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Old 18th March 2009, 13:36   #1
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Default North East+ Bhutan

Hey folks,
We are planning to do a two week trip from Noida to Bhutan on bikes. As of now the plan is to ship the bikes to New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra by train and then fly down to any of these stations and continue with the trip. It would be great if anyone here could shed some light on which route to follow. We are interested in including Assam since we have already been there. Any pointers will be appreciated.

cheers!!
sachin
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Old 18th March 2009, 14:58   #2
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I am also going to Bhutan in second week of April in my Scorpio.

Here is my route plan from Bombay, which will be of guidance to you also.
I am also attaching my 1994 bike trip log book.

This is my second trip to Bhutan, having driven down in a bike in 1994. A few tips:

- You have to obtain a permit to visit Thimphu/Paro at Phuntsoling, the border town.
- In case you are carrying your passport, you can directly get it from the Foreign Office of the Bhutan Govt

- In case you are not carrying your passport, you must first visit the Indian Consulate who will check your driving license, then issue you a permit. This will take a longer time. I am told that all applications have to be submitted by between 10 am and 12 noon and permits will be issued in the afternoon.

- You will be normally granted a 14-day permit

- You have to show your driving licenses or any other proof of Indian identity

- These offices work to office timings (Mon-Fri) only, so ensure you arrive accordingly.

- Bhutan time is half hour ahead of India

- You can stay at either Jaigarh (India) or Phuntsoling (Bhutan)

- For the bike, you must also visit the Road Transport & safety Authority (the RTO) there for a permit for the bike. Normally granted within 30 minutes.

- carry all documents in original.

- carry passport photos

- If you want to go to Est Bhutan (as I am planning to do), I think you have to take another Special Permit at Thimphu. There is some confusion - I talked to the Thimphu office but they say Phuntsoling office will issue it, although the web-sites state to the contrary. So ensure you arrive in Thimphu also on a working day. Am told that Indian Consulate works only Mon-Fri, but Bhutan Govt offices work Mon-Sat (half day).
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Old 18th March 2009, 15:01   #3
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Here are the 2 attachments:

the first file is my Apr 2009 drive plan for Sikkhim, Bhutan and Arunachal

the second file is the log book of my bike trip to Sikkhim and Bhutan.
Attached Files
File Type: xls k2k2k2.xls (128.5 KB, 1318 views)
File Type: xls BhutanTrip1994.xls (77.0 KB, 439 views)
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Old 18th March 2009, 15:08   #4
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I talked to the Road safety & Transport Authority Officer at Phuntsoling (Bhutan border town) and he said his office is open all days (except Bhutan national holidays), but the permits will be issued:
(a) between 11 am and 1 pm
(b) all documents in original
(c) only after you get your tourist permit/ visa
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Old 18th March 2009, 16:25   #5
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thanks hvkumar, that was very informative.
All the best for your trip. Waiting for the snaps and triplog.

Another thing what i know is that there are ONLY two points for entry/exit in bhutan one is Phuntsoling and dont remember the other place but what i remember is that its in Assam, is this info correct??

Last edited by nickoo : 18th March 2009 at 16:33.
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Old 18th March 2009, 16:44   #6
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Samdrup Jhonkar, is 110 kms from Guwahati via Rangiya. It is the easternmost entry point. The route from Thimphu is Thimphu-Wandue-Trongsa-Jakar-Trashigang-Samdrup Jhonkar.

I am planning to exit Bhutan through that gate.
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Old 18th March 2009, 22:54   #7
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Can you enter through Gaylegphug? I think the way through is from Bongaigaon.

Last edited by kkdelhi : 18th March 2009 at 22:56.
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Old 18th March 2009, 23:38   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Samdrup Jhonkar, is 110 kms from Guwahati via Rangiya. It is the easternmost entry point. The route from Thimphu is Thimphu-Wandue-Trongsa-Jakar-Trashigang-Samdrup Jhonkar.

