Bhutan, formerly known as Druk Yul aka the Land of Thunder Dragon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But the Bhutanese government has strict policies regarding tourism whereby it limits the entry of tourists to a particular number at a time and certain destinations are prohibited for the tourists to preserve and protect the cultural and traditional harmony of the country and to ensure the limited tourists get the maximum experience from the visit.
Listed below are the procedures to attain visas for tourists belonging to different categories and countries:
Since the treaty of 1949 between India and Bhutan which allows free movement of people between the two countries, there are no visa requirements for Indian citizens. However, there are certain procedures to be followed:
- Indian Passport valid for at least next 6 months
- A voter ID card with photograph
- Identification Slip issued by Indian Consulate Office in Phuentsholing on presenting proof of the Indian citizenship.
Immigration Office of Royal Government of Bhutan located in the border city of Phuentsholing is responsible for issuing the Entry Permit for Indian citizens travelling to Bhutan by road.
Direct Entry to Bhutan is provided by Paro International Airport upon submitting required documents for those travelling by air.
MALDIVES AND BANGLADESH:
Citizens of Maldives and Bangladesh also do not require a visa for entry into the country. However if the tourists wish to enter the country without booking through a registered tour operator, permit must be directly obtained from the immigration office at Thimphu where the permit can also be extended for a fee.
India, Bangladesh and Maldives are exempted from charges on issuance and extensions of permits.
SPECIAL PERMIT: SWITZERLAND AND THAILAND
Diplomats or Official passport holders of Switzerland and Thailand do not require a visa for visiting and staying in the country for a duration of up to 90 days.
Tourists belonging to other foreign countries should follow the following procedure for obtaining the entry permit:
- Apply for a visa at Bhutanese embassy or through a Bhutanese or Registered international tour operator who sends the required documents to the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), who issues an approval letter. This is then sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the tour operator for the final permit. Visa processing fee comes around $40 and the visa is processed within 72 hours.
- Attain Visa clearance letter upon approval at the port of entry either by air or land.
- Get visa stamped in the passport.
- Foreigners are required to pay a fee of approximately $250 per day of stay in Bhutan during on seasons and $200 per day of stay during off seasons(December to February and June to August).
- The tour package includes accommodation, transportation, food and guide.
RULES AND REGULATIONS:
Tourists who have obtained only the visa for entry in Bhutan are allowed to visit only two places in Bhutan – Thimphu and Paro.
In case a tourist wishes to visit any other prohibited region or a temple, he/she must attain special permission/permit from the RGoB immigration office in Thimphu on weekdays.
Always keep the following documents ready before travelling to Bhutan for immigration purposes:
- Photocopy of Passport & any other identification document
- Two passport size photos
- Itinerary of your travel plans and stay per day including hotel bookings.
- Marriage certificate for married couples.