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Journeys in Bhutan

About Bhutan

Hotels & Flights

Helpful Resources

 

Essential Information

Time:
Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of GMT and has one time zone throughout the country.

Language:
The Bhutanese national language is Dzongkha. However, Sharchogpa (eastern dialect) and Lhotsampa (Nepali) are also spoken widely. English is the mode of education and is widely spoken in major towns.

Best Time to visit Bhutan: March to May and September to November are best times for travel to Bhutan. High altitude treks are done best between September to November and March to May. Cultural tours in the lower elevations can be done year around.

Flight and road connections to Bhutan:
Bangkok (Thailand), Kathmandu (Nepal), Delhi and Kolkata (India), and Dhaka (Bangladesh) have direct flight connections to Paro, Bhutan. Among the above, Kathmandu and Bangkok have the most convenient flight connections to Paro, Bhutan while by road entry and exit is most convenient at Phuntsoling (India-Bhutan border town).

Currently, Druk Air, Royal Bhutan Airlines, is the only airline that ferry passengers to and from these five major cities. Availability of seat is always very limited. Therefore, advance booking is required.

Visa:
You will need a visa to enter Bhutan.
Visa processing in Bhutan could take up to 60 days. So, please send in your visa application form at least 90 days in advance so that you will have a smooth going for your trip to Bhutan. We process your visa prior to your arrival in Bhutan. We will get your visa approval letter with visa numbers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With this letter you can travel to Bhutan. The actual visa is stamped in your passport when you arrive in the country for a fee of US$20 and Tourism Development Fee US$10. Bhutan visas are valid for 14 days or issued as per your travel plan. It can be easily extended for a period of 6 months for an additional fee of US$20. Travel on your own is not allowed in Bhutan and must travel through a licensed tour operator in the country.

As per the Bhutanese Government regulation, visitors must pay a minimum of US$200 per day. This fee includes meals (3 meals a day), tour guide, transportation, entrance fees to sights visited and all travel arrangements in Bhutan. The tour payment must arrive in Bhutan before a visa application can be process by the Bhutanese authorities.

Money:
The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum, which is equivalent to the Indian Rupee. The Indian rupee is also an accepted legal tender. Major convertible currencies and travelers checks can be exchanged at banks in major towns in Paro, Thimphu, and in Phuentsholing if entering Bhutan by road.

Credit cards and Traveler Checks:
Credit cards are not convenient source of cash or token of payment in Bhutan as only a few merchants and hotels would accept them in major towns. The credit cards accepted in Bhutan are namely MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Traveler checks and US Dollar cash are the most convenient currency and are cashed by most banks.

Lodging:
The standard of hotel accommodation remains basic comfort. All the hotels and resorts we use are approved by the Royal Government Department of Tourism.
The hotel facilities are regularly inspected by the Bhutanese Government to maintain the quality.

Food:
Traditional Bhutanese food “Ema datsi” is the local delicacy made of chilies and cheese. This dish is too hot for the foreign tongue. So, the hotels and restaurants serve mainly Indian, Chinese, Continental and limited amount of Bhutanese cuisine.

Drinking Water:
The Bhutanese drink water from the tap. However, you should avoid drinking tap water except washing and brushing your teeth. Bottled water is widely available and is best to drink. On all treks in Bhutan, we provide boiled water.

Alcohol and soft beverage:
A few varieties of alcoholic drinks including beer are available in most hotels and restaurants. The Bhutanese prefer local homebrewed alcoholic drinks mainly made from wheat, millet, corn and rice. Soft beverages are also available for the non-alcoholic taste.

Vaccinations:
Vaccinations are not required to visit Bhutan.
However, we recommend that you get the following shots before your trip.
Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Cholera, Tetanus and other shots that your doctor may recommend should be taken.

Communication:
Major towns have basic communication facilities, such post office, telegraph, telephone and fax. Since 1999 television and internet have made into Bhutan. Now, internet is accessible in major cities in particular the capital city Thimphu and Paro the gateway city to Bhutan.
Country code is 975 for telephone dial up from other countries.
Area code for Paro and Thimphu.

Electricity:
Bhutan’s electric outlets are at 220 / 240 volts. You need to bring along an international converter adapter if you plan to bring electric appliances during your trip. Electric Plug (Socket) is three pronged. If your Bhutan trip is a trekking, please do not bring any heavy electrical appliances. If you plan to bring a light weight video camera, bring enough batteries to last for the trip. Leave all chargers, converters and heavy video cameras in your hotel in Paro or Thimbu as you will not be able to recharge or use these while trekking if operation of your appliances require regular supply of electric. For trips that stop in places where the electric is regularly available, you can of course bring your camera battery charger. Please ask for details when you sign up for a trip.

Safety:
Bhutan is one of the safe places to travel. Your guides and helpers will keep you and your belongings safe. However, it is your responsibility to be vigilant wherever you go.

Shopping:
Traditional Bhutanese arts and handicrafts are among popular souvenirs in Bhutan. Buddhist Thanka paintings, statues, textiles, jewelry and wood carvings are some of the local products.

Smoke Free Bhutan:
Bhutan banned the import and sell of all tobacco products throughout the country. However, if you are a smoker, then, you can bring in a small amount of cigarettes for personal consumption during the trip. You will have to pay duties on tobaccos regardless of the amount. Smoking is banned in all public places including restaurants and bars.

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P.O. Box 24947
Nil Saraswati Marg,
Lazimpat-2,

Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: (977-1) 444-2879

Email: info@sherpajourneys.net and nepal@sherpajourneys.net

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