More about Bhutan Inforamtion
Bhutan Visa information:
Visa is required for traveling to Bhutan. Following information along with full tour payment shall be emailed / faxed / couriered to us about 4 weeks prior to date of arrival in Bhutan, to process visa with the concerned authorities : Full Name, Permanent Address, Nationality, Date & Place of Birth, Profession / Occupation, Passport Number, Date of Issue, Place of Issue, Date of Expiry, Nature of Passport : Diplomatic / Official / Ordinary / UN Laissez Passer
On the basis of these information, visa is processed in Bhutan and upon approval, Visa Clearance is issued by Department of Immigration, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan and we email you the same copy. Tourists need to produce this Visa Clearance copy at the time of check-in for Druk Air flight while those entering Bhutan by surface via Phuentsholing, they are required to produce this Visa Clearance at the Immigration counter. Actual visa is stamped at passport, on arrival in Bhutan.
Visa fee is US $ 20 and Tourism development fee USD 10 which are charged along with tour cost.
Tourists entering Bhutan by surface via Phuentsholing also need to carry 02 copies of passport size photographs and handover it to our representative on arrival while for those arriving by Druk Airways, photos are not required.
Weather in Bhutan:
Geographically, Bhutan is a land of dramatic contrast. From the near tropical southern border with India, steep slopes climb to snow-capped heights of over 24,750 feet / 7,500m at the northern border with Tibet. Consequently, temperatures vary greatly between day and night and at different altitudes, so layered clothing for changing conditions, is recommended. In the central valleys, the summer rains are not as heavy as in the south and occur mostly in late afternoon and at night. From mid-May to the end of September, the weather is warm at night (60-64F/17-18C) and in the day (72-78F/22-26C). In winter, the sky is bright and it is sunny but cold, especially when the sun hides behind the mountains in the mornings and evenings. At night, the temperature falls below zero. Spring and Autumn are very pleasant with warm days and cool nights.
Best Time to Visit Bhutan:
Trip to Bhutan can be planned throughout the year but best months are Mar, April, May, September, October, November. Also there are several festivals taking place during these months, offering an added attraction. Winter in Bhutan is from mid November to mid March and at this time of the year, climate is dry and sunny for the most parts with perfect blue sky, temperatures peaking at around 15c in the daytime and falling below zero at night. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with light rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings.
Bhutan Time Zone: Bhutan time is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. There is only one time zone throughout the country.
Bhutan Currency: Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum (Nu.) and is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee. Also Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan except Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.
Credit Cards have limited acceptability and payment through credit card is accepted mainly by Deluxe hotels and few selected Handicrafts establishments only.
There are ATMs in Bhutan but currently they only operate with their respective Bhutanese banks. Since these ATMs currently do not function with outside banks, so ATM facility can not be used by visitors. Traveler's checks / cash are best option if you need additional money.
Cash and Travelers Cheques exchange facility is available for most of the main currencies including the US dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, Hong Kong dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Singapore dollar, Danish kroner, Norwegian kroner, and Swedish kroner. Exchange rates vary.
It is also possible to have funds wired with the services of Western Union but funds cannot be accessed in all locations, and are limited in amounts and days of availability.
Tipping in Bhutan: Tipping is not compulsory for tour, nor there is any fixed amount for this. Nevertheless the bottom line in determining whether and how much to tip is to ask yourself how much the individual contributed to make your travels more enjoyable.
Bhutan Distances: All mode of transport with in Bhutan is by road and there are no domestic airlines and trains. The motorable roads are well maintained and connect most of the places. However the mountainous terrain and winding road restrict the average driving speed of vechile to about 35 km per hour.
Paro - Thimphu: 55 km 2 hours
Paro - Haa: 70 km 3 hours
Thimphu - Phuentsholing: 180 km 6 hours
Thimphu - Wangduephodrang:76 km 3 hours
Thimphu - Punakha:70 km 3 hours
Punakha - Wangduephodrang: 17 km 45 min
Punakha - Gangtey (Phobjikha):70 km 3 hours
Gangtey (Phobjikha)-Trongsa: 125 km 4.1/2 hours
Wangduephodrang - Trongsa: 129 km 5 hours
Trongsa - Bumthang: 68 km 3 hours
Bumthang - Mongar: 198 km 7 hours
Mongar-Lhuentse:76 km 3 hours
Mongar-Trashigang:91 km 3 hours
Trashigang - Chorten Kora:52 km 2 hours
Trashigang -Samdrup Jongkhar: 180 km 7 hours
Samdrup Jongkhar- Guwahati (Assam, India): 110 km 3 hours
Samdrup Jongkhar - Phuentsholing: 400 km. 10 hours
Phuentsholing - Bagdogra (West Benal, India): 165 km 4.1/2 hours
Phuentsholing - Siliguri (West Bengal, India): 155 km 4 hours
Phuentsholing - Darjeeling (West Bengal, India): 200 km 6 hours
Phuenthsoling - Kalimpong (West Bangal, India): 185 km 5 hours
Phuentsholing - Gangtok (Sikkim, India): 220 km 7 hours
Phuentsholing -Dooars (Chalsa) (West Bengal, India): 110 km 2.1/2 hours
Transportation in Bhutan: Comfortable surface transport is available in Bhutan, making journey in this mountainous terrain really pleasant. Latest model Japanese Toyota Cars, Land Cruisers, Hiace Buses and Coaster Buses are offered to our tourists depending upon the group size. Our experienced, courteous drivers are well trained and licensed by Department of Tourism and the Department of Motor Vehicles in safety and driving on mountainous terrain. Tourists are at ease riding in Bhutan Mountains. The transport and guide accompany the tourist right from arrival until departure.
