Bhutan – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Do not travel to Bhutan due to COVID-19.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not issued a Travel Health Notice for Bhutan, indicating an unknown level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions in Bhutan.
If you decide to travel to Bhutan:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Bhutan.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
Guide on Bhutan Visa & Permit Apply, Popular Tour Packages and How to Get to Bhutan
Ideally, travel to Bhutan from the United States is much easier than traveling to most other countries, as you do not have to organize your own travel within the country or your own accommodation, and do not need to find your own way to the various popular sites and attractions. Once you have decided on where to go on your tour, and it has been booked, you can sit back and let us handle the rest. All you have to do then is find out where to take connecting flights to Paro since you cannot fly from the US to Bhutan directly:
Either traveling from west coast cities (Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles) or flying from west coast cities (Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles), American tourists need to get to Singapore, Delhi, and Kathmandu first. After obtaining Bhutan Visa, you can take the direct flight to Paro International Airport or travel overland to Bhutan via Phuentsholing. If time allows, you can also spare some days experiencing the dynamic life in Singapore, exploring mysterious culture in India, visiting the birthplace of Buddha – Nepal even stretching your legs to Tibet.
As a prestigious Himalayan tour operator, we offer you a variety of Bhutan tours covering Tibet, Nepal, and India. Check the most classic Bhutan tours and useful USA to Bhutan travel guide below.
Bhutan Visa & Permit Application for American Citizen
The primary document you need for travel to Bhutan is the Bhutan Entry Visa. However, you cannot obtain this without a pre-booked tour, and it is not applied for personally. Once your tour is booked, we will make the application for the visa on your behalf, using a scanned copy of your passport. Processing for the visa can take around ten days to process, and the visa must be applied for at least 30 days before your expected date of travel, so it is important to book as early as possible.
Once the visa is processed, we will receive a Letter of Invitation (LOI), which we will forward to you via email. The same LOI is sent to both of the airlines in Bhutan, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines, as a flight to the kingdom cannot even be booked without the letter to confirm you have a validly booked tour. You will need to quote the reference number on the LOI when booking your flights. Once you reach the airport at Paro or the border crossing at Phuentsholing, you will need to show the LOI to immigration, along with your passport, who will then process and add the visa stamp to your passport. This usually takes less than an hour, but in busy times in the peak season, can take a little longer.
Permits are also required to travel within Bhutan, and will be applied for by us depending on where in Bhutan you will be traveling, Both the visa and the permits are required to be shown at the various checkpoints across the kingdom, so it is important not to lose or misplace any of your documents.
How to Get to Bhutan from the United States? Multiple ways to travel from USA to Bhutan.
How to Travel to Bhutan from USA by Air
Bhutan has a strict policy on access to its Kingdom, and there are no direct flights from the United States to Bhutan. In fact, there are only five countries and nine airports in the world that have flights to this isolated kingdom. If you are planning on flying to Bhutan, then you need to get connecting flights to one of those ten airports first.
Flights to Bhutan are handled by only two carriers, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines, both of which are Bhutanese-owned airlines. Foreign airlines are prohibited from landing at Paro International Airport, the only international airport in the country. Flights to Bhutan leave from Dhaka in Bangladesh; Bagdogra, New Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, and Guwahati in India; Kathmandu in Nepal; Bangkok in Thailand; and Singapore.
Flights to the selected destinations in Asia for Bhutan flights can be taken from more than two dozen airports across the United States, Including Los Angeles in California, Austin in Texas, Washington DC, and New York. Flight prices start from around 460 US dollars for an economy flight into one of the nine Asian cities with connecting flights to Bhutan, and take from around 14 hours for a direct flight, and as long as 30 hours for connecting flights.
While it is not the cheapest route (which would be from the United States to India), flights to Nepal to take the flight from Kathmandu to Paro are the most popular. At around 18 hours of flying time, usually on a non-direct flight, and costing from around US$ 740, this route gives you the easiest access to Bhutan.
How to Travel to Bhutan from USA by Land
Obviously, there is no way to travel overland from the United States all the way to Bhutan, so flights need to be taken to either Nepal or India to then travel overland to Phuentsholing, the main border crossing point into Bhutan.
If you are traveling to India to get to Bhutan, the best option is to take the flight direct from the United States to either Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport in Patna, northeast India, or to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. From there, it is easy to get a train to Jalpaiguri or Hasimara in the Indian State of West Bengal. India has a vast rail network that covers almost the entire country, with dozens of trains running from every station daily. From the station at Hasimara, it is easy to get a taxi or bus to Jaigaon, on the border opposite Phuentsholing, Bhutan’s main border town. – See how to get to Bhutan from India
If you travel from the United States to Nepal, you will need to get a flight to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. There are no direct flights from the United States to Nepal, and most flights connect in either Qatar, Abu Dhabi, or Istanbul. Once in Kathmandu, you have a choice of border crossing points where you can cross into India, though the border town of Kakarbhitta in eastern Nepal is the easiest and most popular. The crossing takes you to the West Bengal town of Panitanki, from where you can get a direct train to Hasimara, close to the Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing. – See can I travel from Nepal to Bhutan by train?
