Bhutan: An Enchanted Kingdom
Bhutan or the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ may have shed centuries of self imposed isolation but it keeps reinventing itself as a unique nation with an identity of its own. Today, we are the world’s youngest democracy, gifted to the people by our beloved Fourth King himself. Our guiding development philosophy is Gross National Happiness.
Tradition, culture and the environment are zealously guarded and religion is a way of life. Bhutan ranks among the world’s top travel destinations but very few visitors make the journey. It has to do with the Kingdom’s ‘high value, low volume’ tourism policy, designed to preserve the nation’s rich cultural heritage.Those who visit might discover a land and a people set in a rare balance of modernity and tradition, beauty and harmony.
The Royal Government of Bhutan since the inception of tourism in 1974, has adopted a very cautious approach to tourism growth and development. The Bhutanese tourism industry is based on sustainability. The Principle being – ‘Tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly; socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable’.
By Air: International airport is located in Paro, western Bhutan. Bhutan’s National airline Drukair operates regular flights from New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Bagdora, Bodgaya (seasonal), Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok and Singapore. Domestic flights are available for Bumthang, Trashigang and Gelephu. They are operated by Tashi Air and Drukair.
The national airline Drukair flies from Thailand, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Singapore to Bhutan’s Paro International Airport, located in the west of the country.
Paro is situated at a height of 2,225 m (7300 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft). At present Drukair is the only airline operating flights into and around the country with a fleet of Airbus A319’s. It services Bangkok in Thailand, Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Guwahati in India; Dacca in Bangladesh; Kathmandu in Nepal; and Singapore. There are a regular domestic service to Bumthang (central region) and flights available to Trashigang (eastern region) and Gelephu (southern region). A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border to India.
Flying into Bhutan’s Paro International Aiport is typically an exciting experience as the descent into Paro valley brings you closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. The flight between Paro, Kathmandu and Delhi is particularly rewarding as it offers spectacular views of 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world. In clear weather, as you soar higher up, you’ll be treated to amazing close-ups of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga at their best.
By Road: You can enter Bhutan through 3 points – Phuentsholing and Gelephu in the South and Samdrup Jongkhar in the southeast. Bagdogra airport, in the state of West Bengal ( India ) is the nearest airport about five hours drive from Phuentsholing. Also Bagdogra ( and its main town Siliguri ) is a convenient point for visiting the West Bengal region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the state of Sikkim.
Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are all located along the southern border of India and are the only overland border entries open to international tourists.
The town of Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your will begin a mountainous climb through hair-pin bends until you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The 176 km journey usually takes around 6 hours. Travel sickness tablets are recommended for young children and adults who may not be accustomed to the mountain roads.
Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu. The journey will take you through lush sub-tropical jungles and pristine alpine forests before finally bringing you into Thimphu. You will traverse across three districts with a travel time of approximately ten hours.
Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will have to travel through Trashigang, the largest district in the country, and from there east through Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa and Wangde Phodrang to reach the capital city, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and you should allow three days journey time.
The motorcycles on offer will be the legendary Royal Enfield motorcycles which has a longstanding and proven track record for durability and efficiency on the mountainous and somewhat rugged roads of the great Himalayas. All tours will be accompanied by highly trained mechanics and experienced tour guides. A back-up vehicle will always be provided with every tour irrespective of the group size alongside with a mechanic and motorcycle spare parts.The company will also ensure that all safety precautions are met with from briefing sessions before the ride to insurance for all riders in Bhutan. A first aid kit in case of injuries due to accidents and sicknesses will also be readily available. The tour guides are also trained to conduct basic first-aid.
All hotels are approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and are of minimum 3 star category as certified by the government. Hotels in the East of Bhutan can be of 2 and 3 star categories.
* A valid motorcycle license of your country of origin is mandatory for all riders
* Helmets are compulsory for both riders and pillions
* Clients are asked to bring along their own helmets
* An indemnity form will have to be signed before the tour commences
* Proper riding gear encouraged at all times
* Waterproof riding gear is recommended along with goggles and masks
* Half helmets are permitted
* Security deposit of $ 500 to be made before the tour commences in case of damages to the motorcycle due to clients negligence.
– USD 250 per person per night (March, April, May, September, October, November)- USD 200 per person per night (December, January, February, June, July, August)
a) 01 pax = USD 40 per person per night
b) 02 pax = USD 30 per person per night
** no FIT surcharge for groups of 03 and above
– Visa fee = USD 40 per person
– Single room supplement of USD 40 per person per night
** All rates are set by the Royal Government of Bhutan
Due to the premium nature of the tour the following extra charges will be applicable:
– USD 70 per person per night for bike rental charges
– USD 35 per person per night for pillion riders
** these additional charges include services of the back-up vehicle, extra bike rental charges for the tour guide and services of the mechanic.
1. Minimum Daily Rates inclusion :
The minimum daily rates are inclusive of the following services :
i)Accommodation on twin sharing basis (in standard hotels)
ii)All transfers and sightseeing within Bhutan (Bus or Mini-van depending on the group size)
iii)English speaking guides
iv)All meals (in buffet) and
v)Entrance fees to museums and monuments.
2. Itinerary changes :
Every effort will be made to adhere to the planned itinerary. Due to weather conditions and reasons beyond TUSK’s control, changes to the itinerary might occur, for which the company accepts no responsibility.
3. Insurance :
There is no personal insurance of any kind included in the tour price. Travel insurance should be obtained from your place of residence, before commencement of trip. TUSK will not be held liable for any illness, injury or death sustained during a tour/ trek.
4. Payment Procedure :
All tour payments must be made in advance (at least 45 days prior to arrival date in Bhutan). Tour payment should be remitted through the Bhutan National Bank (BNB) accounts abroad payable in favour of Bhutan T.U.S.K Motorcycle Tours. The Banks and account numbers will be advised once the tour bookings are confirmed. Visa is cleared by the government subject to advance payment only.
5. Reservation Policy :
a. All reservations has to be sent in written, fax or email. Bookings will be received for all dates
irrespective of high season or low season at any time of the year.
b. For all Festival Dates, the bookings has to be sent or confirmed on or before 100 days prior to the date of arrival in Bhutan.
Non confirmation of the bookings without any notice after 100 days will be treated as cancelled and the reservations will be released to avoid cancellation charges from the hotels. Any bookings received / reinstated after 100 days period will be accepted depending upon the availability of Druk Air seats and hotels.
6. Cancellation Charges:
Tour programs booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
i. For cancellations received on or before 45 days prior to date of arrival – full refund.
ii. For cancellation received less than 45 days from the date of arrival – 50%
iii. For cancellation received less than 30 days/no shows/early departures / after arrival in Bhutan – 100%
Note : All cancellations has to be sent in written (fax / email) before the stipulated time.