1. A plane ride to Bhutan
Weather has a significant impact on flights into Bhutan, and conditions can be rather unexpected. In accordance with visual flight rules, all takeoffs and landings at Paro Airport are permitted only if the pilots can see the runway and the surrounding hills. Flights can be delayed, sometimes for a few days, because they cannot operate at night or in bad weather. Maintain the essentials in your carry-on luggage in case of delays or unanticipated stopovers.
Due to its location in a deep valley surrounded by mountain peaks as high as 18,000 feet (5,000 meters), this airport is very risky. Your bags won’t be checked all the way to Paro on your first trip if you’re going internationally and need to take a connecting connection there. Before you board a connecting aircraft, you must recheck your bags at the desk. If you have a connecting flight and need the time to go through immigration, pick up your luggage, and check in again, it’s crucial to be aware of this.
2. The state of road safety
In Bhutan, car accidents happen frequently. Always use a seatbelt and steer clear of nighttime driving to prevent serious accidents; hilly roads are poorly illuminated and have a lot of blind bends. (Remember that you won’t likely be driving since solo travel is prohibited in Bhutan, with the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.)
When parking your automobile or 4WD close to tourist attractions or small towns, never leave valuables inside.
3. Inconclusive Internet connections
Bhutan has two mobile network operators: TashiCell and B-Mobile SIM. When you arrive, ask your local guide to assist you in buying a SIM, but be sure you unlock your phone first. Wi-Fi is accessible in the majority of hotels in large cities, and 2G, 3G, and 4G connectivity are all available (and 5G is under development).
Although connectivity in Bhutan is spotty, it is one of the best things about visiting a place that is still mostly cut off from the outside world.
4. Attire required while entering a dzong
A dzong is a historic stronghold that has towers, courtyards, temples, and executive buildings. You must dress appropriately before entering a dzong. You are not permitted to wear pants, wear your jacket zipped up, or wear it wrapped around your waist. No flip-flops, t-shirts, shorts, or short skirts are permitted inside. Although the traditional Kira is not required for travelers, you should make sure your attire covers your arms and legs.
5. Bhutan’s ATMs and currency
There are ATMs in Bhutan’s larger towns. The three banks that take foreign credit cards are Druk Punjab National Bank, Bhutan National Bank, and Bank of Bhutan. Travelers can use a Visa or MasterCard to make cash withdrawals, but be aware of the costs.
The best course of action is to withdraw money in Thimpu or Paro before travelling further. Even though the Bhutanese Ngultrum is solely used in Bhutan, you can exchange foreign money for Nu when you get there. If you are carrying USD, $100 USD bills have a better exchange rate than smaller bills.
6. Attempting the journey to Tiger’s Nest
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a revered Buddhist site positioned 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level) on the side of a cliff, was built in 1692. Travelers must take a taxi 20 minutes north of Paro to the Tiger’s Nest, then begin the four to five-hour climb up to the monastery from the parking lot. If you have spent some time acclimatizing in the town of Paro (7,220ft/2,200m above sea level), the 4mi (6.5km) return trip’s elevation rises of 1,700ft (520m) shouldn’t be too challenging for a single day trip.
Use trekking poles and robust hiking boots to provide your knees with additional support throughout the ascent and descent. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before and throughout the climb, and don’t forget to bring cash if you intend to have lunch at the cafeteria when you get to the Tiger’s Nest.
7. Only guided excursions
As we already indicated, it is only possible to travel in Bhutan with a registered guide, so you will always have a local companion.
Let us explain for all you nomads out there who despise the concept of a “guided tour”.
Having a local guide is crucial to comprehending this enticing spot in such a distant area since they can share stories with you and translate so you can communicate with locals along the route.
8. Bhutanese cuisine is flavorful and spicy.
Ema, a dish made of rice and hot chilies and finished with a delightful cheese sauce, is the most well-known. Sliced potatoes and cheese are combined with chilies to make kewa datshi. Try shakam paa, dried beef prepared with radish and—you guessed it—chilies.
Momos are available everywhere in Bhutan if you enjoy dumplings. These meat, cheese, or vegetable-filled treats, which are either fried or steamed inside of wheat dough, are best served with chili sauce. Momos are available at practically all eateries and food stands. If none of these sounds great, try some wonderful yak curry or fried fern shoots.
A side note: Whether you’re not used to eating chili in every dish or you unintentionally drank unfiltered water, travelers frequently develop Bhutan belly. Here are some tips for minimizing risk
9. Visit Eastern Bhutan and venture off the main path.
Most visitors arrive in Paro by direct flight, then travel from there to Thimphu or Punakha before returning to Paro. Instead, head to Samdrup Jongkhar in the south-east from Paro to get off the beaten path. From there, you can travel over the Assam lowlands to enter India.
There is much to see in eastern Bhutan, despite the fact that tourists rarely there. Find out where the extremely rare black-necked cranes live—in isolated valleys and natural preserves. In contrast to the tourists’ festivals that take place in and around Paro, local festivals in areas like Trashigang and Mongar will offer a real sense of the local culture.