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Old 17th April 2011, 22:19   #1
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Default Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Dear all

we are planning for a trip to Bhutan & Sikkim from 30th apr to 13th may. Our plan is as below,

as earlier need help from you on below..
We are taking a flight to Bagdogra on 30th apr , will land at 1.30pm & reach Punsholing on same day,

1. we are planning to take permit from a travel agent there, is it possible to take a permit from a travel agent? can we enter bhutan on 30th ie saturday late evening & stay in bhutan on saturday and sunday can we continue to travel to Thimpu ?
2. we are getting a scorpio from a known person at Siliguri, is it possible to get vehicle permit to bhutan before we reach there?
3. from Paro to Gangtok, is it possible to drive in one day? we are 2 families ( 4 adults & 3 kids (3, 9 & 10yrs)
we planned to stay at jaldapara as one of my friend suggested its a very long journey, if we drive thru we will save a day.
4. we have not planned to book any hotel & is it difficult to find hotels at the below palces during this time? can you pl suggest some hotels at good locations. we are just looking for a hygiene hotel.
5. is it possible to take our own vehicle to north sikkim?
6. is it possible to do gangtok-zero point - lachung-lachen-gurudongmar-gangtok in 2 days?
7. if zero point-gurudongmor is too tiring to cover in 2 days, we have planned to skip one of them.
8. pl suggest if any changes

30th apr - reach Bagdogra & stay at Phunsholing
1st May - sun - reach thimpu - 170kms - 6hrs
2nd mon - sight seeing at thimpu
3rd tue - leave to punakha & stay - 75kms - 3hrs
4th wed - leave t0 paro & stay - 110kms - 5hrs
5th thu - sight seeing at paro
6th fri- leave paro & stay at jaldapara (if possible we plan to travel to gangtok as we will save a day) - 430kms - 14hrs
7th sat- reach gangtok
8th sun - zero point & stay at lachung - 180km - 8hrs
9th mon - gurudongmor & stay at lachen/gangtok - 170kms - 8hrs
10th tue leave to pelling - 150kms - 7hrs
11th wed - sight seeing at pelling
12th thu -leave to darjeeling - 110kms - 5hrs
13th fri - leave to NJP in the afternoon & take train to Hyd at 11pm - 70kms - 3hrs


Tks
Hemanth
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Old 18th April 2011, 10:22   #2
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Hey Tiger,

I was there few months back. Some inputs

You have to visit in person to get permits. They capture photograph in that office. You need two kinds of permits.
- Permit for visitors
- Permit for Vehicle ( You need to show visitor permit to get Vehicle permit )

You can cross border and stay in Bhutan before getting permits. I would recommend you to stay in Bhutan part of border area. Jaigaon , Indian part is pretty notorious place.

First get visitor permit ( early morning ) , then approach RTO. This task should take approximate 2-3 hours. PM me if you need any help.

Cheers,
Vijay
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Old 18th April 2011, 10:41   #3
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
1. we are planning to take permit from a travel agent there, is it possible to take a permit from a travel agent? can we enter bhutan on 30th ie saturday late evening & stay in bhutan on saturday and sunday can we continue to travel to Thimpu ?
Travel agents are not encouraged for getting Bhutan entry permits, you need to appear yourself to submit your documents, fill up a form and have yourself photographed. Saturday late evening and Sunday would be holidays for the immigration office at Phuentsholing.

Quote:
2. we are getting a scorpio from a known person at Siliguri, is it possible to get vehicle permit to bhutan before we reach there?
Commercially registered Indian vehicles are not encouraged into Bhutan, and they insist on at least Euro-III / BS-3 vehicles. There are also times when they completely stop entry of all Indian vehicles beyond Phuentsholing. You'll have to check locally at the time of entry.
Quote:
3. from Paro to Gangtok, is it possible to drive in one day?
Will take about 12-13 hours from Paro to Gangtok, doable if you leave very early in the morning from Paro.
Quote:
4. we have not planned to book any hotel & is it difficult to find hotels at the below palces during this time? can you pl suggest some hotels at good locations.
Plenty of hotels suggested on this forum. You can check my own travelogue (Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling) too.
Quote:
5. is it possible to take our own vehicle to north sikkim?
If your own vehicle is allowed into Bhutan, yes, you can take it to north Sikkim too, but a separate permit has to be issued from Thimphu.

