Where is Bhutan?
Bhutan is a land-locked country nestled between the world’s giants, India and the Tibetan region of China. Bhutan – Land of the Thunder Dragon is one of the most exotic destinations in the world today. This kingdom, often referred to as the last Shangri-la, is a land of outstanding people, remarkable scenery and natural wonders, and a proud and vibrant culture. Moreover, it is now gradually opening to the world with a sensitive approach to tourism.
What is Bhutan known for?
Bhutan has a perfect environment, almost no pollution, and a living culture where festivals steal the heart of world travelers with its breathtaking scenery, stunning architecture and welcoming atmosphere. This hidden treasure is often called "The Last Shangri-La" and in this region it seems that religion and nature have come together in harmony to work their magic upon the face of the land. Also known as The Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan is a deeply religious region, and is the only Buddhist kingdom in the world. For adventurers looking to experience the Himalayas firsthand, Bhutan would be the best destination.
When is the best time to visit Bhutan?
Every season has its own charm. But, the most popular time to visit Bhutan are autumn and spring seasons which fall on the month from September -November and March- May respectively. The weather is warmer and skies are clearer on this season and many of the dramatic festival falls on this period.
Do I need a visa for Bhutan? How can I obtain visa for Bhutan?
Bhutan Visa is essential for every foreigner who is planning to enter Bhutan. The visa has to be processed by local tour operators, such as our company All Nepal Hiking (ANH). No foreign mission or embassy abroad grants tourist visa. For the visa, a passport is required which must be valid for at least 6 months after you leave Bhutan. The Druk Air allows boarding only if it has got your visa clearance from the Bhutan Government.
What documents will you provide that I have to take with me to Bhutan?
Visa confirmation letter: We will organize your visa for Bhutan prior to the start of your trip. For the visa procedure, you have to send us two passport size color photographs and a color copy of your passport.
Itinerary: Please take a copy of your tour itinerary with you.
How to enter Bhutan?
By air: Foreigners can get into Bhutan only through a Tour Company. The best way to enter Bhutan is by Druk Air. There are also online tickets available for Druk Air nowadays. You can check the tickets with Druk Air yourself online athttp://www.drukair.com.bt/.
By land: There are two overland entry/exit points. One is from the Indian state of West Bengal into Phuntsholing in southwest Bhutan. Four hours drive from Phuntsholing will take you to Bagdogra in the state of West Bengal (India) which is the nearest airport from Phuntsholings. The drive from Phuntsholing to Thimphu takes six hours.The other point is Samdrup Jongkhar in the southeast, 110 km from Guwahati, India. An Inner Line Permit to enter Assam will also be required to enter/exit through Guwahati. Tashigang is six hours' drive from Samdrup Jongkhar.
What is the weight limit for luggage on Druk Air?
The baggage allowance by Druk Air is 20 kg in economic class and 30 kg in business class. An extra 5 kg allowed for storing in the overhead baggage bin or under the passenger’s seat.
What is included in tour packages?
The tour package includes all meals, tea & snacks, government approved A & B category hotels on twin sharing basis, airport pick up and drop, ground transport in the comfortable private vehicle, experienced English speaking guides and local staff, all city tour with permits and entrance fees for museums and monuments, all government taxes, Bhutan Visa fee.
Can I have a private tour?
Sure, We can arrange you a private tour. We also organize private tours as per the demand. We have been flexible as per the wish of our customer and will be in coming days also.
Can I customize my itinerary/tour?
Though we have pre set many popular itineraries, please feel free to customize your tour and schedule. We will help you plan your itinerary based on your interest and time frame. Therefore, if you would let us know, we will manage accordingly.
What kind of vehicle does your company use?
We use comfortable, well maintained and cleaned 4WD car and Hiace. If for some reason you are not comfortable with your vehicle you can request for the change.
How far in advance do I have to book for your tour?
As earlier as you book your trip, the better selection of available departure dates you will have. Moreover for holiday trips, you'll want to reserve several months out to find the best selection. Thus, to gain more advantage you can book as fast as you can.
What will be the food?
Variety of meals are available in most of the hotels – the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food which you can choose as per your wish. Emadatse - spicy chilies mixed with a cheese sauce is the national diet of Bhutan. Bhutanese eat chilies as vegetables rather than spices. Red and white rice are served at all meals. Non vegetarian dishes - pork, beef, chicken, and fish are generally available in most parts of Bhutan. Vegetarian foods are also available. Better ask the hotel or restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Bhutan?
