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How to plan a solo trip to Bhutan? [Most Important Tips]

solo travel to bhutan for indian nationals

Bhutan – a land of magic and mystique – is full of natural wonders with so much diversity to offer in terms of experiences. Are you looking for a getaway? Look no further! Do you want some downtime? Do you need a break? Cut off from the entire world! Do you want solo experiences? Bhutan has that aplenty! Here we are!

Solo Bhutan Trip - Important Tips

Bhutan might not be the friendliest when it comes to solo travel, especially for foreign nationals other than Indians, Bangladeshis, and Maldives. But, that is what adds to its charm – the extreme seclusion that it offers!

Let's quickly dive into the details:

Bhutan – an unforgettable experience

It’s honestly quite funny that for a considerable chunk of the 20th century, this region was all but ignored by the rest of the world. You’ll be surprised to know that television in Bhutan is quite a new phenomenon , with the country having allowed the idiot box into its setup only from 1999!

While the world had a lot going on to overthink about Bhutan – Bhutan was also quite happy in its bubble and morals. Because of such isolation, Bhutan was able to maintain a lot of its culture, and “westernization” didn’t dilute their ethos at all!

My Solo trip to Bhutan - Trekking Tiger's Nest Monastery

Bhutan, at first glance, might seem underdeveloped thanks to its extreme isolation. Some might even question why the country did not embrace modern ways for the betterment of its people!

But, we should appreciate that this land of a deep valley and impressive fortresses became isolated not because the world ignored it, but because it enjoyed being what it was! Its continued isolation is no longer an accident: Bhutan’s traditional culture is strictly protected, and visitors carefully regulated.

You’ll be surprised to know that Bhutan is the only country in the world where tobacco sales are banned. What’s even more surprising is that the capital city has no traffic lights. We all know that this is the country which measures happiness and not GDP and trusts me when I say this – getting to experience this country is not a vacation (it will be a lot of tough journeys!) it is truly a privilege!

Chasing the sunsets in the Himalayas

Bhutan Solo Travel – Costs & Expenses

As an Indian, Bangladesh, Maldives national – there are no surcharges that you’ll need to pay. Apart from the Minimum Daily Requirement that all foreign tourists have to pay, there may be a surcharge applicable as well. Tourists traveling in a group of two or less shall be subject to a surcharge as below

Dheeraj Sharma

Dheeraj Sharma

  • Single individual – US$ 40 per night
  • Group of 2 persons only – US$ 30 per person per night

Solo Travel and Safety

Bhutan is a heaven on earth ! There won’t be much to trouble you when you’re visiting. The country is a happy place to be, and they provide an immense request to the visitors of their land. Almost for the entire duration of the year, the weather is quite mild and pleasant. I am a firm believer in the fact that nicer weather makes people sweeter! Any Himalayan city you’d visit- you’ll notice this to be true.

In theory, I believe a lot of our troubles stem from the frustration of not being comfortable – and weather primarily plays a massive role in that. Anyways, I digress. There are a bunch of beautiful scenic tourist spots and ancient monasteries to explore .

What to pack for Ladakh Bike Ride or Spiti Bike Ride? [Clothes, Spares, Gear & Accessories]

Because the tourism infrastructure is quite intense (though not the most efficient or with complete logistical comfort), you’ll find that you can get from any city to almost any part of the country through safe public transport.

As a bonus, the travel expenses are quite cheap. I guarantee you won’t have any trouble traveling alone since people are very generous and believe that guests bring good luck in their homes. Although, as common sense would urge you, it is always prudent to be alert and vigilant of your surroundings.

Especially for Indian Nationals – Bhutan is especially tailor-made for solo travel. What makes a solo trip safe, is the local Bhutanese people are some of the friendliest, sophisticated, and calm tribes in the world. You can roam around the streets, markets, sightseeing places, without any unwanted stares.

Punakha Dzong in Bhutan

Ideal Duration

Bhutan is one of the most beautiful and serene places to visit. Ideally, you should plan your solo excursions into the country for at least 7-8 days . That will not only give you a great opportunity to leisurely explore the place, but also interact with the locals and understand their customs as well as partake in activities.

What to pack for Bhutan trip

Bhutan is a Himalayan landlocked country. You’ll want to dress in layers, as with any Himalayan destination. It doesn’t take long for the weather to change, and you’ll want enough clothes to keep you warm, yet not tire you down.

It is also an adventurous place to be – so comfy – hike-able clothes would do the trick. Especially when you’re traveling solo – you’d want to keep medicines and other first-aid with you.

How to meet others

Bhutan provides you with a ton of opportunities to interact with the locals. Whether it is through homestays, tours & travels, hitchhiking, asking for directions – the locals are friendly people who will be happy to inform you about the ways of life.

Biking your way on the roads of Bhutan

How to stay safe

It isn’t that difficult to stay safe in Bhutan. You’d want to be vigilant and alert of your surroundings, keep your documents around and ask for help if you’re lost/unsure. Don’t talk to shady looking people (though there aren’t many in the nation to be very honest!)

How to safely carry luggage or extra fuel on Spiti or Ladakh Bike Ride? [10 Safety Tips]

How to get around

While public transport will get you to major cities from the various hubs – the roads are not comfortable. You’d want to get taxis. Though, this can be an expensive proposition. I would suggest you share cabs – which you can do by talking to people also traveling to your various locations at the taxi stands/ hotels etc. Of course, you can go around using public transport as well .

How to make the most of it?

Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable. This feeling is the most significant rule of solo travel. If this will be your first-time solo traveling, you might take a few days to warm up to the experience.

