Congratulations for choosing such an amazing country for a holiday! I am putting together this post to make your solo budget-trip to Bhutan an unforgettable experience.
This post is primarily for Indian travellers. Bangladeshi and Maldivian travellers may have a look at it, but should confirm the documentation needed on the official website too.
First of all, decide how many days you want to go to Bhutan for.
7, 10 or 14 days?
It is better if you do so in the multiples of 7, as in a single trip, you are allowed to renew your permit once.
So, it is issued once (7 days), and then it can be renewed once (7 days).
Therefore, in a single entry, you can travel to Bhutan for 14 days max.
I have explained the process in detail in this post:
Next thing for you to decide is, whether you’ll be taking a flight to Bhutan, or going over-lands.
Where To book your India to Bhutan Flight?
The flight ticket from India to Bhutan costs Rs.10,000 one way, usually.
Some people compare going over-lands with taking a flight to Bhutan; when it comes to money, it is an unfair comparison.
Here is why:
Going overland works out slower than the flights, which adds days to your trip. With the number of days getting added, your expenditure too increases (hotel, cab, local-transport, food etc).
Not in the same ratio, but in comparison to the flight ticket, it isn’t insignificant either, unless you are REALLY shoe-stringing it, like I do:
A better strategy is to book a flight one-way, and go/come overland the other time. That way, you will experience the flight-travel, and won’t miss on the scenic landscapes either.
Also, this is why taking a flight could be interesting:
Once you have decided on your mode of transportation, we move on to the next step.
Next, you should plan the route and the itinerary, because that will tell you about the dates you ought to be booking your hotels for.
For that, refer to this map I have drawn:
For overland, your point of reference should be Jaigaon-Phuentsholling border (which is also called the Indo-Bhutan border), and if you are taking a flight to Bhutan, then it will be Paro.
I took the route Phoentsholling-Paro-Thimphu-Phoentsholling
as I went to Meghalaya after Bhutan.
Some people go to Thimphu first, and then Punakha (if they want to), and on their way back, they go to Paro & Haa Valley. I went to Paro first, as I wanted to get done with the Tiger’s Nest Monastery at the beginning of the trip itself.
In case you want to go to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, read this post to check your level of preparedness:
Once you have read that, read up on Thimphu, to gauge how you would like to allot the rationed time you’ll be spending in Bhutan:
To understand the difference between these places, you can also read up on Paro here:
What is The Best Time To Visit Bhutan?
In all honesty, there is no bad time to visit Bhutan. It is just that if you go to Bhutan in the months it receives snowfall, some places like Tiger’s Nest, Haa Valley maybe not be accessible to you.
Other than that, I receive feedback from you guys, about my posts year round, and never have I had anyone say that they had a bad trip.
Budget Hotels In Bhutan:
I’ll take up the cities one by one.
You can also book an apartment in Thimphu: Thimphu 180 View
Important Things To Keep In Mind For Your Solo Budget-Trip To Bhutan:
- If you are going overland, try to reach Phoentsholling between Sunday and Thursday. The permit office remains closed during the weekends.
- This is an important hack to save money, but be safe:
If you are travelling solo, see if you can find another like minded person, who you feel safe with. You can share your hotel room and/or cabs to save money. The room tariffs in Bhutan stay the same for single and double occupancy at most of the hotels.
- Keep a few days extra at hand, just in case you want to stay for a bit longer in any city, or for some contingency.
- Please be mindful of the altitude at all times. If you are planning to go to Bhutan overland, please remember that on the day you will go from Indo-Bhutan border to Paro or Thimphu, you will gain at least 6000 feet, and that is a lot for a day. Read up on AMS to understand how to detect it, and what is the preventive measure. It is easier to prevent AMS, than to cure it.
Phuntsholling Altitude: 961 feet
Paro Altitude: 7218 feet
Thimphu Altitude: 7656 feet
- Respect the culture.
- Bhutanese people are very respectful and soft-spoken; respond to them in the similar manner.
- The phallus, or the penis-shaped symbol has a religious relevance in Bhutan. Please don’t ridicule it wherever you come across it. It is all over the place.
- Talk to the local people and understand why they do what they do; the language, food, culture, community, their happiness-index, waste-management, clean roads, honk-free traffic etc.
- Solo budget-trip to Bhutan is a tightrope walk between time and money; use both judiciously.
- Keep a few days extra in case of unforeseen changes in the weather.
- Do not take people’s pictures without their permission; not even in the streets.
- If you get mountain-sickness, please carry the required medication with yourself. Bhutan is a part of Himalayas, and has hilly terrain EVERYWHERE!
Hope you have a great solo budget-trip to Bhutan!
Do let me know how it goes.