Tour and trekking guides in Bhutan: All our tours are escorted by well trained, knowledgeable guides who are certified by Tourism Council of Royal Government of Bhutan. We generally provide English speaking guides however the services of Japanese, French & German speaking guides can be provided with sufficient prior information and on an additional cost.
Photography in Bhutan: Bhutan's landscape, buildings and people are some of the most photogenic in the world. While photographic local people, it is always better to take permission first. Don't take your destination as a living museum. There are certain places such as monasteries and temples, where photography is prohibited however there is no restriction on photographing Dzongs (fort or fortress) and Goembas (monastery) from outside. If you are uncertain about whether or not photography is permitted, please check with your local guide. You should refrain from taking pictures of military installations.
News Paper, Radio and Television: Kuensel, Bhutan Observer and The Bhutan Times are the local news papers published in English. Kuensel is also published in local language Dzongkha and Nepali. Newspaper are also online: www.kuenselonline.com www.bhutantimes.com www.bhutanobserver.bt Country's first daily newspaper "Bhutan Today", launched on October 30, 2008.
Radio & Television: Bhutan Broadcasting Service has programmes in Dzongkha, English and Nepali. Television started in year 2000 and various channels are now available for the viewers such as BBC, CNN, Discovery, Star TV, ESPN etc.
Laundry Services in Bhutan: Laundry service is available in most of the hotels at main destinations. However, it is advisable to check the hotel's individual laundry return policy and pricing schedule before choosing to have laundry done at a hotel.
Bhutan Communications: All major towns and cities have basic communication facilities, including phone, fax, and email service. Local and international calls can be made from all hotels and public phone booths for a fee. Cell phones with a Bhutanese SIM card can also be used in most urban places and some rural places as well, and can be used with a commonly available pre-paid mobile voucher.
Standard mail service in Bhutan is handled by Bhutan Post, and is commonly found throughout the country. However, now both DHL and Federal Express have offices in Thimphu which can be utilized for sending and receiving documents and packages.
Internet facilities are continuously increasing in number and can be found in major cities and towns. Although many of the Internet cafes still rely on a dial-up connection, which can be very slow, high speed wireless and broadband can be found in certain areas.
Electricity: In Bhutan, electricity runs 220 / 240 volts. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs.
Languages of Bhutan: 'Dzongkha' one of the Tibetan family of languages is Bhutan's national language. English is commonly spoken in main towns and also it is the medium of education in schools throughout the country.
Shopping in Bhutan: Items that are most frequently purchased by travelers to Bhutan include postage stamps, lovely hand-woven fabrics, carved masks, woven baskets, thangkhas, wooden bowls, handmade paper and finely-crafted metal objects. In Bhutan, the buying and / or selling of antiques is strictly forbidden.
What to Wear in Bhutan:
Clothing and gear requirements in Bhutan, Comfortable clothing and sturdy, soft-soled shoes are essential for travel in Bhutan. Warm clothing is recommended; and except for summer months, down jackets and woolen sweaters are suggested. In summer, heavy cottons and lightweight woolens will be acceptable. Altitudinal differences account for a wide range of temperatures from day to night the year round. It is, therefore, suggested that clothing be layered so that you can adapt to the changing conditions.
While visiting temples and other religious institutions, dress modestly and respectfully. Slacks are more appropriate for men; and longer length skirts are more appropriate for women. Shoulders must also be covered when inside religious buildings. Also refrain from smoking while on the premises. Please keep in mind that shoes must be removed when entering temples. It is, therefore, suggested that you carry a pair of socks to wear inside religious buildings.
The following is fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for the trip ; clothes as per season, sunglasses / spare glasses, pair of casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, camera, films and accessories, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissor, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, a preparation for the relief of sunburn and any medication you take regularly.
