If you’re thinking of traveling to Bhutan, then you’ve come to the right place! Here we have compiled some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about this enigmatic country. From visas and packing tips to what to expect when you arrive, we’ve got you covered. So whether you’re just starting to plan your trip or you have a few last-minute questions, check out our FAQs for all the information you need.
Located between the two most populous nations in the world, India to the south and China (Tibet) to the north, Bhutan is a small Buddhist kingdom on the eastern edge of the Great Himalayas. Bhutan, a landlocked nation encircled by the Mighty Himalayan Mountains, is the only nation in the world to be carbon negative and to have 70% of its land covered by forests.
From September 23rd, 2022, there will be no covid-19 vaccine requirements for adults or children to enter Bhutan, even though we advise everyone traveling to stay up to date on their vaccinations against the coronavirus to help halt the spread of the disease. There is no period of quarantine.
Although there is no requirement for PCR test results, all individuals 12 years old and older entering Bhutan may be subjected to random RT-PCR testing at points of entry or at the workplace in order to maintain covid-19 surveillance. There will be no fee charged for this testing.
If you test positive for covid-19 during your stay in Bhutan, you will need to stay in quarantine until your test results come back negative. You will be liable for covering the cost of the additional PCR testing and quarantine nights. During the quarantine time, there will be no Sustainable Development Fee.
Unless the country the visitor is traveling to demands them, there won’t be any COVID-19 protocols required to depart Bhutan.
You can visit Bhutan year-round. March through May and September through November are the best times to go, though, since it’s less crowded then and there are many festivals being celebrated during those seasons. You can travel during the rest of the year, too, but be aware that June through August are monsoon months when it might be a little too muggy for sightseeing.
The currency of Bhutan is the Ngultrum (NU) and is equivalent to the Indian rupee. You can purchase ngultrums at the Paro airport, at Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan, and at major hotels in Thimphu and Paro—all of which accept traveler’s checks and/or dollars and various other currencies. It is advisable to carry ngultrums when visiting smaller towns as it may not be possible to exchange your currency there.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted at ATMs and banks. In Bhutan’s urban areas, international credit cards are frequently accepted. However, some regions of the country might not offer this service. Visitors can download the Bank of Bhutan’s digital wallet app, goBoB, which is extensively used throughout the nation and can be used with a local SIM card.
Also generally accepted are cash payments in US dollars and Indian rupees. Bring some cash with you, preferably in one of these two currencies or ngultrum.
Yes, the Bank of Bhutan locations in Thimphu and Paro as well as the airport offer currency exchange services for Ngultrum, the national currency of Bhutan. They only accept the following ten main currencies, though: the US dollar, the pound sterling, the euro, the Japanese yen, the Swiss franc, the Hong Kong dollar, the Canadian dollar, the danes kroner, the Australian dollar, and the Singapore dollar.
Depending on how much money you have, the exchange rate changes. In order to facilitate the exchange, we’ll encourage you to bring larger denominations.
Bhutan uses three different types of electrical plugs: the Indian plug, which has two circular pins and is compatible with type C sockets, and the British plug, which has three square pins and is compatible with type G sockets (three thick round pins, compatible with type D sockets). Bring adapters for all three if possible.
All visitors must get a visa in order to enter Bhutan, with the exception of citizens of India. All travelers, with the exception of those from Bangladesh and the Maldives, must apply for and receive this visa in advance of their trip. Visitors from Bangladesh and the Maldives must also obtain visas, however they can do so either before leaving or once they arrive in Bhutan.
Indian visitors are eligible to apply for a permit, but they must possess an Indian passport or voter ID card in order to do so. Indian nationals under the age of 18 are required to enter with a passport or birth certificate and must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
Swiss and Thai nationals with diplomatic or official government passports are qualified to apply for a visa at their port of arrival.
Bhutan is accessible by both air and road travel. The national airline, Royal Bhutan Airlines (Drukair), offers direct flights from a number of Asian locations. Drukair currently provides direct flights to and from Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Kathmandu (Nepal), Dhaka (Bangladesh), New Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Bagdogra, and Guwahati (India).
