Bhutan being a Himalayan kingdom is a place where you have to visit once in your lifetime as there are countless reasons to visit Bhutan such as from the rich and unique cultural heritage to the beautiful sights, Bhutan is certainly worth a visit.
We will provide you with some of the information that will act as a guide while traveling to Bhutan but this practical advice is not a comprehensive list but it will provide you with useful information as you plan your traveling. Planning a trip to Bhutan can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Bhutan is a unique destination known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and emphasis on Gross National Happiness.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your Bhutan trip
Research and Gather Information about Bhutan
- Learn about Bhutan’s culture, customs, and attractions.
- Check the best time to visit based on weather and festivals.
- Understand Bhutan’s visa requirements and entry procedures.
Set a Budget for Trip to Bhutan
- Bhutan has a “High Value, Low Impact” tourism policy which requires visitors to pay a daily fee covering accommodation, meals, transportation, and guide services.
- Determine your budget based on this daily fee, additional expenses, and activities.
Select Travel Dates:
- Book Flights:
- Fly into Paro International Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan.
- Consider booking well in advance to secure reasonable fares.
- Choose an Itinerary:
- Decide on the places you want to visit. Common destinations include Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, and Bumthang.
- Bhutan offers various activities like trekking, cultural sightseeing, and wildlife experiences.
- Book Accommodation:
- Accommodation is usually arranged by Bhutanese tour operators as part of the package.
- Research and select tour operators with good reviews and a reliable track record.
- Apply for a Visa:
- Bhutanese visas are issued through local tour operators.
- Provide necessary documents and information to your chosen tour operator to initiate the visa process.
- Pack Accordingly:
- Bhutan’s weather can vary widely, so pack clothing suitable for different temperatures and conditions.
- Don’t forget comfortable shoes for walking and trekking.
- Health and Safety:
- Consult your doctor about vaccinations and health precautions for traveling to Bhutan.
- Purchase travel insurance to cover unexpected medical expenses.
- Respect Local Customs:
- Bhutan has a deeply-rooted culture and traditions. Dress modestly, remove shoes before entering religious sites, and be respectful towards local customs.
- Stay Connected:
- Get a local SIM card for communication. Mobile networks are available in urban areas.
- Explore Responsibly:
- Bhutan emphasizes sustainable and responsible tourism. Follow the principles of “Leave No Trace” and respect the environment.
- Immerse in the Culture:
- Engage with locals, attend festivals, and try Bhutanese cuisine to fully experience the culture.
- Currency and Payments:
- Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (BTN), but Indian Rupees (INR) are widely accepted. Carry cash for smaller purchases.
- Be Flexible:
- Bhutan’s pace of life is more relaxed. Be open to changes in plans and enjoy the journey.
Remember that Bhutan’s tourism is regulated to ensure its sustainability and preservation. Working with a local tour operator is essential, as they will help you navigate the requirements and ensure a smooth trip.
THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN
Bhutan is usually considered all year round destination to tour Bhutan due to its favorable weather condition. There is a particular time where it’s considered the best time because of festival celebration which falls on Springtime (March, April, and May) and fall(September October, and November). Spring is also the time for different varieties of flowers in the mountains to bloom and clear weather with blue sky with visibility of snowcapped Mountain makes it a more amazing time to visit Bhutan. The popular Paro festival in Spring and Thimphu Festival in fall makes the month more tempting to travel to Bhutan. You can include one of these festivals in your tour itinerary to add more memories to your Bhutan Travel.
KNOW DIFFERENT DISCOUNT OFFER FOR BHUTAN TOUR
I) GROUP DISCOUNT OFFER:
The attractive offer of a free trip for the Group leader is given from the daily tariff of USD 250 if the group exceeds more than 16 people. The group leader will be offered free tours and Flights tickets. The team leader only needs to pay Visa fees of USD 40. If the group is less than 16 people but more than 10 than 50% discount is offered to one person both in tours and flight tickets.
II) DURATION DISCOUNT:
50% duration discount is provided after 8th nights of Bhutan Tour and 100% offered after 14th nights on daily royalty for all the group tour or solo trip to Bhutan.
III) CHILD DISCOUNT:
Child need not pay daily tariff if he/she is below 5 years but between 6 to 12 years of age 50% of daily tariff will be applicable. Mandatory Visa fees of USD 40 will be applicable to all.
IV) STUDENT DISCOUNT:
25% student discount on daily tariff is offered for students having a valid student cards between the age of 18 to 25 years of age. The student should provide a student ID to avail of this discount before booking the trip to Bhutan.
For diplomats residing in Bhutan need not pay any daily tariff but visa fees of USD 40 will be levied and that would be one time fees.
