Bhutan Travel Information
With Tibet to the North, Sikkim to the West and Assam and West Bengal to the South and East, Bhutan is a land-locked country. The total area of the kingdom is about 4700 square kilometers, about the size of Switzerland. It’s located in the heart of the high Himalayan mountain range.
GETTING TO BHUTAN
Druk Air (The National Airline of Bhutan) flies every Monday and Thursday between Kathmandu & Paro and also operates its flight from Calcutta, Delhi, Dacca and Bangkok. The Buddha Air of Nepal also operates its flight to Bhutan from Kathmandu. You may also enter and/exit Bhutan by overland transportation, stopping in route at Silkkim & Darjeeling (India). During monsoons, unpredictable weather can delay flights and travelers are advised to include an extra day in their itinerary.
All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a visa. No foreign mission abroad grants Bhutan tourist visa. You must apply Bhutan tourist visa through a tour operator company prior to your arrival in Bhutan and it is approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu. Visa application must reach Bhutan at least a month prior to your arrival date for processing. You will receive a visa only for the period that you have arranged to be in Bhutan. If you want to stay longer than two weeks in the Kingdom, then you can apply with the Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) in Thimphu for an extension of your tourist visa.
You need a valid passport to enter Bhutan. Make sure it has sufficient empty pages for stamps, especially if you are Traveling via India or Nepal. Also make sure that your passport has at least six months validity. In case you loose your passport, you have to travel ‘stateless’ to India, since it’s the only country in the region that can issue a replacement passport. Always carry some additional form of identification and a photocopy of your passport with you.
On arrival, three copies of original passport size photograph are required to get your visa. Visa fee includes US$ 20 and US$ 10, which must be paid as Tourism development. Visa can be extended with an additional fee of US$ 15.
International Certificates of Vaccination for Yellow Fever and Cholera are required if traveling from an infected area
The minimum daily tariff is set by the Department of Tourism, Bhutan and can not be negotiated. (This rate can be higher, depending on the nature of services desired by clients). The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. Tour payments must be made one month prior to the date of your arrival in Bhutan and the government issues the visa only after the receipt of full tour payment.
TRAVELLING IN BHUTAN
All travelers (groups or individuals) must book package tour or custom designed program through a travel company. Those who have not had a visa approval will not be permitted to board Druk Air flight. Earlier booking to Bhutan is highly suggested to ensure to get a good hotel, confirmed Druk Air flight seat & other logistics. During the festivals it is very difficult to get Druk Air flight seats and hotel. If you are traveling to Bhutan for the festivals, you must book your tour 4 - 5 months in advance, if you are traveling for different season book you tour in 2 - 3 months in advance. Your travel agent is responsible for all arrangement during your stay in Bhutan.
Photography in some of the Monasteries & Djongs is not allowed. Don't take 16 mm film camera with you which is prohibited in Bhutan.
DRUK AIR (NATIONAL FLIGHT CARRIER)
As required by government visitors must travel into Bhutan by Royal Bhutan Airlines (Druk Air) Entry is permitted only by Druk Air into Paro however, now visitors can also travel there by Buddha Air from Kathmandu (Nepal) as it has been operating flights there as well.
The Climate of Bhutan is variable from region to region. Cotton clothes are sufficient from May until September but warm clothes are very much necessary from November to the end of April. However, visitors are advised to carry clothes consisting of layers (preferably woolen sweater and jacket) throughout the season, as weather may change at anytime.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Tourists can visit Bhutan at any time; however, the best season to visit Bhutan is between March till December.
The local Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum. Indian Rupee is also accepted all over Bhutan as the Ngultrum. Bhutan only accepts cash however, big hotels and major handicraft emporiums accept cards as well, but they levy a service charge. It is not possible to do an ATM withdrawals and Credit card cash in Bhutan.
There are many Hotels and Guest Houses in Bhutan.
Most of the hotels and restaurants serve local Bhutanese, Italian, Chinese, Tibetan, Indian, and continental dishes.