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Old 26th May 2009, 11:36   #31
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All petrol pumps are operated by either BPCL or IOC. Bhutan has some arrangements with India for sole supply of petrofuels. Rate differential between petrol and diesel is like India and the prices are Indian prices minus local Indian State taxes (since Bhutan has a separate tax structure).

Phuntsoling, border town with India, sells Diesel at Rs 29.42 (Guwahati Rs 31.43) (Premium in P'Soling at 31.80, compare with Sikkim @ 32.04, Guwahati @ 33.15).

Petrol stations are also built in traditional Bhutanese architecture, and you can see how colourful they look. Incidentally, that is my Scorpio tanking up on cheap diesel at the BPCL pump in Thimphu - both photos shot by kesri, my friend and tbhp member - we went together on this trip.
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Old 26th May 2009, 11:39   #32
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Great Travalogue and some very nice pics.
Did the visit to Bhutan require a visa?
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Old 26th May 2009, 11:43   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anurag_p80 View Post
Nice travelogue, Sudipto. Bhutan is an awesome place. It is a pain to traverse that P'sholing to Thimpu stretch though. It should be a pleasure once the widening is completed. With Bhutan traffic being so orderly and courteous, driving in Bhutan is an absolute pleasure even though the roads are twisty and narrow.


HVK sir, nice pictures there. Did not see the travelogue from your trip. Can you please share the link?
No, I did not post any travelogue on my Sikkim-Bhutan-Arunachal_EastWest Drive, but you are welcome to see my personal home page which has the entire travelogue:

H V Kumar - Driving Log Books - KUMAR'S NORTH EAST DRIVING HOLIDAY Apr 2009



The Phuntsoling-Gedu-Dantak Canteen stretch is not in good shape since they are widening the road. Nonetheless, it is dirt road for a long distance, but tehr oad condition is good. However, with rains now in full form, I can imagine the road must be now a running river.



Here is kesri's photo of one of the landslide points after the Dantak canteen, en route Thimphu:
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Old 26th May 2009, 11:45   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Great Travalogue and some very nice pics.
Did the visit to Bhutan require a visa?
Obtaining Permits in Bhutan – never in advance, only on arrival at border

You need 2 levels of permits to enter Bhutan in your own car. You can apply only after arrival, no advance permits for Indians.

First is the Entry Permit (equivalent to visa) for each person.

You can download the entry permit form from the internet.

If you carry your passport, go to the Immigration Office in Phuntsoling (the first Bhutan town) at 9 am Bhutan Time (IST 830 am), works on Mon-Sat, except Bhutan holidays. Produce the filled up form, along with your passport, 2 photos, copies of passport. Indicate that you want to travel to Thimphu and Paro (only these 2 places are permitted from this Office). You will be given your Entry Permit in 30-60 minutes. I had planned in such a manner that I arrived on a working day, else you may get stuck awaiting the offices to reopen after the weekend/ holidays.

In case you are not carrying your passport, first visit the Indian Consulate at Jaigaon, show them proof of your Indianness (driving license, ration card, etc, for each member in your team), and take their verification certificate to the Bhutan immigration office and do the same thing indicated above. Indian Consulate opens at 830 am Bhutan time, half an hour ahead of the Bhutan Immigration Office. Be at the Immigration Office at 9 am sharp to process your application ASAP before the crowd starts.

If you are driving your own vehicle (car or bike), you have to next obtain a Route Permit.

After getting your Entry Permit (take 5 photocopies), drive ahead to the Phuntsoling Bus Stand (300-500 metres), where the Road Safety & Transport Authority (RSTA) office is situated in the second floor of the bus stand building.

Produce your vehicle documents (RC Book, Driving Licence, PUC) in original and copies, along with original and copies of the Entry Permits. You will have to run around a couple of sections (Licensing, Registration, Cash), pay some nominal fees, and you should obtain the Route Permit for your car in 30-60 minutes. This office is also open during office hours.