Tap water is not considered safe for drinking and also ice cubes should be avoided. Mineral water is easily available throughout the country (but make sure that seal is not broken). At the same time it is better to go with the trusted brand rather than picking the local brands.
Do I have to worry about altitude sickness in Bhutan?
The altitude in Bhutan is higher than many people are habituated to. Although many people might not have any problem in adjusting, altitude sickness may be a problem for a few ones. If visitors do some simple preparations before leaving for Bhutan, most of the symptoms of altitude sickness can be avoided. Being healthy and in good shape before you arrive in Bhutan will help greatly. It is also recommended that you talk to your local doctor about AMS and medicines in case of emergency.
What type of Vaccinations is required before arriving to Bhutan?
Currently, there is no vaccination required for entry into Bhutan. However it is generally recommended that your tetanus, diphtheria and polio boosters be up to date. Malaria is prevalent in some rural areas of southern Bhutan. Most of your tour runs through western, central and eastern Bhutan. Thus, you might need to consult your doctor about taking anti-malarial pills only if your trip goes through southern parts of Bhutan. For further information, visit the corporate website of the US Centers for Disease Control www.cdc.gov.
What is the currency in Bhutan?
The currency of Bhutan is ngultrum. As it is linked and equal to Indian rupee, ngultrum is also accepted in Bhutan. You cannot buy ngultrum prior arriving to Bhutan, but you can purchase it at the Paro International Airport, Bhutan National Bank, Bank of Bhutan and at major hotels in Thimpu and Paro, all of them accepts traveler’s cheque, US dollars and various other currencies. However, while visiting smaller town you should have ngultrum to purchase, as it is not possible to exchange your currency.
Can I use my credit cards in Bhutan?
Credit cards are not accepted in Bhutan generally. But, there are some handicraft shop which accept credit cards while purchasing goods.
Are there ATM s counter in Bhutan?
ATM facility has recently been opened in Bhutan, but it is available for the local people only for the time being.
Is the country safe to travel?
Absolutely, Bhutan is safe for traveler. There is little crime in Bhutan and it is safe for women, family with children and for solo travelers as well. However, women are advised to follow the same universal precautions when they are in crowded entertainment places at night, mainly when in discos or bars.
What are the accommodations like?
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as grade A, B and C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels located throughout the globe. Western Bhutan (Thimpu, Paro,Wangdue and Punakha)has the best hotels but as you head to eastern and central regions, the quality decreases a little bit. All the hotels/lodges/guest houses in the western Bhutan have pretty good electrical heating systems. While the hotels in the central and eastern part of Bhutan has wood-stoves for heating.
What is the electricity supply in Bhutan and what plugs are used?
240 volts AC – Flat round 2-pin plugs are most common and a universal adapter is an important travel item. Power cuts are quite frequent in central and eastern Bhutan while western Bhutan has stable power supply.
Are there internet facilities for foreign travelers?
Bhutan's main and only Internet Service Provider (ISP) is Druknet, owned by Bhutan Telecom. It provides a dial-up service, at a reasonable cost. There are several internet cafes and communication centers in the Thimphu and other various part of the country. Tourists only need to find a place they are most comfortable with to use the facilities to keep in touch with home. E-mail and Internet services are also offered by hotels.
What is the limitation on baggage weight in trek?
We strictly maintain baggage limit on treks in Bhutan. Each trekker is limited to a maximum of 15kg because a horse/yak carries 30kg and the load of two trekkers should make a load of a horse/yak. You are required to bring a duffle to put in your trekking stuff and a medium sized card suitcase for your city clothes which is to be left behind with hotels or office.
What equipment we need to bring for Bhutan Tour and trekking?
The essential gears our customers must bring for trekking are personnel daypack and sleeping bag. These two items are essential for the trip. Since there is no trekking store in Bhutan, we suggest you to buy this from your place.
Equipment Check List for Bhutan Tour and Trekking
The packing gear list has been created with the objective of getting maximum comfort with minimum weight. Our intention is to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Please remember to bring only what is necessary, this will be helpful to you and also to the field staff.
Luggage Weight Restrictions
The gear and clothing items are divided into "trek" and "non-trek" items beginning of the trek. Non-trek items are left at the staff office in a locked room.