But, indeed, there is nothing to be shy about in enjoying your own company. Don’t be hesitant to talk to the person sitting next to you in the restaurant. First and above all else- just be curious, and you’ll be surprised how much you can open up!

Learn from the experiences of traveling solo and inspire others too

Local Customs

Be respectful of the culture and traditions. Of course, Bhutan is proud and fiercely protective of its culture; all steps were taken by the government truly highlight how much they value the moral fiber of the nation. It will do you a world of good to be respectful of the customs.

By being polite, you’ll also learn a lot about the way things are done and take away a few Zen practices on how to appreciate happiness in your life.

Pro Travel Tip : Are you wonder how much will be the cost of Bhutan trip? Check our detailed guide on how to calculate the cost or budget of Bhutan trip ?

Other Tips for Solo Bhutan Trip

The most beautiful part of Bhutan is its people. They are generous, helpful, and talkative. Though Bhutan is said to be a developing country, you won’t feel that, not even a bit. Most of the locals can speak Hindi or English.

Bhutan’s approach to tourism is different, and it promotes high-value tourism, which is expensive for foreigners and limits the number of tourists. Since Bhutan has a very cordial relationship with India, Indians can visit Bhutan without the minimum expenditure limit and the tour guide requirements. Hence, you’ll be allowed to roam and explore the country freely.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that Bhutan is not a typical backpacker’s destination. It doesn’t have any hostels. Though you could find shared cabs between major cities, you will have to reserve a taxi if you want to go to places, which might be expensive at times . Some people tend to prefer to hitchhike and inform them that they can learn more about the culture while interacting with the locals.

Why to travel solo?

Bhutan is an ideal location for solo travel. There is a lot of mystery and an aura of other-worldliness to this country. Often, I feel that time has virtually stood still when thinking of Bhutan. A better way to put it would be that the concept of time has never really mattered to the nation.

Have a travel question?? You can  follow me on Instagram  and subscribe to my YouTube channel to ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram or comment on my YouTube videos.

Avoid Manali Kaza Road in October

Solo travel is quite a thrill and an adventure in itself, and Bhutan creates the perfect environment to experience this. Whether you’re a man or a woman – Bhutan is safe and waiting for you to arrive!

Are you looking for the CUSTOMIZED TOURS ?? Get in touch with our our handpicked & trusted Destination Specialists from the Himalayas who offer SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATES to all the readers/followers of the Devil On Wheels website.

solo travel to bhutan for indian nationals

About Author

solo travel to bhutan for indian nationals

About Unplugged Life Founded in the summers of 2016, Unplugged Life is a travel company specializing in bespoke leisure tours for domestic & inbound tourists traveling in India and parts of Asia. We see ourselves as artists who love to create unique travel experiences that our guests will cherish for a lifetime. Why Choose Us? We're bridging the gap between the locals & city folks. Having traveled extensively across every region we operate in, we have developed an understanding of the needs of our guests, their stay preferences, and travel styles. We also have a deep insight on the on-ground realities, the way a local would. Our itineraries and accommodations are chosen to create an experience for our guests. From visiting the most beautiful places to providing the best hotels, guest houses, and homestays, we ensure that with Unplugged Life every guest goes back happy and smiling.

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How to Solo Travel to Bhutan

Last Updated: February 5, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 7,892 times.

The small country of Bhutan is known for both its remarkable geography and unique culture: not only does it boast the eastern Himalayas, but it’s also the world’s only Vajrayana Buddhist nation. [1] X Research source As a visitor to this “Last Shangri-La,” you can witness the staggering mountain peaks and experience peaceful, ancient culture for yourself, but you’ll need to follow some necessary bureaucratic and legal procedures before and during your stay. You’ll need to obtain the proper visa and documentation, hire a tour operator, and take certain legal and safety precautions to make sure your visit goes smoothly.

Organizing Your Trip

Step 1 Find a tour operator approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

  • The official list of approved tour operators may be found at http://www.tourism.gov.bt/directory/tour-operator , but experienced travelers recommend that you take this list with a grain of salt. As many of these tour operators have been known to charge hidden fees and demonstrate a lack of professionalism, consult tourist sites and forums, such as virtualtourist, lonelyplanet, or worldnomads, before booking a tour operator.
  • Be sure to check how your solo status affects your prospective tour operator’s daily rates. Some operators give a discount for parties of three or less, while others charge more steeply for solitary travelers.

Step 2 Pre-pay for your trip through the tour operator.

  • Read your tour operator’s list of charges carefully! As one traveler noted, his tour operator bragged of not tacking on additional local fees as other operators do. Upon further review of their policies, though, the bemused traveler found that he could expect to pay an additional $400 throughout his trip on “tips” to operator employees, such as drivers. [3] X Research source
  • In addition to covering your trip expenses, the $200 tariff includes a $65 royalty that goes to the Bhutanese government’s education, healthcare, and welfare services.

Step 3 Obtain a visa through your tour operator.

  • The visa costs an additional $40, which you’ll pay for at the same time as you pay for your daily tariff and any additional tour operator surcharges.

Step 4 Book a flight on Drukair, the Bhutanese government airline.

  • When planning your trip, be aware that flights into and out of Paro airport operate only during daytime hours.
  • Due to harsh and wildly fluctuating weather patterns, tourist boards recommend travelers book non-restricted or flexible tickets which allow for passengers to rebook canceled flights or alter plans according to weather conditions.

Step 5 Bring plenty of cash for additional expenses.

  • The currency in Bhutan is the ngultrum (BTN), and you should expect to use cash or traveler’s cheques rather than credit cards. Indian rupees are also accepted, but monthly rupee withdrawals are limited to 10,000. [7] X Research source

Enjoying the Culture and Sights

Step 1 Attend village Tshechus, or religious festivals.

