Nepal and Bhutan share their borders with Sikkim and Siliguri districts of West Bengal â€“to reach Phuentsholing or Paro from Nepal, you have to cover the overland route. If judged by the closest points of Nepal and Bhutan, the distance is only about 63 kilometres. The journey, however, is of about 404 kilometres on a flight or in case of road journey, around 180 kilometres from Siliguri (after reaching from Nepal) to Phuentsholing.
Nepal To Bhutan by Bus
The overland bus journey from Nepal to Siliguri and then Siliguri to Phuentsholing is nearly 787 kilometres, of which the distance between Kathmandu and Kakarbhitta is 457 kilometres. Kakarbhitta is the border town of Nepal and closest to Siliguri â€“from Kathmandu, a direct bus journey to Kakarbhitta will take more or less 10 hours.
Bus Options Available
- Kathmandu - Kakarbhitta - Darjeeling - Siliguri - Phuentsholing
Air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled 35-seater deluxe bus departs from 3:30 PM and takes around 16 hours to reach.
Take a taxi to reach the Indian border of Panitanki from the bus stop covering around a kilometre and check in to the Nepal Immigration office.
- Panitanki (Raiganj) To Darjeeling, Darjeeling To Siliguri
- Panitanki To Siliguri, Siliguri To Phuentsholing
The Royal Bhutanese Government runs two buses at 7:30 AM and 1:30 PM respectively from Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminal. Once every day a bus runs from Bhutan Post in Phuentsholing to Thimphu â€“the duration is six hours, and the fare is 200 NRs.
Time Taken: 10-16 hours from Kathmandu to Kakarbhitta. Maximum 6 hours to reach from Siliguri to Phuentsholing on the bus.
Cost: Around 1680 NRs for Kathmandu to Kakarvitta bus, INR 2,900-3,600 for Darjeeling to Siliguri on taxi and INR 100 on the bus and INR 180 for Siliguri to Jaigaon or Phuentsholing.
Nepal To Bhutan By Car
Apparently, on a private or rented car, reaching Phuentsholing from Nepal is only a matter of 8.5-9 hours if you drive consistently at 50kmph speed. If you have an international license, you have permission to operate in India and Nepal for one year, but in case you are on a self-drive or rented car, comprehensive insurance is required that is on the costly side. In Bhutan, foreign citizens except Indians have to bring their private vehicle and river as they are not permitted to drive their car.
- Kathmandu-Kakarbhitta-Siliguri Route (Via E-W Highway/AH2) [10 hours, 457 Kms]
- Siliguri-Hasimara-Phuentsholing Route (Via NH17 And NH317A) [3.5 hours, 140 Kms]
The road from Kathmandu to Kakarbhitta is in excellent condition (a few potholes are there which is tolerable) even though it was constructed more than ten years ago. On the way to Hasimara, you might face traffic and narrow roads, but the rest of the route is fair enough.
Nepal To Bhutan By Train
Birgunj, Janakpur, Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri, and Hasimara are the railway stations connected indirectly from Kathmandu. There is no train facility in either Bhutan or Nepal â€“you can take a car or bus to reach the Panitanki and from there to the stations mentioned above, take a train and then take taxi or bus to reach Phuentsholing. The train routes run cross-border and are connected with Birgunj Junction and Janakpur Junction near the Nepal border. The cross-border lines run between Birgunj and Raxual covering 6 kilometres as well as Bardibas and Jaynagar covering 69 kilometres through Janakpur. You can also get to New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri and take a train to Hasimara crossing Nagrakata â€“the duration of the journey is around 4-5 hours at the most.
