Arrival in Bhutan

The kingdom of Bhutan remained largely isolated from the rest of the world until the beginning of the 1960s. Entering the country was difficult because it could only be reached on foot from two major access points, one in the north and one in the south. The northern route ran through Tibet and cut through high mountain passages that were unreachable during the winter. The second access road from the south came through the plains of Assam and West Bengal. The frozen passages in the north and the dense jungles in the south made the access to the land very difficult.

Carefully planned economic development, however, has made the country much more accessible and now there is a network of roads that enter and cross the country, as well as a multiple international national airport.

Today, the main roads to the country are through Phuentsholing in the south, connecting Bhutan with Indian plains of West Bengal through the border towns of Geylegphug, in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar in the east, linking Bhutan with the Indian state of Assam.

All visitors to Bhutan need a visa to enter the country (see visa on the Journey Planner tab). Visa authorization must be obtained before you arrive in Bhutan and travel must be booked through a Bhutanese tour operator or an international partner. Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian citizens can get an entry visa and do not have to book a trip through a tour operator, but it is recommended. In the case of Indian citizens, passports or voter cards are accepted at the entrance.

Traveling over land in Bhutan

Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land borders that are open to tourists.

The city of Phuentsholing in the southwest is about 170 km east of the national airport of India in Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, start your journey to Thimphu, the capital with a journey time of about six hours for the 170 km stretch.

Gelephu, in the south of central Bhutan, is another point of entry in Bhutan. It is about 250 km from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the subtropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and eventually into Thimphu. Three districts will have to be crossed and the journey time will be about ten hours.

Samdrup Jongkhar district in south-eastern Bhutan borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam, and is about 150 km from Guwahati, the capital of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan Samdrup Jongkhar will be taken through to Trashigang, and thence along the side of Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang and finally to the capital Thimphu route. The distance is about 700 km and you need a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.

Traveling through the air to Bhutan

There are flights to destinations including Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.

Paro is located at an altitude of 2225 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains up to 4.876 m. Currently operating two companies for Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in the east of Bhutan, Bumthang in the center of Bhutan and Geylegphug in south-central Bhutan. A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu on the southern border with India.

Fly to Bhutan Paro International Airport is an exciting experience as the descent into the Paro Valley brings you closer to the peaks of the more than most other world flight mountains. The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting as the plane drives through four of the five highest mountains in the world. When the weather is nice, when it gets higher, you can enjoy the spectacular view of the mountain. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga at their best.

Bhutan Visa / entry permit Information

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives, all other visitors traveling to Bhutan need a visa.

Indian citizens, Bangladesh and deMaldivian can validly obtain a permit in the port of entry to a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months (citizens of India can also use their ID card voters (VIC)).

All other tourists must obtain a visa permit before traveling to Bhutan. Visa are processed through an online system by your tour operator Bhutanese license directly or through a travel agency abroad.

You must send the photo page of your passport to your tour operator, who then applies for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourist Board of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your vacation (including a USD $ 40 visa fee) has been transferred and received in the TCB bank account. After receipt, the visa statement is processed within 72 working hours.

At your place of entry you must present your visa gift certificate, the visa will then be stamped in your passport.

Online Regional Licensing System

To streamline and facilitate the smooth visit of tourists from Bangladesh, India and the Maldives, the Ministry of Immigration, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Cultural Affairs and the Tourism Council of Bhutan have introduced the online licensing system. The system facilitates the online processing of permits for regional tourists by registered Bhutanese tour operators and TCB certified hotels. The facility is offered as an optional channel to process permits for visitors from the region and is applicable for access from Paro and Phuntsholing. Visitors who use this facility will be able to obtain their permit clearance and route permits prior to their arrival in Bhutan similar to international tourists.

Travel Guides

There are more than 1000 recognized and active guides who work in the country.

To ensure that visitors receive a professional, high-quality service, each guide must follow a training course. Guides are trained to specialize in cultural or adventure tours. Many guides complete language courses in German, Japanese, Thai and other languages ​​so that they can easily communicate with guests and speak English to them all. All tour operators must only use registered and certified guides.

To view the list of certified tour guides, visit our guide here Tourism Council of Bhutan

Accommodation –

A wide variety of accommodations are available, ranging from luxury 5-star hotels to cozy small hotels and host families in traditional Bhutanese houses and institutions. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels. Likewise, the atmosphere and hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible.

The Types Of Accommodation Can Be Divided Into:

1. Hotels

2. Resorts

3. Business stay

4. Home stays

In addition, visitors will be provided with tents on long journeys and all other camping equipment is deemed necessary. Regardless of where they stay, visitors can be assured of their comfort and traditional Bhutanese hospitality.