  • You can find a calendar of all the planned Tshechus in Bhutan on the TCB website, but be sure to ask your tour operator to include any specific Tschchus or other events in your itinerary.
  • Some tourists recommend avoiding the bigger festivals, such as the Thanbi Mani festival, as these tend to be swamped with foreign tourists.

Step 2 Enjoy spicy native foods and rice wines.

  • In larger cities, you’ll also find abundant western and Indian cuisine if you need a break from the peppery plethora of native cuisine.

Step 3 Visit Buddhist religious sites, such as monasteries and temples.

  • Just be sure to check with your guide regarding photography policies when inside the dzongs—the Bhutanese word for a combination fortress and monastery—and other religious sites. While shots of the exterior and architecture are always permitted, indoor filming is forbidden inside some of these buildings. [10] X Research source
  • Double-check your outfit before heading into these religious sites, as long sleeves and pants are expected in dzongs, monasteries, and temples. [11] X Research source

Step 4 Go hiking in the country’s vast mountains.

  • Though Bhutan’s jagged mountain ranges would seem a mountain climber’s paradise, mountaineering is actually forbidden. According to local legend, many of the mountain peaks are home to the mountain gods, and it’s considered a sign of disrespect to these gods to climb them. [12] X Research source

Step 5 Chat with locals to experience Bhutanese culture first-hand.

  • In any case, your tour operator will provide you a licensed interpreter who can help you to navigate the country and communicate with locals.
  • While Bhutanese people are typically amiable, they can be touchy about discussing domestic political affairs, such as the attitude toward Nepalese-descended Bhutanese, so be tactful and reserved with your opinions if the talk turns to politics. [14] X Research source

Taking Appropriate Precautions

Step 1 Climb gradually and hydrate when hiking.

  • If you begin to display signs of altitude sickness, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or headache, tell your guide immediately and stay at your current altitude for 24 to 48 hours.

Step 2 Verify that your medical insurance covers evacuation.

  • It’s also possible to contract dengue fever and malaria while in Bhutan, particularly in the southern belt districts and along the border with India. The treatment costs and risk of these conditions are relatively low, though, so simply protect yourself against mosquito bites with repellant and long, thick clothing. [17] X Research source

Step 3 Obtain tetanus, typhoid, and hepatitis A innoculations.

  • In addition to obtaining the government-recommended vaccines and tests above, you should visit your doctor four to six weeks before departure in order to receive any further preventative treatment or vaccines relevant to your personal health history. [19] X Trustworthy Source Official UK government website Official website for the public sector of the UK government Go to source

Step 4 Exercise common-sense caution when wandering alone.

  • Stray dogs are usually more of a barking, howling nuisance than an actual safety hazard. Bring earplugs in order to sleep soundly while the canine inhabitants of Bhutan engage in their nocturnal noise-making. [21] X Research source

Step 5 Drink bottled or boiled water.

  • Bottled water is widely available in Bhutan, but check the seal before taking a sip to make sure it’s pure. [23] X Research source

Step 6 Pack a supply of cigarettes if you’re a smoker.

  • When bringing cigarettes into the country, be sure to keep your customs receipt. If you fail to produce this document when requested by police, you can be charged with smuggling.

Step 7 Don’t buy any antiques.

  • When in doubt, ask your tour operator for clarification. If necessary, they can contact the Bhutanese Antiquities Department.

Step 8 Respect local customs by accepting frugal conditions.

  • In order to make sure money goes to local entrepreneurs rather than foreign companies, experts recommend staying in locally owned accommodations, asking your guide to take you to local cafes and markets, and buying artifacts from independent, native sellers.

Expert Q&A

Things to keep in mind before solo travelling.

1) YOUR STAY

The choice of hotel or homestay for your travelling is a very important factor especially while travelling solo. You should carefully read all the facilities and security of that particular stay. It must satisfy your requirements.

2) CHOOSE THE RIGHT KIND OF LUGGAGE

If travelling solo, you must pack smartly as you are there all by yourself. Therefore, pack light and research about the weather forecasting of Bhutan.

3) CONSIDER THE BHUTAN TOUR PACKAGES

Solo travellers are recommended to book their trip through a touring operator and look for the perfect itinerary and Bhutan tour packages suitable for them

4) GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Solo travellers need to pay heed on getting their travel insurance. If you already have it, then check for renewal.

5) SAFETY FIRST

Always keep in mind to share your location, trip itinerary and other important information with your peers.

You Might Also Like

Ask for Feedback

  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/faq
  • ↑ http://www.markhorrell.com/blog/2011/why-bhutan-is-not-worth-the-tourist-fee/
  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/visa
  • ↑ https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/bhutan.html
  • ↑ https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/bhutan
  • ↑ http://www.touropia.com/amazing-buddhist-monasteries/
  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/travel-tips/photography
  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/travel-tips/clothes-and-other-paraphernalia
  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/travel-tips/communications
  • ↑ http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/bhutan/travel-guide/responsible-tourism-in-bhutan
  • ↑ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Altitude-sickness/Pages/Prevention.aspx
  • ↑ http://www.asiasentinel.com/society/bhutan-battles-tuberculosis/
  • ↑ https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bhutan
  • ↑ http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/safety
  • ↑ https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/drinking/Backcountry_Water_Treatment.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/health
  • ↑ http://www.tourism.gov.bt/travel-tips/customs

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Can You Solo Travel Bhutan? (Exploring the Hidden Gems of Bhutan on Your Own)

Can You Solo Travel Bhutan

Yes, you can solo travel in Bhutan and explore its hidden gems.

