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Bhutan: Travel Information

Bhutan: Travel Information

Bhutan Travel Information

VISITING BHUTAN

All tourists willing to visit Bhutan must buy an all-inclusive package tour from the local agent in Kathmandu or through their agents abroad. The Royal Government of Bhutan has set a fixed tariff. This tariff includes accommodation, transport, guides and meals.


VISAS

A visa is required for traveling to Bhutan. All foreign nationals intending to visit Bhutan with us should apply to Nature Trails Travels & Tours with a complete visa form along with a Xerox copy of passport at least two weeks before the expected date of arrival. Once we have your detailed information, we will process your details and obtain the visa, (you can send us the details by fax or e-mail).
We need the following details in order to start applying for visas.

01: Your full name (as it appears in your passport) -
02: Permanent address -
03: Occupation -
04: Nationality -
05: Passport number -
06: Date of issue and expiration of passport -
07: Date and place of birth -

Please make sure that the information given to us is 100% correct and no single mistake; if there are any discrepancies when you arrive in Bhutan, delays and complications can take place.

*Your actual visa is stamped only on arrival in Bhutan with the approval of a Visa clearance, which will
be sent to you in advance.

* A visa clearance number is also required when issuing Druk Air tickets.
* Two copies of original passport size photographs are required on arrival.
* Nature Trail Travels & Tours, Trekking and Expeditions has been an authorized Travel Agent for
Bhutan for the past thirteen years.

 

Currency and Credit Cards

The Bhutanese currency is called the Ngultrum and is equivalent to the Indian rupee (approx. 1 US$ = Nu. 40). Currency notes are available in various denominations: Nu. 1000, Nu. 500, Nu. 100, Nu. 50, Nu. 10 and Nu. 5. Coins are available in denominations of chertrum (Ch): Ch. 50, Ch. 25, Ch. 10 and Ch. 5.
Foreign currency is exchangeable on arrival at the airport, or in banks. Banking hours are from 9 AM to 2 PM (in winter) and from 9 AM to 3 PM (the rest of the year) Monday to Friday and 9 AM to 11 AM on Saturday. It is best, however to change your currency in Paro or Thimphu as it may be more difficult in smaller towns. Banks also offer a better rate of exchange.

Most travelers cheques are accepted but shops generally charge a levy on credit cards. Payments can sometimes be made with American Express, Visa and the JCB cards although the hotels and shops that accept them are usually confined to Thimphu and Paro. If you plan to use your card to pay, check with the hotel or shops first as there is usually an interest payment as well.
In general cash is always more convenient, particularly in the districts outside Thimphu. Paro and Phuentsholing towns.


Electricity

Electricity is 220/240 volts. You should have many problems, incase you have doubt bring along international electricity converter kit.


Photography

The photographic opportunities on all trips are immense. You will also wish to record the local people, their houses and shops etc. Always ask by gesture if it is ok to do so. Don't take your destination as living museum. Also while visiting Dzong, monasteries and religious institutions; please follow your guide's instruction carefully. 35mm color print film is readily available. Slide film is more difficult to find. Bring enough batteries if you use lithium batteries.


Entry & Exit

The best way to enter Bhutan is by Druk Air, the national air carrier and the only airline operating in Bhutan. Flights to Bhutan are available from Bangkok in Thailand, Kathmandu in Nepal, Delhi & Calcutta in India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh several times each week. For more information about the Airline, you can log on to http://www.drukair.com.bt or you can send us E-mail us at: info@allnepal.com for the latest flight schedules. On clear days the flight into Paro offers spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain range, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari, Kula Kangri and many other peaks of the Himalayas.
Tourists who want to combine a visit to Bhutan with Sikkim & Darjeeling (or other places in India) can enter Bhutan by surface through the border town of Phuentsoling the southern Bhutanese border town. Bagdogra, in the state of West Bengal (India) is the nearest airport Approx. 4 hours drive from the border. This is the only other entry point to Bhutan other than flying into Paro airport. In the reverse order visitors can fly into Bhutan and exit by surface to India through Phuentsoling.

