There are now two airlines that operate flights in and out of Bhutan. Druk Air (also known as Royal Bhutan Airlines) is Bhutan’s national carrier and Tashi Air (also known as Bhutan Airlines) is a private airline which started operating in 2013 and has brought in some much needed competition. There is one international airport at Paro, about an hour’s drive from the capital, Thimphu. There are also some new domestic routes in operation with domestic airports at Batpalathang in Bumthang, Yongphula in eastern Bhutan (close to Tashigang) and future plans to open at Gelephu in the south of the country.
Druk Air and Tashi Air flights can now be booked directly yourself online, but it is usually preferable for you to ask us to make the booking for you and we don’t charge for this service. If you buy the tickets from the airline websites you have to pay for them on purchase, whereas we can hold the seats for you for a period without commitment while we discuss your itinerary with you and you take the time to finalise your travel plans. Also, if we book the seats for you we get advance notice of timing changes, we can assist you with ticketing changes and we will also reconfirm your flights for you automatically as long as we have made the booking for you. Finally we often have access to discounts which are available only to agents and not for direct bookings – we will tell you if these are on offer at the time of your trip.
You will need to arrange your own international flights to your chosen point of entry to Bhutan. You should wait until we have confirmed your reservations with Druk Air/Tashi Air before you make long haul bookings. Bear in mind also that the airline schedules for Bhutan flights are subject to frequent change, and often at very short notice, so if you can arrange flexible long haul tickets it is advisable to do so. We advise that you leave 5 to 6 hours connection time if possible and if you can plan an overnight stay each end of your trip before and after flying to Bhutan then so much the better.
These airlines do not take any responsibility for the impact of timing changes or cancellations on any other flight reservations, and we also cannot do so, which means that you will have to bear the cost of any changes to your travel plans caused by changes to the Bhutan airline schedules.
The main international routings used to fly in to Paro are Delhi, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore and Calcutta. There are also flights from Dhaka, Gaya, Bagdogra and Guwahati and Mumbai. Druk Air plans to fly to Hong Kong also in the near future, although the start date has not yet been announced.
Bangkok flights come in and out every day with both airlines (and at busy times there are two or three flights a day) but flights on the other routings are not as frequent. Delhi and Kathmandu flights tend to be 5 or 6 times a week (although they are sometimes daily or twice daily at the peak of the season). Calcutta flights run around 5 times a week with Druk Air and daily with Tashi Air and Singapore flights are twice a week with Druk Air. Flights from Dhaka, Bagdogra and Guwahati are usually twice a week in each direction.
Druk Air uses an airbus which seats 114 passengers with 20 business class seats and an ATR that seats around 40 passengers with no business class available. Tashi Air has two airbuses with 122 seats (including 20 business class seats).
Timings vary depending on whether the flight is direct or has a stopover but are broadly as follows:
If you would like more precise information about flight timings or options please ask and we will be happy to explain further.
The price of Druk Air and Tashi Air flights is charged on top of the tour price. Current rates for return flights are around US$430 (Kathmandu), US$660 (Delhi), US$780 (Bangkok), US$465 (Calcutta) and US$965 (Singapore). However the seats are priced in local currency but must be paid for in US$, so the price fluctuates daily and the final price can only be confirmed on issuing the tickets. As a result the initial quote we give you for the flights will always be indicative only. Discounted fares are available at certain times of year and for children and students.
The ticketing system used by the airlines allows us to hold seats for a period so you have time to decide on your dates and organise your international flights before we have to issue the tickets. For travel dates which are more than 45 days away, the ticketing date will be between 30 to 90 days from the date of booking, depending on availability. If seats are still available on the flight we can keep extending the reservation for further periods of 30 days until the flight fills up and we have to issue the tickets. For travel dates less than 45 days but more than 14 days away the ticketing date will be 7 days from the date of booking. For travel dates within 14 days, no ticketing date will be available and the flights must be paid for on booking to secure the seats.
The baggage allowance is usually 20 kg in economy class and 30 kg in business class. However, Tashi Air offers an allowance of 30 kg in economy class and so when flying to and from Bangkok with Druk Air the allowance increases to 30 kg in economy class and 40 kg in business class.
It is also possible to enter or leave Bhutan by road via Phuntsholing on the Indian border in the south-west or at Samdrup Jongkhar in the south-east. This allows you to combine a trip to Bhutan with some time in Darjeeling or Sikkim or Assam. Phuntsholing is three or four hours’ drive from the nearest Indian airport in Bagdogra in West Bengal, and about seven hours’ drive from Thimphu. From Samdrup Jongkhar it is about a three hour drive to Guwahati which has flights to and from a number of Indian cities.