Bhutan Travel Guide

Bhutan Travel Guide!
Bhutan Travel Guide
Bhutan Travel Guide

How to reach Bhutan:

The Bhutan remained largely cut off from the rest of the world up until the early 1960’s however now, it is opened for the travelers and there is mainly two way to enter Bhutan one is by overland and once by flight.

Get Bhutan by flight:

There are flights available from Nepal, Thailand, India, Bangadesh and Singapore so, you can take flight to Bhutan from one of these destinations.

Get Bhutan by Land:

You can enter Bhutan by land and one of the most popular entry point is the town of Phuentsholing in south-west from Darjeeling, India and is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra and after crossing Phuentsholing border, you begin your journey to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan and it takes about six hours for the 170 km. stretch.

Visa for Bhutan:

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa and the Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan and the visas are processed through an online system by local tour operator or through a foreign tour operator such as Outfitter Nepal.  

You need to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa to enter Bhutan.  The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

Bhutan Tour Programs:

You are required to book the Packaged Tour to travel Bhutan and the cost of the programs will be USD $250 per person per night for the 3 or more people traveling and there is surcharge of 40.00 USD per person per night for the single person traveling and 30.00 USD per person per night for only 2 person traveling and this cost includes:

• A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).

• All meals.

• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay.

• All internal transport (excluding internal flights).

• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours.

• All internal taxes and charges.

• A sustainable development fee of $65. This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

Money in Bhutan:

Bhutans currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), It is however recommended that you carry travelers cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.

Banking in Bhutan:

Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that caters to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail services and facilities while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Many of these banks provide you with SMS and internet banking facilities. There are also ATM facilities available and ATMS are located in a number of places where you can withdraw your money especially in Thimphu and in the border town of Phuentsholing. Travelers cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu.

Electricity in Bhutan:

All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydro power.

Communications in Bhutan:

The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on to and send messages home and to your loved ones. Also most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.

Travelling Kits:

Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are cold. In winters temperatures are usually below 15 Celsius. So bring with you a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program. You might want to consider what to wear for hikes, trekking and sightseeing, as well as for dinners, appointments and functions that we have for you, others that you could consider bringing with you would be a pair of sunglasses, sun screen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, altitude car sickness medicine; insect repellent, flash light (w/spare batteries) umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries)etc.

Photography in Bhutan:

Bhutan is an ideal place and a frequent haunt for photographers offering immense opportunities for photography especially during our outdoor sightseeing trips. However you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions are restricted unless you have a special permission from the Department of Culture. One can however, capture images of the landscapes, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, the rural folk life, the flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture and the Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

Shopping in Bhutan:

For people who love shopping and taking home gifts, Bhutan offers a variety of goods that revolve mainly round textiles. You may shop for items like hand-woven textiles that are either in raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products or finely crafted gods of silver. You can also shop for thangkha paintings and Bhutans exquisite postage stamp. One can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and also in major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.

Gratuities:

Tipping is a purely personal matter. We do not have any tradition of giving tips and we clearly leave it up to you as to whether you want to give tips to your guides and drivers.

Language in Bhutan:

Bhutanese speaks a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language and one of the most widely spoken languages. English is also a medium of communication and most Bhutanese speak English. Communicating in English especially with the people in the urban areas and the towns will enhance your knowledge on Bhutan.

Clothes and other paraphernalia:

With great altitudinal variations weather are quite erratic in Bhutan. So be prepared to brace the erratic weather as you step outdoor. We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.

Time:

Our standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.

Office hours in Bhutan:

Office hours in Bhutan are divided into two timings the summer timing and the winter timing. The summer timing begins at 9 AM Bhutan standard time and goes on till 5Pm in the evening. The summer timing is followed from March till the end of October. The winter timing that lasts for the months of November till the end of February begins at 9AM in the morning till 4 PM in the evening. However, these timings are followed only in Thimphu and few other Districts. These timing is followed only by the Civil Servants who work under the Royal Civil Service Commission. For those people employed in Corporations and private organizations, the timings are usually from 9AM till 5PM irrespective of the season.

Precautions:

Avoid drinking un boiled water or taking ice cubes at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated though they have their source in the mountains. One can come across treated and bottled water readily in any town and are affordable.

Food in Bhutan:

Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chilli. It is advisable that visitors stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. Visitors can also choose among the various vegetarian and non-veg food. You can also try out momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring; you may try out the ema datshi dish served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes.

Guides and interpreters in Bhutan:

Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and guides that are well versed in history and possess good communication skills. They are all certified who undergo training conducted by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. There are also guides who speak fluent Japanese, Thai and other European languages.

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