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Most Classic Bhutan Tour Packages for American Tourists
The followings are our most popular Bhutan local tour packages that are available to American tourists to join in all year round. From 3-day brief stay in Paro and Thimphu to 16-day Bhutan Himalaya tour to Bumthang and Trashigang, a wide range of the hottest tours are readily available for our American tourists. If you are on a budget or enjoy travelling with like-minds tourists, our well-designed Bhutan local tour packages are your best option. Join us for an once-in-a-lifetime experience in Bhutan.
How to Get to Bhutan
How to Get to Bhutan
Before 1960 it was almost impossible to enter Bhutan. Now, there are regular direct flights from many different cities in neighbouring countries, and there is also the ability to cross by land borders in India.
To enter Bhutan, you will need to organise a group tour to Bhutan and have your visa or your visa documents ready in advance.
This is the tourist policy of the Bhutan government.
How to Get to Bhutan: By Flight
Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. It is surrounded by mountains, and flying into it is quite spectacular! Paro is situated ca. 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level.
If you’re flying from Kathmandu, you can even catch a view of Mt. Everest if you are lucky with clear weather.
Make sure to stay awake for the landing!
There are other domestic airports in Bhutan; Gelephu Airport, Yonphulla Airport, and Bathpalanthag Airport.
The only airlines flying into Bhutan are Druk Air and Bhutan Air.
Nepal shares no border with Bhutan, however, it is a popular gateway to Bhutan due to the regular direct flights between Nepal and Bhutan.
Other flight routes include various flights from India throughout the week, flights from Bangkok in Thailand and Singapore.
There is also a flight twice a week from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Apart from flying, there are also land borders you can enter from India.
None Stop Flights to Bhutan:
Get to Bhutan from Nepal
Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, 1hr 20 mins, 6 flights weekly.
Get to Bhutan from India
– New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
2hrs 30 mins, 3 flights weekly.
– Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
1hr 40 mins, 6 flights weekly.
– Bagdogra International Airport
1hr 30 mins, 2 flights weekly.
– Guwahati Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport
1hr 20 mins, 4 flights weekly.
– Gaya Bodhgaya Airport
1hr 40 mins, 3 flights weekly.
Get to Bhutan from Bangladesh
Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport, 1 hr, 3 flights weekly.
Get to Bhutan from Thailand
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, 2hrs, daily flights.
Get to Bhutan from Singapore
Singapore Changi International Airport, 2hrs, 2 flights weekly.
How to Get to Bhutan: Car
The only land borders in Bhutan open to foreigners are;
Phuentsholing – Southwest Bhutan
Gelephu – Southcentral Bhutan (250km from Thimphu)
Samdrup Jongkhar – Southeast Bhutan (700km to Thimphu, approx. 3 days travel)
From these borders, you can either get a private car, taxi, or public bus.
If you are entering India via these ports for the first time and you have not yet got your visa then this will not be possible.
NOTE: You should first have a visa to India then you can enter through the land border. E.g. if you enter India via flight and have a 2 entry visa, you may enter for the second time by land.
How to Get to Bhutan: Bus
Buses to Bhutan are available for Indian tourists only.
They depart from Kolkata and arrive in Phuentsholing 18 hours later.
These buses are provided by the Bhutanese Government.
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Bhutan or also known as the Kingdom of Bhutan is an independent, landlocked country located in South Asia between India to the north and China to the south in the Hymalian mountains.
From the economic and cultural perspective, Buthan has strictly maintained a policy of isolation from their neighborhood, in order to preserve their cultural heritage and independence.
And from this point of view, they have succeeded as nowadays they have still preserved many aspects of their culture that dates back to the mid-17th century and are of course interesting for tourists to be discovered.
Warnings & Dangers in Bhutan
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Bhutan is a remarkably safe country with a low level of crime, but at the same time growing with its population, this is why you as a tourist should be very attentive as everywhere in the world while traveling.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
The taxi is the best mean of transportation that can be used by one for traveling in big cities of the country as well as around them, but still, try to relate to some well-known companies as in another case you will be charged unfair fees. Regarding the other means of transportation existent in the country are not advisable to be used.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Pickpockets are rarely met here in Bhutan, but even though there are not so many cases, this does not mean that there are not at all. This means that you as a tourist should take into account all precautions measures in order to avoid such unpleasant cases.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
Monsoons rains are often met in Bhutan which could cause some road problems for days, this is why it is advisable to check the routes before going somewhere. Also, as Bhutan is located in high active zones there are high chances of earthquakes for which it is better to get prepared.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Few cases of mugging have been registered that are well-known to the public authorities, but still, this does not mean that you should be fearless. A good piece of advice is to not walk alone at night and in dark places.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Even though there are no recent registered cases of such attacks this represents the biggest threat of the whole nation that can occur in public places and can affect not only the citizens but also the tourists. All measures should be taken in case of this happening.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Even if scams can occur in the country this could be easily avoided through using your common sense and trying not to be easily influenced.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Even if it is considered to be a safe place for a woman to travel to Bhutan it is advisable to get a guide that will be there just in case.
So. How Safe Is Bhutan Really?
Even though it is claimed that from criminal prospective Bhutan is a safe country, do not forget to always keep a close look at your belongings and take all the necessary precaution actions in case of any unpleasant situation.
It is believed that from the perspective of weather and natural disasters it is less safe to travel in the periods which are not advisable by the public authorities, but still if prepared then keep in mind all given pieces of advice and always try to get updated regarding the information provided by national websites in order for you to be safe.