Sikkim and Bhutan from October 20th - Partner Needed

bondhutto

Travel Dreamer
Hi All,

Although I am doing total solo for a 2 weeks long Sikkim and Bhutan trip from Delhi right after Diwali, I would love anyone to tag along with me at Delhi / Siliguri.

Starting my journey from Delhi on 20th October early morning, reaching Siliguri on 22nd evening. Let me know if anyone is interested to join me.
 

Cookie

Travel Enthusiast
Hi All,

Although I am doing total solo for a 2 weeks long Sikkim and Bhutan trip from Delhi right after Diwali, I would love anyone to tag along with me at Delhi / Siliguri.

Starting my journey from Delhi on 20th October early morning, reaching Siliguri on 22nd evening. Let me know if anyone is interested to join me.
Did you get permit for solo travel? Would you share the details.


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bondhutto

Travel Dreamer
Did you get permit for solo travel? Would you share the details.


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I did get.

1. For Sikkim,
  • it is pretty straightforward. Near the Gangtok Mall (M G Marg), there's a big green colored building called "Manan Bhawan". That's the Sikkim Secretariat. You can find it out easily on Google Map. It opens at 9 am (Monday to Saturday). There's a counter and you'd get a simple form to fill up. Fill up the form, attach two copies of your bike RC, Pollution, Insurance and your DL - I guess one copy of passport size photo was also needed.
  • It doesn't matter if you are solo or in group. You'll get the permit at approximately 4 pm from the same place. Even it doesn't matter if you are submitting the documents on behalf of someone else. There's no biometric validation to verify the applicant. you can apply for permit only from next day onward.
  • You would not get permit for East Sikkim (specially Nathu La pass) for Tuesday - Nathu La is closed for visitors on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • You'd get few letters addressed to different military checkposts having the same content, and a master copy of the letter.
  • Next day, when you are starting, go to the PSC office, which is few stairs down from the MG Marg. There's a life-size replica of Mahatma Gandhi at the beginning of the Gangtok Mall, when you stand face-to-face with him, you'll see stairs on your right.
  • The counter at PSC opens at 7 am. Show there your letter, and you'll get a small paper (padchha) for Rs 10. Make multiple photocopies of that paper because you need to submit the copies in all the police posts on the way. Keep the original with you - it will probably be collected at the last check point.
  • The paper will give you permit for only one route. Either North, or West or East Sikkim. Once you are done with one route, you need to come back to Gangtok, show the same letter to the same counter, they will issue a new paper for your next route. Be there early, it takes 20 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the crowd.
2. For Bhutan
  • Go to Jaigaon, and be at the Immigration office at Phuentsholing by 9 am Bhutan time.
  • You can see some agents, both Indians and Bhutanese, helping individuals and groups in filling up the form. The form is available on internet, you can fill it and be ready with that.
  • Either you find an agent, or the agents will find you - you are the bread and butter for them. They will tag you with any existing random group there - will take 500-600 bucks. Hand him over your vehicle papers, they'll get your vehicle permit by the time you get your permit by standing in the queue.
  • Do not approach the immigration or RSTA (Regional Surface Transport Authority, the authority at Phuentsholing which gives the permits for vehicle) on your own, if you are alone. You will NOT be through. They are very strict on this, only to help the touts outside unofficially.
  • There is a concept of online permit. You contact the agent 7 days ahead of your visit, they'll prepare the e-visa for your entry. You can do this, provided the agent himself/herself is present on the day of your departure at Phuentsholing physically. I went for this, and neither I nor the agent knew about this clause. My visa was stamped and after knowing that my agent was not present there, they marked "Exit" on my passport. I had to bribe the immigration official 3000 bucks to erase it from their system and give me entry permit again. Yes it happens, Bhutanese officials are as corrupt as Indians. I did not know the rule, the agent was not present, so I had to learn it in the hardest way. The rule is - once you make an official "Exit" from Bhutan, you cannot enter the country before next 15 days.
  • Keep extra days buffer for Bhutan trip because they have tendencies to shut down the immigration office on any petty occations. They have some national holidays which you can find in the internet, apart from that they enjoy some local holidays too which is not documented anywhere in this world. You have to reach there in the morning to understand whether they are open or not.
  • Be ready to spend extra money. Bhutan is costly. Be it food, be it accommodation - even if you manage to get a deal on accommodation, they will kill you afterward with their food bill.
Hope this helps.
 

Cookie

Travel Enthusiast
I did get.

