When is the best time to visit Bhutan?
The busiest times of the year for tourist traffic are the spring months of March, April, and May and the fall months of September, October, and November. These time periods draw the largest number of foreign travelers to Bhutan and are when many of the festivals are taking place. However, we believe, Bhutan is a year round destination. The winter months start from Dec till Feb, but the typical sky then is clear with blue skies & bright sunshine. The monsoons start from June through August with only light showers mostly during the evenings & nights. Many savvy travelers are discovering the advantages of lean season travel to Bhutan during the winter months of December through February and the summer months of June and July.
Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan.
Will I pay more if I book a private trip to Bhutan through your global partners?
No, whether you choose to book directly with our Thimphu office or with our trusted partners abroad, you will pay the same land cost for a privately arranged trip.
Is it true that we have to pay USD 200/250 per person per night stay to visit Bhutan?
Yes, it is true - a visitor has to pay USD 200 (regular season) and USD 250 (peak season) per person per night stay in our Kingdom. However, there is nothing to be alarmed as this amount charged is inclusive of all services once you are in Bhutan. It includes services like 3 star hotel accommodations, all meals, all ground transportation, English speaking guides and trekking staff services, all trekking arrangements and above all government tax and royalty is inclusive. You do get your money's worth.
What's included in the tariff?
* 3 star hotel stay (luxury hotels will be charged differently).
* All tour & transfer throughout your journey.
* Personal guide & driver with SUV.
* Breakfast, lunch & dinner (excluding alcoholic drinks).
* Free mineral water on drive through your trip.
* All entrance fees during sightseeing.
* Bhutan government daily royalties, visa fees, and other taxes.
* Major trekking equipment like sleeping mats, sleeping tents, toilet and shower tents. (Possible to hire sleeping bag @ USD 30 per sleeping bag per trip. The charges is for dry cleaning).
* When trekking, additional support crew and ponies are included.
* We assign excellent leaders to each trip. They are highly qualified and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. They make all the difference to your trip.
Is there any discount?
There is no discount on Diplomatic visas.
There shall be no charge for children up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount on Royalty.
Full time students below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
A discount of 100% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11 to 16. 100% discount shall be given to two members in a group exceeding 22 and more.
Is it possible to cancel my trip?
Full refund will be made for the tour cancelled 30 days or more prior to arrival date.
20% penalty on the total tour cost for the tour cancelled less than 30 days prior to arrival date. This is because by this time hotels would be already booked and company is subject to cancellation charges for rooms cancelled in less than 30 days.
Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan? How hard is it to obtain one?
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and visitors 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 three working 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 - color scanned copies can be sent via email. Full payments for the trip with Tourism Council account.
What flights are available and which airports can I depart for Bhutan?
You may depart for Paro International Airport (Bhutan) from Bangkok, Singapore, Kathmandu and India air stations like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bagdogra or Guwahati airports. At present two carriers operate to Bhutan - Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. We can help secure reservations on either of the airlines. Ticket purchase can also be taken care of by us and sent across to you, as all tickets are E-tickets. Reconfirmation, changes etc can all be routed via our office.
What is the weather like?
The weather varies across different parts of Bhutan. Depending on the altitude, the climate varies from semi-tropical to alpine. In 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.
What should I bring with me for the trip?
* Good walking shoes.
* Sunscreen (highest possible).
* Headgear for sunny days.
* Bug/Insect repellent.
* Cotton clothing for summer days, light woolen clothes for evenings. Heavy woolens for winter.
* Shorts for hiking and walking around town are fine. Out of respect, please don't wear shorts in public buildings or monasteries. Have a pair of long pants or longer skirt for these locations.
How about accommodation? What are the hotels like?
Bhutan now has a host of variety of hotels. You can get standard hotels with all the basic necessities, clean and hygienic. There also a number of luxury hotels offering the best of facilities matching any international 5 star property. You can also choose to camp or try out the home stays in villages that are now becoming very popular with guests.
What is the food like in Bhutan?
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilli is an essential part of nearly every dish and is considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy. Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country. Drink only bottled water, sodas, beer, etc. Stay away from any cold salad! These are normally rinsed in tap water before or after being sliced and are a major cause of traveler’s gastro-intestinal distress.
What currency is used in Bhutan?
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as a legal tender. 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.
Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year?
There is no limit on the number of tourists admitted into the country each year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment the government has adopted a strict policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.
What would I do if I lost my passport in Bhutan?
Passport (with at least 6 months’ validity from the date of your exit from Bhutan).
Photocopy of picture page of passport showing number, etc. Keep this in a separate place in your baggage. If for any reason you lose your passport, this will expedite the process of applying for a new passport. Print out copy of the visa & International air tickets.
Are there any other things to keep in my mind?
Accept or offer items with the right hand or, more politely, with both hands. Using both hands to give or receive signifies that you honor the offering and the recipient or giver.
When you visit Buddhist shrines or temples, it is appropriate and a sign of respect to walk around the building in a clockwise direction (so that the structure is to your right side). This is also true for mani walls (walls built of stone tablets with Buddhist mantras carved on them) and Chorten (small Buddhist shrines).
Your guide will give you additional tips along the way, when in doubt, check in with them. You will be travelling into areas that have had relatively few foreign visitors. Your positive attitude and interaction is needed and welcomed to maximize this adventure.