Train Options AvailableRaxaul-Barauni-Hasimara (732kms minimum in total)
- 13022 Mithila Express (daily), 13044 Raxaul-Howrah Express (Thursday, Saturday), 07092 Raxaul-Secundrabad Special (Friday), 07006 Raxaul-Hyderabad Special (Sunday)
- 15484 Sikkim Mahananda Express (daily), Kamakhya Capital Express (Monday to Thursday), 19305 Indore-Kamakhya Weekly Express (Friday)
From Kathmandu, take a car to Birgunj, which is 136 kilometres and takes 5 hours. From Birgunj, Raxaul Junction in Bihar is only 12 kilometres away and takes 30-40 minutes in a car. From Raxaul, you can take a train to Barauni Junction â€“there are many weekly or daily trains available, and they make a maximum of 7 hours to complete the journey. From Barauni, you have to take another train to Hasimara, which is about 520 kilometres away and takes 14 hours. On reaching Hasimara, take a bus or taxi to reach Phuentsholing and another taxi from there to Thimphu.Cost: Around 700 INR for A/C 2-tier from Raxaul to Barauni, 300 INR for Sleeper Class from Barauni to HasimaraDuration: Over 30 hours
- 13136 Jaynagar-Kolkata Weekly Express (Sunday), 18606 Jaynagar-Ranchi Express (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday), 13186 Gangasagar Express (daily)
- Barauni to Hasimara trains is mentioned on the above point.
Although the railway line was to be inaugurated between Jaynagar and Janakpur, there is still no surety of such from the authority. So it is better to take a bus or taxi from Kathmandu, which will take around 12 hours to reach Janakpur and then take another cab to reach Jaynagar covering 28.4 kilometres. Depending on the trains, from Jaynagar to Barauni, the time taken is 3-5 hours. On the route mentioned above, you will find the details of the train service from Barauni to Hasimara.Cost: INR 700 for Jaynagar-Barauni train (A/C 2-tier), 300 INR for Sleeper Class from Barauni to HasimaraDuration: 30 hours, more or less.
Siliguri-Hasimara (140 Kms)
13149 Kanchan Kanya Express (daily), 15484 Sikkim Mahananda Express (daily), 19305 Indore Kamakhya INDB GHY Express (Saturday), 13248 Patna Kamakhya Capital Express (Monday to Thursday), 15661 Ranchi Kamakhya Express (Thursday)22511 Karmabhoomi Express (Friday)
On-road, the distance between Hasimara and Siliguri is only about 140 kilometres, and the most convenient option will be to reach Kakarvitta on a bus from Kathmandu, take a taxi to come to Panitanki in Indian border and the bus to Siliguri.Cost: INR 700 (A/C 2-tier)Duration: 3-4 hours
Nepal To Bhutan By Flight
The best option to reach Bhutan from Nepal is on a flight, i.e. from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport to Paro International Airport. On the flight, the distance between the two airports is 404 kilometres, and it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Only Druk Air (the government airline) and Bhutan Airlines (the private airline) operate flights between the two countries. Apart from Tuesday and Thursday when only one flight is scheduled, on other days of the week, there are few flights daily. In total, around 11 flights are flying between Paro and Kathmandu. Try to take the left window seat for a magnificent view of the Himalayas. You will get an allowance of 30kg luggage, complimentary drinks, and in-flight meals.
Flight Options Available Kathmandu To Paro (KTM to PBH)
Cost: INR 16,535 to 17,550 i.e. USD 200 for one-way flight on economy class.Make sure to get return tickets at the same time as, without an outbound ticket, you are not permitted to enter Paro.
- Druk Air Flights
Cost: In economy class, the fare is USD 234, and in business class, it is USD 280.
Time: Flight KB 4001 departs at 7:45 AM, KB 401 at 9:45 AM, 1:20 PM and 2:30 PM.
- Bhutan Airlines Flights
Cost: The cost is USD 240 in economy class and USD 280 in business class.
Time: The B3 774 departs at 10 AM, 10:20 AM, 2:10 PM and 3 PM respectively.
Without a valid visa, travel permits, and valid ID proof (Passport, Voter ID card, PAN card, Driving license, etc.), you will not get a flight booking. So, it is better to get your itinerary planned by a tour operator who will verify your documents and get a confirmation from TCB â€“Tourism Council Of Bhutan.