Exit from Bhutan can be made through Samdrup Jongkhar. This frontier Bhutanese town is approx. 3 hours drive from Guwahati, the capital town of Indian North Eastern state of Assam. Samdrup Jongkhar is the authorized exit point only and an important link for visiting further Indian North Eastern states. From Guwahati there are flights available to Calcutta and Delhi.

GOVERNMENTRULESSTATE. IT IS MANDATORY TO TRAVEL AT LEAST ONE WAY BY DRUK AIR, EITHER ENTRY OR EXIT OR BOTH. IN AN EXCEPTIONAL CASE, SPECIAL PERMISSION CAN BE OBTAINED FOR ENTRY AND EXIT OVERLAND.

 

Distances and driving time between different places in Bhutan

All mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicles as there are no domestic airlines or trains. However motor roads are well maintained and link all parts of the nation. The mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average driving speed of vehicles less then 40 kilometres per hour. All Transports are well maintained and Tourist coaches are imported from Japan which makes it very reliable and comfortable.
                                                                       

From To

Distance in Kms.

Driving time

Thimphu

Paro             

65 kms.         

2 hrs.

Thimphu  

Phuentsholing

176 kms.          

6 hrs.

Phuentsholing 

Bagdogra (India)

170 kms.         

4 hrs.

Phuentsholing 

Siliguri (India)

160 kms.         

4 hrs.

Thimphu 

Wangduephodrang

70 kms.             

 3 hrs.

Thimphu

Punakha

77 kms.            

 3 hrs.

Thimphu

Ha

115 km

4 hrs

Ha

Paro

60 km

3 hrs

Punakha

Wangduephodrang

21 kms.           

45 min.

Wangduephodrang

Gangtey  

50 kms.           

2 hrs.

Wangduephodrang

Trongsa 

130 kms.           

 5 hrs.

Trongsa   

Bumthang

68 kms.           

3 hrs.

Bumthang 

Mongar 

198 kms.           

7 hrs.

Mongar

Lhuentse

76 kms.

3 hrs.

Mongar

Trashigang 

90 kms.           

4 hrs.

Trashigang   

Chorten Kora   

52 kms.           

2 hrs.

Trashigang

Samdrup Jongkhar

180 kms.

7 hrs.

Trashigang

Trashi Yangtse

55 km

2 hrs

Samdrup Jongkhar

Gauhati (India)

110 kms.

3 hrs.

Samdrup Jongkhar

Phuentsholing

380 kms.

10 hrs.


Delayed arrival / departure:

There is no charge for the number of days delay on arrival / departure of visitors due to weather conditions, Druk Air problems or roadblocks. People will be charged only the actual expense of accommodation, food, transport and other required services.

 

Safety

Bhutan is generally a safe place and the streets are safe to walk around but visitors may find no reason to wander out late at night since the towns close early and lots of street dogs tend to take over the streets. Do not walk alone when trekking. You may get lost or encounter wild animals like the Himalayan bear in certain seasons.


Time Difference

It is 6 hrs ahead of GMT, 30 minutes ahead of India, 1 hr. behind Thailand and 15 minutes ahead of Nepal.

Telephone and Communications The country’s digital network has opened up communications with the world. IDD services are widely available and the connections are generally clear. Email access is available; every town has a local internet café. For those who prefer the old style of communications via postage, there are post offices in every town.


Language

The national language is Dzongkha, literally “the language of the Dzong”, which is the administrative building. Since Bhutan is a mountainous country which had no roads until the 1960s there are more than 14 different languages and dialects. Dzongkha is the language which originated in western Bhutan, around Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. Other languages and dialects take the name of the region where they are spoken so that Bumthang-pa is spoken around Bumthang, Kortoe-pa comes from Kortoe and so on. English has been the medium of education in schools since the late 1950s and is also the second official language of government. English is therefore spoken fluently by a large number of people.

 

Tour Escorts

Well-trained, knowledgeable guides, certified by Tourism Authority of Bhutan escort all the Tours. Most of the guides are English speaking but Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian-speaking guides can also be provided with prior information and an additional cost.