Passport with minimum validity of 6 months
Copy of first page of passport
Visa approval for Bhutan (bring with you)
Equipments & Packing List
Gears we provide:
Tents, stoves, fuel, sleeping pads, cooking and eating utensils, trip Leader first aid kit
Packing List for Cultural Tours
3 pair’s light weight long pants, 2 pairs dress pants / dresses for evening, 4 short-sleeved shirts/blouses, and 1 long-sleeved shirt for sun protection (also while visiting dzongs, temples & monasteries). Underwear, Socks, Sleepers, Warm jackets (if trip falls in Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan & Feb), 1 sweater or light weight jacket, 1 windbreaker, 1 pair comfortable walking shoes, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of dress shoes, Personal toiletries , Insect repellent, Spare nylon duffel for purchases, SPF 20 + more sunscreen, Lip Balm, Sunglasses, Prescription glasses, 1 visor/sun hat, Flashlight, Daypack/Hip pack for day trips, Beach Towel, First-Aid kit with pain medications, antiseptic/anesthetic for sunburn and the prescribed medications.
Packing List for Trek
Warm Sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degrees centigrade), Duffel for gear (if not weatherproof, bring lg. plastic bags), SM first aid kit (blister kit with specifically 2nd skin, aspirin &/or ibu, cough drops, tape),Headlamp, 2-liter water bottles (if you bring a camelback, bring a nalgene, also), Water purification (iodine or chlorine to carry in daypack), Insulated drinking mug, Lightweight toilet articles (shampoo, soap-travel size is best for trekking!), Sunscreen & lip screen, Small towel
Suggested Clothing List
Down parka, Gore-Tex shell & pants, Warm fleece jacket , Comfy trekking boots (we like lowa), Lightweight shoes , 4 pr trekking socks ,2 long sleeve capilene shirts, 2 capilene bottoms (mid & heavy wt), 2 trekking shirts (non-cotton is best!) , Trekking pants (zip off shorts are nice!), 1 pr shorts, 1 bandana , 1 pr winter gloves (i.e. ski), 1 pr lightweight gloves (i.e. fleece), Flip flops (or similar around camp shoes), Warm hat, Sun hat, 2 pair sunglasses
Optional Field Gears
Camera, memory cards and spare batteries, Electronics/battery charger, Down or synthetic-fill pants (recommended for the Fall trek), Down booties (recommended for the Fall trek around camp),Knee supports, Spare contact lenses or glasses, Reading and writing materials, Passport pouch or money pouch, Motion sickness remedies
Some Points to Remember
Essentials: Always check that your pack contains essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage.
Gifts: Please don't bring extra gifts which might be a burden to you. If you wish to show your appreciation to the staff, the best gift would be through conversation or tips where appropriate.
Cultural Sensitivity: It`s better for women to wear pants (or Capri length pants) and/or a skirt (mid-calf or longer). Tights hiking shirts and sports tops are not advisable. For men, pants are best. Men may wear longer hiking shirts that come near the knees. Never go shirtless.
For women: Women are advised to bring their necessary health supplies with them, as such items might not be available in Bhutan.
Boots: Wear boots that are broken-in. To minimize the risk of blister, wearing thin liner socks under regular hiking socks may help.
Layers: Always test your layers before a trip. See if the outer layer fits easily over the inside ones.
Toilet Kit: For trekking & sightseeing, bring your own "toilet kit," and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Always remember to discard the toilet tissue, a waste basket and not along a trail or in the toilet.
Heating: In Bhutan, portable electric heaters are generally provided for heating in rooms. Blankets are also provided. Bring an extra set of long underwear for extra warmth.
What is the time Zone in Bhutan?
Bhutan has only one time zone throughout the country. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 30 minute ahead of India, 15 minute ahead of Nepal and one hour behind Thailand. Also, Bhutan is 14 hours ahead of Pacific Time. When it is Sunday 12:00 Noon in San Francisco, it is Monday 2:00 am in Bhutan.
Can we smoke in Bhutan?
The sale of tobacco products is banned throughout the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. However, smoking in Bhutan is not banned but acting without an import receipt issued by the Department of Revenue and Customs is banned. Therefore, if you wish to smoke in Bhutan you can carry cigarettes up to 200 pieces with you but a duty have to be paid for them and also can smoke only on private zone like room or residence. It is recommended to smoke only on claimed zone otherwise it will be considered as crime if you smoke on prohibited areas like public places and offices and may even have to go jail for 3months also.