Once you have obtained your Entry Permit and Route Permit, generously take photocopies of each and proceed to Thimphu. You will be asked to stop at 3 checkposts on the way to show your permits. Remember - all your documents should be in original and there is no corruption in any of the offices.

At Phuntosoling, you can get permits only for Thimphu and Paro, for all other places, you have to visit the Immigration Office at Thimphu. In case you wish to go beyond Thimphu and Paro, like to Central and East Bhutan (like I did), you have to re-do the entire process in Thimphu - where you will be given an extension of the original Entry Permits and similarly for the Route Permits. The Immigration Office in Thinphu is located in the the Norzim Lam (main road in Thimphu), and the RSTA also in the bus stand. I took permits for the following places in Central and East Bhutan, which covers the entire East_west route, with exit through Samdrup Jhonkar, the border in Assam, 100 kms north of Guwahati - Punaka, Wangdue, Trongsa, Jakar, Mongar, Trashigang.

At each Check Post, they have computers where they check them online! No harassment anywhere.

Last edited by hvkumar : 26th May 2009 at 12:01.
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Old 26th May 2009, 11:45   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Great Travalogue and some very nice pics.
Did the visit to Bhutan require a visa?
Nahin sir, no visa required. You just need some official document to prove your identity and nationality like a passport, driving license, or a voter ID. Indians can get visit permits based on these, and quite quick at that. You will need a separate permit to visit the interiors, though. These can be gotten from Thimpu.
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Old 26th May 2009, 12:22   #36
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A few additions to HVK's details - the immigration office accepts either the passport or voter id card as your proof of identity. If you don't have either of these two then you need to get an NOC from the Indian consulate who will essentially identify you as an Indian and then go to the immigration office. Try to avoid that route and carry your passport or voter id. You don't need to pay any fees for visiting Bhutan.
For driving your own vehicle, you need to pay Rs 140. In my case, no one wanted to see any of the original car documents !!!! I found it very funny.
Every checkpost notes down your driving licence number. So either remember it or just carry a photocopy of your Indian driving licence.
The other critical thing I realised is, the entry permit is issued by Phuntsholling only for seven days' stay including the day you arrive there. If you want to spend more time in Bhutan you get the extension done in Thimphu (same immigration office). Get the restricted area permit only after you get the date extension done, otherwise you will be faced with the situation where you will have the right to visit restricted areas but not the time.
The permit to drive in Bhutan is strictly pegged to your entry permit in terms of dates and places you can visit. Any change needs to be authorised.
Another soft tip - the big Bhutanese officials are called "dasho". Everyone loves to be addressed as "dasho".
Bottomline - if you are patient, it's not a problem (although it sounds a bit complicated here). Keep sufficient time allowance for computer not working in the immigration office, network down, dasho is in a meeting etc.

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Old 26th May 2009, 12:27   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
For driving your own vehicle, you need to pay Rs 140.
T
Hee, hee, the lady in the Licensing section of RSTA made a mistake and charged me only Rs 20. This had the other RSTA officials scratching their heads (including the cashier, the registration boss), but typical of Bhutanese, no one questioned the authority of the first person! I think the tariff is Rs 20 per day, and the lady forgot that I was going to be around in Bhutan for a full week (Apr 15-21),
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Old 26th May 2009, 12:36   #38
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In my case - the lady in question was on leave and I had to run around a lot to first realise that she was on leave and then find another "dasho" to do her job !!! This dasho took a lot of time to explain to me how to get this permit even on a holiday - (apparently it is possible) - but frankly I could not understand his English and I only said "yes, yes, yes".
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Old 26th May 2009, 12:46   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
In my case - the lady in question was on leave and I had to run around a lot to first realise that she was on leave and then find another "dasho" to do her job !!! This dasho took a lot of time to explain to me how to get this permit even on a holiday - (apparently it is possible) - but frankly I could not understand his English and I only said "yes, yes, yes".
Yes, I heard that too - when I talked to the P'Soling office on the phone before the trip - something to do with the Check Post itself having the authority to issue the permit.

