How to enter Bhutan?
Reaching Paro by Druk Air, the National Air Carrier of Bhutan, operates regular flights to /from Paro to Delhi (India), Kolkatta (India), Gaya (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). Not too many airlines are available if you want to travel Paro from India, then Drukair is the only airline available. Paro is the only airport connecting Bhutan with rest of world through a well network of flights. Drukair is also regarded as one of the safest airlines in the world. However it is advisable to book your air tickets well in advance to avoid the tourist season rush.
By SurfaceEntry / Exit to Bhutan is also possible through Phuentsholing, the southern Bhutan frontier town. Bagdogra airport, in the state of West Bengal (India) is the nearest airport about 5 hours drive from Phuentsholing. Also Bagdogra (and its main town Siliguri) is the convenient point for visiting West Bengal region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and touristically popular state of Sikkim.
Badrapur (about 5 hours drive from Phuentsholing) and Birat Nagar (about 7 hours drive from Phuentsholing) are two other nearby airports in Nepal, connected with regular flights from Kathmandu.
Do the travelers need the travel permits to visit Bhutan
All travelers except Indian residents require visa for traveling to Bhutan. In order to process Bhutan visa we require clear readable colour copy of passport (page containing passport no and face picture in JPEG or PDF format) at least 30 days prior to date of entry into Bhutan. Remaining validity of passport should be at least 6 months from the date of exit from Bhutan.
Tourism Council of Bhutan issues visa clearance letter closer to traveling date which we email or fax you or your local travel agent. Travelers are required to produce aforesaid visa clearance copy at the time of check-in for Druk Air flight while those entering Bhutan by surface via Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jonkhar, they are required to produce this Visa Clearance letter at the Immigration counter. Actual visa is stamped at passport on arrival in Bhutan.
Visa only service is not offered in Bhutan, guests have to buy full service tour package from local tour operator that includes accommodation, guided tours, transfers etc.
Visa fee of US$ 40 (increased from Jan 2013) is included in the tour package cost.
* Travelers are required to have multiple entry visa for india if they are traveling to Bhutan from India and again returning to India from Bhutan.
Can anyone travel in Bhutan by bus, if he/she can’t afford the car?
It is possible but the local transport frequency is not so good being less density of population.In Bhutan, people mainly transport via public buses, it's cheap, but a bit too crowded. During monsoon and winter months, roads can easily become blocked due to snow or landslides. It's not recommended to take local buses.
Comfortable surface transport is available in Bhutan, making journey in this mountainous terrain really pleasant. Latest model Japanese Toyota Cars, Land Cruisers, Hiace Buses and Coaster Buses are offered to our tourists depending upon the group size. The country is safe enough to travel around with local transport but it is strongly recommended to hire a vehicle with local tour operator with pre fixed routing to avoid any hasseles.
What tour routes are now available for India? What is the accommodation capacity of Bhutan?
Bhutan shares a long border line with Eastern part of India. Entry / Exit to Bhutan is possible through Phuentsholing, and Samdrup Jongkhar. These entry / exit places are convenient point for visiting West Bengal region of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, Gangtok in state of Sikkim ( India).
Star categorization isn't applied in Bhutan, please be prepared that 5-star luxury hotels are not available in this country. Most hotels, lodges and guesthouses in Bhutan are generally smaller compared with their international counterparts and built in traditional architectural style. Although the hotels here aren't as high standard as those in Western society, the necessary facilities are offered and most of them are properly maintained. There are a few Deluxe Hotels available in Thimphu and Paro and a few Luxury 5 star resorts available in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang.
There are no air conditioners in Bhutanese hotels, but electrical fan in summer and heater in winter is provided. Generally speaking, hotels in western Bhutan (Thimphu, Paro and Punakha), the more popular tourist regions, are better appointed, while accommodation establishments in the central and eastern part of the country are more modest, with fewer amenities.
Accommodations we arrange are those best available by thoroughly weighing facilities, service, your taste and budget. Usually the international standard hotels are equipped with western style bath rooms, access to internet, heating and so on.
For environment concerns, most of Bhutanese hotels don't provide disposable toiletries or slippers. Furthermore, there are no convenience stores where these stuff can be bought. Hence, it is highly suggested prepare some by yourself.
What to pack for Bhutan tours?
Comfortable and warm clothing is recommended clothing and sturdy, soft-soled shoes are necessary for your Bhutan trip. Down jackets and woolen sweaters are advised all year round except for summer month; heavy cottons and lightweight woolens is appropriate in summer.
Huge temperature disparity from day to night is the case in Bhutan all year round due to altitudinal difference. Therefore layering system on clothing is suggested to better adapt to the changing conditions; you can start with thermal underwear and add to a shirt, pile jacket and windbreaker or parka as necessary. Make sure you are packed with below items before you set out for a Bhutan trip:
Back pack Woolen/Cotton trousers (warm clothes for mornings and evenings)Down jacket (wind stopper) - especially for higher altitudesT - shirts or long sleeved shirts (not sleeveless)Sandals or flip flopsSun hat, Comfortable shoes (sneakers) Pairs of socks and vestsTorch (flashlight), Sunglasses, spare glasses and contact lenses, Sunscreen lotion, Insect repellent cream and your personal medical kit, Thermal underwearSun cream and some lip protection - you will be outside a lot where strong sun and wind are quite usual.