Bhutan is a beautiful and culturally rich country that offers a variety of experiences for solo travelers.

Some of the best things to do and places to visit during your solo trip to Bhutan include:

  • Explore the Monasteries and Dzongs : Bhutan is home to numerous monasteries and dzongs, which are ancient fortresses and administrative centers.

Some notable examples include the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Paro Taktsang) and Chimi Lhakhang Temple.

  • Hike in the Himalayas : Bhutan is a mountainous country, and solo travelers can enjoy hiking in the Himalayas, experiencing the breathtaking landscapes and serene atmosphere.
  • Experience Bhutanese Festivals : Bhutan hosts various festivals throughout the year, which are great opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet fellow travelers.
  • Visit Thimphu : The capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, offers a mix of modern amenities and traditional architecture, with places to visit such as the Tashichho Dzong (Thimpu Dzong) and Buddha Dordenma.
  • Immerse in Bhutanese Culture : Engage with the local culture by visiting cultural sites, attending festivals, and interacting with the friendly locals.
  • Discover Bhutanese Cuisine : Bhutanese cuisine is unique and flavorful, with dishes to try during your trip.
  • Visit Phobjikha Valley : This picturesque valley is home to the famous Gangtey Lhakhang, a beautiful Buddhist monastery, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Relax in Hot Springs : After a long day of exploring, unwind in Bhutan’s natural hot springs, which are known for their therapeutic properties.

To make the most of your solo trip to Bhutan, consider joining a group tour or connecting with other solo travelers through platforms like TourRadar or Travel Ladies.

This will help you share experiences, make new friends, and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals.

Table of Contents

What are the visa and entry requirements for solo travelers wishing to visit Bhutan?

Solo travelers wishing to visit Bhutan must be aware of the country’s visa and entry requirements.

Citizens of India, Maldives, and Bangladesh do not require a visa to enter Bhutan but need a permit from the Bhutanese government.

Travelers from other countries must hire a guide from Bhutan and present a pre-planned itinerary, with a mandatory daily expenditure cost of $250.

Additionally, all visitors to Bhutan, whether traveling in a group or solo, must be accompanied by a tour guide, except for those from neighboring India, Bangladesh, or the Maldives.

This requirement is in place to preserve the country’s rich culture and protect it from the impacts of mass tourism.

Therefore, solo travelers to Bhutan will be accompanied by a tour guide throughout their trip, ensuring a safe and organized experience.

It’s also important to plan the trip in advance and be prepared to adhere to the country’s regulations and permit requirements.

Are there any specific cultural norms or etiquette that solo travelers should be aware of when traveling in Bhutan?

When traveling solo in Bhutan, there are specific cultural norms and etiquette to be aware of.

Here are some important points to consider:

General Etiquette

  • Loud Behavior : Avoid playing loud music in public, including inside religious sites and national parks.
  • Photography : It’s considered impolite to take photos or videos of individuals without permission.

Always ask for permission before taking any photos or videos inside places of interest.

  • Alcohol and Tobacco : Respect local customs such as abstaining from alcohol on Tuesdays, as it is considered a “Dry Day” in Bhutan.

Additionally, the sale of tobacco is illegal, so smoking should only be done in designated areas.

  • Modest Dress : Dress neatly and modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.

This includes covering your arms and avoiding shorts or short skirts.

Additionally, it’s important not to wear a hat in the precincts of Dzongs or religious complexes.

Other Considerations

  • Respecting Local Customs : Respecting local customs and etiquette is important in Bhutan, such as removing your shoes before entering religious sites.

It’s also worth noting that solo travel is permitted in Bhutan, and you no longer need to be accompanied by a guide and driver when traveling within the country.

Can you recommend some must-visit destinations in Bhutan for solo travelers?

Some must-visit destinations in Bhutan for solo travelers include:

  • Taktsang Monastery in Paro, a significant Buddhist site.
  • Rinpung Dzong in Paro, a fortress and monastery.
  • Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan.
  • Drukgyel Dzong in Paro, a historic fortress.
  • Thimphu , the capital city, for its cultural experiences and festivals.
  • Hiking in the Himalayas for a unique solo adventure.
  • Experiencing Bhutanese festivals for a cultural immersion.
  • Gangtey Nature Trek for a nature experience.

Bhutan is considered a very safe destination for solo female travelers , with kind-hearted and respectful people.

Popular destinations like Paro and Thimphu offer unique cultural and natural experiences, and the country’s privatised tours allow for maintaining independence while ensuring safety.

What are the accommodation options available for solo travelers in Bhutan, especially for those on a budget?

Solo travelers in Bhutan have several accommodation options available, especially for those on a budget.

Some of the options include:

  • The Pema, Thimphu (four-star hotel): USD 150 per night.
  • Dhumra Farm Resort, Punakha (women-run): USD 140 per night.
  • Gaselo Eco Lodge, Punakha (family-run): USD 75 per night.
  • Dewachen Hotel & Spa .

A standard double room in a 3-star hotel in Thimphu during peak season can cost around USD 100 per night.

You can also consider staying in eco-lodges, farm resorts, and glamping tents for a more unique and budget-friendly experience.

To save money on your trip, consider the following tips:

  • Travel during off-peak seasons to avoid higher prices.
  • Opt for shared accommodations with other travelers of the same sex.
  • Choose a tailor-made trip, which can offer good value and allow you to make your own decisions on the standard of accommodation, guide, and meals.

Remember that Bhutan is a popular destination for solo travelers, and there are numerous sights and attractions to explore, such as monasteries, dzongs, and museums.

