You cannot backpack in Bhutan or travel independently. In order to get a travel visa for Bhutan, you have to channel your visa application through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator and pay a minimum daily tariff/package that includes the following:
1. 65 USD per person per day sustainable fee / royalty
2. Three star (minimum) accomodation at hotels approved and certified by the government of Bhutan.
3. Certified travel guide and driver
4. All three meals
5. Travel vehicle (SUV for groups of less than two people, travel van for groups of three to eight people and mini bus for groups bigger than eight people.
This minimum standard (high value) that needs to be delivered to travelers is the reason why Bhutan is considered one of the most expensive country to visit.
While you cannot escape the minimum daily tariff set by the government, there are some ways to cut down cost while traveling to Bhutan. Here are some of the ways to make your travel to Bhutan cheaper:
1. Travel during the low tourist season:
In order to get a travel visa for Bhutan, one has to buy a minimum daily package and pay a daily minimum tariff of US$ 250 per person per day during season time (March, April, May, September, October and November) and US$ 200 per person per day during low season (December, January, February, June, July and August). You will be able to save 50 dollars per day per person if you plan your trip during low season months.
2. Travel as a group of three and more people:
On top of the minimum daily tariff, the Bhutan government charges an additional surcharge of US$ 40 per person day for solo traveler and US$ 30 per person per day for a group consisting of two person. Therefore solo travelers will have to pay a total of US$ 290 per day during season time and US$ 240 per day during low season. A group of two person will have to pay a total of US$ 280 per day per person during season time and US$ 230 per person per day during low season. So it is cheaper to travel as a group of three or more to stay away from the one person and two person surcharge. Moreover, we give discount for big groups, depending on the number of people in the group.
3. Club your trip to Bhutan with Nepal or India:
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are the only two airlines that fly in and out of Bhutan. Air tickets with both the airlines are very expensive compared to fares in other countries. A return ticket from Singapore is about US$ 1000, a return ticket from Bangkok is about US$ 970, a return ticket from Delhi is about US$ 650, a return ticket from Kolkata, India is about US$ 450 and a return ticket from Kathmandu is also about US$ 450. So if you club your travel with Nepal or India and catch a flight from Kathmandu or Kolkata, you can save a lot of money. Air tickets are even cheaper if you fly from Bagdogra and Guwahati in India and Dhaka in Bangladesh. One way ticket to or from Guwahati is US$ 152. One way ticket to Bagdogra is US$ 125 and one way ticket to and from Dhaka is US$ 212. Entering or exiting through these three airports can bring down the cost of your travel to Bhutan.
4. Enter and Exit by road, through India:
Travelers of all nationality can enter and exit Bhutan by road via Phuntsholing (border town) and through West Bengal in India. You can escape the expensive flight fares if you enter Bhutan by road and have us pick you up at the bordertown of Phuntsholing. We can also send your guide and driver to pick you up from Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, India, but dop note that there will be an additional cost of about US$ 200-300 for the pick up or drop service.