Frequently Asked Questions
Bhutan is beautiful all year round. Depending on what type of tour you booked the weather should match.
During the spring months of March, April and May and the fall months of September, October and November, the weather is warmer and the skies are clearer making the high mountains rise to a vivid blue sky. Most of the annual festivals take place during these months. Winter is a good month to visit as well. The days are usually sunny, cool and pleasant but it’s quite cold once the sun sets in. You will need to pack warm clothing.
Lets put this myth to sleep straight away! Because the Bhutanese Government has imposed an ‘all inclusive’ nightly tariff structure’ a Bhutan tour can appear to be expensive. Considering every visitor has access to a private guide, driver, private vehicle and a land package including all meals, accommodation, sightseeing, entry fees, transfers, taxes, trekking staff services. trekking equipment and ponies, Govt Royalties & visa fees it is indeed excellent value for money.
Travel by Air
The country has so far only one international airport that caters to the needs of visitors coming in through flight. Bhutan has two carriers – Drukair and Bhutan Airline. As flights can be delayed due to weather conditions (particularly during the summer months), it is advisable to allow at least 3-4 hours transit time before connecting to or from a Drukair/ Bhutan Airline’s flight.
The following stations are connected with Bhutan Flights:
India (Kolkata, New Delhi, Bagdogra, Mumbai, Gaya, Guwahati)
Travel by Land
You can enter into Bhutan from any of the three entry points: Samdrup Jongkhar (southeast Bhutan), Gelephu (south Bhutan), and Phuntsholing (southwest Bhutan)
Bagdogra airport, in the state of West Bengal (India) is the nearest airport about 5 hours drive from Phuentsholing. Also Bagdogra (and its main town Siliguri) is the convenient point for visiting West Bengal region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, state of Sikkim.
The nearest airport to the south-central border town of Gelephu is at Bagdogra, West Bengal, about 6 hours’ drive away. Gelephu can also be used as entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and the North Eastern Indian States along with Bhutan.
Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The nearest airport to the south-eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar is at Guwahati, capital of the Indian state of Assam, about 3 hours’ drive away. Samdrup Jongkhar is a convenient entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Assam and other North Eastern states of India along with Bhutan. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest District in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangde Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.
The weather varies across different parts of Bhutan. Depending on the altitude, the climate varies from semi-tropical to alpine. In Thimphu, the capital city, the temperature ranges from -2.5°C in winter to 25°C in summer. In Southern Bhutan, the climate is tropical in the monsoon season and may range from 15°C in winter to 30°C in summer. The east is also warmer than the west. The centre enjoys sub-tropical climate with very cool winters while the northern parts of the country have harsh climate including snowfall two to three times every winter.
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. You can’t apply Visa yourself and Bhutan embassy does not have travel visa services. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.
There is a misconception that obtaining visa to visit Bhutan is very difficult. This is not the case. Visas can be obtained in about seven days, if all papers are in order. All forms and paperwork will be processed by the local tour operator and the following items are the only things required of you, to process visas for Bhutan
- Passport copy – scanned copies can be sent via email. Passport should be valid for at least 6 month.
- Full payments for the trip.
Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.). The ngultrum is on par with the Indian rupee (both the nu and Indian rupee can be used in Bhutan) but INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan. Most tourist hotels and few shops also accept international currencies like US dollar and the Euro and major credit cards i.e., VISA and Master card are accepted. Major convertible currencies and travelers’ cheques can be exchanged at banks in all major towns.
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. However please be aware you can enjoy a degree of flexibility during each day to hike, visit markets & villages and interact with locals as you wish.
Due to the wide range of temperature and climatic conditions it is advisable to dress in layers. So bring with you a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program. Others that you could consider bringing with you would be a pair of Sunglasses/spare glasses, sun cream, sun burn relief cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhoea pills, altitude & car sickness medicine and any medication you take regularly, or might need to take for a periodically recurring condition, such as asthma; insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light (w/spare batteries), mirror, scissors, umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries)etc.
We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn when visiting such places. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.
This will depend on the duration of your stay and the money you spend on local handicrafts. Some visitors like to carry hefty sums because they want to buy souvenirs and gifts for their family and friends back home. Some bring very little cash because food, accommodation, vehicle, guide etc… is covered in the tour price and they don’t want to do shopping. We highly recommend you to bring USD dollars for shopping in Bhutan because it’s widely accepted in handicraft stores and other stores. There are few ATMs in Thimphu where you can withdraw money with your credit card but we would advise to you carry cash in USD for convenience.
Though tipping is not compulsory in Bhutan but it has been more of expected. It’s up to you how much you want to tip them as per their daily services to them. You can tip more if they really tried hard and went extra millage to make your stay wonderful.
The food is one of the greatest experiences when you travel to a different destination. You will have a variety of cuisines to choose from, including Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, Continental, and Chinese. The main staples of the Bhutanese diet are rice (red or white) and chilies. One dish favored by most Bhutanese is called “Emadatsi,” which is chilies and cheese. Meat is widely eaten in Bhutan, as are vegetables. Bhutanese food tends to be spicy, since many dishes are made with chilies, but the spiciness can be reduced to your liking.
We use luxurious, clean and well maintained vehicles like Toyota, Kia and Hyundai. Our drivers are all seasoned drivers and carefully chosen to escort our guests.
SUV – for groups of one or two people.
Hiace bus – for groups of three to six people
Toyota Coaster bus for larger group with luggage van if necessary.
The crime rate is very less in Bhutan. Security and safety are a high priority to every guest who travels to Bhutan and it is safe for women and solo travelers.
Your belongings are safe in hotel/car but on a BAD day, anything could go wrong so we always suggest you to carry your camera, wallet, passport and your valuable goods with you all the time.
We use hotels that are all approved by Tourism Council of Bhutan. Mimimum tariff package includes accommodation in 3 star hotels except for few hotels if you are traveling to Eastern Bhutan. The hotels are basic however they are clean, comfortable and they provide good service. We keep our guests in the best hotels possible.
Visitors who opt for 4 or 5 star hotel will have to pay for their accommodation on top of the daily tariff specified.
Your payment is secured as it goes directly to a government account. Tour operators receive their payments only upon completion of the tour.
Guests are advised to get their insurance coverage from their home country.
No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan. However it is advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A shots.
Anti-malarial medication is recommended for all travelers to Bhutan who are visiting rural areas in the districts that border India. Travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
Medical help and medicine are free in all hospitals. Pharmacies which run without prescription are also available in major towns. Small dose for motion sickness, headache, stomach, indigestion and insect repellent (during summer) could be useful to bring.
We will send you the visa confirmation letter, air e-ticket and your tour itinerary. Please print and bring one copy with you.