Are you wondering what the cost of Bhutan trip is? Do you want to know the details on how to calculate the budget for a trip to Bhutan? This article will help you get to a tentative budget, which you help you in planning a memorable Bhutan trip.
Bhutan is probably the cheapest international destination for Indian Nationals, here’s how you do it on a budget. With a bit of frugality, a five-day trip to Bhutan, you can easily do in ₹7,000 – ₹8,000, not including the SDG charges. Of course, the cost will vary if you want to travel for more days covering the far eastern belt of Bhutan or spend time with the central and western regions.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Budget or Cost of Bhutan Trip
Let us break the budget of Bhutan trip into various components and understand them one by one. We will refer a basic 5-day itinerary for a Bhutan trip and will not get into the details on reaching the base location.
First of all, for any trip to Bhutan, you need to go through some paperwork to enter this happiness Kingdom. There are permit requirements, visa requirements as well as tourism fee. We will look at these individually.
Non-Indian Foreign Nationals
Apart from the nationalities of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, there is a stringent requirement of USD 200-250 per day per person. This fee includes most of the costs along with the tour guide. This article is not applicable to these folks and applies mainly to Indian Nationals planning a trip to Bhutan.
Indian, Bangladeshi, Maldivian Residents
Although a visa is not required to enter Bhutan for Indian citizens, they need a permit, which is free of cost. I recommend getting the permit in Kolkata. You can get the permit from the Royal Consulate of Bhutan in Kolkata.
Note that it takes eight days to get your permit issued. Alternatively, you can get your permit issued from Phuentsoling itself. Phuentsoling is a small Bhutanese town at the India-Bhutan border.
The only issue with this is that the permit-issuing office remains closed on Sundays and public holidays.
I covered this topic in detail of entry requirements included in the Bhutan Travel Guide. Generally, they issue the permit in two-three hours. Entry in Bhutan doesn’t require a permit, provided you don’t move out of Phuentsoling.
Getting to Bhutan on a budget
If you’re looking to travel Bhutan on a budget, the cheapest option to reach Bhutan from Kolkata is by train. Kanchankanya Express is a decent train that leaves Kolkata at 8:30 PM and arrives at Hasimara at around 10: 30 A.M. Hasimara is the closest Indian railway station from Bhutan.
After reaching Hasimara, ask a local where you can get an auto to Phuentsoling/Jaigaon. Jaigaon and Phuentsoling are adjacent towns, and the auto will drop you right at the border.
There will be taxis in Hasimara station that will try to persuade you to go by taxi. Taxi charges around ₹300-₹500 while the auto takes ₹25 per person.
Expenses on Day 1 – Phuentsoling
You reach Phuentsoling at around noon. If you are not too tired, cross the border and head directly to the permit office. Fill the form and complete all the procedures.
While they are processing your application, set-off to book a hotel, you can get a decent budget hotel with double occupancy for anywhere from ₹700-1,000. After booking the hotel and having lunch, walk straight to the bus station to book the bus to Thimphu for the next day. The ticket costs ₹240 per person.
Pro-Tip: You can now book buses online
In the evening, take a stroll in the market. If you drink, don’t miss out on the cheap alcohol, starting from ₹20. Although cigarette is prohibited in Bhutan, there is an open drinking culture. Almost every restaurant has an attached bar.
Expenses on Day 2 | Phuentsholing to Thimpu
The next morning, set-off to visit the Karbandi monastery. The monastery is set on the hilltop and provides a mesmerizing view of the border of India and Bhutan. Taxi takes around ₹200–₹300 for a round trip. Take the bus to Thimphu by noon so that you can reach there by evening and search for hotels.
Businesses in Bhutan close early by around 9–10 PM Ideally, you should take the last bus from Phuentsholing and reach Thimphu, but remember, everything will be closed by 10ish. Hotels in Thimphu are more expensive as compared to Phuentsholing, but the quality is quite decent.
