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How to get Bhutan Visa from Nepal

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Sunday Oct 11, 2020
Bhutan from Nepal
Traveling from Nepal to Bhutan is an adventurous tour that offers the best of both Himalayan countries, tourists can get Bhutan visa from Nepal and get Bhutan from Kathmandu by flight. The most effective way is to board the direct flight from Kathmandu to Paro International Airport within one hour.

Bhutan is a country known for its natural beauty, rich culture and heritage and gross national happiness as well as only carbon negative country in the world. It is an unspoiled place to sightsee the Himalayas and landscape. Bhutan is a place filled with magic where people are happy and simple. It is amazing to see beautiful land that touches your heart and soul.

Traveling to Bhutan from Nepal is a magical journey taking you across the West Bengal of India to the Bhutanese border at Phuentsholing, or by direct flight from the airport in Kathmandu to Paro International Airport in Bhutan. For this, a visa is needed to get into the Himalayan Kingdom. 

The visa, attained through a registered Bhutanese tour operator, is the strictest in terms of an application process, and it is difficult for an individual to make the application themselves. The only way to get a visa is to book a tour operator/travel agent registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Visa is applied from the Department of Immigration, Tourism Council of Bhutan after booking a tour and paying the necessary fees. You need to submit details and scanned copies of your passport to the travel agent to submit with the application.

Suppose you are in major cities of Nepal like Kathmandu or Pokhara. In that case, you can contact a travel agent who is authorized to issue the Bhutan visa. You have to submit the necessary documents and the required amount. 

This article gives you more information on Bhutan Visa from Nepal which can help you with your next travel plans.

The Bhutan visa - Compulsory travel permit

Traveling to the enclosed Asian country, Bhutan legally needs every document to let you enter the country. All nationals except Indians, Maldivians, and Bangladeshis compulsorily need a visa to get into Bhutan. The visa is issued at either Paro airport (if entering by flight) or at Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, or Phuentsholing (if traveling by road). Visa is only verified and approved in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. It is difficult to issue a visa individually and can be done via travel companies. It requires around 10 to 15 days for visa processing.

Visa approval is issued in papers that can be sent in the mail. Once you reach the immigration, a stamp on the passport is made. The Bhutan visa costs USD 40 which is valid up to the tour duration. 

How to Obtain a Bhutan Visa

Bhutan e-Vias Clearance

The Tourism Council initially approves Bhutan's visa clearance letter after the visitor has paid the full tour package cost and visa fees to the Tourism Council of Bhutan through an authorized tour operator or travel agent. A copy of the visa clearance letter is sent to the applicant before their travel dates. The applicant must have their visa clearance letter with them while they arrive in Bhutan. The travel company/operator's responsibility is to ensure that the copy of the visa clearance letter is sent to the flight service provider where the tourist boards their flight to Bhutan. The visa is issued at either Paro airport (if entering by flight) or at Gelephu, Jongkhar, Samdrup, or Phuentsholing (if traveling by road). The visa will be useful or issued until the duration of your tour. If you wish to extend the Bhutan visa, then the travel company will process the visa extension with specific charges.

Bhutan Visa Application Process/Requirements

As mentioned, issuing a visa individually is impossible and a travel agent must process the application. The authorized travel companies will obtain the tourist visa once the Bhutan tour package and other fees are cleared to the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The Bhutan visa fee of USD 40 is required. Also, the details and scanned copies of the passport detail of the job and the itinerary are required to process the visa before the Bhutan travel date.  

Bhutan Visa Application Procedure

Applying for a visa to Bhutan is not done by the embassy and cannot be completed or submitted online. The only way to get a visa to visit Bhutan is to book a tour package with a licensed tour operator. The tour operator or agent should be registered with the Department of Immigration and Tourism Council of Bhutan. Visa for Bhutan is only possible when you book a tour and that tour operator applies on your behalf.

Once the tour package and visa fee are paid, the visa is applied through the Tourism Council of Bhutan to the Department of Immigration. Detailed information of your passport, including the full name, address, occupation, nationality, passport number, the date of issue of passport, place of birth, birthdate and expiration of passport, is given. Alongside, a colored scanned copy of the passport is sent to the travel agency to use to fill in the application.

The visa must be applied at least a month before the traveling date. After the application is finalized, the Department of Immigration will issue the visa clearance number and sent it to the tour agent and immigration terminals in the checkpoint via the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

How much does a Bhutan visa cost?

For each international visitor, the Bhutan Visa costs USD 40. It is collected along with the total tour package before the application. All the payments are done in the US dollar.

All transfers are directly credited to the bank account of the Tourism Council of Bhutan. It is not collected or deposited into a personal account. The most favorable way is Telegraphic Transfer. Any payment done in cash or cheque is not advisable and generally not accepted. 

No visa fee is reimbursed under any situation, including arrival or delay of departure or cancellation of your trip to Bhutan.

