I was still engrossed in the mesmerizing view of the Himalayas from the top, making the most of the window seat, when the crew announced that we were ready to descend at Paro. As our aircraft started losing altitude, we passed white clouds, steep mountain slopes covered in dense conifers, green valleys with small settlements crisscrossed by streams, and finally landed at Paro International airport. I had heard and read a lot about this place and how tricky it could be at times to land safely in an airport like this, surrounded by mountains and having a short runway..it surely needs the best and most experienced pilots.
That was my first experience of Bhutan - a beautiful flight experience that ended in a scenic airport, and I could guess how wonderful the rest of the stay would be.
1. By road/ rail - Reach NGP by train and take a taxi/bus to Phuentsholing, the border town between India and Bhutan. From Phuentsholing, take a shuttle/ hire cab to reach Thimphu
2. By air - Take a flight( Druk Air) to Paro. The flying time from Kolkata to Paro is just 50 mins, which shows how close Bhutan is. One can also reach Bagdogra airport and then take the road route.
Visa and permit - Bhutan issues Visa on arrival. Indians need to present Passport/voter ID card to obtain the visa at Paro or Phuentsholing. This visa works in Thimphu and Paro only. Special permit is required to visit Punakha, Bumthang, Wangdue Phodrang etc,and that can be obtained at Thimphu. The visa process is completely hassle free, especially for Indians.
Currency - Indian currency works just fine.
Complete itinerary - Paro Airport -> Thimphu (2 days) -> Punakha (1 day) -> Paro (3 days).
On reaching Paro, we took a cab from the airport to Thimphu city. Not sure if it could be cheaper, we paid 800 bucks for a WagonR and roughly 2 hours drive to Thimphu.