In Bhutan, you need your own set of transportation, otherwise it is not possible to get anywhere. With tours, transportation is included. Just in case you want to travel on your own, because you have special status, here are details you need to know.
Bhutan Road Permits
Route permits are required to travel around Bhutan. There are check posts in most districts east and north of Thimphu where you are required to produce these documents in order to proceed. Route permits are processed by the tour operators.
Bhutan is mountainous. This means that the roads are twisty with turns and steep incline. However, they are well-maintained and safe.
Local and inter-district bus services are not very comfortable and stop frequently. Your local tour operator will provide a vehicle and driver for the duration of your stay. This cost is included in the daily tariff.
Also read: Bhutan 101
As the public transport running between towns in Bhutan is infrequent, hitching is a very common way to get around.
To hitchhike: you need to flag down a passing vehicle.
Some drivers pick passengers up in exchange for some cash. Think of it like a cab service. It is customary to offer payment. However, most drivers require nothing, and are more than happy just to have some company and the opportunity to make a new friend.
If you plan to hitch a lot (and in some rural areas there is no other way to get around), it is a good idea to take a few small gifts to offer the drivers as an expression of your appreciation. It is generally very safe to hitchhike throughout the country, especially outside of the most urban areas, like Thimphu.
Due to the mountainous terrain, roads are frequently blocked by rock falls during the summer season. Therefore, it is best to avoid traveling long distances from the beginning of June to the end of August. However, if you must travel at this time, carry ample bottled water and snacks as if the landslide occurs it could take some time to clear the road.
One of the roads to Punakha was blocked due to rock falls when I was there in late summer. Since the driver was an experienced Bhutanese driver, I had nothing to worry. However, if I was driving alone, I would be very afraid.
Landscape of Bhutan
At an altitude of 3750 meters, the section of road that runs through the Thrumshingla Pass connecting Bumthang and Mongar is the highest in the country and offers some spectacular scenery.
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