How accessible is transportation within Bhutan for solo travelers, and are there any recommended modes of travel?

Solo travelers are allowed to visit Bhutan, but they must hire a guide from Bhutan and present a pre-planned itinerary with a mandatory daily expenditure cost of $250.

Citizens of India, Maldives, and Bangladesh do not require a visa but need a permit from the Bhutanese government to enter the country.

Solo female travelers are safe in Bhutan, and most people are kind-hearted and respectful.

Visitors to the country must be accompanied by a tour guide, except for those from neighboring India, Bangladesh, or the Maldives.

The recommended modes of travel are airplane or road, and it is suggested to carry warm clothes and a scarf shawl.

Shared cabs are available between major cities, but it is recommended to reserve a taxi if you want to go to places.

Bhutan is not a typical backpacker’s destination, and it does not have any hostels.

Helpful Resources

  • https://oneintheorangejacket.com/things-to-do-in-bhutan-for-solo-travelers/
  • https://www.tourradar.com/s/d-singles-bhutan
  • https://travelladies.app/solotravel/bhutan/thimphu
  • https://www.naturalroundups.com/2023/04/explore-off-the-beaten-path-destinations-of-bhutan.html?m=1
  • https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g293845-d19255763-Off_the_Beaten_Path_Discovering_Bhutan_s_Hidden_Gems_in_09_Days-Thimphu_Thimphu_Di.html

Albert Detrick

Albert’s expertise lies in seamlessly blending travel with work, inspiring others to explore the world while staying connected and productive. His engaging writing style and practical advice make DigiNomadGo.com an essential site for modern travelers seeking to embrace the digital nomad life.

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solo travel to bhutan for indian nationals

Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians: Documents, FAQs & Tips for a Solo Trip

About the post : In this detailed post on Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians, I had simplify the complete process and what to expect at Bhutan Immigration Office at Phuentsholing – especially if you are traveling solo. Note: You can also obtain the entry permit from Paro if you are flying directly. However, in this post, I won’t be talking about that.

4 hours! That’s all it takes from Bagdogra airport by road to reach the entry point of Bhutan – Phuentsholing.  Upon arrival get ready to transport yourself into a world of magnificent mountains, monasteries, and magic! But first, all travelers from visa-free countries like Indian, Bangladesh and Maldives must obtain an entry permit from the Immigration office and the Entry Permit serves as a ticket to explore the fabled resplendence of the country.

solo travel to bhutan for indian nationals

After an exhilarating trip to Bhutan, I’m delighted to share the fluent process of obtaining Bhutan Entry Permit that can be completed in all of 30 minutes (conditions apply*). Here’s how:

An Immigration form is readily available at any shop near the Bhutan Immigration Office at Phuentsholing or at any hotel reception where you stay in Phuentsholing. That has to be filled up and submitted to the authorities of the Immigration office along with other required documents in person on all working days from 9 AM to 5 PM. The office remains closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Government holidays.

Pro Tip : Please arrive at the Immigration office at 8:30 am*  with all your documents ready and stand in the queue for the office to open at 9 AM. You can prepare your documents the previous day.

The documents that you need along with the immigration form are:

Photocopy of your identity card – Passport or Voter’s ID card (You don’t need a Passport if you have a Voter’s ID card)

Proof of confirmation of hotel booking for initial days (at least first night).

One passport size photograph

If you are travelling solo, you also need to present a hand written undertaking stating that you are travelling solo at your own risk, along with a few emergency contact numbers

Please See, If you are NOT carrying Passport/Voter’s ID card , you have to visit Indian Consulate Office in Bhutan to get an identification slip and then apply for Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians at Bhutan Immigration Office. This may cause an additional delay in the process, so please bear in mind the time you will require in your itinerary for the same.

Local natives of Bhutan during their daily chores

Entry fees to get the Permit:

Though we do not require any visas, we need to pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to visit Bhutan.

For Indian tourists, the SDF to enter Bhutan is INR 1,200 per person per night. While children aged between 6 and 12 years have to pay 50% of SDF, it is waived off for children aged 5 years and below.

Note that the SDF of INR 1200 per person per night is only for residents of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Citizens of all the other countries visiting Bhutan are required to pay a high SDF of 200 US dollars (approximately INR 17,000) per person per day.

Once, you get the stamped and signed Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians, you are gifted with the chance of exploring the Great Himalayan Kingdom with traditional Buddhist culture embracing global developments and a plethora of serene grandeur of nature. Bhutan is no ordinary place. Indeed!

Click here:   Bhutan 7 Days Itinerary – The Best Solo Travel Experience Guide

Some Frequently asked questions –

Do I need to contact a travel Agency to obtain an Entry Permit?

Honestly, you don’t need to get in touch with a travel Agent for your entry permit. It’s a pretty simple and free process. If you have all your documents. It barely takes any time to get the signed copy. ONLY contact a travel agent if you are short on time or if you want the convenience of not having to complete the process yourself. The advantage of getting an entry permit through a travel agent can be, that you can get a longer duration permit without having to visit Thimphu Immigration Office yourself.

Can I get the entry permit if I am a male travelling SOLO from India?

This is a question that plagues a lot of solo male travellers with a lot of contradictory answers all over the internet. Even I wasn’t sure of the answer before I travelled myself. But a lot of travellers have confirmed that it is possible. You just have to write an undertaking like solo female travellers along with your other documents to be able to travel to Bhutan.

Who should the undertaking be addressed to?

All solo travellers need to write an undertaking manually stating that he/she is responsible for his/her own security and the letter must be addressed to ‘The Immigration Officer, Immigration Office, Phuenstholing, Bhutan.’ Also specify your emergency contact information at the bottom of the signed letter.

