BHUTAN : A BASIC TRAVEL INFO Print
 

Area                                                       14,824 sq miles                                                   

Comparing to the size of U.S.                    About half the size of Indiana

Borders with                                            India and China

Population                                              8 Hundred Thousand

Time Zone                                              GMT + 6:00

Religions                                                Vajrayana Buddhism & Hinduism

Government Type                                     Constitutional Monarchy

Capital                                                    Thimpu

Language                                                Dzongkha

Passport & Visa Formalities

Tourist must have a valid passport to visit Bhutan. We will apply for your visa. We need  a color copy of your passport and US$ 40.00 visa fee, along with the tour payment. No photo is required for the visa at this time. 

Your visa will be issued only 2-3 weeks prior to the arrival in Bhutan.  Once issued, we will email it to you.  You need to show the visa copy at the time of check in for the flight to Paro, bhutan. 

Weather & Clothing

Bhutan’s weather and climate varies through the seasons, and from one region to another. Southern Bhutan is tropical, with monsoon season. The East is warmer than the West. The central valleys of Punakha, Wangdi Phodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhuntshi enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, whereas Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa, Bumthang and Phobjikha have a much harsher climate, including occasional snowfalls in winter.

The north of the country is inhabited up to 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) in summer. The climate there is rough, with monsoon rains in summer and heavy snowfalls in winter. In those valleys, where most tourist activities are concentrated, the winters (mid-November to mid-March) are dry, with daytime temperatures of 16-18 degree Celsius (60-65 degree F) if the sun is shining. By contrast, the evenings and early mornings are cold, with nighttime temperatures falling below freezing. Snow covers the mountaintops but reaches the valleys only two or three times each year. Spring lasts from mid March to the beginning of June (27-19  degree Celsius / 80-84 F) by day and 18 – 20 degree Celsius / around 65 degree F at night. Summer temperatures are 23-24 degree Celsius / 73 – 75 F by day and 15- 16 degree Celsius / 59-61 F at night. 

At the end of September, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives. All at once the sky clears, a brisk breeze picks up and temperatures start falling towards freezing at night although bright sunshine continues to keep the days warm.

At altitudes over 10,000 feet, weather is unpredictable. Daytime temperatures at these heights can be in the 60F but also as low as the 30s and 40s in the day time if it is windy. 

The wide range of temperatures does not make dressing easy. The best solution is to wear several layers, such as a cotton shirt, pullover, wool cardigan and jacket, which can be taken off or added as needed. Sportswear is the appropriate style for a traveler in Bhutan. Even in summer you will need a sweater or a light jacket in the evening. An umbrella is a must in summer seasons. It is more useful than a raincoat and acts as protection not only against the rain but also against the sun.

Comfortable sports shoes are strongly recommended; mountain boots are not necessary unless you plan to go trekking.  From May to October, cotton clothes are sufficient, plus a woolen sweater or light jacket. From November to the end of April, on the other hand, you will need very warm cloths including long underwear or woolen tights to wear under trousers, and a warm jacket.In addition, you may want to bring with you: sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, a water flask, a flashlight with extra batteries, a folding pocket knife, a hat or headscarf in summer, cap and gloves in winter, disinfectant tablets for water (trekking), insect repellent (summer). 

Health & Immunization

Contact your physician and consult before you leave for the trip. Your doctor is the best source of information about immunizations and medicines; he knows your medical history and is in touch with local public health officials. 

Water Borne Diseases:  All visitors to Bhutan are strictly to be advised not to drink tap water and unwashed vegetables and fruit Untreated water, uncooked vegetables and fruits can cause hepatitis and gastrointestinal diseases. Most hotels and restaurants serve boiled and filtered or even treated water, but it is always safer to stick to bottled mineral water. You must carry your own water bottle and iodine tablets if you are traveling to remote areas.

On the trek, we provide you the boiled water which is safe to drink.

Bring all your customary medicines with you plus a laxative, an anti-diarrhea medicine (an oral rehydration solution is also very helpful in case of diarrhea), antihistamine tablets and anti-nausea  tablets (in case of mountain sickness).

The Centers for Disease Control provides an International Traveler’s Hotline offering recorded messages or faxes on current health risks. Call 877 394 8747 or visit cdc.gov/bhutan  for suggested immunizations and food/ water precautions For other health-related inquiries, call 404 639 3534 (8 a.m. 4:30 pm EST).

Customs & Declarations

You will receive a baggage declaration and immigration form on the plane prior to landing. The main purpose of the declaration form is to ensure that you re-export anything you bring into country. List all expensive equipment that you are carrying, such as cameras, video cameras and portable computers etc. Customs officials usually want to see the items listed, before endorsing the form back to you. You will be asked to return the form, and show the items listed when you leave the country. Keep it safe and don’t lose it.