Hotels in Bhutan are rated according to a national 5-star rating system. All tour operators are required to provide their guests with at least 3-star accommodations, so you can be sure of your comfort. Most hotels provide their guests with television, room service, fitness centers, spas and Wi-Fi. However, the exact services available vary from hotel to hotel.

Based On This Rating System, Establishments Are Classified Into:

Farm-stays

Home-stays

Resorts

Hotels

Guesthouses

Guest Houses

There are several guest houses around Bhutan. They are classified on the same scale as hotels. The exact. available services can vary per guesthouse.

Farm Stays

Visitors also have the opportunity to spend a night in a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. Agriculture is still one of the main sources of living for the Bhutanese people and a stay at the farm gives you an excellent insight into the daily life of a typical Bhutanese family.

You will be able to observe age-old Bhutanese agricultural traditions while the family carries out their daily tasks. You will enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unrivaled hospitality of a Bhutanese host.

All officially sanctioned and classified farm stays are located in the beautiful countryside of Bhutan, amidst lush farmland far from the noise and crowds of population centers. To experience a traditional life, electricity and running water are not available on Farm-Stays. Hot water can be provided by the family, but is served in a sink / bowl.

Home Stays

Visitors have the opportunity to spend a night in the traditional home of a Bhutanese family. A home stay gives you an excellent look. the daily life of a typical Bhutanese family. You will enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unrivaled hospitality of a Bhutanese host. All officially sanctioned and listed houses are located in the beautiful countryside of Bhutan, far away from the noise and crowds of population centers. To experience a traditional life, electricity and running water are not available at Home-Stays. Hot water can be delivered by the family, but is served in a sink / bowl.

ATM Locations And Currency

ATMs are located in all major cities in Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn with a Visa or MasterCard. For concerned travelers, a list of ATM locations in Bhutan is available in the following links.

1. For BoB (Bank of Bhutan) account holders: BoB ATM locations

2. For account holders of BNB (Bhutan National Bank): locations of BNB ATM

3. For PNB (National Bank of Pressure Punjab) Account Holders: PNB ATM locations

Payment System In Bhutan

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Now.) It is similar to the Indian rupee that is accepted as legal tender in the country.

Note: INR (Indian rupees) in denominations of 500 and 1000 are now not accepted in Bhutan.

ATMs are located in all major cities in Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn with a Visa or MasterCard. In addition, POS services (Point of Sale) are available nationwide, which means that visitors can pay with a credit card at most hotels and craft shops.

Travel tips

Checklist

The following information serves as a guide when traveling to Bhutan. This practical advice is not an extensive list, but should give you useful information while planning your trip.

Travel / Medical Insurance

The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has set up a travel and medical plan exclusively for our visitors. Travel insurance can be provided through your Bhutanese tour operator or international partner. You can also visit the Royal Insurance Corporation or Bhutan website at http://www.ricb.com.bt for more information.

Money

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Now.) It is similar to the Indian rupee that is accepted as legal tender in the country.

Note: INR indications (Indian rupees) of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan.

In addition, POS services (Point of Sale) are available nationwide, which means that visitors can pay with a credit card at most hotels and craft shops.

Bank

Financial institutions in Bhutan have greatly improved and today we have a number of banks that respond to the needs of the people.

Some of the banks that you can use in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveler’s check can easily be withdrawn and redeemed for local currency. Many of these banks offer internet banking facilities.

In addition, POS services (Point of Sale) are available nationwide, which means that visitors can pay with a credit card at most hotels and craft shops.

Electricity

All major cities are well connected to electricity running at 220/240 volts with round two-pin and three-pin sockets.

It is recommended that you install flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics if necessary, but most hotels offer multiple sockets. Bhutan is a carbon neutral destination. Our energy is clean and green generated by hydropower.

Photography

Bhutan offers immense opportunities for photography, especially during excursions in the open air.

However, you must first consult your guide before you start shooting or filming in Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions, because in a certain area photographing / filming is not allowed.

You are free to take pictures of the landscape, the panoramic view of the mountain ranges, the rural life, the flora and fauna, the characteristic Bhutanese architecture and the exterior of Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

Shopping

Some popular handicraft products that are for sale are hand-woven textiles of raw silk or silk, carved masks of different animals, woven cane and bamboo baskets, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products or finely crafted silver gods. Other items you might be interested in are the beautiful Buddhist thangkha paintings or Bhutan’s wide range of colorful and creative stamps. You can come across these articles in the many craft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major cities. Do not forget that buying and selling antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.

Tips

Tipping is a purely personal issue. We leave it up to you whether you want to tip your guides and drivers. If you do this, we recommend that you place the tip in an envelope.

Communication

The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Most hotels and cafes offer Wi-Fi internet access. Bhutan also has an extensive mobile (mobile) telephone network with worldwide roaming.

