Useful Information

The Royal Government of Bhutan recognizes that tourism is a world-wide phenomenon and an important means of achieving socio-economic development particularly for developing countries like Bhutan. It also recognizes that tourism, in affording the opportunity to travel, can help in promoting understanding among peoples and building closer ties of friendship based on appreciation and respect for different cultures and lifestyles.
Towards achieving this objective, the Royal Government, since inception of tourism in the year 1974, has adopted a very cautious approach to growth and development of the tourism. The Bhutanese tourism industry is based on principle of sustainability that is ‘tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable’.

Accessibility
Entry into Bhutan can be made either by land or by air. Druk Airways & Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air) together, operates fights to / from Indian cities : Delhi, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Bagdogra & Guwahati. By surface, entry into Bhutan is possible through southern border town of Phuentsholing. This frontier town is about  5 hours drive from Thimphu and Paro, 4.1/2 hours drive from Bagdogra (India’s nearest airport) and 6-7 hours drive from Darjeeling and Gangtok.

Entry Permit
Indian Nationals wishing to visit Bhutan can carry either (a) Passport, having validity of minimum 6 months: or (b) Voter Identity Card, issued by the Election Commission of India. The Entry permit, valid for Thimphu and Paro, issued free of charge on arrival at Paro airport. Tourists desirous of going beyond Thimphu and Paro need to acquire a 'special area permit’ from the Royal Govt. of Bhutan Immigration Office at Thimphu on any working days (Monday to Friday) and our Thimphu office assist on this.

Tourists arriving by surface, can directly approach Regional Immigration Office, Royal Govt. of Bhutan, Phuentsholing to obtain entry permits for visiting Thimphu and Paro. This permit, valid for Thimphu and Paro, issued free of charge. In this case also,  tourists desirous of going beyond Thimphu and Paro, need to acquire a 'special area permit’ from the Royal Govt. of Bhutan Immigration Office at Thimphu on any working days (Monday to Friday). Our offices located in Phuentsholing and Thimphu assist in obtaining Entry permit and Special Area permits. Phuentsholing’s Regional Immigration Office remains closed on weekends & Government holidays.

Valid passport is mandatory for Indian visitors, travelling between Nepal and Bhutan.

Climate
Geographically, Bhutan is a land of dramatic contrasts. From the near tropical southern border with India, steep slopes climb to snow-capped heights of over 24,750 feet / 7,500m at the northern border with Tibet. Consequently, temperatures vary greatly between day and night and at different altitudes, so layered clothing for changed conditions, is recommended. In the central valleys, the summer rains are not as heavy as in the south and occur mostly in late afternoon and at night. From mid-May to the end of Aug, the weather is warm at night (60-64F/ 17-18C) and in the day (72-78F/22-26C). In winter, the sky is bright and it is sunny but cold, especially when the sun hides behind the mountains in the morning and evenings. At night, the temperature falls below zero in winter months. Spring and Autumn are very pleasant with warm days and cool nights.

Clothing and Accessories
Comfortable clothing and sturdy, soft-soled shoes are essential for travel in Bhutan. Warm clothing is recommended ; and except for summer months, down jackets and woolen sweaters are suggested. In summer, heavy cottons and lightweight woolens will be acceptable. Altitudinal differences account for a wide range of temperatures from day to night the year round. It is, therefore, suggested that clothing be layered so that you can adapt to the changing conditions.
While visiting temples and other religious institutions, dress modestly and respectfully. Slacks are more appropriate for men and longer – length skirts are more appropriate for women. Shoulders must also be covered when inside religious buildings. Please keep in mind that shoes must be removed when entering temples. It is, therefore, suggested that you carry a pair of socks to wear inside religious buildings.

The following is fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for the trip ; clothes as per season, sunglasses / spare glasses, pair of casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissor, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, a preparation for the relief of sunburn and any medication you take regularly.

Food & Drink
Traditional Bhutanese food always features spicy red and green chillies, either dried or fresh.  The national dish Ema Datsi, a dish of ema (Chilli) cooked in datsi (cheese) is favourite among Bhutanese and a growing number of tourists. Most of the tourist hotels provide meals in buffet style. There are usually Bhutanese, Indian & Chinese dishes and Indian cuisine is widely available at popular tourist hotels .  The food in hotels is often the best in town, but in main tourist centres, there are few quality restaurants increasingly becoming popular. All tourist hotels have good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.