Quote:
6. is it possible to do gangtok-zero point - lachung-lachen-gurudongmar-gangtok in 2 days?
Doable subject to road conditions. The likelihood of getting snowed out & stuck is always there at this time of the year.
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Old 18th April 2011, 22:08   #4
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

thanks Viju & SS Traveller.
we are getting some help from our companies branch office in Kolkata.
so we are hoping of some help from them.

couple of clarifications..
1. we have sent our details today to one of the travel agents at Siliguri, in a day or 2 we will come to know about getting permit earlier or not? but only doubt is even if we get permit earlier itsself whether we will be able to enter into Bhutan on saturday evening/night. (flight will land at 1.30pm at Bagdogra on 30th Sat)

2. at the same time we are yet to plan for vehicle permit also. i think this is a not a commercial vehicle but some known person is giving his personal vehicle.

Both these needs clarity otherwise we may have to do it in reverse way..
Start from Darjeeling & reach Thimpu on next saturday..

is rest of the iternary fine??
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Old 18th April 2011, 22:47   #5
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Tiger,

Be prepared for jacking up of prices of everything as this is the peak season in Sikkim. Also expect huge crowds - specially from Bengal - wherever you go in Sikkim.
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Old 19th April 2011, 21:22   #6
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Tks Fauji..
we are expecting help from our local contacts there at WB & Sikkim. Hope it will be reasonable.
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Old 20th April 2011, 06:51   #7
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Tiger,

Pls take a look at the nice travelogue by Chevy_Lover on Bhutan and Sikkim and most of your questions may be answered there. It is on top at travelogues section.
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Old 20th April 2011, 08:26   #8
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Going by memory, Gangtok to Gurudongmar and back is not possible in two days in a relaxed way. It will take a whole day to reach Thangu - the last village before Gurudongmar at around 17000 ft. The next morning you can touch Gurudongmar and return. But the journey will exhaust you and a 6am departure the third day anywhere else will become torture.


HTH
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Old 20th April 2011, 20:20   #9
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

I am referring Chevy-lover & SS travellers blogs for planning my trip..

Just making small adjustments as below, i think with the below plan we will have 2 night & 3 days for Zero point & gurudongmor which will be sufficiant.. checked with a travel agent 'dream destination" & they have a package for the same.

30th apr - reach Bagdogra & stay at Phunsholing
1st May - sun - reach thimpu - 170kms - 6hrs
2nd mon - sight seeing at thimpu
3rd tue - leave to punakha & stay - 75kms - 3hrs
4th wed - leave t0 paro & stay - 110kms - 5hrs
5th thu - sight seeing at paro
6th fri- Drive to Gangtok - 430kms - 14hrs
7th sat- Start to Zero point - stay at Lachung - 180km - 8hrs
8th sun - Thangu- 120km - 8hrs
9th mon - gurudongmor & stay at lachen/gangtok - 170kms - 8hrs
10th tue leave to pelling - 150kms - 7hrs
11th wed - sight seeing at pelling
12th thu -leave to darjeeling - 110kms - 5hrs
13th fri - leave to NJP in the afternoon & take train to Hyd at 11pm - 70kms - 3hrs
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Old 22nd April 2011, 10:24   #10
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

A few quick comments:

1. The border closes at 8 pm, so make sure you reach Phuntsoling before that. Else you will have to stay back in some bad hotels in Jaigaon on the Indian side.

2. Your Day 2 is not feasible, permits are issued only on working days and being Sunda, the Immigration and RSTA (for issue of car permits) will be closed. In any case, ensure you have at least 4 hours for obtaining the permits (not including unscheduled computer system slow-downs or office-missing-from-seat syndromes) and you will be able to leave Phuntsoling only after 11 am (if all goes to clockwork) and reach Thimphu after 6 pm.

3. Looks like you will have to rework your dates.

4. You will be issued permits only for Thimphu and Paro at Phuntsoling. You will have to extend both visa and vehicle permits at Thimphu to visit Punakha.

5. Punakha has no hotels, you will have to stay at Kuruthang nearby. Not worth staying back since you can leave Punajha and arrive at Paro the same day. Which means Thimphu-Punakha-Thimphu-Paro. To go to Paro, you can turn off the Thimphu highway 10 kms before Thimphu at Simtokha and join the Thimphu-Paro highway. Alternatively, if you wish to stay back in Punakha/Kueruthang, you may as well visit Wangdue also.

6. Check with a local travel agent at Gangtok in advance if he can organise your permits for North Sikkhim in advance since you may arrive very late on 6th night. Since you are normally not permitted to take your own cars, most conducted tours in jeep-taxi are 2 days to North Sikkhim. In case you are hell-bent on taking your own car, you will have to spent 1-2 days running around in Gangtok, which is not in your time budget above.

7. Why no visit to Nathu la/Tsango Lake and not spending any time in Gangtok to see the orchid gardens, local monasteries and Rumtek?

