Arrival into Bhutan is usually through Paro international airport, and a finer airport building (and a more breath-taking approach!) would be difficult to find. If you are flying into Paro from Kathmandu, then the best views are from the left hand side of the plane, from where you will see spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga, and much more of the Himalayan Range, across to the Tibetan plateau.
Land entry is possible from India through the remote south west via West Bengal at Phuensholing, and through the east at Samdrup Jongkhar.
Many roads reflect the landscape, with more hairpin bends than you can imagine! On many routes, the distance the crow flies is multiplied many times to give the road distance, and so considering this is a small country, journey times are slow. Bhutan itself is just 350km long, whilst the road distance from Paro to Trashigang is closer to double that distance.
The main roads are sealed and the main routes in good condition, though sometimes peppered with gravel, potholes or occasionally landslides. Roads are often narrow with precipitous drops on one side. Speed limits on all roads are low, rarely over 40kph and accidents are rare, considering the terrain.
Some routes, particularly minor roads and those further to the East, often suffer from closures during the monsoon season due to landslides and flooding.
Transport options for tourists within the country are essentially limited to private vehicle or foot. There is no domestic air service (though a helicopter service between some towns is planned) and no railway. Public transport is not generally used by visitors, as private transport is always provided by our local agents. Use of public buses is actively discouraged by the government's high value tourism policy (if you want to change your itinerary and use public transport, you will need to sign a waiver form stating this is your intent and your choice).
Mountain bikes are available for local exploring in some areas on request, and horses or ponies can be used on some trekking & walking routes.
Traffic levels are very low, and roads are quiet – only on Thimphu high street and in the border towns are you likely to find any queuing traffic. In general, local driving styles are sedate and polite – very different to what you may experience in Nepal or India!
The tourist vehicles we use reflect the conditions and the comfort we want to provide our guests. We use 4-wheel drive SUV's, larger people carriers and minibuses, depending on the number of travellers. Legislation states all tourist vehicles must be less than 10 years old, imported brands (not Indian), include air-conditioning, and undergo regular inspection. All drivers must have more than 5 years experience.
For more information about Bhutan, please check our Bhutan country guide.
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"The tour was excellent and we felt we really did discover Nepal. Raj was the tour guide and we couldn't have asked for better- a true gentleman. Ram was a very good Nepalese driver and we felt safe and confident with him."
Margaret Kipling (Nepal Discovery)
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