Validity and extension of the Bhutan visa

Bhutan visa

The Visa could be valid for the exact duration of the trip to Bhutan or granted for the actual duration of stay in the country. The validity period is mentioned in the Visa clearance letter given by the Department of Immigration in the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Thimphu. It can be extended in Thimphu. Suppose you want to extend your trip beyond the approved duration in Bhutan before arrival. In that case, you can inform the tour operator and let them apply for the extension of the visa for a longer time. Thus, they will cancel the prior application and resubmit a new visa application for processing. The trip's extension time shall be allowed no more than one month from your first day of arrival.

In this case, additional tour costs should be paid before the reapplication and the visa application fee is non-refundable. After arrival in Bhutan, necessary changes about the Bhutan visa extension must be done by the tour agent at the Tourism Bureau Council of Bhutan. Then the extension will be permitted along with the tourism rules and regulation of Bhutan.

Cancellation and postpone of Bhutan Visa

Suppose the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) faces a situation to cancel or postpone the visa. In that case, the Tour agent can cancel the approved visa via the online cancellation process and re-submit it as a new visa application. If so, a double visa fee will be subtracted for the same individual as the system automatically analyzes visa fees for every new application and TCB will not help with the refund. To avoid such cases, it is better to edit if you have an approved visa application and re-submit it. 

Suppose you need to cancel Bhutan's trip, the refunds and necessary actions depending on the tour operator/agent's cancellation policy. The tour booking occurs around 30 days before the actual traveling date; thus there cannot be a full 100% refund.

Is any extra visa or permit needed for the Nepal Bhutan tour by Air and overland?

If you are an international traveler flying from Nepal to Bhutan, you need to issue a Nepal visa. The Nepalese visa cost around 30 dollars and is accessible to most nationals in Nepal. 

If you are traveling overland to Bhutan through India, you need a visa to travel across India to Phuentsholing. You can get a tourist visa for traveling via India to Bhutan; it can be expensive for most nationals. The visa fee may cost from USD 42.70 to USD 136.70 per person. 

The best way is to issue an application for a transit visa, which allows you three days across India to get to Bhutan. The entire journey to Jaigaon from Kakarbhitta is less than 6 hours. It is a cheaper and easier option. The transit visa cost is valid for 15 days from the date of issuance and the price ranges from USD 13 to USD 53 per person.

There are other permits such as Entry Permit and Route Permit. The Entry permit is effective only in places like Paro and Thimphu. Other places are considered restricted areas and visitors need to issue a Restricted Area Permit to enter the area. The other types of permits are as follows:

Entry Permit: The entry permit is issued on arrival when you visit Bhutan by flight. The entry point is either in the airport at Paro or in Phuentsholing, if you are traveling overland. The entry permit is also valid to visit Paro and Thimphu.

Route Permit: The route permit is issued when you travel to Bhutan by road. With this permit, you can visit places like Wangdue, Punakha, Bumthang, etc. 

How to get to Bhutan from Kathmandu?

Traveling to Bhutan from Kathmandu, Nepal can be done in two ways which are listed below.

Traveling by Road

Traveling from Nepal to Bhutan is an adventurous tour that offers the best of both countries. Bhutan and Nepal are alike in many ways when it comes to sceneries, cultures, and people.

Located on the southern edge of the Himalayas, Nepal and Bhutan are so near to each other. If you are longing for a thrilling adventure, then taking an overland trip from Nepal to Bhutan via India must be your best option. 

If you are traveling overland, begin the trip by getting on a local bus from Kathmandu to India's border. Bhutan's closest border is Kakarbhitta which is located in eastern Nepal, opposite the town of Panitanki. Pass the Raniganj Immigration checkpoint over the Mechi river bridge, get on the local bus to Siliguri, the nearest railway station to Panitanki. From Siliguri, you can get a train from New Jalpaiguri to Hasimara which is the nearest train station to the Bhutan border of Phuentsholing. After four hours of the trip, get on the local bus to Jaigaon, cross the border and find the tour guide waiting for you.

Flight from Kathmandu to Paro

Flight from Kathmandu to Paro

The most effective way is to board the direct flight from Kathmandu to Paro International Airport within one hour. You can get to Bhutan from Kathmandu via Bhutanese airlines. Paro International Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan, has one of the world's toughest landings, flying from the mountains and landing on a short runway. Only expert pilots are allowed to fly this route. You can directly board on a flight from Tribhuvan International Airport. Druk Air flies from Kathmandu to Paro daily and takes about 1 hour 15 minutes. You need to issue an entry permit once you arrive at Paro International Airport. You are permitted the entry to Bhutan only if the application is done through an authorized travel agent. Independent traveling is restricted in Bhutan due to strict rules and regulations on tourism. 

