Phuntsholing is a border town in southern Bhutan that lies In the Chukha District. It is the 2nd largest town in Bhutan and has a population of over 40,000 people. The town occupies parts of both Phuntsholing Gewog and Sampheling Gewog. (Gewog means a group of villages). It is Bhutan’s financial, industrial and trading capital. It lies in the Indian border, right next to the Indian town Jaigaon, and as such cross-border trade has resulted in a thriving local economy. As the majority of goods traded go into Bhutan through Phuntsholing, the town is the platform to Bhutan for trade with India.
The town also houses the headquarters of the Bank of Bhutan.
Phuntsholing conveniently and strategically located on the very famous Indo-Bhutan border and shares it with the Indian town of Jaigaon. Despite being separated just by a fence, the atmosphere is completely different in the two areas. The border clearly separates two very diverse types of culture and people. While Jaigaon is much bigger and nosier and is always bustling with activity,
Phuntsholing is quite the opposite. It is smaller, a lot more systemized and quieter than its neighbor. Despite all of this, it truly is the Economic Capital of the Kingdom.
Tourists form India, Bangladesh and Maldives do not require a visa to enter Bhutan but have to show identity proof such as passport or voter ID card. Once these have been approved, they apply for a permit at Phuntsholing to enter the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Up until 2005, it was possible for overseas visitors to enter the town without a Bhutanese visa, but this is no longer possible. It is compulsory for foreign nationals to have a visa to enter Bhutan. The visa can be arranged for by any registered tour guide. The entry gate into the town is guarded by the Indian Army as well as the Bhutanese Army.