If you are an Indian and really want to visit Bhutan, you should not postpone your plan. The Bhutan government is planning to discontinue the concession given to Indian visitors.
Among the countries that most Indians visit, Bhutan has gained momentum recently, after Thailand and Sri Lanka. Factors like the affordable visa fee and proximity make these Asian countries popular among Indian travelers. However, Indians may have to remove Bhutan from their list of desired Asian destinations soon.
Bhutan used to give a considerable amount of fee concession to visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. However, reports say that Indian travelers to Bhutan will have to pay higher fees since Bhutan is planning to implement a uniform tariff.
Do Indians require a visa to visit Bhutan?
As per some recent reports, there has been a rampant increase in the inflow of Indian tourists to Bhutan. The country is unique for its natural beauty, and concerning people’s living standard, it equals the European countries. According to the Hindu report, 2018, among the 2, 74,000 tourists, 1, 80,000 were Indians. The main reason for this notable share is that Indians do not require a visa or even a passport to visit Bhutan. The relationship between India and Bhutan has been so strong for decades. Therefore, Indians can travel to Bhutan with any valid identity document issued by the Indian government.
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Visitor Permit to Bhutan: An overview
Indians can approach Bhutan’s immigration office at Phuntsholing, show their identity card, complete an interview, and fill in the application form and travel to Bhutan. With this permit, one could visit Thimphu, the capital city, Paro, the airport city, and Phuntsholing for seven days.
If you wanted to go to other cities like Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Daga Dzong, you have to take an additional pass from Thimphu. Likewise, Indians have had a favorable situation for traveling to Bhutan.
Unfortunately, the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has decided to discontinue all concessions given to India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. It will impose a uniform visa fee of 250 USD on these countries as well. Although the Director General Dorji Dhradhul of TCB announced this decision a few months back, it has not come into effect. Considering Bhutan’s stringent policies, it seems that the new policy also will come into effect very soon. The new challenge involves not only the visa fee bump up but also a more formal interview, which may end up in permit rejection. It means you should be a potential candidate who can impress the officials during the interview.
Why did Bhutan come up with a new tourism policy?
Why Bhutan, India’s bosom ally, decided to restrict Indian travelers this way is a diplomatic concern. Undoubtedly, Indians themselves caused this problem. Bhutan is a country that emphasizes its cultural values and discipline in all walks of daily life. However, many Indian tourists do not comply with the common regional regulations and cause havoc, instead. Thus, Indian travelers have become a headache to the law-abiding citizens of Bhutan and its government. In its prison population, Bhutanese constitute only 4%. And, shockingly, job seekers from India and Nepal share the remaining portion. Apparently, the new policy change intends to restrict the growth of Indian travelers. As we know, Indians’ indifference to discipline and compliance is notorious. We are yet to learn the etiquette that we ought to demonstrate in a foreign land.
This is the best time to visit Bhutan
Bhutan used to collect 250 USD per person, per day (65 USD Sustainable Development Fee, 40 USD as Visa fee) from all tourists except those from India, Bangladesh, and Mali. It is unsure if Indians will have to pay 250 USD for seven days or a single day, like what other international tourists pay.
Even if 250 USD (18000 INRs) is for a seven days package, Indians can hardly afford it. So, if you wish to visit Bhutan, lift your backpack as early as possible before this new regulation comes into force. And, if this is possible during February- March good season, you can enjoy the visit and cut spending. References: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-your-holiday-in-bhutan-could-now-cost-more-6128975/