Bhutan

An airport tax or departure tax is required to be paid by all international and domestic passengers departing from Paro Airport. The passenger security fee as well as the airport tax are both added to the ticket fare automatically.

Bhutan enjoys all the four seasons:

  • Spring: March - May
  • Summer: June - August
  • Autumn: September - November
  • Winter: December – February

The southern region is tropical and, in general, the east of Bhutan is warmer than the west of the country. The central valleys of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Luntshi enjoy a semi-tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Trongsa and Bumthang have a much harsher climate, with heavy monsoon rains in the summer and heavy snow fall in the winter, which often blocks the passes leading into the central valleys.

Currency
Bhutan's currency is the ngultrum (BTU), with 100 chetrum = 1 ngultrum. The ngultrum is fixed to the value of Indian rupee. US$1 = BTU 67.26 ( 1 June 2016)

Tourists are advised to carry their money in the form of traveller's cheques (preferably American Express) with some cash (USD is best) for incidental purchases/expenses.

The following articles are exempt from duty: Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor, 2 litres of alcohol (spirits or wine), 200 cigarettes, instruments, appliances for professional use, photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use.

Import/exports of the following goods are strictly prohibited: Arms, ammunition and explosives, all narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs, wildlife products, especially those of endangered species and antiques. Tobacco products are charged a duty of 200% on their cost price.

In Bhutan, electricity runs on 220/240 volts, with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. If you bring electrical appliances, also pack appropriate adapter plugs.

No vaccinations are currently required for travelling to Bhutan. However, visitors coming from an area infected with yellow fever are required to have had a yellow fever vaccination at least 10 days before their arrival. Cholera vaccinations are strongly recommended for visitors coming from a cholera-infected area. Anti-malaria medication is also recommended for all travellers who will be visiting rural areas of districts bordering India.

Money Exchange
Money and traveller's cheques of all major currencies can be exchanged at hotels and banks.

Credit Cards
You should not count on using a credit card in Bhutan. American Express, Visa and MasterCard are accepted at some handicraft shops and some of the larger hoteliers, but these transactions take extra time. The credit card companies charge high fees and the verification office is only open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

All foreign nationals other than Indian passport holders require a visa to enter Bhutan. Visas are not issued by any of Bhutan's mission or embassies abroad and need to be applied for through a licenced travel agent based in Bhutan. Apart from visas, visitors travelling outside of Thimphu and Paro also require certain travel permits. All these will be applied for on behalf of clients by their travel agents as per the tour itinerary. The travel agent shall email a visa application form which the client must fill in, sign and send back along with a passport size photo, detailing the following:

1. Full name of traveller as given in passport
2. Nationality
3. Passport number
4. Date of birth
5. Date of issue and date of expiry of passport
6. Home address
7. Occupation.

In order to be eligible for a visa:
1. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry.
2. Must have at least 2 clean, unused pages. Do NOT count amendment pages when determining if you have two, clean unused pages. A blank passport page must not show ink or stains from other pages or it is considered unusable.

To enable sufficient time for processing we advise for visa application formalities to be completed at least 1 month prior to the date of entry into Bhutan. On approval of visas and route permits the travel agent will email the approved documents to the clients. The approved visa document is issued by the Department of Immigration and contains details such as a visa number, name, nationality, passport number, sector (point of entry and exit) and travel dates.

Clients entering the country by flight For travellers entering Bhutan by flight the visa document must be shown to the Immigration at the embarking airport and on disembarkation in Paro, Bhutan where the visa will be issued and stamped on the passport.

Clients entering the country by road For those arriving by road the visa document must be shown at the entry point where visa will then be issued and stamped on the passport.

Bhutan is one of the safest countries to travel to. Few Bhutanese hotels have safes for guests’ valuables. You can use a money belt or a pouch that hangs around your neck to carry money and important documents. Theft is rare, although not unheard of in Bhutan, but such protection is essential in neighbouring countries.

Buy Unique Handicrafts in Beautiful Bhutan

With a limitation on the amount of tourists let into Bhutan, this magical place is replete with exclusive handicraft products for sale. Silver and bronze jewellry, handmade bamboo items and traditional masks all make for ideal gifts to bring back to your loved ones — or give to yourself! Intricately woven baskets and wooden bowls are wonderful home accessories for any lucky tourist to have.

Colourful Stamps
Bhutan is famous for its unique merchandise. Being so off-the-beaten path, few tourists have the chance to see Bhutanese products firsthand in their native environment. For example, you’ll undoubtedly be one of few people to own a set of original Bhutanese stamps: from brightly coloured designs to detailed imagery, these stamps are known the world over by philatelists for their high quality.

Accessories & Textiles
Formally called Dzi beads, these shapely small objects come in the traditional colors of brown and cream. While fakes are available, travellers would do well to stick with the real thing as these will appreciate in worth. A variety textiles like silks and woolen fabrics are also on offer in Bhutan, many of which are hand-dyed using local colourings.

Artisanal Food & Drink
If you have a hankering for tasty confections like honeys, jams and more, then Bhutan has got you covered. And you might want to wash these delicious bites down with Bhutan Mist — an exotic beverage beloved by foodies and liquor enthusiasts alike. Available at many of the nearby markets, these bottles make wonderful presents for friends and family.

There is a place on earth that even the most seasoned travellers consider a privilege to visit. And although it is voted one of the world's top travel destinations, very few make it. This is Drukyul - Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. You cannot find a more enlightening travel destination. Perched high on the mighty Himalayan range, the Kingdom of Bhutan has defied globalisation and chosen to remain a hidden paradise. Bhutan is marked by raw natural beauty where the dense foliage changes dramatically as the sub-tropical jungles at sea level merge into a fertile temperate zone and rises up to the great northern glaciers. The pristine environment is home to exotic wildlife and is the last refuge for endangered species like the black-necked crane, the blue sheep, the golden langur, the takin and even royal Bengal tigers.

The Kingdom of Bhutan today remains one of the last untouched destinations - the country does not even have traffic lights - and this is how the Bhutanese people would like to keep it. Thus the carefully managed tourism policy of the government is based on ‘high value, low impact’ tourism.

Bhutan time is GMT + 6 and there is only one time zone throughout the country.