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For foreign travellers, the cost of travelling in Bhutan is already included in the pre-paid price of your trip. You won’t have to worry about coordinating for the vehicle; as you’ll have a dedicated vehicle available throughout your trip. Only tourists from India who don’t organize their trip through a tour operator, may need to rely on public transport or have to make their own transport arrangement in Bhutan. However, some travellers are keen to experience the public transport and/or other means of travelling in Bhutan, in-spite of the pre-arranged vehicle.
We’ve covered Bhutan Pre-Trip Research in great detail in our post Bhutan Travel Guide: Complete Pre-Trip Research Kit & Tips; the post covers Visa process, trip-cost, hotels, destinations, travel itineraries, trekking & hike to Tiger’s Nest and more..
Getting Around & Travelling Within Bhutan
Bhutan has a sub-tropical climatic condition; so there are no harsh winters here. However, you need to be extra cautious while travelling during rainy season as roads may be flooded and/or slippery.
- Department of Tourism (DOT) in Bhutan is encouraging Bicycle tours throughout the country
- There are several good biking trails in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha in Bhutan.
- A good source to find a suitable biking trail is Bikemap.
- There are no major bicycle rental companies in Bhutan. However, on your stroll around the town in Thimphu or Paro, you’ll come across local bike repair shops who may be willing to rent out bikes for specific duration.
- Many bicycle enthusiasts take the 49 km. Paro – Thimphu route. The route involves travelling via picturesque narrow mountainous roads.
- Public buses in Bhutan generally run in an orderly manner and are well-organized. Traveller’s are often required to purchase tickets in advance to reserve their seat for the trip. Buses are not usually over-crowded.
- Bus fares are cheap and buses frequency between major Bhutanese towns is quite good. You can learn more about bus fares, routes and frequency on Road Safety & Transport Authority of Bhutan (RSTA) website.
- Bhutan has winding roads and the road conditions are not good in some odd patches. As such, bus rides may get uncomfortable for some people.
- Non-Bhutanese should generally stay away from driving in Bhutan. As an experienced local driver would be familiar with driving on the narrow mountainous terrain.
- The entire of Bhutan is connected by just one narrow mountainous road; and the winding road itself features several blind-spot, sudden steep turns and extremely narrow stretches.
- Apart from passenger vehicles, this road is used by heavy commercial vehicles and trucks too; which often forces the oncoming vehicles to the edge of the road on narrow stretches.
- There are no street lights on the national road which connects major Bhutanese towns; as such, if one is not familiar with driving on mountainous terrain in such conditions, then driving post sunset may turn out to be a difficult experience for non-experienced drivers.
- There is no major self-driving car rental company operating in Bhutan. Some local private car owners do rent out vehicles to tourists against a personal guarantee. Visitors should however refrain from such deals as there are no proper governing laws regarding rental cars in Bhutan; which may be troublesome in case of any disputes.
- For travellers to Bhutan, who are interested in getting their own vehicles to Bhutan via India (there are no alternative routes), we have covered this topic in more detail in our post
- There are no dedicated motor-cycle rental companies operating in Bhutan.
- Some local bike owners do rent out motor-cycle to tourists against a personal guarantee. Visitors should however refrain from such deals as there are no proper governing laws regarding motor-cycle rentals in Bhutan; which may be troublesome in case of any disputes.
- Traveller’s entering Bhutan by road via India may be able to rent a good bike fairly easily from Siliguri in West Bengal, India (appox. 150 km from the Indo-Bhutan border) at a reasonable price.
- The motor-cycle would however require a vehicle permit to enter Bhutan territory. This permit can be obtained from the Regional Transport Office (R.T.O) in border-town Phuentsholing, Bhutan.
- Hitch hiking is not considered entirely safe in any country
- Normally, people pay for their ride in Bhutan
- Hitch hiking is not quite popular in Bhutan and many locals would find it difficult to understand if you try to explain them that you are a hitch hiker.
- If you want to try out hitch hiking at your own risk then we would categorize Bhutan as a relatively safe place to do so.
Disclaimer: Woavel does not recommend hitch hiking as we do not find it as a safe mode of travelling.
- You’ll find plenty of taxi’s in all Bhutanese towns and urban areas
- There are no ride hailing apps in Bhutan
- The drivers usually charge a flat rate instead of using the electronic trip meter
- The fares for short distance trips within the same town are usually fixed at Nu. 50; however fares for long distance trips can be negotiated.
- Share cabs are also available for long distance trips; share cabs are organized directly at the taxi stand.
- Also, taxi can be hired for a day long sightseeing trip in and around the same town. Usually a cab would charge approximately Nu. 800 for a 5-6 hrs sightseeing trip in and around Thimphu.
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