With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa.
Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.
You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.
At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport
Airports & Airlines
The Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines schedules change by season, but usually there are several flights per week from Kathmandu, New Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok, either direct or via Dhaka, Kolkata or Bagdogra, depending on the day of travel. Less frequently there are flights to Guhawati and Ahmedabad. Extra flights are put on during the Thimphu tsechu (dance festival) in October and the Paro tsechu in April.
At the time of research only Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines were operating international flights to Bhutan. There are only a few aircraft that can operate on a runway that is as short and high as Paro’s. All landings and take-offs in Paro are by visual flight rules (VFR), which means that the pilot must be able to see the runway before landing, and see the surrounding hills before take-off. This means that no flights can be operated at night or in poor visibility, so when Paro valley is clouded in, flights are delayed, sometimes for days. When this happens your tour program will have to be changed and everything rebooked. The upside of such a delay is that you can probably add some spontaneity into your schedule in Bhutan and make a few modifications as you go.
- Reconfirm your Druk Air flight before departure and also once in Paro, to ensure that the schedule has not changed.
- Check-in early for Druk Air flights as they occasionally depart before the scheduled time, especially if the weather starts to change for the worse.
- Flights are often delayed because of weather and Druk Air recommends that you travel on nonrestricted tickets and allow at least 24 hours’ transit time with your connecting flight in order to minimise the complications of delays. It makes sense to budget a couple of days’ sightseeing in Kathmandu or Bangkok.