Flights with Bhutan airlines run every day except Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. The flight cost USD 234, USD 263, USD 279 per person for the economy, premium economy and business class, respectively.

Druk Air flies twice every day and the flight cost USD 196, USD 231 per person for the economy and business class respectively. However, Prices and flight schedules depend on the season.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. To Whom Should I Apply for a Bhutan Visa?

Visa for Bhutan can be issued by the tour agent or operators who arrange your travel package. The visa is issued only when you arrive in Bhutan either by flight or overland. But you need to issue the visa approval letter from the authorities in advance. These documents are sent to the Tourism Council of Bhutan in Thimphu. It is finally approved after verification and a final application is given to the Department of Immigration.

The ministry sends notice of visa issues and a confirmation number to the travel agent and airline companies or the border checkpoint. Once you arrive at the airport or border, the visa stamp is given into the passport. It is easy to print out the visa and itinerary the tour agent gives you to help in the immigration to find your information on the system.

Only licensed and authorized tour operators and travel agents are permissible to apply for the ticket, visa, and tour package on behalf of the visitor. After the visa clearance, the travel agency can do the necessary arrangement for the trip. The permits are checked while you enter Bhutan either by flight or overland. 

2. How Long Does It Take to Get a Bhutan Visa?

With all the correct information and required documents submitted to the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) via a tour operator, it will take 7 to 10 days to get a Bhutan Visa. 

3. How much is required per day to visit Bhutan?

Tours package of Bhutan is made under the policy of Bhutan which is at USD 250 per day in Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). It will cost you USD 200 per day in summer/ monsoon (June to August) and winter (December to February. It is to be remembered that until and unless the whole tour cost is paid the application for visa is not issued by the travel agent.

4. Which is the best season to visit Bhutan?

Traveling to Bhutan is suitable all-round the year but visitors travel in the months from September to November (autumn). During these seasons, the weather is perfect and the sky is clear after the monsoon season. The month of September is also the start of the hiking season. The temperature goes to a maximum of 25 degrees in the day time. Also, October is the busiest month and peak time for trekking with a clear sky and moderate temperature.

March to May (spring) is also a good season to visit Bhutan where the flowers blooms and the landscape is greener and thicker. The temperature is mild and trekking becomes preferable.

June to August (Monsoon) is the low season for tourism due to heavy rainfall, muddy and wet trails. However, you can experience mild showers in the late afternoon making it better to wander around all day.

December to February (winter) is the coldest time where the temperature drops down below zero. The sky is clear with no rain. However, you can experience snow in the mountains making the landscape spectacular. You can still visit the place as the weather is sunny despite the cold.

Conclusion

It really does not matter where you are from and it is always a great idea to visit a heavenly place like Bhutan. Surround yourself in the Himalaya region and get the taste of Tibetan culture at its best. Nepal is a great place to start your journey to Bhutan as you can explore two countries (Nepal and Bhutan) in a single package. Nevertheless, traveling from Nepal is hassle-free and easily provides you a chance to explore Bhutan. With regular flights, quick service and easy accessibility, Nepal is one true choice to be at if you are planning to travel to Bhutan. You can select various tour packages that fit your choice and preferences and apply for the visa accordingly.

If you are willing to visit Bhutan on your next travel plans, make sure you land in Nepal and enjoy all the benefits and natural and cultural beauty it has to offer.

Useful links and Information

Best Time To Visit Bhutan
Most Popular Holiday Destinations In The Himalayan Region
Bhutan Festivals Calendar (2020/2021 Updated)

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Sunday Oct 11, 2020

Naba Raj

About Author - Naba Raj Amgai

Naba Raj Amgai, stepped into the world of travel and tourism in 1996. He is Founder and Managing Director of Third Rock Adventures.

Beginning his journey in the tourism industry as a humble Porter Guide to founding hospitality establishments and an adventure travel company, he has come a long way.

In a career spanning more than two decades, he has achieved more than anybody dreams of achieving. Along with his professional achievements, his selfless contribution towards his community and society has won him a lot of accolades and praises.

Having dedicated more than two decades in the tourism and hospitality sector, he has amassed a wealth of experience.

After passing high school, he began helping out some trekking guides and was soon recruited as a porter guide at a reputed trekking agency. Within a short time, he was individually guiding clients across the well-known trails of the Himalayas.

He went on to lead tour groups on multi-country tours to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Being a part of mountain climbing expeditions familiarised him with expedition logistics and operations. Later on, he went to become the Executive Director and took over the reins of Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. Spending several years in the tourism field has made Naba Raj Amgai a destination expert.

Travelling is his passion and he has been to many countries across the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Holland, Germany, Austria and many parts of Asia.

His journeys to different parts of the world have enriched his travel experience and knowledge. This experience has been instrumental in planning and organizing successful trips for several clients.

As of today many reputed travel companies, hotels and restaurants are under his leadership. A dynamic and proactive leader, he continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

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