What you need to know about your trip to Bhutan.
We have compiled the following essential informations and tips to give you a better insight of your rendezvous with Bhutan and to help you organise your travel.
Way to reach Bhutan
At present, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines operating into Bhutan. Connections are available from Thailand, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Singapore.
Their domestic flight service is limited to three destinations in Bhutan. For more information on flight fares & schedules please visit their official website: www.drukair.com.bt & www.bhutanairlines.bt
(You can purchase your air tickets online from their websites or let us take care of it on your behalf (no additional cost will be charged for this service) and your e-ticket will be mailed to you.)
The other alternative is to enter by road.
Phuentsholing (west), Gelephu (south central) and Samdrup Jongkhar (far east) are the three land border crossings along indian border open to tourists.
From the nearby border cities in India, one can enter or exit Bhutan through the above mentioned border towns in Bhutan. The travel time to/from the capital city (Thimphu) to these border towns would be approx. 6 hrs, 10 hrs and 3 days respectively.
(Depending on your choice (point of entry/exit), you will be picked up or dropped off from/at these border towns in Bhutan.)
Passport & VISA
Visa to Bhutan is issued only in Bhutan. Therefore, all visitors to Bhutan need a visa clearance prior to their travel to Bhutan. It can be processed only through a licensed tour operator like us.
We will process your visa and mail a copy of the visa clearance to you. A clear copy of the photo page of your valid passport (minimum of 6 months validity) is required.
You will need to show the copy of your visa clearance;
– At your point of entry in Bhutan and only then is the visa issued/stamped on your passport.
– At the check in counter of your port of entry to board your flight to Bhutan.
(So please carry a print out of the copy of your visa clearance along with your air tickets.)
Medical & Health
For the general interest of your health, we recommend you to seek timely professional advice for;
– vaccinations and appropriate medication you require before your travel to Bhutan and for up to date informations on health alerts.
– all your health concerns as per your medical background/medical condition (if any) and according to your tour itinerary.
Free health care facilities and pharmacies are available in most parts of Bhutan, nevertheless, depending on the destinations & activities you will be undertaking in Bhutan, we would like to suggest you to prepare;
– a personal medical kit with remedies that works best for you.
– adequate supply of prescribed medication and necessary medical documents of your medication that are required while travelling (if you need one).
(Better be safe than sorry. Please take preventive measures to stay healthy while you travel.)
All our accommodation arrangements are made only in Hotels, Guesthouses, and Home & Farm stays accredited by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
We cater tourist standard 3 star (as per the bhutanese star rating system) accommodation which we have either experienced personally or which we would want to stay in ourselves with a standard room on twin sharing basis.
While the choices of accommodation in western Bhutan are by and large bigger and better, the choices gets smaller and modest as you travel deeper and further away.
To get a closer look at the traditional bhutanese lifestyle, stay with a local family at their home in the countryside is another option that we facilitate. The amenities are very basic, after all it is a home and not a commercial establishment.
(Luxury star hotels and resorts are available as options at an additional cost.)
What you need will depend on your tour itinerary and the time of the year you will be visiting Bhutan. Finding out in advance about the weather conditions for the time/month of your visit will be helpful.
In general, you will be on the move a lot and will spend most of your time exploring the kingdom; for this, comfortable clothing & shoes with good soles fit for both walking around and day hikes are very essential. Being on the move would also mean, you will experience different temperature ranges at short intervals; having warm layers comes in handy here. Be it sun, rain, or snow; a compact Umbrella always provides the shelter you need. Sun screen & sun glasses are must haves for all seasons.
Some parts of Bhutan in winter are cold, hence, warmer layers, appropriate jacket, thermal underclothes, and suitable sleepwear are recommended. And the trekkers are advised to be well equipped with proper gear, clothing and shoes.
(Please include clothing that covers arms and long pants/skirts that go past knee for your visit to Dzongs and Monasteries.)
Buffet meals with a mix of non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are usually served in most of the tourist hotels. The choice of meals served are between Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes.
To diversify your meal options, we also include dining out at our favourite local restaurants and you will also get the opportunity to relish a home cooked meal at a farm house.
Vegetarians get by well in Bhutan, as the local food offers a variety of vegetarian options. As for Vegans, the choices could be modest but some hotels are accommodating enough to whip up a simple vegan veggies on request. You might also find some vegan dishes under vegetarian menu. However, please do inform us in advance of your dietary restrictions or requirements.
(For more typical bhutanese delights (if you are up for it), do let us know and we will lead you to our favourite local restaurants.)
Currency and Money exchange
The currency of Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Nu.) and it can be obtained at any Banks in Bhutan or from their money exchange outlets at the International Airport and at some of the Hotels (rates differ slightly).
In major towns of Bhutan, ATM machines are available for withdrawal of local currency using your Visa or MasterCard (may not always be reliable) and these credit cards are also accepted in most (not all) Hotels and Souvenir/Handicraft stores. However, the transaction fees charged maybe high.
Travellers Cheques (American express is commonly accepted) and several international currencies can be easily exchanged for Ngultrum at the Banks in Bhutan. Indian Rupee is at par with the Ngultrum and is also widely accepted throughout the country with the exception of 500 & 1000 rupee notes.
(Majority of your cost is included in the package and you will need money only for your incidental expenses which are not included in the package (laundry, drinks/beverages, spa treatments, purchase of souvenirs, telephone calls, internet etc))
(Please ensure the cash you are bringing is clean notes and not old & torn. Smaller denomination fetches lower rates, so you might want to use 100 or 50 denominations for exchange.)
Transport- Getting around in Bhutan
Travelling around in Bhutan is by road and being on the road in Bhutan is yet another exhilarating experience. It leads you through the high passes, into the deep valleys and across the villages & towns along the steep mountains with green untouched forests.
The meandering mountain roads are not meant for speed, its multiple turns makes driving slow with an average speed rarely exceeding 30 km/h. However, there is so much to see along the way, beautiful landscape, waterfalls, wildlife, villages, change in vegetation etc to name a few.
(For your internal transport as included in the package, we assign appropriate vehicle with experienced driver for a safe and comfortable ride.)
Your travel Guide
As mandated, all our tours are accompanied by licensed bhutanese guides.The local guides are trained and equipped with wealth of local informations and are proficient in english. The purpose of the guide is to ensure you have the best trip possible and enrich your experience by giving you the insights of the places you will be visiting while ushering you with utmost care.
Your safety and comfort is our top priority, please feel free to alert your guide for any queries and always hear out the guide’s instructions specially while visiting sites that require safety & caution.
(Specialised guides, experts, interpreter and fixer services are not included in the package price.)
Tipping in Bhutan is a free will. It might seem uncommon but it is practiced. One has the liberty to decide whether to tip or not and how much to tip. Although not compulsory, you are welcome to reward especially those who goes out of their ways to make your stay wonderful.
(If you do decide to tip, kindly hand it over at the end of the trip in an envelope.)