A Passenger’s Guide to Paro International Airport (Bhutan)

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Terminal at Paro International Airport. Photo Credit: Douglas J. McLaughlin

Airlines and Aviation

Paro International Airport is one of four commercial airports in Bhutan. As the kingdom’s only international airport, it serves as gateway to the country. The airport is served by two domestic carriers. In fact, there are flights to both domestic and international travel destinations. 

Paro Airport (Bhutan) Location

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a tiny county tucked away high in the Himalayan Mountains. It borders India, Tibet (China), and Sikkim.

Paro International Airport (PBH) serves the Kingdom of Bhutan. In fact, it is the country’s only international airport.

Bhutan-map-credit-CIA (2)

Paro Airport lies about six kilometers (3.7 miles) from the town of Paro. Meanwhile, it is  54 kilometers (34 miles) from Thimphu.

With a population of nearly 11,338 people, Paro is located in Western Bhutan.

Paro  is a historic town, with lots of sacred sites. Paro’s tallest building is just six stories town. It was built in 1649. On the other hand, Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. And it has a population of 114,551 people.

Paro Airport Overview

Paro International Airport is one of the world’s smallest international airports. Paro Airport handled only 6,761 flights in 2018. And it served only 397,599 passengers. In fact, the tiny airport is only one of four commercial airports in the country.

Because it is situated in a deep valley at a high elevation, the tiny air field is thought of as the world’s “most difficult commercial airport”. As a result, only a handful of highly skilled pilots are allowed to fly there.

While the flight into and out of the airport presents a serious challenge for pilots, it affords spectacular views of the Himalaya Mountains for passengers.

Blogger’s Travel Tip: for the best view, try to book a seat on the left side of the airplane flying into Bhutan and on the right side of the plane when departing.

Paro Airport Airlines and Route Information

Two domestic airlines serve Paro International Airport (Bhutan). And both of them fly to international travel destinations. However, only one of them currently flies to Bhutan’s other three airports.

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Bhutan Airlines Airbus A319-112 parked on the tarmac at Paro International Airport. Photo Credit: Rick Warner.

Bhutan Airlines maintains a hub at Paro International Airport. And the carrier flies to the following international travel destinations:

  • Bangkok, Thailand – Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK);
  • Delhi, India – Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL);
  • Gaya, India – Gaya Airport () (seasonal);
  • Kathmandu, Nepal – Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM);
  • Kolkata (Calcutta), India – Netaji Subhas Chanra Bose International Airport (CCU).

Furthermore, the airline plans to launch service to Yangon, Myanmar, and Singapore.

Druk-Air-Airbus-A319-at-Paro-Airport

Druk Air Airbus_A319 at Paro International Airport. Photo Credit: Shrimpo1967

Druk Air is the flag carrier of Bhutan. The airline serves both domestic and international travel destinations.

Domestic travel destinations include:

  • Gelephu, Bhutan – Glephu Airport (GLU);
  • Bumthang, Bhutan – Bathpalathang Airport (BUT);
  • Yonphulla – Yonphulla Airport (YON)

International travel destinations include:

  • Bangkok, Thailand – Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK);
  • Dhaka (Dakka) Bangladesh – Shahjalal International Airport (DAC);
  • Delhi, India – Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL);
  • Dili, East Timor – Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport (DIL);
  • Gaya, India – Gaya Airport (GAY);
  • Guwahati, India – Lokpriya Gopinath Boroloi International Airport  (GAU);
  • Hanoi< Vietnam – Noi Bai International Airport (HAN);
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN);
  • Kathmandu, Nepal – Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM);
  • Kolkata (Calcutta), India – Netaji Subhas Chanra Bose International Airport (CCU)
  • Siliguri, India – Bagdogra Airport (IXB);
  • Singapore – Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).

Druk Air will launch service to  Narita International in Tokyo, Japan, on 2 September 2020. In addition, service to Dubai International Airport (DXB) in Dubai  Airport (NRT) will follow two days later.

Paro Airport Passenger Services

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There is a duty free shop in the airport terminal. Photo Credit: Goran Hoglund.

The Airport Restaurant is located on the first floor of the arrival hall of Paro International Airport. The eatery serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages.

Situated in the departure hall of the airport, the Airport Cafe serves light meals, snacks, and beverages.

Other airport services include a duty free shop.

If you want to change money at the airport, keep in mind that the exchange rates offered at exchange rate counters are generally not as good as those in town.

Therefore, airline passengers are advised to change only as much cash at the airport as they will need to get to their hotel.

However, if you are traveling to an out-of-the-way travel destination in Bhutan, you might want to play it safe and exchange money at the airport.

Other Airports in Bhutan 

There are three other commercial airports in Bhutan. However, they only have flights to domestic travel destinations. In other words, none of them have flights to other countries.

Bathpalathang Airport 

Located in North Central Bhutan, Bathpalathang Airport (BUT) serves Jakar (Bjakar) in Bumthang District.

Gelephu Airport 

Located in Samtenling Gewog, Gelephu Airport (GLU) is about three kilometres (1.9 mi) from the town of Gelephu in Sarpang District in South Central Bhutan. The airport has been in regular use in late 2017.

Yonphulla Airport

Located near the town of Trashigang in Trashigang District in Eastern Bhutan, Yonphulla Airport (YON) was originally built in the 1960s. The airport didn’t open for commercial aviation until 2017.

Further Reading

Key Links

This is part of a series of passengers’ guides to the Airports of Asia.

 

 

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