Time to go back home We started from Jaigaon to Siliguri. We returned the bike to the rental company and finally board the flight back to Bangalore
As it was my idea, so i took the tedious task to find bike rentals. Suprisingly, unlike Ladakh, bike tours are not very famous in North East zone. There are very limited options available that too in Siliguri, there are no bike rentals available in Jaigaon.
Option 1 : I talked to one Bike Rental company named DarjeelingBikes, they offered 350 cc enfield @1400/day. They didn't have 500 cc and even all 350 cc bikes were not classic which we wanted. The only issue was that they asked me to pay Rs 5000/bike in advance over NEFT and I was not very comfortable about it.
Option 2 : Last year, we rented bikes from a Bangalore based startup named Wickedride. The overall experience with them was really great and they accept payment through PayUMoney. I called that guy and found that they don't have a base in Siliguri. He gave me an offer that they can ship the bikes from Rajasthan to Siliguri with some additional charges for shipping. After several rounds of discussion, final offer was
350cc : 1000/day + 8000 shipping charges (both ways)+VAT : 19000
500cc : 1200/day + 8000 shipping charges (both ways) + VAT : 21000
On the basis of our last great experience, safe mode of payment and a trust on their bike qualities, we decided to go with Wickedride.
Bad experience with Wickedride
We found their representative at the decided location. And within an hour, he brought all the bikes from a nearby parking. He catechized about our plan. We were baffled by his response “You cannot enter Sikkim with these bike documents. The check post at Sikkim border will ask you to return back. He continued in his confident tone “You need originals… No photostates…And I am not sure if these documents will even suffice in Bhutan”.This guy ran a travel agency in Siliguri and soon we realized that he is trying to befool us and so with a little exchange of words, we ended saying “we will deal with the situation if it comes” and as expected, there was no issue in crossing Sikkim border.
But it became much worse when we found that rear view mirrors and leg guards missing. We were totally disappointed with rentals. When we complained, he bought the rear view from the market. But our bikes were still without leg guards. After two days of ride, my bike's brakes got loose which was horrible.
Getting immigration done is a mess or I would say it was one of the most difficult part of our journey. Immigration office of Bhutan is a small hall accommodated by people with 4 times its capacity. For bikers, you need to get two different permits, one for you and other for the vehicle. Getting the vehicle permit is comparatively easy. You can do the whole process by yourself, but I suggest to hire an agent as we did. We found a travel agency on the ground floor of our hotel in jaigaon (Satyam hotel) and they helped use with the immigration. Contact Person : John Lama
This permit will enable you to travel only Thimpu and Paro, if you want to visit Eastern Bhutan, you need to extend your permit in Thimpu which is a very easy job.
No need to worry about the currency at all. Indian currency is accepted everywhere even 500 rupee note (I read somewhere that only 100 Rs or below denominations are accepted which is not true).
How much the trip cost
This is a little variable amount as everyone has their own standards of stay and food. Below is the list of my major expenses :
Flight Tickets from Bangalore : Rs 14,000 (to and fro)
Bike Rental : Rs 20,000
Accommodation : Rs 6,000 (room on sharing basis)
Food : Rs 4,000
Drinks : Rs 1,500 (They have very cheap and very good scotch : K5 and Misty Peak).
Trip first published on CAMERAONWHEEL