In what format will I receive the permit?

If you are carrying your passport as proof of identity, the Permit will be issued on your Passport. If you are carrying a Voter’s ID card, you will get a signed and stamped page. Please keep this page safely, since it needs to be submitted at the last Immigration Check Point while exiting Bhutan.

Where is the Entry Permit Checked?

It is checked at the first check-post when you leave from Phuentsholing, within 5 Km of leaving the city. Also, you need to return your permit on the way back or get stamped on your passport. So, please keep the Permit safe with you.

Can I drive my own car/bike which is registered in India, to Bhutan?

Yes, it is possible for you to drive your own car/bike to Bhutan. However you need to obtain an additional permit for your vehicle from Transport Authority Office situated at the bus stand. For the permit you need vehicle RC, Insurance, PUC, tax receipt, Driving licence and Bhutan Entry Permit of the driver. The name of the driver on DL should match the name of the Entry Permit (obviously!). The whole process of obtaining the permit can take up to 2 hours.

These were all the frequently asked questions related to Bhutan Entry Permit. If you have more questions related to travelling in Bhutan, you can also check another post dedicated to ALL frequently asked questions HERE .

Have you ever traveled to Bhutan on your own or is it on your travel bucket list? Let me know in comments below!

Watch this video for further reference:

realize our actions will have consequences and most importantly, travel by respecting the environment.(22).png

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A Borrowed Backpack

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Read This If You Are Solo Indian Traveller To Bhutan (Updated)

This post is for the Indian solo traveler to Bhutan, to ease the discomfiture and apprehension that come with being on your own. Please read the following points carefully for better clarity.

Are Indian Solo Travelers Allowed To Visit Bhutan?

Yes, Indian solo traveler to Bhutan are allowed and welcome, but please bear in mind that tourism in Bhutan is designed for group travel. You would need to be fairly ingenious to keep it within a budget, in case you plan to do it alone, and on a shoestring budget.

Bhutan and budget travel don’t exactly go hand in hand.

If travelling in a group is an option for you, then remember, four is the magic number . Local taxis, hotel-rooms, food, travel between cities, everything works out cheaper if there are four of you. From the fifth person onward, you need another taxi everywhere. No if(s) and but(s) here. With this, the whole budget-math goes for a toss. Also, read this post right till absolutely the last word; it has edits and updates.

Bhutan:  Bhutan has two parts. The touristy Thimphu Bhutan , and the non-touristy Samdrup Jongkhar Bhutan . At places, you might be expected to clarify which of the two you intended to visit.

Is Bhutan safe for female solo travellers?

Bhutan is very safe for female solo travellers— I can confirm this as a woman myself. \

You could be a single, slightly tipsy girl, loafing around on the dead streets of Paro at 11:00 pm, and no one would bat an eyelid. We have a lot to learn from this pea-sized nation in that respect.

“Solo traveller” : Travellers from no other country except for India, Bangladesh and Maldives can travel to Bhutan ‘solo’ in the true sense of the word.

Because if a traveller does not belong to any of the three aforementioned countries, he or she has to hire a local guide from Bhutan and follow a pre-planned itinerary, with a compulsory daily expenditure of $250. No solo, open-ended loafing around within Bhutan, unless you are invited by a local organization for an assignment.

Also, if you’ve heard that solo travellers are not permitted in Bhutan, here is the clarification on it: Solo male travelers from India used to be not allowed (however, I know quite a few who have been to Bhutan by themselves).

Bhutan has no problem, whatsoever, with solo female travellers from India. The only thing the officials try to assess is if the lady/girl in question would be able to keep herself safe.

A word about the solo male travellers: Please read the post-script at the bottom of the article. It is titled Édit 3′.

Bhutan Entry-permit Offices for Indians:   How-so-ever you plan to go, please remember that absolutely no fee is charged by Royal Government of Bhutan for issuing the permit . Let no one con you stating otherwise.

You have two options to enter Bhutan: a) By air:  You can take Druk Airways and Bhutan Airlines flights for Paro ( the ONLY international airport Bhutan has, is in  Paro ) from Delhi, Gaya, Mumbai, Guwahati, Kolkata, and Bagdogra (Siliguri) . NO OTHER  airline lands in Bhutan. Why? Because Paro airport is world’s one of the top ten toughest airports to land a flight on . You MUST take up this experience, in case you can afford and love adventure, now that you know. I did not know of this precious fact when I was planning my trip. Please remember to mention your nationality as SAARC while filling the form, if you are an Indian traveling to Bhutan. You can apply for the permit on arrival, or from Consulate in Kolkata. It is TOTALLY safe to take a flight to Bhutan.

Also Read:  Why Is Paro Airport (Bhutan) One Of The Toughest To Land On?

b) Over lands: At the Phuentsholing office, permits are issued for Paro and Thimphu. Anything beyond that (Haa valley, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar Bhutan etc) will need a permit from the Thimphu office. To enter Bhutan, a permit can be requested from any of these offices: 1) In India,  it is in Kolkata. The permit is issued by the office of Royal Bhutan Consulate. The office operates from 9:00am-5:00pm   6:00am- 8:00pm (as per the new timings of the office on the Bhutan government website), but the documents are accepted till 12:00 noon.

2) In Bhutan, on Indo-Bhutan border : First things first, if you are looking to enter Bhutan over-lands, try to reach the permit office at Phuentsholling at 6:00am. To roam around in Phuentsholing, you do not need any permit for the first 5kilometers from the entry-point. The office is roughly at a distance of 200mtrs from the main gate, on the right hand side (please keep the half-an-hour time difference in mind when you plan your day; Bhutan is ahead of India by half-an-hour ).