Clothing And Other Paraphernalia

With great differences in altitude, the weather is quite mixed in Bhutan. So be prepared for the unforeseen weather conditions.

We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully, especially if you plan to visit the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeves must be worn when visiting such places. As a sign of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps, etc. if you enter religious and administrative buildings, institutions and any other place you encounter with the national flag being lifted.

Measures, Weight And Time

Bhutan attributes to the metric system and most weights are measured in grams (g) and kilograms (kg). The standard time is 6 hours before GMT.

Health Transport

Before you travel to Bhutan, you should seek advice from your doctor regarding vaccinations and appropriate medicines that you should have for your trips. You must have at least tetanus, typhus and hepatitis A vaccinations.

Precautionary Measures

Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world, but you have to be careful during your visit. Make sure that your items, especially your passports, cameras, wallets and wallets, are properly secured. Make sure that you do not leave such items in sight in closed vehicles during sightseeing.

Always avoid tap water that is not cooked or ice cubes in drinks because most water sources in Bhutan are untreated. One can easily afford affordable and bottled water.

Bhutan also has the duty to protect its citizens against drugs and tobacco products. To do this we need your help and cooperation. Please cooperate if stopped and asked for your luggage. Do not take tobacco products that exceed the set limit. See the following link for more information. Tobacco Control Act

When is The Best Time To Visit Bhutan?

Bhutan has four different seasons and each season has its own beauty and charm. Bhutan is a destination all year round. It is therefore entirely up to you to determine your travel period.

1. Spring (March, April and May)

Spring is a delight for botanists because different flowers start to bloom. The plants start to bud after their long dormancy in the winter. Flowers such as rhododendron, wild azaleas and edelweiss cover the meadows as carpet and add a new feeling of wonder to the landscape of the Bhutan.

2. Summer (June, July and August):

This season is a period of warm and wet climatic conditions with high rainfall in most parts of the country. It is an abundant time of the year when flowers are in full bloom and valleys are covered with greenery.

3. Autumn (September, October and November)

This is the time when the entire landscape changes into a golden color. The farmers who harvest their crops in the golden rice fields under the clear blue sky are simply a great view of the landscape of Bhutan in the autumn.

4. Winter (December, January and February)

These months experienced cold and dry climatic conditions. However, the cool winter season in Bhutan gives you a clear view of the world’s highest Himalayan mountain ranges covered with snow.

Holidays

Holidays that are observed all over the country. However, every Dzongkhag has its own list of regional holidays that are mainly observed during annual tshechus (religious festivals). For such a list, contact your service provider or travel agent.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan is a small landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. The landscape stretches from subtropical plains and forests in the south to subalpine forests and snow-capped mountains in the north. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.

2. Do I have to use a tour operator to book my trip?

It is a government regulation that you must use a Bhutanese Tour Operator license to book your trip to Bhutan or one of their international partners.

3. Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan?

All international tourists who want to visit Bhutan need a visa that must be arranged in advance via a Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa issue must be obtained through your tour operator prior to your trip. For holders of an Indian passport (or VIC), Bangladeshi nationals and people from the Maldives can obtain a visa upon entry.

4. How much does the visa cost?

For international tourist visas an additional fee of USD 40 applies. This can be paid in advance to your tour operator or travel agent. There are no costs for holders of an Indian passport (or VIC), Bengali citizens and people from the Maldives.

5. How do I get to Bhutan?

There are a number of airports where you can fly to Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai). Currently, two companies operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. There are also three land border crossings that you can travel by land to the kingdom. All crossings are only along the Indian border – Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator. A list of tour operators operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all necessary arrangements.

6. What does the minimum daily package of $ 200 / $ 250 per day include?

The package of $ 200 per day (low season) and $ 250 per day (high season) includes a minimum of 3-star accommodation, food costs, an experienced guide and transportation (with driver) in the country. Also included in the price is a Sustainable Development Fee of $ 65 per day for free education, free healthcare and poverty reduction. All these services are arranged by your tour operator.

7. Which currency is used in Bhutan?

Bhutanese currency is known as the zero center. Its value is linked to the Indian rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However, Indian banknotes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable.

8. Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can visit Bhutan every year?

There is no limit to the number of tourists admitted to the country every year. To protect our culture, traditions and natural environment, the government has adopted a strict policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. This policy is aimed at attracting demanding tourists who respect the unique culture and values ​​of the Bhutanese people and at the same time offer visitors an unforgettable unique experience.

9. How is the food in Bhutan?

The most characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are an essential part of almost every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.

Rice is the main ingredient of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meat that is most often eaten. A wide selection of Western and Indian dishes is also available in many of the restaurants in the country. 

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