I am planning to exit Bhutan through that gate.
i think this route can only be used to exit and not for entering?? i can be wrong too. Done some study will post as soon as the recce is over!
Thanks HVK!!
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Old 19th March 2009, 09:07   #9
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For Indians, I hear both entry and exit are possible through Samdrup Jhonkar, for foreigners only exit.

Gelephu cannot be used as entry/exit. It is 273 kms from Trongsa.
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Old 19th March 2009, 10:57   #10
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HVK
This is great. I am going in May. Hope to go as far as Tashigang and back the same route perhaps (wouldn't go down to Samdrup). I am really dying to experience the Yadi loop again after twenty years.
Just spoke to a hotelier from Mongar. He says the trip is highly possible. I have done this by bus several times twenty years ago. But self drive car with two dependants is a different ball game.
Looks like you are going to beat me to it . But that's how it should be. Will look forward to your report. I wonder why Gaylegphug (pronounced gelefu) cannot be used for exit !!! Militancy? It's just a stone's throw from Bongaigaon (though through a thick impregnable forest) where Mitch was escorted out of the district by armed policemen recently.
Sudipto

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Old 19th March 2009, 11:02   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
HVK
I wonder why Gaylegphug (pronounced gelefu) cannot be used for exit !!! Militancy? It's just a stone's throw from Bongaigaon (though through a thick impregnable forest) where Mitch was escorted out of the district by armed policemen recently.
Sudipto
I think it is just Bhutan Govt policy to restrict to 2 entry/exit points - Phuntsoling and Samdrup Jhonkar, and may not be due to militancy. Indian security on the borders with Bhutan is hyper-cautious, and I have been detained by BSF myself near Chalasa one night in 2001. But since then, situation must have improved since Bhutan flushed out militant groups in their territories.
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Old 19th March 2009, 11:05   #12
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I lived three hours on foot from Gaylegphug for close to two years. It was a life changing experience for me. This entire thread makes me so nostalgic.
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Old 19th March 2009, 11:09   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkdelhi View Post
Can you enter through Gaylegphug? I think the way through is from Bongaigaon.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
...
Gelephu cannot be used as entry/exit. It is 273 kms from Trongsa.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
.... I wonder why Gaylegphug (pronounced gelefu) cannot be used for exit !!! Militancy? It's just a stone's throw from Bongaigaon (though through a thick impregnable forest) ....
I remember we going to Bhutan through Sarbhang (Gaylepugh) route atleast 3-4 times in the 80's. There used to be a bus from Kokrajhar that used to go to Sarbhang town in Bhutan. Used to take some 6-7 hours by bus through some thick forests.

But, to go to Thimpu/Paro, that route is not the optimal rooute -- as the one from Phuntsholing is shorter.
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Old 19th March 2009, 11:37   #14
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becoz the fun's in the journey not the destination...: Tales from the roads of Sikkim and Bhutan...

can help you
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Old 19th March 2009, 11:38   #15
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Just a couple of points:

1. The road between Phuntsholing and Thimpu is being widened. Was in bad condition in early December at least for the first 100 kms. Expect bad roads, delays due to landslides etc. The work is being done by BRO, and they are pretty efficient. Do plan for some delays though.
2. The permits to visit Eastern/ Central Bhutan will be given at Thimpu only, and not at Phuntsholing. Give the application in the morning and you will be able to get it by 3 o clock or something. The offices are diagonally opposite to the Taj Tashi, and close by 4 pm Bhutan time.

@nickoo: For two weeks, I suggest you plan on visiting Paro, Thimpu, Punakha (separate permit will be required, no need to stay just a visit should be good enough) and Central Bhutan (Wangdue, Jakar). You can plan your itinerary accordingly. TIP; Put Paro at the end so that you can do Paro-Phuntsholing during daytime. Thimpu will be at the begining, since you will need to make the permits. Bhutan is a mesmeric place. Have good time, yall.

EDIT: I recommend all of you get the book "Driving Holidays in the Himalayas: Bhutan" by Koko Singh (Rupa & Co.) Should be available at any good bookstore. Has a lot of information on Bhutan, and driving in Bhutan.

Last edited by anurag_p80 : 19th March 2009 at 11:42.
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