KNOW ABOUT FLIGHTS TO BHUTAN:
Knowing Flights to Bhutan is essential while planning a trip to Bhutan. No international flights operate in Bhutan. Two local airlines Druk Air and Bhutan airlines operate in Bhutan from different destinations. Due to a limited number of seats in these two airlines, most of the tickets get sold quickly during peak season, and it’s always better to book your tour of Bhutan at least 6months prior to arrival.
Bhutan Airlines operates from Kathamndu, Delhi, Kolkatta, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Singapore, and Bangkok. For more details please check our flight schedule for both the airlines for 2021. All flights are direct flights but at times you may expect sudden layover at Kathmandu or Bagdogra due to weather conditions but it’s just for 30 to 45 minutes.
You should always keep a minimum of 12 hours gap between your connecting flights while entering and exiting Bhutan after the tour. The flight may delay due to sudden weather changes in the mountains and this may cause losing your connecting flights. Therefore we advise all the clients to keep safe hours between the connecting.
Most of the tourists traveling to Bhutan have no idea about the Bhutan Visa process. Many think that solo travel to Bhutan is not allowed but this is not true at all. As long as they are ready to pay $250 plus the single supplementary surcharge their Visa for Bhutan is guaranteed. Minimum Daily tariff should be paid upfront for all Bhutan Visa.
Get your Bhutan visa in 3 Easy Steps. 3 easy steps to get your Visa done for Bhutan Tour.
Step 1-Book your confirmed flight ticket to Bhutan
Step 2-Pay the full Bhutan Tour Payment to Tour Operator.
Step 3- Get your Bhutan Visa done.
HOTELS AND FOODS IN BHUTAN:
Leisure travel to Bhutan will not be complete if you don’t experience the luxury offered by some of the most famous international chains of hotels like Uma by COMO, Amankora, Taj Tashi, and Le Meridian. With a little extra from the daily tariff, you can upgrade your accommodation in this hotel. Food during your trip are spicy with more of chilly with cheese but tourist can have the option of choosing Burger and Pizza if they happen to be in Thimphu and Paro. You can also visit the café for strong coffee while in the capital. Hotels for Bhutan are not fixed and you can always check Bhutan Hotels before you confirm them.
TRANSPORTATION IN BHUTAN:
We provide luxury SUV cars for groups of 1 to 2 people, Toyota Hiace Bus for 3 to 6 people, and for groups above 6 to 16 people we give Toyota Coaster Bus. The roads are not so good and we make sure that seating capacity is very comfortable while moving from one district to another with AC and heater facility.
SUV Car for Bhutan Tour
TIPS AND GRATUITY FOR GUIDE
Many ask us while booking the trip to Bhutan about how much to tip the guide or driver or is it necessary to tip? While it’s not necessary but Guide and Driver do expect tips at the end of the Bhutan Tour. The amount will vary depending upon the services of staff.
Guide in Bhutan
OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR BHUTAN
Travel/Medical Insurance for Bhutan
You should not travel internationally without travel insurance as we all know that we live in is imperfect with uncertainties of risk evolving around us round the clock. One may be very wise and intelligent but never can he say nor predict as to when the worst might strike. Well! Misfortune strikes on and all, irrespective of caste, creed, color & status and virtually there exist no measures to check it from happening nor there will be an end to it. For this issue, the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for our visitors. Travel insurance is being provided through your Bhutanese tour operator or international partner.
Money Exchange in Bhutan
Bhutan’s currency is Ngultrum (Nu.) and it is equal to the Indian rupee which is accepted as legal tender in our country. Bhutan accepts INR (Indian Rupees). ATMs are located within all the main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using Visa or MasterCard. In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning all visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores. There are also ATMs in Bhutan where you can withdraw cash incase you need them.
Banking in Bhutan and use of credit Card
In Bhutan financial institutions have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that cater to the needs of the people. The banks that you can avail in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for the local currency and for your information most of the banks provide internet banking facilities.
Electricity in Bhutan
In Bhutan, all major towns are well connected with 24hurs electricity services that run on about 220/240 volts with round-hole two-pine and three-pin power outlets.
It is recommended that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics if necessary, but however, most of the hotels provide you with multi-plug sockets and a very good thing about our country is that Bhutan is a carbon-neutral destination with clean and green energy generated by hydropower in Bhutan.
What to carry during the Tour in Bhutan?
Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate with a warm summer with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, while winter temperatures are usually below 15 degrees Celsius.
The northern regions of the country are colder than the more tropical south and it is recommended you pack accordingly. Trekkers need to bring appropriate warm clothes and comfortable hiking boots (well broken in) preferably with ankle support and weather-proof to complement the weather and rugged terrain.
The other important things to bring are:
• A pair of sun-glass
• Sunscreen lotion
• Spare camera batteries
• Flash light (with spare batteries)
• Travel sickness tablets (Antiseptic cream/Anti-histamine cream/Anti-diarrhea pills)
• Altitude sickness medication if trekking above 3000m
• Insect repellent
Bhutan offers immense opportunities for photography, especially during outdoor sightseeing trips however you should check with your guide whether to take photos or not as in some areas photograph/ filming is not permitted.
