Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians: Documents, FAQs & Tips for a Solo Trip
About the post: Many countries offer visa/permit for Indian passport holders after their arrival and Bhutan is a visa free county for Indians! However, upon your arrival in Bhutan, you have to obtain an Entry Permit which is absolutely free and among the simplest and fastest to score! In this detailed post on Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians, I 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.
5 hours! That’s all it takes from Bagdogra airport by road to reach the first 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.
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 1: 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 in Thimphu/Paro).
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.
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!
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.
What is the cost of the Entry Permit for Indians?
There is not charge for Indians for entry into Bhutan. If somebody tries to charge you for it, please refrain from payment. However, ff you get it through a travel agent, they may charge you for the convenience or for their services. I personally don’t know what a travel agent may try charging since I get my Entry Permit myself.
For how many days is the Entry Permit Issued?
This Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians obtained at Phuentsholing located at Indo-Bhutan border is issued for 7 days to travel beyond 5 km radius of Phuentsholing. If you want to stay longer in the country, you can visit the Thimphu Immigration Office to extend the period of permit or entry.
For which locations is the Permit valid?
The permit obtained at Phuentsholing is only valid for entry into Thimphu and Paro. If you wish to visit other areas, you must visit the Immigration office in Thimphu with the same set of documents:
An entry form obtained from Thimphu (Available at photocopy shot near Immigration Office or at any Hotel Reception Desk)
Proof of booked stay at the new location to be visited
Photocopy of your proof of Identity.
Undertaking if you are travelling solo
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 from Thimphu/Paro 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!