Next to flight fares, accommodation is the biggest budget eater of any trip. During our planning phase, we were not in the know of any Bhutan hotel booking guide. The result is, we easily ended up wasting a lot of our Time when planning.
For us, it was even harder to find a suitable deal as we were looking for a budget stay. We eventually ended up realizing the fact that accommodations in Bhutan are really not for budget backpackers. But we ended up staying at decent hotels while still maintaining our budget! And so to help future travelers, i have decided to put together this complete Bhutan hotel booking guide that might save you a few dollars on accommodation.
The price we paid for budget hotels with decent minimum required amenities, varied between 1300 INR to 1500 INR per night. So, if you are visiting in a group and planning to share a room, then you can save some bucks on accommodations.
Note that, now it is mandatory to show your hotel confirmation receipt and your planned Bhutan itinerary ( check out ours 8 days itinerary) at Phuntsholing immigration office while applying for an entry permit. So, book your hotels prior to your visit and ask the hoteliers to mail you a booking receipt. Read more about How to get Bhutan entry permit for Indian/Bangladeshi/Maldivian tourists!
However, there were several things that we got to know during our lookout for a Bhutan hotel booking guide and budget stay in that country:
Limited budget accommodation option:
To protect Bhutan’s culture and environment, the Bhutan government mainly focuses on “low volume, high quality’’ tourism policy. It costs a minimum per day per person fee of around $200 in low season and $250 in high season.
Except for Indian/Bangladeshi/Maldivian nationals, all tourists are required to book their trip through any government approved tour operator and pay the daily 250 USD fixed tariff, that includes land transport, accommodations, food and guide service. The hotels in which tour operators book stay in for these tourists are anything but budget ones. They are paying a good $250 per person per day after all!!
The tourists who are allowed to self-book their hotels, plan their itinerary and travel on their own, are the regional tourists – Indian/Bangladeshi/Maldivian visitors. But only half of them opt for budget accommodations! This is the reason budget hotels in Bhutan are quite limited. Thimphu and Paro being the two biggest cities, provide the maximum options otherwise other cities like Punakha, Haa valley, etc. have very limited accommodation options, which really do not qualify for a budget stay options.
Finding Your Accommodation:
In Bhutan, you won’t find a single backpackers’ hostel because of the tourism policy of the Bhutan government mentioned above. So, the only option you have is to book hotels or homestays for your stay in Bhutan. Fortunately, most of these accommodations you book online are decently located and the location listed in almost all online booking sites, especially in booking.com are usually pretty accurate.
To be on the safe side, try to book accommodation close to city centers: The clock tower (in Thimphu), Town square (in Paro). But if you are still unable to find your accommodation, then just ask for HELP! The people in Bhutan are really kind and helpful enough to point you in the right direction.
Recommended Read :
- How To Book Hotels In Bhutan?
- Book Online: Before our visit to Bhutan, while searching for budget accommodation online, we realized that Bhutan hotels and homestays listing on websites like booking.com, Agoda, Airbnb are very limited, let alone budget ones. So, it would be wise to compare a few sites before booking online.
- Booking vs. Agoda: While booking accommodation online, I usually check both of these sites, compare the deals and book the cheapest option. Most of the times Booking wins because they have more budget hotel listing than Agoda and do not require any upfront card details for booking a stay.
However, if you compare a hotel that is listed on both Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll find the price on Agoda is slightly lower than Booking. On Agoda, you can pay online with your credit card and that reduces your need for cash in that country and save you some bucks on hefty ATM fees.
Agoda does include tax in their prices while Booking does not, and it makes the whole comparing thing a bit different and confusing. However, Booking.com gave us some better and cheaper deals during our visit.
2. Contact the property: Most of the hotels in Bhutan have slightly lower room tariffs than it is listed online. So, it is always a wise option to contact your preferred hotels via phone or email and book your stay by paying in advance.
The list of websites where you can find contact details of Bhutan hotels and homestays:
3. Contact Tour Operators: Another booking option, I read on a few forums is that travelers may contact a few India based tour operators (Jaigaon and Alipurduar based) who have contacts with Bhutan hotels and find out what deals they have to offer you. However, I did not try this option myself, so I can’t provide any further details. Sorry about that!
Bhutan Hotel Booking Guide
Now coming to the point, where did I stay during my 1 week trip to Bhutan? How much did I spend on accommodation? And some other tips to save a few bucks and time on your accommodation in Bhutan:
- Ngultrum (Nu.) and Indian Rupee (INR), both are pegged equal to each other. If you’re traveling from India, there is no need to exchange INR for Nu. because Indian Currency is widely accepted in all over Bhutan.