Money, Credit Cards & ATM

Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) which is 100 Cheltrum. Bank notes come in denominations of 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Ngultrum. One Ngultrum is equivalent to one Indian Rupees. Ngultrum has no value outside Bhutan.

You should bring petty cash  for miscellaneous expenses such as, mineral water, tips to driver and guide. You may exchange US cash at your hotel, banks and designated foreign currency exchange counters located at the Paro airport.

Visa and Master card are accepted in most major shops and hotels in Thimphu. A service charge of 5 - 7% is charged. There are no international ATM machines in Bhutan at the moment.  A few local ATM machines are available for local account holders only.

Culture & Etiquette

Bhutanese are considered quite open and liberal compare to its neighbouring countries. There are many complex customs and traditions in Bhutan, but you are not expected to follow all of these. Just follow the western standards of common courtesy and be respectful of religious sentiment. Most important, ask your guide before doing anything. You should also follow the normal Asian standards of courtesy and behavior in Bhutan. These include respect for religion and the monarchy, modest dress and no public displays of affection. In most of the Temples and monasteries shoes are not allowed, please remove before entering. 

Appropriate Dress:  Men:  Trousers are best.  Men should always wear a shirt in public.  T-shirts are acceptable.  If you would like to wear shorts, please bring longer shorts (for instance Gurkha shorts).  Short jogging shorts are not appropriate. 

Appropriate Dress:  Women:  In Bhutan, pants are probably the best choice.  However, many women also find that a long skirt is great for travel and always puts most local people at ease.  Many women find  trekking in long johns or tights and a skirt is a functional combination.  During the trek shorts are okay to wear, however, during your sightseeing you will not be allowed to enter Temples and monasteries if in shorts.  Long or short sleeve shirts are best.  

Miscellaneous

Upon arrival at the airport in Paro

When you arrive in Bhutan, someone from our local office will meet you at the airport who will be displaying your name.  In case,  because of earlier or delayed flight, if you do not  see anybody to pick you up, then give a call to the local tour operator listed on the “Local Operator’s Contact Detail” which is in the information package you have received from us before you left U.S.


Purchasing Souvenirs:  

Unlike other tourist destinations, Bhutan’s larger stores normally do not like to bargain, however, you can bargain at smaller stores. The most popular souvenirs are traditional Bhutanese handicrafts, Buddhist paintings, jewelry, wooden bowls and carvings. Bhutan is also very famous for its postage stamps.

If you are thinking of purchasing any products, which you cannot carry with you, then think twice before you purchase it. The salesman or guide may tell you that they would pay the shipping charges to your address.  However, besides the shipping charge, you must understand that there are other charges involved at your end, which they may not be aware of, such as destination charges, custom clearance fees, warehouse fees and other fees. By the time, the product reaches your home; the chance is high that you will also receive a bill for all the other charges, which might be higher than the cost of product itself. So, unless you are very sure about these charges, shipping anything home is not suggested. 


Antiques: The export of antiques and wildlife products are prohibited. If you purchase a souvenir that looks old, have your guide declare it as a non-antique item with the Department of Antique Preservation. Customs authorities pay special attention to religious items. 

Electricity:

Western Bhutan have a reliable power supply. Elsewhere, access is less consistency  If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit with a set of adapter plugs. The sockets are round. The voltage supply is 220/240.

Telephone, Email and Wifi

You can make a direct call from Bhutan to U.S. through a telephone line.  There are a few cyber cafes in and around Thimpu.Some of the hotels, restaurants have Wifi free of charge.  If you have roaming service in your phone, it may work in Thimpur and other parts of Bhutan. 

Safety & Security:  

Bhutan is a safe country, but like anywhere in the world, it is wise to be a little cautious. Simple safety precautions such as ignoring touts, not wearing excessive jewelry, being careful when crossing roads (remember: left-hand traffic!) and taking care of valuables will keep you out of trouble. Valuables such as money, traveler check, passports and flight tickets are best kept in the safety box of your hotel if available or carry along with you all the time. If you are trekking refer to our Acclimatization and altitude sickness information.

Baggage Allowance:

Passengers are allowed to carry free baggage not exceeding 20 Kgs (44 pounds) in Y class and 30 Kgs (66 pounds) in J class. Any excess will be charged, for excess baggage.. Only one hand carry baggage is allowed; not exceeding 5 kgs (11 pounds).

Tipping

Your driver and guide  expect a tip at the end of the tour.  Below is a general idea on tipping in the group size beween 2-5 people.  If there are more than 5 people in the group, a little more would be expectd. The mentioend tipping is to be divided by the number of people in the group.  The tips can be more or less depending on the services you get from them. 

Tour Guide :  US$ 10 a day

Driver  :         US$  8 a day