Samrdrup Jongkhar – The Little Sister of Phuentsholing
One of the three entry points to Bhutan, Samdrup Jongkhar steals the show for being the oldest town in the Land of Thunder Dragons. Sharing border with the Indian state of Assam, this bustling town is a melting pot of ancient cultures and modern mindsets. Also, as the town connects Eastern Bhutan with Western Bhutan, and is located within a proximity to India, it showcases a mix of cultures and thinking among the youths.
Seated at an altitude of 200-3,500m, Samdrup Jongkhar is quite a bustling town overwhelmed with countryside shops, tiny and narrow lanes, hawkers from the Indian side invading the marketplaces, and local shoppers. The town’s pleasant ambience and resemblance to the Phuentsholing town has gained it the nickname ‘Littler Sister of Phuentsholing’.
Owing to the town’s geographic location, it also serves as a major trade route for the entire country; the locals here even trade with India. A part of the Indian citizens residing in Assam also frequents to Samdrup Jongkhar to enjoy Hindi movies that are being screened in the oldest theatre in Bhutan, which is located right in the heart of Samdrup Jongkhar.
Best Time to Visit Samrdrup Jongkhar: Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November)
How to Reach Samrdrup Jongkhar
Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. To reach Samdrup Jongkhar by air, you should book flight tickets to this airport. However, since there are certain flying restrictions, not all the airports in India offer flights to Paro. You can book your flights only form Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, Bodhgaya Airport in Gaya (Bihar), Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri (West Bengal), and Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati (Assam).
As you land in Paro, you can take local transportation, and embark on a drive through the NH-27 to reach Samdrup Jongkhar.
A direct train journey to Samdrup Jongkhar would not be possible as Bhutan does not have any railway connectivity with foreign lands. However, if you are craving for train rides, you can book your train tickets form across India to Assam and West Bengal.
New Jalpaiguri, Hasimara, New Alipurduar, and Siliguri are some of the closest Indian railway stations to reach Samdrup Jongkhar by train. From these railway stations, you can make your Bhutan entry through Jaigaon-Phuentsholing, and later continue driving along the NH-27 to reach Samdrup Jongkhar by road.
If you book your train tickets to Assam, you should deboard the train at Guwahati Railway Station. From Guwahati, you need to follow the NH-27 to reach Samdrup Jongkhar.
Another great option to reach Samdrup Jongkhar would be a train ride to Kolkata followed by a bus ride from Kolkata to Thimphu, and finally a roadway journey from Thimphu to Samdrup Jongkhar.
Though Samdrup Jongkhar can be reached via Phuentsholing town in Bhutan, the route from Guwahati in Assam is the most preferred one to reach Samdrup Jongkhar by road. To begin with this exciting road trip, you should start driving along the NH-27 from Guwahati, and continue driving around 103km (2.5 Hours) to reach Samdrup Jongkhar by road.
From Thimphu and Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar is around 418km (11.5 Hours) and 316km (8 Hours).
Places to Visit in Samrdrup Jongkhar
Samdrup Jongkhar Dzong
Mithun breeding farm
Dewathang / Deothang
Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary
Things to Do in Samrdrup Jongkhar