What is the weather like in Bhutan?
It is difficult to accurately generalize the climate of Bhutan due to its variations in elevations and seasons. Generally From June to September is the monsoon season in Bhutan, with heavy rains and high humidity, it is hottest in the south. During this period the temperatures can go up to 20 -25 °C during the day, and fall to 15-18 °C at night. From mid September to November is autumn, basically sunny with some snow at higher altitudes. Late November to early March can be very cold across much of the country. Mid March to May is Spring and Mid April to June you will find beautiful flower blooming and pre monsoon showers starting in June.
What is the best timing for Bhutan tours?
Best times to visit Bhutan are March to Mid June and September to November when it's basically warm, dry and sunny. Temperatures are usually around 20 °C; however the nights can be relatively cool, so bring along some clothes.
What is high altitude sickness?
It is difficult to determine who may be affected by altitude sickness since there are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility. Some people get it and some people don't because some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can ascend to 2,500 metres (8,000 feet) with little or no effect. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude without problems as long as you are properly acclimatised. If you haven't been to high altitude before, you should exercise caution when doing so.
The Causes of Altitude Sickness
The percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere at sea level is about 21% and the barometric pressure is around 760 mmHg. As altitude increases, the percentage remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 3,600 metres (12,000 feet) the barometric pressure is only about 480 mmHg, so there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath so the body must adjust to having less oxygen.
In addition, high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries in both the lungs and the brain which can lead to fluid build-up. Continuing on to higher altitude without proper acclimatisation can lead to the potentially serious, even life-threatening altitude sickness.
How to avoid and treat the high altitude sickness?
If possible, don't fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) and walk up.If you do fly or drive, do not overexert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours. If you go above 3,000 metres (10,000 feet), only increase your altitude by 300 metres (1,000 feet) per day, and for every 900 metres (3,000 feet) of elevation gained, take a rest day to acclimatize.
Climb high and sleep low! You can climb more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude sickness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease. If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!
Keep in mind that different people will acclimatize at different rates. Make sure everyone in your party is properly acclimatized before going any higher. Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least four to six liters per day). Urine output should be copious and clear to pale yellow. Take it easy and don't overexert yourself when you first get up to altitude. But, light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and opiates such as dehydrocodeine . These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of symptoms. Eat a high calorie diet while at altitude. Remember: Acclimatization is inhibited by overexertion, dehydration, and alcohol.
What medical preparations the travelers need to make before Bhutan tours?
No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan . However if you are arriving from an area infected with yellow fever, you are required to have a yellow fever vaccination.
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler's medical kit appropriate to destination, length of trip and general health. On a tour in Bhutan, there are long drives, and roads are winding so medication for motion sickness is strongly suggested. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness ; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
Do the travelers need travel insurances?
In buying travel insurance, you're not only buying something that can assist greatly should you find yourself in need, you're also buying some peace of mind -- both for you, while you travel, but also for your family and friends back home.
Aside from medical care, travel insurance can protect you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects, trip cancellation, personal liability, funeral expenses (without wanting to sound morbid, dying overseas can be very very expensive), emergency dental treatment and evacuation back to your country of residence.
There's all manner of add-ons covering matters like expensive camera gear and gizmos like laptops and iPods, more adventuresome pursuits and even some special needs, but for many travellers a general travel insurance policy should provide a good starting point.
The most important thing is to read the insurance policy properly especially exclusions to avoid any later confusions.
What are the norms if I contact with the Bhutanese?
You will find Bhutan people very kind and friendly, you can feel free to talk with them. Do not go around photographing the people, ask first, show some respect. Buy some local products and encourage them, they are cheaper. Don't talk the sensitive topics like the political and the religion things!
What should I keep in mind when I contact with the Bhutan?
- Do not photo them without permission, please show respect to them !
- Do not talk about the sensitive topics like political or religious matters!
- A smile makes a big difference. Remember you are in a country where there is pursuit of Gross National Happiness.
How much should I tip?
Tipping is a gesture of appreciation for your driver and guide who are with you for the whole trip. Be careful not to insult with small tips. They may not receive your tips at first out of Bhutanese tradition, but please do give it a second try and the tips will be accepted.
What should I do with Bhutan beggars?
Religious alms donation are an accepted part of society in Bhutan. Giving money or food to a pilgrim is considered an act of merit.
Do the travelers need to ask the permissions before taking the photos of Bhutan?
It is always good to ask permission first. Bhutanese people are very friendly. However, it might upset feelings if demanding a photo is ivasive in nature to an individual's choice.
Is it easy to get the cash money from ATMs in Bhutan?
Basically it is pretty hard to find ATMs in Bhutan. The only place to get the cash money is from the local branches of Bank of Bhutan. For the sake of the convenience, it might be good to bring some cash money along the trip.
What are the commonly used phone numbers for emergency in Bhutan?
The following phone calls can be directly made from any other telephones in Bhutan once the emergency happens.
- Police emergency : 113
- Medical emergency: 112