Transport System Within Bhutan

Transportation in Bhutan is characterized by unique challenges and considerations due to the country's mountainous terrain and commitment to preserving its cultural and environmental heritage. With a limited road network, the primary modes of transportation include road travel and domestic flights. The road infrastructure is continually improving, but travel times can be lengthy, and road conditions may vary. The government of Bhutan places a strong emphasis on promoting sustainable and eco-friendly transportation options, aligning with the nation's commitment to Gross National Happiness. Visitors often experience the breathtaking landscapes and traditional culture while navigating the country's roads, contributing to an enriching and memorable journey. As Bhutan seeks a delicate balance between modernization and conservation, transportation remains a pivotal aspect in connecting communities and fostering economic development.

Getting around Bhutan by road is easier than you think
Renting a car is the best and most popular way to traverse the country’s winding roads. But you won’t be driving yourself from town to town – every rental comes with a driver, and outside of Thimphu and Paro, you'll need to hire a guide too (only Indian tourists can drive themselves). While it may sound like you’re giving up some travel freedom, as soon as you catch a glimpse at the roads in Bhutan, you’ll be glad you left driving in the hands of the professionals.

Although paved, most of the roads here are a series of hairpin turns that will make your stomach churn. So, if you’re prone to motion sickness, be sure to pack some medication with you. The vistas are stunning, so having a driver gives you time to focus your attention on the landscape rather than the road.

Grabbing a taxi can be a reasonably priced option
Taxis are an option if you’re determined to explore Bhutan without the same driver. Travelers can get a taxi from the airport of their hotel to their destination for a flat fee. The fees are determined by the Roads Safety and Transport Authority, but travelers often report room for negotiation. Be aware if you are traveling outside of Paro and Thimphu, you will need a guide to accompany you.

Buses traverse the country, but come with caveats
Buses are the only mode of public transportation in Bhutan. Travelers can hop on a bus with their guide to travel between destinations throughout the country. And while it may be an affordable option, with tickets ranging from $2.40 to $12 for hours-long journeys, it’s not always comfortable. Crowded and sometimes unreliable, buses aren’t the fastest or most convenient mode of transport in Bhutan, but the winding roads do make it exciting.

For buses between districts, you can book tickets at DrukRide or using the DrukRide app and make online payment. As for the city buses, you can pay in cash to the driver if you don't have a bus card. You would still need a guide to accompany you if you are leaving Thimphu and Paro by bus.

Flying domestically will save hours
Although the destinations may look close on the map, the road conditions in Bhutan mean traveling to the various destinations takes hours. For travelers looking to save time but still visit the five main tourist centers, booking a domestic flight to Bumthang is the way to go. Drukair offers a 35-minute flight from Paro to Bumthang several times a week. Given that it saves you five to ten hours and has some gorgeous mountain views, it’s well worth it. From there, you can visit more remote parts of the country, including Eastern Bhutan.

The Trans Bhutan Trail makes it perfect for hikers
Trekking is one of the most popular local and tourist activities in Bhutan. In 2022, the country opened the Trans Bhutan Trail, a 403km (250 mile) walking trail split into 28 sections, spanning from east to west. For the average hiker, the entire trail will take 36 days. Keep in mind that Bhutan’s $100 per day tourism fee makes it an expensive destination, so to maximize your experience and get the most out of your visit, splitting time between the trail and driving may be the best way to get around Bhutan.


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