will charge at least Rs. 2,300 – 2,500 per day.
We started off for Thimphu at around 1 PM. Thimphu is 170 kms and road passes through mountain terrain. It takes 5 – 6 hours to reach your destination. We stopped at a place called Chukha for evening snacks (Momos, Chowmein, Tea).
We reached Thimphu at 7 PM and made our reservations at Hotel Ghasel (Booking.com) for a two night stay. It is a budget hotel located opposite clock tower which is near the main shopping area. The hotel was decent for Rs. 1,500 a night. The owner Dorji is pretty helpful. It has a vegetarian restaurant which serves good Indian food. You need to order your food and wait for at least half hour before it is served. This is the norm all over Bhutan as they start preparing from scratch.
Day 3: Thimphu Sightseeing