Accommodation
Situated conveniently in the heart of city or around spectacular landscape, hotels in Bhutan  maintain Government prescribed standard that offer reasonably decent, clean, comfortable accommodation and delicious food. Almost all the hotels available in Bhutan are built in traditional Bhutanese architecture coupled with modern comfort. Hotels in Western & Central Bhutan (Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Bumthang) and Southern town of Phunetsholing are of reasonably good standard however when one ventures into eastern part of the country (viz. Mongar, Trashigang & Samdrup Jongkhar), the lodging gets more rudimentary.

Over the past years,  few international & local opulent hotel chains have also established  luxury and deluxe hotels & resorts in major towns & countryside in Bhutan. These hotels and resorts appropriately maintain international standard of comfort and luxury absolutely blended with local Bhutanese art, culture and tradition.

Currency
The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum (Nu.) and is at par with Indian Rupee. Credit cards (Amex and Visa cards) are accepted by limited establishments. ATM centers are  available at major towns. Also, Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan.

Language
The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha and a large number of dialects are spoken.  English has been the language of educational instruction since 1964 and is widely spoken. Also locals at popular tourist destinations understand and speak good Hindi.

Transportation
We use Hyundai Tucson/ Santa Fe for a team of 1 – 2 guests. A Toyota Hiace mini van or Hyundai H1 for a team of 3 – 6 guests and a deluxe Toyota coaster for a group of 7 – 18 guests. All these vehicles are periodically checked and well maintained.

Religion
Mahayana Buddhism is the state religion and the majority of Bhutanese people follow  Drukpa school of the Kagyupa sect.

Security
Bhutan is extremely safe destination with lowest crime rate in the world. In general you will find Bhutanese people very warm, hospitable, helpful and friendly.

Communication
Bhutan has an efficient telecommunication system. All accommodation units have facilities of international dialing, fax, internet and also majority of them provide Wi-Fi services. The satellite earth station in Thimphu was installed in 1990 along with a sophisticated international telephone services and now direct dial calls go through quickly and clearly. Travelers can send mail from hotels and post offices and this mail service is quite reliable. DHL provides efficient courier service to and from Bhutan. Travelers can also procure local prepaid SIM card which is much economical to use.

Photography
Bhutan’s landscape, buildings and people are some of the most photogenic in the world. While photographic local people, it is always better to take permission first. There are certain places such as monasteries and temples, where photography is prohibited however there is no restriction on photographing Dzongs and Goembas from outside. If you are uncertain about whether or not photography is permitted, please check with your local guide. You should refrain from taking pictures of military installations.

Shopping
Shops are normally open between 0900-2000 Monday to Sunday. Markets are held regularly and are a rich source  of local clothing and jewelry. Bhutan is also famous of its exquisite postage stamps, hand woven fabrics, carved masks, woven baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper, finely crafted metal and Thangkha painting.

Smoking
Bhutan is non-smoking country and smoking is banned at public places however tourists can bring cigarettes for their personal consumption by paying duty of 200% and obtain a receipt for this. Smoking without receipt is illegal in Bhutan and also smoking is allowed only at designated smoking areas.

Custom & Immigration
Visitors are required to fill up the Custom Form and hand over to concerned authorities on arrival. Following articles are exempted from duty :
a). Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
b). 2 litres of alcohol, 400 cigarettes, 150 gms of pipe tobacco
c). Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
d). Photogrphic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use .
The articles mentioned under c) & d). must be declared in Custom Form. If such items disposed off in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty.
Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited :-

a). Arms, ammunitions, explosives and military stores
b). All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
c). Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
d). Antiques
Also visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items. Custom authorities will not allow any old / used items to be taken out of the country if they have not been certified as non-antiques. Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival.

Time
Bhutan is half an hour ahead of IST (Indian Standard Time).

Electricity
The voltage supply in the Bhutan is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz.  Standard Indian round pin sockets are normally used at all places.