1. For Sikkim,
  • it is pretty straightforward. Near the Gangtok Mall (M G Marg), there's a big green colored building called "Manan Bhawan". That's the Sikkim Secretariat. You can find it out easily on Google Map. It opens at 9 am (Monday to Saturday). There's a counter and you'd get a simple form to fill up. Fill up the form, attach two copies of your bike RC, Pollution, Insurance and your DL - I guess one copy of passport size photo was also needed.
  • It doesn't matter if you are solo or in group. You'll get the permit at approximately 4 pm from the same place. Even it doesn't matter if you are submitting the documents on behalf of someone else. There's no biometric validation to verify the applicant. you can apply for permit only from next day onward.
  • You would not get permit for East Sikkim (specially Nathu La pass) for Tuesday - Nathu La is closed for visitors on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • You'd get few letters addressed to different military checkposts having the same content, and a master copy of the letter.
  • Next day, when you are starting, go to the PSC office, which is few stairs down from the MG Marg. There's a life-size replica of Mahatma Gandhi at the beginning of the Gangtok Mall, when you stand face-to-face with him, you'll see stairs on your right.
  • The counter at PSC opens at 7 am. Show there your letter, and you'll get a small paper (padchha) for Rs 10. Make multiple photocopies of that paper because you need to submit the copies in all the police posts on the way. Keep the original with you - it will probably be collected at the last check point.
  • The paper will give you permit for only one route. Either North, or West or East Sikkim. Once you are done with one route, you need to come back to Gangtok, show the same letter to the same counter, they will issue a new paper for your next route. Be there early, it takes 20 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the crowd.
2. For Bhutan
  • Go to Jaigaon, and be at the Immigration office at Phuentsholing by 9 am Bhutan time.
  • You can see some agents, both Indians and Bhutanese, helping individuals and groups in filling up the form. The form is available on internet, you can fill it and be ready with that.
  • Either you find an agent, or the agents will find you - you are the bread and butter for them. They will tag you with any existing random group there - will take 500-600 bucks. Hand him over your vehicle papers, they'll get your vehicle permit by the time you get your permit by standing in the queue.
  • Do not approach the immigration or RSTA (Regional Surface Transport Authority, the authority at Phuentsholing which gives the permits for vehicle) on your own, if you are alone. You will NOT be through. They are very strict on this, only to help the touts outside unofficially.
  • There is a concept of online permit. You contact the agent 7 days ahead of your visit, they'll prepare the e-visa for your entry. You can do this, provided the agent himself/herself is present on the day of your departure at Phuentsholing physically. I went for this, and neither I nor the agent knew about this clause. My visa was stamped and after knowing that my agent was not present there, they marked "Exit" on my passport. I had to bribe the immigration official 3000 bucks to erase it from their system and give me entry permit again. Yes it happens, Bhutanese officials are as corrupt as Indians. I did not know the rule, the agent was not present, so I had to learn it in the hardest way. The rule is - once you make an official "Exit" from Bhutan, you cannot enter the country before next 15 days.
  • Keep extra days buffer for Bhutan trip because they have tendencies to shut down the immigration office on any petty occations. They have some national holidays which you can find in the internet, apart from that they enjoy some local holidays too which is not documented anywhere in this world. You have to reach there in the morning to understand whether they are open or not.
  • Be ready to spend extra money. Bhutan is costly. Be it food, be it accommodation - even if you manage to get a deal on accommodation, they will kill you afterward with their food bill.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the info.

What all docs are required to get entry permit? I intend to travel by shared taxi from phuntensoling. Heard about hotel confirmation is must to get permit. How much time it takes? Indian rupees widely acceptable there in Bhutan?

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bondhutto

Travel Dreamer
Yes, take a print out of your confirmed hotel booking. If you are planning to travel by taxi, then you can approach alone - no need to consult a tout/agent. There's a taxi stand on the same side of the immigration office - few meters ahead, near the T junction, before a Punjab National Bank.

Indian Rupees are accepted at par with Bhutanese currencies. Upto Rs 500 note are accepted easily, but they are now reluctant to accept Rs 2000 notes, thanks to the demonetization that happened last year. Earlier everything was smooth.

In each and every corner of Bhutan Indian currencies are widely accepted. But once you come out of Bhutan, make sure you change all Bhutanese currencies you received as change to Indian currencies - as Bhutanese currencies are accepted only in Jaigon.

When I was a student in Jalpaiguri Engineering College, Bhutanese notes were accepted till Siliguri - but that is not the case anymore.
 

Cookie

Travel Enthusiast
Yes, take a print out of your confirmed hotel booking. If you are planning to travel by taxi, then you can approach alone - no need to consult a tout/agent. There's a taxi stand on the same side of the immigration office - few meters ahead, near the T junction, before a Punjab National Bank.

Indian Rupees are accepted at par with Bhutanese currencies. Upto Rs 500 note are accepted easily, but they are now reluctant to accept Rs 2000 notes, thanks to the demonetization that happened last year. Earlier everything was smooth.

In each and every corner of Bhutan Indian currencies are widely accepted. But once you come out of Bhutan, make sure you change all Bhutanese currencies you received as change to Indian currencies - as Bhutanese currencies are accepted only in Jaigon.

When I was a student in Jalpaiguri Engineering College, Bhutanese notes were accepted till Siliguri - but that is not the case anymore.
Thanks.

I checked with Bhutan Embassy Delhi. They told me Hotel confirmation is required for tourists travelling in a group, Not required for couple or 2-3 heads.

Anyway, would hotel booked through booking.com or makemytrip work?

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