General Information Bhutan

 

Climate

Bhutan, located in the lap of Himalayas is renowned for chilly weather. However, the higher reaches have more icy conditions whereas the eastern part of the kingdom remains warm. A semi-tropical weather along with cool winters prevails in the valleys of Punakha, Wangdeuphodrang, Tashigang, Lhuentse and Mongar. On the other hand, places like Paro, Thimphu, Tongsa and Bumthang have severe winters. Consistent snowfall along with heavy monsoon rains is capable of blocking passes. The winter season in the country ranges since November to March. It leads to drastic fall in temperature, especially below zero during night hours. Middle of June witnesses arrival of monsoon rains. However, September’s last days welcome the autumn season and trekkers can have the time of their lives till the advent of November.

 

Health

At present, travelers are not required to take vaccinations for entering Bhutan. But the rule states that travelers from cholera-infected or yellow-fever infected regions should undertake vaccinations for these respective diseases, nearly 10 days before commencing their visit. Visitors are requested to undergo anti-malarial medication in case of plans of traveling to villages near the Indian frontier.

 

Money

Ngultrum (Nu) is the currency of Bhutan. Indian rupee is the standard to whose value it is fixed. Guests are requested to keep traveler’s checks (American express is preferred) along with a bit of cash (preferably US Dollars). These could be utilized in the case of incidental purchases/expenses. The significant urban areas have bank branches.

 

Electricity

The Himalayan kingdom utilizes round hole two-pin and three pin power outlets and electricity works on 220/240 volts. Guests are advised to carry adapter plugs, if electrical instruments are brought. Electrical instruments shops in the capital Thimphu contain stock adapter plugs. However, there’s no guarantee of their availability in the other parts of the land.

 

Communication

Facilities regarding email and international telephone calls are available in maximum towns of the country. The western part of the country witnesses a vast number of internet cafes. However, IDD calling booths are present in the eastern sections of the land too. Facilities regarding IDD calls are offered at major accommodations utilized by us. The capital Thimphu is pretty advanced and internet can be easily accessed at the hotel. During treks to far off regions such as Laya and Lunana, our guides have satellite phones with them.

 

Timing

The whole country follows a singular time zone and it is 6 hours ahead of GMT.

 

Accommodation

The country, being a tourist’s paradise is filled with hotels, guesthouses and lodges. The western part houses some quality hotels, whereas the eastern and central segments are known for their average qualities. Five star luxuries can’t be found in the Himalayan kingdom and hotels are not categorized. Our team has worked to its utmost hilt and selected accommodations offering supreme amenities. The major trekking paths have purpose-built cabins. Camping in the wild is not an option as the renowned Bhutanese hospitality is averse to it.

 

Clothing

On account of diverse climactic varieties, guests are requested to use layers for dressing. It offers effective protection against the chilling cold.

Bhutan being a traditional country, guests are requested to dress modestly instead of wearing tight fitting clothes or loose trousers. While visiting religious structures like dzongs and monasteries abstain from smoking. Further, caps, hats and footwear should be removed while touring these places.

 

What to Pack

Guests are provided a list of things they can bring for the tour: Different sorts of clothes, sunglasses/spare glasses, casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries), insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissors, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, ointments for sunburn and required medicines.

Bring a vast amount of film and spare camera batteries too.

 

Photography

Scenic locations are the hallmark of this trip. Glacial rivers, mighty peaks, local shops, accommodations, etc. will definitely arouse the photographer in you. However, guests are advised that photography is usually restricted in sacred places like shrine rooms of monasteries and dzongs. Consult with your guide regarding outdoor photography.

Shopping

Visitors in the Himalayan kingdom can shop items such as carved masks, hand-woven textiles, woven baskets, wooden bowls, artistically crafted metal objects, thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s brilliant postage stamps. Bhutanese law prohibits purchase and selling of antique products.

 

Gratuities

Tipping is a personal choice and travelers are requested to use their own discretion regarding it.

 

Visa

In order to reach the Himalayan kingdom visas are necessary; the visa fee is US$20 regarding unlimited period of stay. One has to pay it on arrival as foreign missions in other countries don’t have the power to offer Bhutan tourist visas. Guests are requested to disclose the information provided in the visa application form to us also three weeks before the commencement of travel. It will be needed as processing procedure will be carried out with the concerned authorities. Travelers are further informed that in case of all FITS/GITs traveling in the festival season; information and complete details need to be sent nearly 6 weeks before the commencement of travel.

Fax or email should be utilized for conveying the necessary information. Upon guests’ requesting so, a Bhutan visa application data form would be sent to them. Our organization doesn’t need any further photos or visa forms in advance.

Clients are hereby informed that whichever means of transport they utilize to enter Bhutan, they need to bring two passport size photographs with name/passport number printed on the back side. Further, they should also have the required visa fee US$20 (in cash) with them. We do our utmost so that visa applications can be cleared at an advanced date and visa clearance numbers issued. Furthermore, the moment guests enter the country, their passports are stamped. However, guests who don’t have a visa clearance number on record would not be in a position to enter the country.

 

Tariff

The Royal Government of Bhutan decides the International Tourist Tariff which can be utilized for all-inclusive packages. The daily tariff range is US$150 to US$200 per day with respect to adults traveling in groups of three or more. If the group consists of less than three people, a daily surcharge is practiced on them. Kids less than five years of age are offered free travel whereas those in the age group of 6-12 travel at a highly discounted rate. Students below the age of 25 can avail of discounts along with diplomats of foreign embassies/missions accredited to Bhutan. Guests can also avail discounts if they stay for a period surpassing 10 nights in the kingdom.

 

Accessibility

Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline, is the best way to enter the country. However, flights can be postponed on account of weather (especially during the summer months) and thus 24 hours should be allowed before onward connection occurs.

Druk Air witnesses consistent flights between the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and countries like Bangladesh (Dhaka), Burma (Yangon), India (Kolkata, Delhi), Nepal (Kathmandu) and Thailand (Bangkok).  

Visitors can also enter or leave the country through land route via the border town of Phuentsholing. At a drive of 4 hours lies the closest airport at Bagdogra, West Bengal. Phuentsholing also works as an excellent entry/exit point for visitors desirous of exploring Sikkim and West Bengal in India along with Sikkim. Land exit can be also provided sometimes via the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar; located at a distance of nearly 3 hours drive from India’s Guwahati.

 

Customs

Guests are informed that they need to fill a passenger declaration form provided by the country’s officers on landing. Articles absolved from duty consist of the following:

·        Articles utilized for daily purposes and personal effects

·        2 liters of alcohol (spirits or wine)

·        400 cigarettes, 150 gms of pipe tobacco, 2 boxes of cigars (or 50 pieces)

·        Instruments, apparatus or appliances with regard to professional purposes

·        Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for private utilization.

 

These articles should be explained under (d) & (e) on the declaration form. If any of them are kept in the Himalayan kingdom for purposes of selling or gifting, they would come under the purview of customs duty. While leaving, visitors are needed to provide their forms to the Customs authorities.

 

Import/export restrictions

Import/export of these goods is completely disallowed:

·        Arms, ammunitions and explosives

·        All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs

·        Wildlife products, principally those of endangered species

·        Antiques

As far as imports of soils, plants, etc. are concerned, quarantine adjustments drive them. Upon landing these items should be cleared. Guests are requested to take care while buying historic items. Special precaution needs to be maintained while purchasing religiously or culturally important products due to the reason that their export is dependent upon a clearance certificate. We request visitors to take heed of our advice before purchasing such products.  

List of Bhutan Journeys