 

Accommodation

We have carefully selected the best tourist-standard hotels, lodges and guesthouses available. They are comfortable and built and decorated in the traditional Bhutanese style. Some of the more simple lodges have a special charm of their own, and convince with the traditional warm Bhutanese hospitality. On some trails, clients may also stay in farmhouse.

Hotels and tourist lodges in Bhutan are comfortable but not luxurious. Although recently a few luxury hotels have been established in Bhutan, which can be booked with a supplementary charge. Visitors in general can expect a unique combination of traditional Bhutanese style together with modern services, but not international five-star luxury all over Bhutan! Clean and well maintained, most of the hotels are equipped with telephones, fax machines and long distance service. The Department of Tourism monitors the quality of accommodation and categorizes Hotels and lodges.

Away from the towns and villages there are purpose-built huts on some of the principal trekking routes. Otherwise, there is nothing like camping out under the clear night skies.


Food

Bhutanese delicacies are limited. Continental food is available in the larger establishments with some local dishes too. On trek, cooks prepare a variety of dishes, ranging from Continental to Chinese and Bhutanese to Indian.


Health

All major towns in Bhutan have fully-equipped hospitals with all medical facilities, including specialists and ambulance services for emergencies. Certificates of inoculation against cholera and smallpox are required for entry, although Bhutan is free from these diseases. For trekking, you are recommended to consult your doctor before booking the trip.


Climate/ Season:

The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general the east of Bhutan is warmer than the west of the country. The central valley of Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Mongar, Tashigang and Lhuntshi enjoys a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Tongsa and Bumthang have a temperate climate with monsoon rains in the summer (22- 28-degree Celsius approx.) with snow-fall in winter. Winter (below 0 – 8 Degree Celsius approx.) The best time to visit Bhutan is from mid-November until mid-March, at this time of year the climate is dry, with daytime temperatures of 16-19 degrees centigrade and normally sunshine and clear skies, night time temperatures can fall to below zero. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with the rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. At the end of September, after the last of the heavy rains, autumn (warm days but nights are chilly; 17-27 D. Celsius approx.) and a magnificent season for trekking unfolds lasting until mid-November. Generally spring is warm (20 – 25 Degrees Celsius approx.).
Best season: March, April, May, September, October and November.

Monsoon: ....June, July and August.
Winter: .........December, January and February. Read More »

 

Clothing

Due to the wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing for protection against the cold; layered clothing is better with a down jacket. Cloths should preferably be made from natural materials, which allow the body to breathe. You will be offending people if you walk around in skimpy tight fitting or exposing clothes although shorts (not too) are fine, we advise women to wear skirts or loose trousers during visits to monasteries.


National Dress

It is rare to see western dress in Bhutan. Men still wear the traditional knee length, hand woven robe called a gho. Women wear a longer, ankle-length robe called kira and this is also made from fine, hand woven fabric, with the pattern usually being distinctive to a particular valley or area.


What to Pack

We will provide you with a full list of items to consider bringing on receipt of your booking confirmation.


Reservations

All Tours must be booked through us (Nature Trail Travels & Tours, Trekking and Expeditions)
For clients traveling in peak (high) seasons and festival times, it is necessary to book 5 weeks in advance. Festivals held in autumn and spring are the peak time for tourists and without early reservation it might be difficult to confirm flights and hotels.


Terms of Contract

Nature Trail Travels & Tours, Trekking & Expedition makes every effort to ensure the smooth running of your tour. However, all the Bhutan programs are conducted strictly by the rules governed by the Tourism Authority of Bhutan. Cost does not include any insurance against accident/ injury/sickness/evacuation (in case of needed) or trip cancellation. Therefore, it is highly recommended you are appropriately insured to cover such incidents.. A separate form of contract has to be signed by clients accepting the above conditions at the time of booking.

  • About Tibet.
  • History of Bhutan
  • Travel Info
  • Festivals in Bhtuan
  • Entering into Bhutan.
  • Climate
  • Teriff
  • Places of Interest.
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