8. Sightseeing for 1.5 days in Pelling? What is there, apart from Pemayangtse Monastery, Kechopari Lake and maybe Yakshum? I think you should cut down a day here.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 13:24   #11
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Thanks Kumar Sir..

Slight changes already made..
1. We are planning to get permits early itself. We have sent our ID details to one of travel agent at Siliguri. we will come to know by this wednesday.
If we take permits early can we get into Bhutan on saturday evening before 8pm and stay some where after punsholing ?

2. If we dont have to stay at Punakha then we will move to paro on the same day. then we can save a day which can be used for Nathula.
Also is it worth staying for 1 more day at Paro? we had planned to stay for a day only at paro.

3. We have arranged for hotel & travel at Gangtok. we have planned for a 3 night & 4 day trip to Zero point & Gurudongmor/chopta valley.

4. We are planning to cut down Pelling & darjeeling and we will be visiting Nathula and also we are planning to have a extra day at Gangtok itself.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 13:52   #12
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Tiger, if you have the permits made in advance - both for yourselves and the vehicle - you are allowed 24x7 access from Phuntsoling onwards on the road to Thimphu. The only place after Phuntsoling where you have hotels is Gedu which is 2-3 hours drive on the road to Thimphu (65 kms). I would suggest you stay back at Phuntsoling and enjoy the drive in the hours of good light - after all, this drive is everything you want to see in Bhutan!

Paro is good for a day's stay - you can use it to see the sights in Paro town like the National Museum and teh Paro Dzong (although you may not be permitted inside) or a short drive to the Drukyel Dzong. However, if you wish to scale the Taktsang Gompa, you will need an extra day.

Normally, it is a 2-day conducted tour to North Sikkhim, where they stay at Yumthang on Day 1, see Gurudongmar the next day and return by night of Day 2 to Gangtok.

Can you also share details of the travel operator in Siliguri who is organising your Bhutan permits? And the cost therefor?
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Old 23rd April 2011, 15:08   #13
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Just came back from North Sikkim tour so could help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post

Normally, it is a 2-day conducted tour to North Sikkhim, where they stay at Yumthang on Day 1, see Gurudongmar the next day and return by night of Day 2 to Gangtok.
Gurudongmar & Yumthang Valley is a 3 Day/2 Night Trip. Also taking your private car would be inadvisable even if its permitted as roads are completely non-existent.I would advice you to go to Lachen first and complete Gurudongmar as its the tougher part of the trip.

Also i would advice you not to cut short Pelling as its a heavenly place.Its experience is completely different to that of North Sikkim. Do try to include it.
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Old 25th April 2011, 20:33   #14
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Tks Kumar sir & Gear on..

Travel agent who is booking for us is 'Dreamway Destination". You can check their website with the same name.
First we thought of having 2N & 3D trip to Gurudongmor & Zero point. their tariff is Rs27500 for this end to end all incl.
Then we thought of making it bit leasurely & informed them to quote for 3N & 4D trip. now they are charging Rs 41500..!! an increase of 15k for just a day extra..
We are 2 family ( 4 adults) & 2 kids.

CAn you pl suggest if its OK or they are just fleecing us.

Also since you have just came back from your trip, pl suggest good hotel & travel operator for the same.
My travel plan is as above & any suggestion to improve the same is very much welcome.
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Old 25th April 2011, 22:08   #15
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Default Re: Bhutan & sikkim from 30th Apr to 13th May

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
Tks Kumar sir & Gear on..

Travel agent who is booking for us is 'Dreamway Destination". You can check their website with the same name.
First we thought of having 2N & 3D trip to Gurudongmor & Zero point. their tariff is Rs27500 for this end to end all incl.
Then we thought of making it bit leasurely & informed them to quote for 3N & 4D trip. now they are charging Rs 41500..!! an increase of 15k for just a day extra..
We are 2 family ( 4 adults) & 2 kids.

CAn you pl suggest if its OK or they are just fleecing us.

Also since you have just came back from your trip, pl suggest good hotel & travel operator for the same.
My travel plan is as above & any suggestion to improve the same is very much welcome.
Seems to be that it is a rip-off. Honestly, I would go and bargain on the spot after reaching Gangtok since going to North Sikkhim is a common 2-day trip there.

I think you should curtail your North Sikkhim trip to the standard 2 days and keep that extra day for Gangtok. I have no suggestions for any specific hotel in North Sikkim, but in Gangtok I have stayed in Hotel Raj Nandini 03592-202197/9732926585 (Atamu Debnath, 9933793040). Make sure you pin him down to provide you car parking space.
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