Expenses on Day 3 | Thimpu to Paro
This day is where you get to explore the major attractions in Thimphu during the day and catch the last bus to Paro in the evening. Again, I highly recommend making reservations in the morning itself. You would reach Paro by evening.
Paro is a town small enough to be covered on foot. Do note that the budget hotels available in Paro are not that great in terms of size and cleanliness. It is primarily due to proximity to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
A decent enough hotel with double occupancy will cost you around ₹1300 per night for two days. However, the food might be expensive at the hotel, and it is anyways better to venture out and try the local delicacies while exploring the beautiful hamlet of Paro.
Expenses on Day 4 | Tiger’s Nest Monastery
This day should be reserved for visiting Tiger’s Nest. Remember you’ll have a lot of exercise by way of hiking, so remember to pack water with you. Taxi takes ₹150- ₹200 for a one-way ride to Tiger’s Nest base.
The climb from the base to the monastery takes 2–3 hours and tests your endurance if you are not at the peak of your health. Before you leave for the journey towards the monastery, remember to book the bus ticket from Paro to Phuntshoeling for the next day in advance.
You will be spending some time at the monastery and remember to visit the cafeteria for some mesmerizing views and unforgettable memories! After returning from the monastery, you should have a relaxed day exploring the town of Paro and interacting with the locals to understand more about the culture of the region.
Day 5 | Reach Phuentsholing
Board the bus, reach Phuentsholing and repeat the same process as arrival to reach back Kolkata.
Pro-Tips for Budget Travel to Bhutan
- Most of the people in Bhutan can easily understand Hindi/English. There shouldn’t be any communication problems.
- You can use Indian currency to pay in Bhutan. Bhutan’s currency, Ngultrum, is equivalent to Indian Rupee.
- The people of Bhutan are very hospitable. The crime rates are negligible. So traveling in Bhutan is safer than in India, including solo travel.
- Along with a passport, they may also accept other government-issued ID proof as well. Just call the Royal Consulate of Bhutan’s office (033 4012 3999) to verify it.
- 4 is a magical number. Go with three more friends. It can share cabs and rooms easily. It saves more money and more fun.
- The bus ticketing facility ends by 5 PM, and after 6 PM, no buses. Cabs are costly; buses are cheap. So try to pre-book the buses.
- At the border, all the hotels and facilities will get closed by midnight Border gates too. No entry into India till the morning.
- Tiger’s Nest is closed on Tuesdays.
Pro Travel Tip: If you are interested in exploring the wildlife in Bhutan, then please check our detailed guide on Bhutan Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks.
Expenses Breakup – 5 Day Bhutan Trip Cost
- Two-way train ticket from Kolkata: 500x2= ₹1000
- Auto from Hasimara to Phuntshoeling: 50×2= ₹100
- Hotel in Phuntshoeling: ₹350-500 per person
- Phuntshoeling-Thimphu-Paro-Phuntshoeling bus fare: 240+80+300+ miscellaneous= ₹750
- Hotel in Thimphu: ₹300-500 per person
- Sightseeing in Thimphu – ₹500 per person
- Bus from Thimphu to Paro – ₹80x2 = ₹160
- Hotel in Paro (2 days): ₹500×2= ₹1000 per person
- Sightseeing in Paro – ₹500
- Taxi: approx. ₹500 per person
- Food: approx. 300 per person per day- 300*5= ₹1500
- Total cost: ~ ₹ 6500-7000
So, you can see that from the breakdown of the above expenses, the total budget or cost of Bhutan trip comes around ₹7000 for 5 days.
Depending on how you travel and what you indulge in – this figure can be higher or lower. However, the basics are pretty much covered here. Bhutan is genuinely the most beautiful place to travel, especially if you’re on a budget, without feeling like you’re missing out on any activity.
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The country has a lot to offer, and you should truly go and enjoy the beauty and isolation of the Kingdom.