Domestic flight operation started in Bhutan in 2012, offering flights from Paro to Bumthang and to Yongphola in eastern Bhutan and return.
While we will be happy to consider this option for clients who request it, we are not actively promoting it for a number of reasons. In particular, there are no vehicles or guides and drivers readily available in Bumthang or the east, so all services have to be sourced from the capital, Thimphu. This presents logistical difficulties in arranging a tour which includes an internal flight and also leads to additional costs arising from the provision of duplicate services.
Flights to and from Yongphula have been in suspension since November 2013 but are planned to restart in November 2017, finally allowing better access to eastern Bhutan, subject to the comments below. Flights to and from Gelephu are also now available, 3 times a week.
If you are still keen to consider including an internal flight in your itinerary please note the following points:
- The schedule varies, but flights are not always daily (depending on the time of year), so we would need to fit the itinerary to the domestic flight schedule
- The schedule is not 100% reliable. It is not unusual for flights to be cancelled because of weather delays or technical problems and of course we have no control over this
- Further, if the airline has sold fewer than 6 seats on a particular flight they will just cancel the departure at short notice
- The drive between Bumthang and Paro takes around 10 to 12 hours and if your flight is cancelled you may have no alternative but to drive this distance in one day to avoid missing your international flight (or missing out on your planned itinerary if you are flying in the opposite direction)
- Your guide will not be able to fly back to Paro with you (unless you pay for a seat for him) and your car and driver will take time to return west, so they will not be available for you on your arrival back in Paro. This means we have to provide a substitute car, driver and guide and of course we have to make an additional charge for this.
- The same applies if you are flying in the opposite direction, as we have to send your guide and driver a couple of days ahead so we will have to make additional arrangements for you on arrival in Paro before you depart on the domestic flight
In view of the above, the use of internal flights is not totally risk and cost free, so you should think carefully about whether you want to use this option – we will be happy to discuss this with you further to help you decide on the best option for you.