How to travel to Bhutan from the USA

Bhutan is nestled in the heart of the eastern Himalayan ranges landlocked by 2 most populated countries in the world. Sharing its northern borders with China and its southern borders with India, it belongs to the south-east Asian region. But unlike its neighbors, Bhutan remained in Isolation for many years which led to the origin of a unique culture and serene-untouched environment. Bhutan opened its doors for tourism just a few decades ago and since then people from all over the world have traveled to Bhutan. Bhutan offers its visitors a rare cultural experience and the experience of tranquility and peace that cannot be acquired from any other destinations.

Though America is located all the way on the other side of the planet from Bhutan, many Americans seek to travel to Bhutan to experience the happiness culture and to breathe pristine mountain air. While Bhutan often is labeled as the most difficult tourist destination to get to, travel guides like this one strive to help travelers plan and act ahead of time. This guide is entirely dedicated to the Americans who wish to travel Bhutan.

How to travel to Bhutan from USA by Air

There is no direct flight from USA to Bhutan. Only two airlines operate flights to and from Bhutan. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operate inbound flights from various cities within the region. There are direct flights to Paro, Bhutan from Singapore, Bangkok in Thailand, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kathmandu in Nepal, Bagdora, Guwahati, New Delhi and Calcutta in India. Hence Americans looking to visit Bhutan must first travel to any of the abovementioned destinations and catch a flight on either of the airlines to Bhutan. For those of you traveling from East coast which includes states like Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, it is easier for you to fly to New Delhi or other airports in India or Kathmandu. For those of you who are traveling from the west coast or states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, you can fly to Bangkok or Singapore to catch the onward flight to Paro Bhutan. It takes from around 14 hours for a direct flight, and as long as 30 hours for connecting flights. Flights to destinations connecting to Bhutan can be taken from airports like New York, Los Angeles in California, Washington DC, and Austin in Texas etc. Airfare costs start from around $460 for an economy flight to one of the Asian destinations with flights to Bhutan.

How to Travel to Bhutan from USA by Land

Tourists from USA can travel to Bhutan by land through India and Nepal. They need to fly to any of the destinations in India or to Kathmandu in Nepal then travel by land to Phuntsholing which is the entry point for visitors over land. The two closest Indian national airports are Bagdogra airport in Bengal and Guwahati International airport in Assam. Travelers can either catch a flight from these two airports to Paro or drive buses to the Jaigoan the opposite border town to Phuntsholing. It is roughly 170 kilometers away from Bagdogra International Airport in West Bengal and about 5 hours’ drive. Tourists can also travel by train from India to the nearest train station to Bhutan border, from where you can catch a taxi or a bus to the border town of Phuntsholing.

How to book your Bhutan tour from USA

Any visitor to Bhutan cannot travel to Bhutan on their own. To avoid the tiny country being overrun by mass tourism, the country has mandated strict tourism policy which states that every tourist must book its tour with an authorized local travel agent in Bhutan. The tourists are required to pay a certain daily fee for its travel. The daily tariff is set at $200 per person/per night during lean tourist season(Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug) and $250 per person/per night during peak tourist season (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, and Nov).  Once the tour is booked with an authorized tour agent like BookMyTour, the agent is required to make all necessary arrangements for the guests including their visa application, a minimum 3-star accommodation, food, local tour guide, and land transport. BookMyTour offers a wide range of tours to Bhutan from which you can choose which suits your liking.

Things to do and see on the way to Bhutan

It is possible and also adventurous to visit some of the nearby destinations around India and Nepal on the way to Bhutan.  Trekking in Nepal is another interesting expedition you could go on. Also, you could visit some of the cultural sites around Kathmandu just before you start your journey towards Bhutan.  If you plan to fly to India and enter Bhutan over land, it is advisable to fly to Bagdogra airport as it is closer to Bhutan and also you could visit some of the places like Assam, Siliguri and the Indian border towns on your way to Bhutan.

Total travel cost for one week (6 nights/7 days) in Bhutan from America

The Tourism Council of Bhutan mandates that every tourist must come through an authorized travel agent in Bhutan.  The visitors are required to pre-book a tour with the agent and make the payments at the time of the booking. Every visitor is required to pay a set daily tariff of $250/person/night during peak season and $200/person/night during the lean season. Also if the person is traveling alone a surcharge of $40 per night and $30 each per night for two people are payable. An additional $40, a onetime visa processing fee is also required. The daily tariff includes a minimum 3-star accommodation, all meals, and land transportation in the country, an English speaking guide and a driver.

Below is a rough calculation of the total travel cost for one person for a week in Bhutan traveling from New York USA to New Delhi India and through to Paro Bhutan.

Peak season (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov)

Daily tariff: $250
Surcharge: $40 (For individual and couple travelers)
One time visa processing fee: $40
Airfare for an economy seat from New York to New Delhi: $436
Airfare for an economy seat from New Delhi to Paro: $295
Total cost: $2335

Lean season (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug, Dec)

Daily tariff: $200
Surcharge: $40 (For individual and couple travelers)
One time visa processing fee: $40
Airfare for an economy seat from New York to New Delhi: $436
Airfare for an economy seat from New Delhi to Paro: $295
Total cost: $2035

To find out how much your trip will cost, use our tour cost calculator to get a detailed breakdown of your tour budget.

Getting around in Bhutan

Americans traveling to Bhutan will not have so much of a difficulty to get around as Bhutanese people are one friendly lot. Their Buddhist belief is what makes them kind and warm in nature as they believe that every being are related to each other. Some of the other points to take note are:

  1. In Bhutan English is spoken as their second language
  2. Shops, hotels and restaurants in Bhutan accept dollars, Indian rupees apart from their own currency
  3. The Bhutanese Ngultrum is at par with the Indian Rupee so the exchange rate is at 71.15 (as of 9/1/2018)

Basic Dzongkha Phrases

  • Kuzuzangpo La –Hello
  • Kadrinche La –Thankyou
  • Ga Dem Chi Mo - How much is this?
  • Ani Gachi Mo- What is this?

 

1 comment
  • sudhanshu singh (1 month ago)
    hi choi,
    loved to read about your Bhutan trip.Hope you enjoyed your trip to Bhutan a lot.
    God Speed....
    regards
    Sudhanshu
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