Facts for Visitors to Bhutan
When to travel to Bhutan?
You can visit Bhutan anytime of the year. Visitors tend to stay away during the monsoon months of June, July and August when the weather is sometimes a little wet for sightseeing. The best time for trekking is in spring and autumn. Hence, the months of March, April, May and Sept, October, November.
Weather & clothing
Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing. In the months of October, November, December, January and February, mornings and evenings will be cold. You will have to being in warm clothes (thick overcoats not necessary). While the months of March, April, May, June, July, August and September the days are warmer. June, July and August will be little wet and some rain gears would be necessary.
Bhutan offers generally modest but clean hotels. There are none of the chain hotels in Bhutan although a couple of high end resorts have been opened in some districts. You will stay in the best available hotels that are classified and approved by the Royal Government. Visitors are advised not to expect luxury or five star hotel services. Bhutan’s local hospitality is, however, an insight into a society where tourism may be a new venture, but where visitors are greeted with true warmth and friendship.
Generally, tourist facilities and services are good in western Bhutan, but the quality of service and facilities decreases the further east we go. This is because tourism is less developed in the more remote east.
You will travel in comfortable passenger coaster buses for groups of seven visitors or more. You will also be traveling comfortably throughout the country in six seater Japanese hi-ace buses. Smaller groups of one to two passengers will discover the country in 4WD cars.
A variety of meals are available in most hotels – the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food. Non vegetarian dishes are generally available in most parts of Bhutan - pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The best advise is to ask the hotel and restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season.
Licensed Bhutanese travel guides will introduce you to the many facets of this interesting country. The English-speaking guides undergo regular training and, where required, specialized guides will lead you on bird watching, botany or other special tours.
Although the system of ‘give and take’ is always there in Bhutanese tradition, tipping is not compulsory. But if you would like to appreciate the services of our guides, drivers and service staff you may tip them according to your will.
Gay & lesbian travelers
People’s sexual preferences are considered personal matters and do not bother most Bhutanese. The Bhutanese people are, however, not used to open intimate behavior. Sometimes, you come across people of the same gender holding hands but they are not necessarily gay or lesbian.
Money, ATM and credit cards
Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan. It is equivalent to the Indian rupee which is widely accepted through out Bhutan. You can buy ngultrum at the Paro airport, Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan. You can also buy at all hotels but the exchange rate is slightly higher than banks. You are advised to bring in traveler's checks or cash dollars which are widely accepted.
ATMs are available in the bigger towns of Thimphu and Paro. If you have visa cards with pin codes, you can encash money from any ATM outlets. Credit cards are accepted in very few hotels and shops. All credit card transactions take extra time and are cumbersome to use. For convenience, it is preferable to have travelers cheques and cash dollars.
Bhutan uses a 240 v system. Electrical supply is generally good, but can be less stable in the smaller towns outside the capital, Thimphu. If you are using computers and other sensitive equipment, be prepared for fluctuations and power surges. Many rural areas are still without electricity although some farms have solar electrification.
Bhutan uses the Indian round pin plug sockets. You can find adaptors in many of the hardware shops in the capital, Thimphu.
Health & safety aspects
Currently, you are not required to undergo any inoculations for travel to Bhutan. However, before your travel, you may consult your doctor if any immunization against certain preventable diseases is required. US Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides up-to-date travel information about which diseases you may need to immunize yourself against when planning your travel to Bhutan.
Bhutan has good health coverage and all regions that you have Hospitals and Basic Health Units. Bigger medical stores are concentrated only in Thimphu and if you wish to buy any medicines, you may do so in Thimphu.
There is very little crime rate in Bhutan and it is safe for the women travelers. There is no sexual harassment as Bhutanese women generally enjoy a good standing in society. Since all tourists have a travel guide, there is little chance of coming across unpleasant occurrences. Women are however, advised to take the same universal precautions when in crowded entertainment places at night, particularly when in discos or bars, or if walking home late in the evening. Sometimes, the stray dogs could pose a problem on the streets at night. Please visit the link US Department of State Consular Information Sheet for in-depth and up-to-date information on travel to Bhutan.
On our cultural tours you do not reach altitudes higher than 3,400 meters and all our treks runs from 3,500 - 5,500 meters. We hardly have any cases of altitude sickness in Bhutan although the altitude in Bhutan is higher than many people are used to. Signs of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. You can log on to International Society for Mountain Medicine for more information on altitude sickness and prevention.
All visitors are advised to get their insurance cover from their own country and insurance of any kind is not included in our tour price.
Bhutan Tourism Policy
The tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable. For this reason the number for tourists visiting Bhutan are kept to an environmentally manageable level through Government regulated tourist tariff.
It is mandatory to have your trips organized through any one of the registered tour operators in Bhutan and no other missions or embassies will arrange your travel to Bhutan.
Visitors are advised to dress comfortably as Bhutan is generally a formal place. Shorts, skirts and revealing tight clothing are to be avoided.
The Bhutanese people wear their full traditional dress and formal wear to Dzongs and to temples. Visitors should wear long pants (even if jeans), shirts with full sleeves, and more formal skirts below the knees to these places. Slippers and sandals are discouraged. Sun caps are also not permitted inside Dzongs and temples.
Basic courtesy & etiquette
Bhutanese people have a distinct manner of greeting people, sometimes with a slight nodding of the head or bowing slightly if we meet older, senior people. Guests are encouraged to observe the local etiquette and not to talk too loudly when meeting Bhutanese. A nod of the head is also appreciated when meeting people, particularly in villagers and towns outside Thimphu. Intimacy in public is generally not appreciated.
The export of antiques is prohibited by law. Visitors should buy only artifacts that have been certified for sale and for export. The government provides an official seal to certify that artifacts can be taken out of Bhutan.
Bhutan is perhaps one of the most photogenic places in the world. The landscape, nature, architecture and the people make it a photographer’s paradise. People are generally happy to pose for pictures, but do ask before you do so if you are focusing on one person. Photography is not permitted inside Dzongs, monasteries and temples as they are considered living institutions.
You could use your video camera for recording your events during the tours (except in those restricted places mentioned) but there is a set of rules for the commercial filming.
It is advisable to bring your own photographic equipment and needs. Films and camera batteries are available generally only in major towns. Slide film is generally not available so bring plenty of slide rolls if you’re shooting slides.
Embassies in Bhutan
There are only two foreign embassies in Bhutan and a Thai Consulate:
India House, Thimphu
Thori Lam, Thimphu
P.O Box 1352
Lower Motithang, Thimphu
There is no US Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan and some contact is being maintained between the US and Bhutan through the US Embassy in New Delhi, India. Visitors may also obtain help from the US Embassies/Consulate in the places listed below:
The US Embassy
Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai 400026
5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071
Website: http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov/ http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov/
The US Consulate in is located at Gemini Circle, 220 Anna Salai, Chennai 600006
Telephone: 977-1-411179 or 410531