- I traveled around western Bhutan in 2018 summers, with my sister. We spent 7 nights in Thimphu and Paro and stayed in hotels that have decent required amenities.
- On average, our accommodation costs were INR 1400/ $20 per night. That is, we paid INR 700 per head per night for accommodation. The hotels we stayed in were:
Hotel Ghasel (In Thimphu) – 4 Nights
+ This accommodation is located right across the Thimphu Clock tower and very close to the bus stand, which is why I booked it. Plus, we got a really good deal on Booking.com. The owner Mr. Sonam Dorjee was very helpful and kind enough to give us a discount of 300 Rs. On total room tariff during checkout. Rooms in this hotel are not spacious but come with big airy windows. It is one of the few hotels in Thimphu that serve pure vegetarian foods.
– The Geyser and the water taps were not working in the first room that we were provided. After complaining, they suggested us to take bath in another room, which was located downstairs! On the next day, they finally provided us a room with a decent bathroom. I agree with the fact that they tried their best to give us comfort. But not being able to use the bathroom after almost one and half day journey from Kolkata to Thimphu, and taking bath in another room on the next day – these were the two things that annoyed me a bit.
- Price paid per night: Rs. 1350/night after discount
- Contact information: E-mail: email@example.com
- Point to remember: This hotel requires your entry permit number during check-in.
Hotel Samden Norzin, Paro – 3 Nights
+ This hotel is located right across the Thimphu bus stand and at a two minutes walking distance from the famous Sonam Trophel restaurant in Paro. Rooms in this hotel are spacious, airy, clean with a huge attached bathroom. Yes, I loved the bathroom more than the bedroom! :p. We felt totally pampered and a being home like feeling by their foods, hospitality and friendly behavior.
– They should have provided Wifi. Also, there was another thing that irritated me a lot. During our stay there was this constant high pitched vibrating sound coming from some unknown source and I really couldn’t stand that sound.
- Price paid per night: INR 1400/night
- Contact information: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Important Tip: Online rates for this hotel are too high than the usual tariff rates. So instead of booking via any hotel booking websites, contact the property and get your room booked. I personally dropped them an email and they were quick enough (unlike other hotels in Bhutan) to reply. They even mailed me a booking confirmation letter, which was necessary to obtain an entry permit.
- How to get there: As I mentioned before, this hotel is located right across the Paro bus stand and a few minutes walking distance from the taxi stand and the Town square. So, if you are planning to take a bus from Thimphu to Paro, then it’ll be easier to find this hotel without asking anyone or turning your Google maps on.
Some tips on saving money on Bhutan accommodation
- Visit in a group: To reduce expenses, try to visit in a group and share rooms in a good hotel, instead of staying alone in a budget hotel with no facilities. But try to visit in a group of four people – Four is like a magic number in bhutan.
- Check Apartment rental sites: In case you’re traveling with a group, check out Airbnb and other apartment rentals sites to get the comfort of home just by paying a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. Especially, if these apartments come with a kitchen, then it will save you money on foods too!
- Visiting during peak season? : Probably you’ll find a place to stay but if you want something affordable with decent amenities, then plan ahead! Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Accommodation options: Thimphu and Paro being the two biggest cities have the largest number of accommodation options. Punakha, Khuruthang, Lobesa, and Haa valley have very limited options- only 1 in Punakha, 5 in Khuruthang, 4 in Lobesa. In Haa valley, there were 4 staying options – 1 homestay and 3 hotels/resorts at the time of our visit. So if you’re planning to spend a night or two at any of these places then you should consider booking your accommodation well in advance.
- Location of your accommodation: Try to book an affordable place in the city center- The Clock tower, Norzin Lam in Thimphu and Town square in Paro. City centers are close to almost all markets, eateries, taxi and bus stands. That means staying there will save you some time on exploring those places. Also, staying near the city center means you can easily reach major tourist attractions either by walking or by shared taxi and save some bucks on your exploration.
- Couchsurf!: Couchsurfing is the best option if you want a free place to stay ( a couch, room, floor, etc.), make a local friend, get a local perspective. I know many people don’t like the idea of staying at a stranger’s house. In that case, you can just use the Couchsurfing app to meet nearby travelers or join local events and meet people.
Disclosure: Please note that this article includes affiliate links. That means at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you decide to book a hotel through my link. Your support is much appreciated, it helps me to keep this blog running and create more informative contents!
Please note that I’ve only mentioned those hotels, which I’ve stayed in personally. I never review or share links of those hotels Which I have not stayed myself or would not opt to stay again! If you’ve any questions that I have not mentioned in the post, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section.
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