India Bhutan border

The Border:  India and Bhutan are divided by a friendly and permeable border .   Phuentsholling is the Bhutan side of the border-town, while Jaigaon is the Indian side . The stark difference in both towns makes it worth the experience.

What are the documents needed by Indian travellers for entry permit to Bhutan?

The Permit: These are the documents needed: a) 1 passport size photograph b) One of these documents, listed in the order of preference:

Indian Passport (with at least 6 month of validity remaining) OR

Indian voter identification card. [Please check the edits at the bottom of the post. This rule will be updated w.e.f 1st January 2019.]

The process is breezy, more so if you have all the documents ready.

What is the process for a Indian solo traveller to obtain an entry permit to Bhutan?

Process: The following process takes place, once you are at the permit office: 1) You are handed out a form to fill with your details, and some information about your intended travel plans.

2) The form has a column where you will be asked to state which hotels do you intend to be staying at during the course of your trip. Since I had not planned my stay-option in Paro and had a host in Thimphu, I had left it blank. The official accepting the form suggested that I write ‘ any hotel ‘ instead of leaving it blank.

3) After going through my form, and figuring out that I am going to be on my own, the officer in question pondered over my form a great deal. He had another official sitting with him, who observed me while I answered questions by main officer.

Key-tip? Whatever they ask, answer with honesty. You might be doing this five times a year, but they do it for their living, and day in and day out. Lying will only delay the process, or, you might be denied entry too.

4) The main aspect that the officials want to understand (more so, if you are a lady) is, why are you travelling unaccompanied (a dilemma I often encounter). Don’t get them wrong; they want you safe. In my case, being a travel-blogger helped. (In case you need details, I have posted the conversation between me and the officer, as a post-script at the bottom.) Pro-tip: Try and be the first one they deal with when they begin their day. This way, you are less likely to bear the brunt of someone else’s mistakes.

5) After your form is stamped, you are asked to go to another room, where they electronically take your photograph and thumb/finger impressions . After which, you are requested to wait for ten minutes.

6) Ten minutes later, you are handed a permit with all your details and terms and conditions for the trip , on a single piece of paper. You have to go back to the main office (mentioned in point no 3), and get it signed.

I entered the permit office at 9:00 am and was out of it by 9:35 am. It is a very breezy process.

Permit: Keep this permit with you at all times; it is valid for 7 days.  You would not need it within city-limits, but inter-city, you will have to get down at several check-posts and get this stamped. Pack it in your day-pack, instead of the main luggage. On the last day, on your way back, you will be expected to surrender this permit at the last checkpost in your trip  (in my case, it was before entering Phuentsholing).

Telecommunication:   Switch off your Indian phone as soon as you step on the Bhutan side of the gate . It costs exorbitant international roaming rates (Rs.70/min) to say “hello baby, guess where am I??!” to your Significant Other back home. Be wiser, take Tashi sim card once you get through the permit process. Getting a Tashi sim card is very easy and works out really inexpensive ; costs about Rs.100 for the sim card, and an additional Rs.100 for recharge. (call charges to India: Rs.5/min ). Documents needed for Tashi sim card: A photograph, a copy of your passport/voter-id card. It takes less than 15 mins and you have a local number, which comes very handy (giving it to taxi drivers, co-ordinating with your hotel).

Also Read:  Tiger’s Nest Trek: All You Need You Need To Know

Stay: In case you have to spend the night at the border, my advice would be that you stay on the Bhutan side of the border . It is relatively cleaner and safer, but it is slightly expensive as compared to Jaigaon, which has very limited options.

On my way back, I stayed at Hotel Sinchula ; it is basic, safe and clean, but slightly over-priced. If you are a budget-traveller, then book Hotel Thuenpa Puenzhi or Legphel Hotel  right away. Hotel Druk is another option, but before you enter Bhutan, you MUST have a booking as getting stranded in Phoentsholling is the worst! Also, whichever property you book, don’t forget to check out the pricing for this one . What do the folks at OYO smoke on, is beyond me!

About The Border-Towns And Entry-Exit:  Overlands, entry is possible only from Phuentsholing-Jaigaon border. However, you can exit Bhutan from Samdrup Jongkhar Bhutan border (you cannot enter from the latter though).

No Smoking:  Not more than 200 cigarettes can be carried into the country. It is illegal to sell/buy cigarettes in Bhutan, but you can smoke some, thanks to the ‘the curious case of buddhism’.

Travel & Hitchhiking:  Bhutan is one of the best countries to share rides and hitchhike,   in case you know how to do it.  I shared my ride to almost everywhere, thereby keeping myself within budget.

ATM and Cash withdrawal:  India side of the border has quite a few ATMs and I suggest that you withdraw the money you need, from the Indian side itself.

Self-drive: You can drive your Indian vehicle with your Indian driving-licence, the permit for which is easily obtainable in Phuentsholing, against all the documents pertaining to the vehicle.

Please bear in mind, you can NOT drive a Bhutanese vehicle with the Indian driving licence. You might also want to start practicing honking-less driving, as in my seven days of stay in Bhutan, I heard only one vehicle honking in Paro.

How long can an Indian Traveller stay in Bhutan?

Validity of Permit: Phuentsholing office issues a permit for 7 days, for Thimphu and Paro. In case you wish to extend your permit time-wise (more than 7 days), or geographically (add more places), both can be done from the permit office at Norzim Lam, in Thimphu.

Also Read:  Paro: Bhutan’s Docile Progeny

Must read:  nightlife in thimphu: karaoking monks of bhutan.