You are free to capture images of the landscape, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture, and the exterior of dzongs and chortens in particular.
Shopping in Bhutan
Some popular handicraft items available for purchase are hand-woven textiles of raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls are known as Dapas, handmade paper products, or finely crafted gods of silver. Other items you may be interested in are the exquisite Buddhist Thangkha paintings or Bhutan’s wide array of colorful and creative postage stamps. You can come across their items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns.
Buying and selling of antiques are strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Customs and Regulation in Bhutan
- The following articles are exempt from duty:
- Personal effects and articles for the day’s use by the visitor.
- 1 liter of alcohol
- 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
- Instruments, apparatus, or appliances for professional use.
- Photographic equipment, video cameras, and other electronic goods for personal use.
- You have to complete the passenger declaration form at your port of entry.
- Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate. If importing any items to Bhutan which are for sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors have to fill out a departure form, which will be asked by customs authorities.
- Bhutan’s government prohibits imports/exports of the following goods:
- Narcotics and drugs except for medically prescribed drugs.
- Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species.
Imports of plants, soils, etc. are subjected to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival.
Communication in Bhutan
Bhutan has a good network of telecommunication facilities as most of the hotels and cafes offer Wi-Fi internet access. Our country has a comprehensive mobile phone network with global roaming.
What language does Bhutan Speak?
People of Bhutan mainly speak Dzongkha(the national language of Bhutan) but English being the international language is also spoken by a majority of people which makes communication very easy during your Bhutan tour.
Guides for Bhutan Tour
Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and licensed guides that are well-versed in local history and possess good communication skills. All guides are tested and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Guides are fluent in Japanese, Thai, Spanish, and other European languages.
What to wear during Tour in Bhutan?
Bhutan having great attitudinal variations it has quite mixed weather so every visitor should be prepared to face unforeseen weather conditions. We expect every visitor to be well dressed in long pants and long-sleeved tops respectfully especially when you visit monasteries, Dzongs, and other religious institutions.
When you come across religious and administrative premises, institutions a places with the national flag being raised kindly remove your hats, caps, etc. as a mark of respect.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN
Bhutan ascribes to the metric system and most of the weights are measured in gram (g) and kilograms (kg). Bhutan standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and 30 minutes ahead of Indian Time.
The peak periods in Bhutan are Spring(March, April, and May) and Autumn(September, October, and November). If you are going to plan a stay in Bhutan during this season, make sure that you book and plan early. It may be better to book upwards of three months in advance because you might find that your hotel selection is extremely limited otherwise.
TREKKING IN BHUTAN
If you are looking to trek, September to November and March to June are probably the best months to do so. All treks are not possible during these months but the most popular Trek-like Drukpath Trek, Dagala Thousand Lake Trek can be done. Tours like Snowman Trek and Laya Gasa Trekking months are very short due to the closure of passes with heavy snowfall. This trek can be done only from April to the 2nd week of June and from September to the last week of October.
While these months are a little colder temperature-wise, the ground is not muddy and the sky is blue. The monsoon season in Bhutan is generally between July through August.
This means that every two to three days you can experience two to three hours of rain.
Is Bhutan Safe to Travel?
Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world but still, you should be secured with your passports, cameras, wallets, and purses. Please avoid leaving your belonging in vehicles while sightseeing.
Avoid drinking tap water and ice cubes every time as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated and you all can easily afford treated and bottled water.
Bhutan has a duty to protect its citizens from drugs and tobacco products for which we also need your help and cooperation. So please cooperate with us if you are asked to stop and asked for your baggage. Please do not carry tobacco goods in excess of the set limit.
Festival Tour in Bhutan
Bhutan celebrates many different festivals every year. Usually, this means that you can see the Bhutanese in their best traditional dress and see a display of colorful dances.
Several festivals attract a large number of tourists in Bhutan. The popular festival of Paro attracts lots of travelers to Bhutan.
The Festival in Bhutan gives you some better photo-taking opportunities, it might not be on the same scale that some visitors want. This depends on your own personal preference.
And in Bhutan, public holidays are observed on the same day throughout the nation however different Dzongkhag have their own list of regional holidays that are observed especially while conducting annual tshechus (Religious Festivals). The list of festivals will be provided to you by your agent.
Is Insurance Mandatory for Bhutan Travel?
Insurance is very important for all Bhutan Travel or Trekking Tours. We recommend Money.Com best Travel Insurance company for all travel insurance to travel to Bhutan or any Himalayan Region. They are a US-based Insurance company and have catered to thousands of tourists traveling all around the world. We have a very good reputation with the Insurance company.