It's also possible to enter or leave Bhutan overland through the border with India. There is no border crossing to China (or Tibet Autonomous Region) and it's not even in the planning.
Entry through Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelephu and Samtse land border is currently only open for Indian tourists. International visitors can only use Phutnsholing land border as of September 2022.
Land border crossings
- Phuntsholing bordering the Jaigon town in West Bengal. Nearest airport (approximately 6 hours drive) is Bagdogra. Towns of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Gangtok in Sikkim are just 6 to 8 hours drive away. It's also possible to use direct bus to or from Kolkata which takes 12 hours.
- Gelephu bordering Assam is one day drive distance from both Bagdogra and Guwahati airports.
- Samdrup Jongkhar bordering Assam is just 3 hours drive from Guwahati, which has frequent and reasonable flight connection with Delhi and other cities in India.
When it's worth
Traveling by land always consist arduous journeys in the vehicle both on Indian and Bhutanese side. It's worth in few cases:
- You want to visit places in India on the way. Notably Darjeeling, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya or Arunachal Pradesh are very interesting regions of India which can be combined with Bhutan overland trip.
- You are on budget, and you want to save money for flight tickets. Please mind that this only pays off on longer trips as you don't like to spend most of your time in Bhutan just sitting in the car.
- You can't get flight ticket in the dates you need. Then the flight to the nearest airport in India and continue by drive is the viable option.
- You want to visit Eastern Bhutan only. In that case it's better to avoid Paro and go from Guwahati as it's much easier and faster journey to eastern regions from there.
Indian e-Visa and multiple passport notice
- Please mind that while entering India overland from Bhutan, you need to have your Indian visa stamped in your passport. First entry while using Indian eVisa won't work. However, in case you entered India on your eVisa previously by flight/sea, and you already got visa stamped into your passport, you can enter Bhutan overland. Otherwise, you will need regular visa issued by Indian diplomatic mission.
- In case you have more passports, and you're entering Bhutan from India, you need to have Bhutanese visa applied in the same passport where you have Indian visa. While entering India from Bhutan, it doesn't matter.