Photography in Bhutan:  The general rule of thumb is: a) if you have to remove your footwear to enter a place, it is safe to assume that photography is not permitted . There might be a few exceptions here and there, but it is better to be on the right side of the cultural practice than err and be sorry a pest. b) Take permission before you click anyone. c) Do NOT click the members of the royal family.

Happy travels to the ‘land of thunder dragons’ !

Tip : In case you have Tiger’s Nest , or Taktsang Monastery in your itinerary, you must read this post .

As per the latest update from Jaigaon- Phuentsholling border, the office issues permits from Monday -Friday only. The entry – permit office remains closed over the weekends now. Please plan your trip accordingly. It is suggested that Mondays are to be avoided because of excessive rush.

As per the latest rule, you MUST have a hotel reservation to obtain an entry permit.

Solo Indian male travellers to Bhutan DO NOT face any difficulty in obtaining the permit. It’s a myth.

From 1st January 2019, it will be mandatory for Indians to carry either their voter id card, or their passport to be able to enter Bhutan . Here is the link verifying this information. Bhutan govt will no longer issue identification certificates in case you don’t have the relevant papers. Also, minors need an original birth certificate for the issuance of a permit.

Here is one pro-tip regarding hotels: In case you are not sure about your stay, book a hotel through Booking.com. When you reach the destination and find a better deal, you can cancel like I have done a few times. The site does not charge any cancellation fee.

Here are budget hotels in Paro and Thimphu that you can consider booking right away:

Thimphu: Khamsum Inn (sometimes there are good deals on this.) Paro: Hotel Dragon Ama’s Village Lodge (Very good property, and worth the money!)

Related Posts:

Tiger’s Nest Trek: All You Need You Need To Know

Why is paro airport (bhutan) one of the toughest to land on, paro: bhutan’s docile progeny, nightlife in thimphu: karaoking monks of bhutan.

Books: The History Of Bhutan Bhutan: A Trekker’s Guide Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said “I Do”, And Found Bliss

P.S. This is how my conversation with the permit officer went:

Permit Officer (after skimming over the details on the form): “You are travelling alone??!” Me: “Yes.” Looks at the other officer sitting next to him, then stares at the form long and hard. Officer (in a very matter-of-grave-concern tone): “Why are you traveling alone?” Me: “I travel alone everywhere.” Officer: “Why?” Me: * What ‘why?’ He can’t be for real!!* “because I want to see the world.” Officer: “Alone?” Me: * Can’t believe this is happening to me; already rethinking the whole deal* “Yes.” Officer: “Are you married?” (Did not get the intent behind this question.) Me: “No.” Dead, horrid silence for 30 seconds where we all are looking at each other in disbelief . Officer: “See, the thing is, we want you to be safe” Me: * Is he kidding me? If I can’t be safe in Bhutan, where else would I be so?* “I understand.” Total silence

Me: “I know how to stay safe; I am a travel blogger.” Officer: “Ohh you are??!!” Me: “Yes.” Signs immediately, but looks on with fatherly concern as I leave his office. It is a kind of look that I am not going to forget for a long, long time to come.

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An avid reader, traveler, happy-go-lucky lazy-bum is what I am, very effortlessly. Don't like to talk much, unless of course I am in love with you. Can communicate better in writing than in speech. Love to experiment. Love people-watching. Can sleep for twenty hours straight. Love food. I notice more than you think I do. I tend to miss obvious details. Hate beer. Love vodka. Can't dance to save my life. A strange mix of introvert and extrovert. Yes, that is how I roll.

155 Comments

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informative post! but like u have mentioned, i have read travelogues of guys wo have traveled to Bhutan solo! Never did i come across the “no-solo-indian-male” stuff!!!! just curious!

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Hi Sudarsansrini, There is this directive issued by the consulate in September 2014, apparently; can;t seem to find it on the web. I had confirmed this from Bhutanese friends before planning my trip, and have mentioned this precisely for the same reason you have stated; that no other travelogue has mentioned anything about this. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

ah! okay! thanks for posting that information!! might be of use some day!!! cheers!

You are welcome. 😀

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Im sitting here in a hotel in Jaigaon, alone and reading this. This is horrible! I don’t know what to do!

Hi Ankan, I am so sorry if that is the case. Have you been denied the permit? Or did you chance upon the article before trying even? Please give it a shot before you decide to turn back. All the best.

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Did you made it solo into Bhutan? Was it a successful trip?

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Quite an informative post!

Thank you, Arun.

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Excellently detailed. Thanks. Have been thinking of driving to Bhutan. Looking forward to any other posts on the food and culture 🙂

Thank you, Untourists. Will write others soon. 🙂

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Hi, Loved the detailed write up. I was perplexed on reading in many blogs that solo Indian ladies are discouraged in Bhutan. I am planning to book my stay at hotel in Thimpu and fly from Bangalore. The travel arrangements will be organised by me on arrival. Do you think i will face questions like you at the immigration desk in Paro? Have you heard such instances? Alternatively, i see make my trip has organised trips…i am not keen on that. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Please go ahead, Shilpa. If they ask, just convince them that you will be safe, and will not go out looking for trouble. Thank you for the compliment.

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hey,shilpa,i am sure by now your trip must have come to an end.i am also planning to travel solo to paro .did you face any problems as such at immigrations.any poinetrs to keep in mindthanks

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Love reading this, your tips and comments are great. I have not travelled alone before and going to do so for the first time this year – trekking in Armenia. Scared but excited, keep on sharing please. https://divorcedsingleseeks.wordpress.com/

Sure! Thanks.

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