Additionally, there are two entry points via the Indian border. Either Phuntsholing, the country’s primary trading hub in the south, or Samdrup Jongkhar, in the southeast, are the two entry points into Bhutan. When visiting the Eastern Bhutan region, which includes Trashigang, Mongar, Lhuentse, and Trashiyangtse, tourists typically enter Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar.
Bhutan welcomes solo travelers. Throughout your tour, a private guide and driver will be provided. If you prefer to join a group, we can arrange it.
Bhutan is a very safe location to visit. Both natives and visitors experience very little crime, but we always encourage you to take care of yourself and your possessions. You might come across stray dogs in various places; please take precautions when around them as they are not domesticated animals. They normally keep their distance, but if you are traveling with children in particular, kindly keep as far away from them as you can.
The physical environment of Bhutan occasionally poses safety risks, such as flooding and landslides. The monsoon season runs from June through September, which can impact transportation and services. Inquire about potential disruptions with your hotel or tour operator.
It is recommended for all visitors to obtain insurance from their own country. Visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives have the option of purchasing domestic travel insurance at their port of entry.
Both airlines will make sure that you board the next flight to Paro for travelers heading for Bhutan. Passengers can pay Druk Air a $50 admin fee to get on the following flight if they miss their flight due to late check-in.
In the event of a flight delay, airline personnel in Paro will help travelers leaving Bhutan with all arrangements. To inform them of a delay, they will also try to get in touch with the airline servicing your subsequent trip. They will make accommodations for you at your transit port if you are unable to take your connecting flight that day.
Generally, travelers are responsible for paying all additional fees and levies.
Following rules apply to reservations that are subsequently canceled for travel.
More than 60 days prior to the program’s start date, a flat fee of $150 is applied to each person.
60 to 10 days: 45 % of the package price is retained as cancellation charges.
Within 10 days, cancellation charges equal 100% of the package cost.
Smoking is discouraged in open public areas to prevent drawing unwanted attention. Bhutan does not have a smoking ban, but it is advisable for visitors to pay taxes on any tobacco they bring into the country. If they see someone smoking in a public setting, customs inspectors have the authority to request duty paid receipts.
Fines may be imposed on violators who lack appropriate duty receipts.
The best locations for shopping are in Thimphu and Paro. In the majority of the shops, you may buy beautiful traditional clothing, kiras and ghos, colorful masks, prayer flags, handwoven textiles, stoles, thangkas (Buddhist paintings), and traditional handicrafts. Popular items including honey, cordyceps, yak cheese, lemongrass spray, and personalized postage stamps are also available from the Bhutan Post in Thimphu.
If you’re looking for souvenirs and high-quality crafted items, check out The Craft Gallery. It’s an initiative by Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck to promote and preserve Bhutanese arts and crafts. By purchasing handicrafts there, you help generate income for local artisans and support the sustainability in preserving Bhutanese crafts. In addition, Norzin Lam street in Thimphu is lined with shops and eateries. Paro town is also a place popular for shopping.
We recommend booking your tour four weeks before your arrival date, as this will provide enough time for the Bhutanese government to process your visa and get back to us with confirmation. If you’re visiting during peak season in March, April, May, September and October, it’s best to book at least 12 weeks in advance. This will allow us to make a confirmed reservation on the airline for you since seats are limited during these months.
At Samlha Tours and Travel, we are dedicated to helping our clients enjoy their time in Bhutan. We are also experts when it comes to offering the very best Bhutanese travel experiences. Whether you’re looking for a honeymoon or an adventure trip, we can help. Our goal is to offer first-rate customer service that makes your trip one you’ll always remember.
Tipping is not compulsory in Bhutan. Tipping your tour guide, driver, and trek staff is entirely up to you. If you’d like, you can give the driver or guide a tip at the end of your journey as they spent a lot of time traveling with you.