To reach Bhutan, buses can be boarded from Indian towns of Kolkata and Siliguri. The buses are run by Royal Bhutanese Government.
From Kolkata, buses run by Royal Bhutanese Government depart from Kolkata's Esplanade Bus Terminal at 7:00 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and charge BTN 653 for journey till Phuentsholing. The entire journey takes almost a day and since the buses are comfortable, one can get a decent amount of rest along the way. However, the roads are curvy and hence getting sound sleep is a hard nut to crack.
Apart from this, buses also run from Siliguri Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminal to Phuentsholing every day at 7:30 AM and 1:30 PM. It takes five to six hours easily to complete the journey and the trail is rough. The journey costs around BTN 200.
Local Bus Service in Bhutan
Meto, Master, Khorlo, Pelyab, Sernye, Dhug, Bumpa, Dungkhar, Tamshing, Lhakhpa and Kuenphen are the different transport companies which operate the bus service in Bhutan. Coaster, 20-seater, 30-seater, 50-seater, Eicher buses etc. are the different kind of buses which can be found here.
1. Bus Service in Central BhutanFrom Central Bhutan, connectivity from all other parts of the country is pretty developed. Phuentsholing and Gelephu are the main headquarters for buses in Central Bhutan, from where buses for almost all the villages and cities can be boarded.
Buses to and from Phuentsholing
Once you arrive in Phuentsholing, buses going towards Thimphu, Paro, Wangdue, Punakha, Kamichu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Tendu, Haa, Dagana, Tsirang, Bumthang, Gelephu and Phobjikha, can be boarded from Phuentsholing Bus Terminal. The most frequently operated bus services are of Meto, Khorlo and Dhug Transport.
- Buses for Thimphu run every day and take about 6 - 7 hours to reach the destination. The frequency of buses is quite good and one can catch a bus at any time of the day. Most of the buses are 20 seater and comfortable. However, the route is rough, which might make the journey a bit unpleasant. The fare is around BTN 180. To Phuentsholing, coaster buses run every day from Thimphu at 7:00 AM.
- To Paro, 2 bus services, both 20 seaters, run daily at 9:00 AM and 8:30 AM. The entire journey takes around 5 - 6 hours and costs around BTN 200. From Paro to Phuentsholing, coaster buses run every day at 9:00 AM and 8:30 AM and the journey takes six and a half hours to complete.
- Meto Transport runs a 50-seater bus till Samdrup Jongkhar on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 6:30 AM and reaches at around 6:00 PM, making it a 12-hour long journey. Bumpa Transport runs a 31-seater bus every day from Phuentsholing at 5:30 AM. From Samdrup Jongkhar, buses for Phuentsholing run every day at 6:00 AM.
Buses, by Dungkar Transport, Bumpa Transport, Sernya Transport, Meto Transport, Doley Transport etc, going till Phuentsholing, Tsirang, Thimphu, Bumthang, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Wangdue etc. can be boarded from Gelephu Terminal.
- To reach Samdrup Jongkhar, a TATA bus by Bumpa Transport can be boarded on any day at 7:00 AM. The journey takes around 10 hours. From Samdrup Jongkhar, an Eicher bus by Bhutan Transport runs every day at 6:00 AM.
- Coaster Buses for Thimphu depart every day at 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM and reaches the destination in 10 hours. From Thimphu, a coaster bus departs every day at 7:00 AM and reaches Gelephu at 4:30 PM.
- For Punakha, a coaster bus by Sernya Transport runs at 7:00 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and reaches the destination at 4:20 PM. From Punakha, a coaster bus service runs on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 AM.
2. Bus Services in Western BhutanWith all the beautiful valleys, majestic dzongs and pristine environment, western areas of Bhutan such as Punakha, Samtse, Haa, Thimphu, Paro etc. are undoubtedly the wonders of this wonderful Himalayan country. The connectivity to the rest of the country is not as developed as that in Central Bhutan, but it is still pretty good. Thimphu and Paro are the headquarters for bus services in Western Bhutan.
Buses to and from Thimphu
From Thimphu Bus Terminal, different transport services operate their buses, which go to every town of Bhutan, including Trashigang, Paro, Gelephu, Lhuentse, Mongar, Samdrup Jongkhar etc.
- For Trashigang, coaster buses run every day except on Thursdays. The journey starts at 7:00 AM and goes on till 5:30 PM the following day. For a night, it halts at Bumthang, where passengers can hire a hotel room to rest and sleep comfortably. From Trashigang to Thimphu, coaster buses run every day at 6:00 AM.
- For Gelephu, coaster buses run daily at 7:00 AM and take around 10 hours to reach the destination. The bus services are operated by Bumpa Transport and Sernya Transport. From Gelephu, there is a coaster bus service every day at 7:00 AM.
- For Lhuentse, coaster buses run on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:00 AM and take around 34 hours, with a night halt at Bumthang. Similarly, for Mongar, coaster buses by Meto Transport run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 AM with a night halt at Bumthang. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, coaster buses by Dhug transport depart at 7:00 AM for Mongar. The journey takes about 34 hours. From Mongar Base, coaster buses run every day, except for on Monday, at 7.00 AM. From Lhuentse Base, coaster buses can be boarded at 6:00 AM from Thursday to Monday.
- Buses run every day at 7:30 AM to Bumthang. Buses also depart at 7:00 AM, on each day except for Mondays. The full journey takes around 11 hours to complete. From Bumthang Base, a coaster bus runs by Meto Transport runs every day at 7:00 AM.
- Sernya Transport buses for the Haa base depart every day at 1:00 PM and 9:00 AM, taking about 6 hours to reach this beautiful valley. From Haa Base, a Sernya Transport bus runs every day, except for Sunday, at 9:30 AM.
Buses to and from Paro
Being an important economical centre and a tourist spot in Bhutan, it is naturally expected that many bus services would run from Paro. However, against all expectations, only Dhug, Meto and Khorlo Transport run a few buses to Phuentsholing, Thimphu, Haa and Samtse, which can be boarded from Paro Base.
- For Samtse, coaster buses run on alternate days at 7:00 AM and reach at 4:00 PM. From Samtse Base, a bus runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 AM. The bus is operated by Khorlo Transport.
- For the Haa base, a 22-seater bus runs at 9:00 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The journey takes about 6 hours to complete. From Haa Base, the same bus runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9:00 AM.
3. Bus Services in Eastern BhutanEastern part of Bhutan is said to be the most beautiful in the whole country. With hilly regions and high mountain peaks, the region experiences some of the roughest winters and the transport services are not as good as the rest of the country. But there is good connectivity from Samdrup Jongkhar and Trashigang, which also happen to be the headquarters, to the other regional headquarters of the country.
Although the country itself is not very developed, the buse service in Bhutan is satisfactory and a good medium to commute from region to region. The rough and curvy roads make the journey a bit tedious, but the efforts made by the bus service providers to make buses comfortable are commendable. The ride is worth every penny!