Thailand and Bhutan to Advance Bilateral Relations


Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay is on an official visit to Thailand from 25 to 28 June 2023.

(Source: Bangkok Post)

He held a meeting with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on 26 June at Government House, where a joint press conference also took place. Government Spokesperson Chai Wacharonke stated that a fruitful discussion was made between the two prime ministers.

On trade and investment, Thailand and Bhutan agreed to foster closer bilateral trade relations by speeding up FTA negotiations and increasing trade volume to the targeted goal of 120 million USD as soon as possible.

Thailand is interested in exploring investment opportunities in Bhutan’s Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC), which promises to be a vibrant economic hub. The holistic vision of GMC resonates with Thailand’s shared values of technology-driven and sustainable future.

Bhutan-Thailand Deepening Cooperation and Signing of MOUs

Concerning tourism cooperation, the two kingdoms are blessed with rich cultural heritage and diverse natural beauty, and look forward to promoting the “Two Kingdoms, One Destination” initiative, which will boost the tourism industry in both countries. In order to further strengthen people-to-people ties, both prime ministers looked to the possibility of establishing a “Friends of Thailand-Bhutan Group” to deepen the bonds between the peoples of the two countries.

Regarding education and technical cooperation, Thailand and Bhutan are committed to facilitating student and academic exchanges, which will enhance mutual understanding and create lasting friendships between younger generations. 

Renewable energy is another key area where the two countries can work together. By sharing expertise and best practices, Thailand and Bhutan can advance their efforts to achieve energy security, such as in hydropower, which both countries have expertise.

Thailand and Bhutan are also committed to leveraging connectivity and will work together to enhance these connections to facilitate the movement of goods and peoples. As Thailand is Bhutan’s development partner, the country will extend support in knowledge sharing in such areas as healthcare, agriculture, and technology. At the same time, Thailand looks forward to learning from Bhutan’s approaches to sustainable development, and Gross National Happiness, which resembles Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

On this occasion, the prime ministers of the two countries witnessed the signing of the following two MOUs:

1. Memorandum of Understanding for Academic Cooperation and Exchange of Faculty Members between Department of Medical Services, Minister of Public Health, Thailand, and Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan;

2. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism.

Thailand-Bhutan Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke quoted Mr Srettha as saying it was a deep honour to welcome Mr Tobgay on his official visit, which coincides with the 35th anniversary of Thailand-Bhutan diplomatic relations.

“The two memoranda of understanding will help boost tourism in the two countries and promote academic exchange and cooperation in medical education,” he said.

In terms of regional cooperation, Mr Chai said Thailand and Bhutan both realise the importance of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), especially for trade and connectivity.

Mr Srettha has extended his invitation to his Bhutanese counterpart to return to Thailand for the Bimstec Summit in September.

Mr Tobgay accepted the invitation and invited Mr Srettha to visit Bhutan at his earliest convenience.

Reception for Thai Tour Operators, Travel Agents and Airlines

In honor of Hon'ble Prime Minister's visit, the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Bangkok hosted a reception for Thai tour operators, travel agents, and airlines.
During his address, the Prime Minister encouraged the tour operators and agents to visit Bhutan before promoting it, emphasizing the importance of a genuine personal connection to the country. Further, he expressed gratitude to H.E. Makawadee Sumitmor, Ambassador of Thailand to Bhutan, and Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, for their dedicated efforts in promoting Bhutan as a premier tourist destination. The Prime Minister's address also highlighted the strong ties between Bhutan and Thailand, noting how Bhutanese people favor Thailand as a holiday destination and expressing his desire to see Bhutan promoted in the same light to the Thai people.


History of Bhutan-Thailand Relations

Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Thailand were established on 14 November 1989. The Royal Families of the two countries have shared strong relations since prior to 1989 and have exchanged visits. H.E. Mr. Kinzang Dorji is the current Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to Thailand and H.E. Mrs. Makawadee Sumitmor is the current Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Bhutan.

Beginning in the 1980s when Thailand offered few training slots under the Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation’s (DTEC, or Thai International Cooperation Agency since March 2005) Groups Training Program, Human Resource Development has been the main area of cooperation between the two countries. TICA also offers scholarships for Bhutanese students to pursue higher studies in Thailand. Besides TICA, private universities in Thailand also offer scholarships to Bhutanese students. In addition, His Majesty’s Secretariat and Royal Civil Service Commission receive numerous scholarships annually from various universities, schools, and hospitals in Thailand.

Technical cooperation in health began on 16 October 1987 with the signing of an MoU concerning human resource development and educational linkages. With the support of the Thai Government, work on the construction of an ENT center in Thimphu is underway. Bhutan has also been receiving volunteers with technical expertise in different fields such as agriculture, public health, tourism, and vocational programs from Thailand under the framework of the “Friends from Thailand Programme” since 2008. Bhutan and Thailand hold various meetings such as Annual Bilateral Consultation, Joint Trade Committee Meeting, and Joint Agriculture Working Group Meeting to keep track of the development activities between the two countries.

How to Travel to Bhutan from Thailand

Travelling to Bhutan from Bangkok, Thailand is easy. Drukair, Royal Bhutan Airlines, operates daily flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (BKK), Thailand to Paro International Airport, Bhutan. 

Total flight duration from Bangkok (BKK), Thailand to Bhutan is 3 hours. There might be a 30 - 45 minutes layover at Bagdogra or Kolkata, India for some flights. Passengers are not required to disembark from the aircraft.

Check out the full comprehensive guide on travelling to Bhutan from Bangkok, Thailand

Tour packages to Bhutan

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