How to Reach Phuentsholing
Bhutan does not operate a visa on arrival system, and visitors without correct documentation will be denied entry. While Indian nationals do not require a Bhutanese visa to enter Phuentsholing, they do need a permit to visit other parts of the country. Nationals of other countries must obtain a Visa to enter the country. Here’s how you get in via the Bhutan gate:
- Receive exit stamp from Indian immigration office - located next to the cinema hall (there is a fork in the road when entering the town marked by a statue). Immigration is located a short way up the road on the left.
- Show visa clearance documents to Bhutanese border guards at Bhutan Gate.
- Present visa documents, passport, one photograph and a US$20 visa processing fee at the immigration office just inside Bhutan Gate. A visa will be issued according to the length specified on clearance document.
Here’s how you can enter Phuentsholing, Bhutan, from the cities of Kolkata or Siliguri in the Indian state of West Bengal:
- There is a direct service run by the Bhutan Government from Kolkata to Phuentsholing, with buses departing Esplanade Bus Station at 7PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the return journey starting from the Phuentsholing office of Bhutan Post at 3PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The journey takes around 18-25 hours (pending on road work) and costs 350Rps/Nu.
- The buses are reasonably comfortable, but since the highway through West Bengal constitutes of more potholes than road, don't bank on getting much sleep on the way.
There are two routes:
- One is via Sevak Bridge and the other goes through Alipurduar and Hasimara. We recommend that you take the second route if you are prone to car sickness as the condition of this road, which forms part of the main Siliguri to Guwahati Highway, is much better.
- The Bhutan Government buses depart from Siliguri Bus Station on Hill Cart Road at 7:30AM and 1:30PM everyday. Tickets are purchased in the bus station, but the bus departs from the other side of Hill Cart Road.
Please note that before entering Bhutan, non-Indians are required to receive an exit stamp in their passports at the Indian immigration office. Therefore, when passengers get off at the main stop in the Indian city of Jaigaon, request the driver to let you off at the Indian immigration office. It is a short walk from there to Bhutan gate, and to Phuentsholing.
By Train: The nearest railway station is at Hasimara, which is roughly a 30 minutes bus ride from Phuentsholing. New Jalpaiguri Station in Siliguri is a four hour journey away, but offers a greater number of facilities and is the most popular option for travellers arriving in Bhutan by train.
The Phuentsholing city centre is easily navigable by foot due to its small size... but car rental services are popular too. The other option is to take a taxi to get around, and hailing taxis on the road at any time of the day is customary here.