By the way, I got the impression that the P'Soling-Thimphu road is open 24x7 - did you also get the same info? But I also found out that the Narphu Checkpost (the second CP if you are coming from Samdrup Jhonkar) closes the road to Trashigang from 10 pm - 6 am. Not sure about the other CPs in the Thimphu-Trashigang West-East highway, but the Hongtshu CP (just before Dochu la) let me through at 530 am when I was going from Thimphu to Punaka.

I also ran into the RTO himself at Trashigang, and we got chatting - he told me that all roads are open throughout! But he also warned me that Bhutanese vehicles do not travel into Assam after 5 pm for safety reasons.
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Old 26th May 2009, 13:44   #40
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This is indeed very good.
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Old 26th May 2009, 14:00   #41
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A Neat and Superb Travelouge!! Enjoyed this a lot! Wish i could visit Bhutan once.

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NOT REALLY!

- No honking
- Strict lane discipline
- No littering
- No spitting
- Pehle aap (after you......)
- No hafta (meaning no bribes)
Wow!! A complete to opposite to our Desi Land! Must be a paraside! Well, the grass is always greener isnt it?
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Old 26th May 2009, 14:10   #42
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By the way, I got the impression that the P'Soling-Thimphu road is open 24x7 - did you also get the same info? But I also found out that the Narphu Checkpost (the second CP if you are coming from Samdrup Jhonkar) closes the road to Trashigang from 10 pm - 6 am. Not sure about the other CPs in the Thimphu-Trashigang West-East highway, but the Hongtshu CP (just before Dochu la) let me through at 530 am when I was going from Thimphu to Punaka.

I also ran into the RTO himself at Trashigang, and we got chatting - he told me that all roads are open throughout! But he also warned me that Bhutanese vehicles do not travel into Assam after 5 pm for safety reasons.

I have no clue about the night driving rules in Bhutan, la. But I wouldn't be surprised if different places and different officials followed different rules in different parts of the country.

Contradiction is the name of the game in Bhutan - much as it is here in India.
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:23   #43
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Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-thimphushop1.jpgIn Thimphu, as suggested by HVK, we stayed in Hotel TT on the main Norzin Lam, bang opposite the clock tower. At Rs 500 it's a decent hotel (complete with a geyser and carpet on the floor etc) if you plan to spend just one night. Their service quality being quite poor, don't stay here if you plan to spend a few days in Thimphu.

A view of the hotel from the road
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-tthotel.jpg


If you stay in TT, parking is bang opposite @ Rs 120 per day. You are charged Rs 10 per hour between 9 am to 9 pm. Parking fee in Thimphu is negotiable and bargainable

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-hoteltt2.jpg

View of Norzin Lam, Thimphu

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-thimphuroad1.jpg

Another view of Norzin Lam, Thimphu

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-thimphuroad2.jpg

Some shops on Norzin Lam
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Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-thimphushop2.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-thimphushop3.jpg


The textile museum in Thimphu is simply brilliant and a must visit

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-textilemuseum2.jpg

A view of the door of the museum
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-textile2.jpg

Doesn't need a caption. Does it?
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-taxistand.jpg

The most flamboyant lama I have ever come across
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-lama.jpg

A playful face of Thimphu

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-child.jpg
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:28   #44
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If you stay in TT, parking is bang opposite @ Rs 120 per day. You are charged Rs 10 per hour between 9 am to 9 pm. Parking fee in Thimphu is negotiable and bargainable
Oh oh, looks like you missed the parking area behind the hotel, where the main entrance is - that was free, and that is where I parked it.
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:31   #45
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That area was completely out of bounds for cars by the time I reached there sir, after about 30 days. They were busy with some public construction work there. :(
Incidentally, the last image here is of the lone traffic constable in the kingdom of Bhutan. The way he controls traffic, with flourishes of his hands, reminds you of lama dances during Tsechus. It's really a site to behold and marvel.

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