Laundry
Laundry service is available in most of the hotels at main destinations. However, it is advisable to check the hotel’s individual laundry return policy before choosing to have laundry done at a hotel.

Gratuities
Tipping at hotels and for accompanied guide and driver is appreciated and although it is at guests’ discretion but the bottom line for determining is contribution made of individuals to make your trip a memorable one.

Closing days of certain monuments
Ta Dzong (National Museum) : Paro
Closed on National Holidays

School of Arts & Crafts : Thimphu
Opening Hours : Monday – Friday : 2 p.m – 4 p.m & Saturday : 9 a.m to 12 a.m
Closed on Sundays, National Holidays and winter Holidays (20 December – 10 March)

National Library : Thimphu
Opening Hours : Monday – Friday : 9 a.m – 5 p.m (summer) & 9 a.m – 4 p.m (winter)
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays & National Holidays

National Textile Museum : Thimphu
Opening Hours : Tuesday – Friday : 9 a.m – 4 p.m, Saturday : 1 p.m – 4 p.m, Sunday : 10 a.m – 3 p.m
Closed on Mondays & National Holidays

Simply Bhutan : Thimphu
Closed on Sundays

Ta Dzong : Trongsa
Closed on Weekends

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE AT PLACES COVERED IN ITINERARY :- (in degree celsius)
(Source: Meteorology Unit, Department of Power, Ministry of Trade & Industries, Thimphu)

PLACES

JAN

Max

Min

FEB

Max

Min

MAR

Max

Min

APR

Max

Min

MAY

Max

Min

 

JUN Max

Min

JUL

Max

Min

AUG

Max

Min

SEP

Max

Min

OCT

Max

Min

NOV

Max

Min

DEC

Max

Min 

PARO

9.4

(-)5.8

13.4

1.5

14.5

0.6

17.64.6

23.510.6

25.4

14.1

26.814.9

25.314.7

23.411.7

18.77.4

13.9

1.4

11.2

(-) 1.7

THIMPHU

12.3

(-)2.6

14.4

0.6

16.4

3.9

20.0  7.1

22.513.1

14.4

15.2

18.9

13.4

25.015.8

23.1

15.0

21.9

10.4

17.9

5.0

14.5

(-)1.1

PUNAKHA / WANGDUE-PHODRANG

17.0

4.3

19.0

7.8

22.8

10.4

26.212.9

29.1

17.7

29.2

20.1

18.4

16.2

29.120.0

27.519.1

26.1

14.7

22.6

9.6

19.1

6.3

 Distances & Driving Time between places of Tourist Interest
Bhutan’s motorable roads are well maintained however the mountainous terrain and winding road restrict the average driving speed of vehicle to about 35 km per hour.

FromToDistance (Km)Driving Time
ParoThimphu55 km1.1/2 hour
ParoHaa70 km3 hours
ThimphuPhuentsholing180 km6 hours
ThimphuWangduephodrang77 km3 hours
ThimphuPunakha75 km3 hours
PunakhaWangduephodrang19 km45 min
PunakhaGangtey (Phobjikha)70 km3 hours
Gangtey (Phobjikha)Trongsa125 km4.1/2 hours
WangduephodrangTrongsa129 km5 hours
TrongsaBumthang68 km3 hours
BumthangMongar198 km7 hours
MongarLhuentse76 km3 hours
MongarTrashigang91 km3 hours
TrashigangChorten Kora52 km2 hours
TrashigangSamdrup Jongkhar180 km7 hours
Samdrup JongkharGuwahati (Assam, India)110 km3 hours
Samdrup JongkharPhuentsholing (via India)400 km10 hours
PhuentsholingBagdogra (West Benal, India)165 km4.1/2 hours
PhuentsholingSiliguri (West Bengal, India)155 km4 hours
PhuentsholingDarjeeling (West Bengal, India)200 km6 hours
PhuenthsolingKalimpong (West Bangal, India)185 km5 hours
PhuentsholingGangtok (Sikkim, India)220 km7 hours
PhuentsholingDooars (Chalsa) (West Bengal, India)110 km2.1/2 hours