GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION
It is advised to that you plan your trip well in advance in order to take care of all details. Confirmation of travel during the popular festival seasons must be made at least three months in advance in order to ensure seats on Druk Air as well as hotel accommodation. In addition, it is advisable to keep extra days to allow for acclimatization and unpredictable weather conditions.
Tourism in Bhutan is guided by the principle of ‘high value low volume’ which in keeping with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, emphasizes its sustainability and also sensitivity to the preservation of its heritage in a rapidly changing world.
As per tourism regulations, all visitors must come through one of the registered tour operators in Bhutan such as Bhutan Lha-Yul Tours and Travels.
With the exception of nationals from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all visitors to Bhutan are required to obtain visa approval prior to arrival in Bhutan, which will be processed by us. Visitors are required to fill in and send us the visa application form duly filled in at least one month in advance. Once visa clearance is obtained, the visa will be stamped upon arrival at the port of entry upon payment of a fee of US $20. Visa can be extended should the visitor wish to remain for a longer period. An airport tax of US $10 is levied on departure.
1. Bhutanese visas cannot be obtained at Bhutanese embassies or missions abroad
2. Travelers without visa clearance number will not be permitted to enter the country
Bhutan is well connected to the outside world through Druk Air (Royal Bhutanese Airlines), the national carrier which is the only airline operating flights in and out of the kingdom. The country's only airport is situated at Paro.
Druk Air operates regular flights from Bangkok (Thailand), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Kathmandu (Nepal) and the cities of New Delhi, Kolkota, Gaya, Gawahati and Bagdora in India. There are different flight schedules for the summer and the winter seasons.
Confirmation of travel especially during the popular festival seasons in spring and autumn must be made at least three months in advance to ensure seats on Druk Air as well as hotel accommodation.
Bagdogra Airport, Silguri (WB), India is the nearest airport outside Bhutan. It has regular flights from Delhi and Kolkota. It is about 4 hrs drive from Phuentsholing, Bhutan's border town. Phuentsholing is one of the main and convenient points of entry to Bhutan by road. The distance from Phuentsholing to the capital Thimphu is 176 km (6 hrs). The nearest train station in India is at New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal which is about 3 hrs from Phuentsholing.
The Bhutanese authorities strictly prohibit the export of any religious antiquity or antiques of any type. Cameras, video camera, computers and personal electronic equipment may be brought into the country but they must be listed on the customs form provided on arrival at Paro and will be checked at departure. Two liters of alcohol, 400 cigarettes and 150 grams of pipe tobacco may be brought into the country without any duty.
Bhutan's unit of currency is the Ngultrum (100 Chetrums = 1 Ngultrum), which is at par to the Indian Rupee. One US dollar is equivalent to approximately Ngultrums 60*. Most major foreign currencies are accepted. Travellers cheques, American Express cards and Visa cards are also accepted in certain establishments.
* Exchange rate pertains to July 2014.
Hotels vary in style and quality. All government approved hotels are clean and well maintained with hot and cold water facilities. All hotels are equipped with telephones, fax machines and international dialing.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Bhutanese food is a tantalizing blend of hot Himalayan flavors. The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat, diary, grain (particularly red rice) and vegetables. Emadatse (chilli and cheese stew) is a very popular dish. Most dishes whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian is lavishly spiced with chilli. Salted butter tea (suja) is served on all occasions. Chang, a local beer and Ara, a spirit distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley is widely favored. Doma or betel nut is offered as a customary gesture of greeting. Besides restaurants also offer Continental, Chinese & Indian cuisine.
Liquor is easily available in bars with the exception of Tuesday (dry day). The legal drinking age is 18 years old and above.
The food prepared for tourists is tempered according to individual tastes.
CLOTHING AND TEMPERATURE
Bhutan's climate ranges from subtropical in the south to temperate in the central highlands to cold and even sub freezing in the north. The climate can be unpredictable and the temperature can vary dramatically. In Thimphu and Paro, the winter daytime temperature averages 12 degrees Celsius but drops well below freezing at night. Warm woolens are recommended in the winter and it is advisable to bring light sweaters or jackets even in the summer. Comfortable walking shoes are indispensable to all while trekkers should be equipped with strong boots and medium to heavy sleeping bags.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILMING
Photography is permitted nearly everywhere in Bhutan. However it is not permitted in the Dzongs (fortresses) and monasteries. Any commercial filming in Bhutan requires prior permission to be sought from the Royal Government and the payment of a royalty. We will assist you with all the formalities.
Bhutanese time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and half and hour ahead of the Indian Standard Time.
Electricity is reasonably reliable and runs at 220/240 volts. An international converter kit with a set of adapter plugs may be required if travelers bring along electrical appliances.
TOUR COSTS AND PACKAGES
Tourism in Bhutan is regulated by the Tourism Council of Bhutan who set the rules, regulations and tariff for all international tourists visiting Bhutan.
The Tariff is US$ 250 per person per night halt during high season and US$ 200 per person per night during low season. The tariff is applicable for a group of more than 3 person. For one or two person, additional surcharge of US$ 40 and US$ 30 is applicable respectively.
The day of departure is not charged. The tariff is inclusive of Government Royalty, local taxes, accomodation ( twin sharing basis), food, transport, guide, museum fees. What is not included is personal expenses, telephone calls, tips etc.