Camping Equipment whilst on a trek
Whilst trekking you are provided with foam mats but we recommend you bring a self-inflating mat pack called Thermarest. This packs up small but when inflated gives very good insulation and is more comfortable than a single closed-cell foam mat. We do not recommend that you bring an airbed. You should also bring your Sleeping bags which should be 4-seasons bags as the temperature will decrease especially at 4,000m camp sites.
Other useful items
It would be prudent to bring all essential items from home; razor blades (or battery operated shaver), toothpaste, shampoo, make-up etc., insect repellent, soap, alarm clock, binoculars, torch, sunscreen, sufficient reading material and plenty of batteries for all electrical appliances.
How to Reach Bhutan:
Reaching Paro by Air: Druk Air, the National Air Carrier of Bhutan, operates regular flights to / from Paro to Delhi (India), Kolkatta (India), Gaya (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). Not too many airlines are available if you want to travel Paro from India, then Drukair is the only airline available. Paro is the only airport connecting Bhutan with rest of world through a well network of flights. Drukair is also regarded as one of the safest airlines in the world. However it is advisable to book your air tickets well in advance to avoid the tourist season rush. For detailed information about airline, schedule and tariff, please visit Druk Air.
By Surface: Entry / Exit to Bhutan is also possible through Phuentsholing, the southern Bhutan frontier town. Bagdogra airport, in the state of West Bengal (India) is the nearest airport about 5 hours drive from Phuentsholing. Also Bagdogra (and its main town Siliguri) is the convenient point for visiting West Bengal region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and touristically popular state of Sikkim.
Badrapur (about 5 hours drive from Phuentsholing) and Birat Nagar (about 7 hours drive from Phuentsholing) are two other nearby airports in Nepal, connected with regular flights from Kathmandu.
Immigration in Bhutan: Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form for checking by concerned officers on arrival. The following articles are exempted from duty :-
a). Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
b). 1 liter of alcohol (spirits or wine)
c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
d). Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
e). Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use
The articles mentioned under d). & e). must be declared on declaration form. If any such items are disposed in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Custom authorities.
Import / export restrictions
Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited :
a). Arms, ammunitions and explosives
b). All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
Health Precautions for Travelers: Health and vaccination requirement: No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan . However if you are arriving from an area infected with yellow fever, you are required to have a yellow fever vaccination.
If you are arriving from Cholera infected area then officials may ask for evidence of Cholera vaccination. Anti malarial medication is recommended for all travelers to Bhutan who are visiting rural areas in the districts that border India.
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler's medical kit appropriate to destination, length of trip and general health. On a tour in Bhutan, there are long drives, and roads are winding so medication for motion sickness is strongly suggested. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness ; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
Food and Drinks: Bhutanese food is generally good. Set meals for travelers tend to be on the bland side, because local food is heavily seasoned with red chilies and can be quite hot. Most hotels provide meals buffet-style. There are usually continental, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese dishes. The food in hotels is often the best in town, but in main towns now there are few restaurants increasingly becoming popular. All tourist hotels have good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.
Food provided during tour is quite elaborate and generally consists of followings :
On Cultural Tour: BREAKFAST; Canned juice with choice of orange, mango, pineapple, apple etc, Porridge/cornflakes/cereals, Fresh fruits, Sausages/bacon, Toast, butter and Jam, Eggs, Tea/coffee
LUNCH: Salad, Rice, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Roti/Nan, Desert, Tea/Coffee
DINNER: Soup, Salad, Rice, Noodles, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Desert, Tea/Coffee
EVENING TEA: Tea/Coffee, Cookies/sandwich, Biscuits/pasteries
On Trek: BREAKFAST: Canned juice with choice of orange, mango, pineapple, apple etc., Porridge/cornflakes/cereals, Fresh fruits, Sausages/bacon, Eggs, Tea/Coffee
LUNCH: Vegetable cutlet/sandwich/boiled potato, Chicken roast/roast beef, Boiled eggs, Roti/Naan, Fresh fruits, Canned juice, Boiled drinking water
DINNER: Soup, Salad, Rice, Noodles, 2 Non-vegetable items, 2 Vegetable items, Desert, Tea/Coffee
EVENING TEA: Tea/Coffee, Cookies/sandwich, Biscuits
Even though the locals drink water straight from the tap, we suggest visitors to drink only bottled water. On treks, we provide boiled and filtered water. A reasonable variety of both hard and soft drinks are available in hotels, restaurants and shops in most towns. Many Bhutanese enjoy drinking traditional homemade alcoholic brews made from wheat, millet or rice.
Bhutan is the only country in the world to totally ban the import and sale of all tobacco products. You can bring in a reasonable amount of cigarettes for personal consumption, but you will be charged an import duty of 100%. Smoking is banned in all public places including restaurants and bars.