Bhutans currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) that is at par with the Indian rupee. 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.
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 that you can avail 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 Travelers cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.
Office hours in Bhutan are divided into two timings the summer timing and the winter timing. The summer timing begins at 9AM 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.
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.
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:
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.
Public holidays are declared by the government and a list of public holidays that we observe throughout the nation is listed below. However, each Dzongkhag has its own list of holidays that is observed especially while conducting annual tshechus (Religious festivals). For this one may contact your service provider or your travel agent.