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Bhutan Tours Travels Information

Visa and Passports:
A visa is needed to enter Bhutan but it is not issued abroad. Visas will be stamped in your passport upon arrival in Paro, cost US$ 20 and are included in your tour payment. To apply for a visa, contact either your host agency or foreign or Bhutanese tour operator. You have to send the PP details 15 days in advance.

Customs :
All visitors are required to complete a customs form upon arrival at Paro. The following items are exempt from customs duty:

  • Personal effects for day to day use
  • Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
  • Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods

Note:
Import of tobacco and tobacco products for personal consumption – 100% sales tax and 100% customs duty. The maximum allowed for personal consumption are:

  • Cigarettes : 1 carton of 200 cigarettes.
  • Pipe tobacco : 3 tins of 50 grams each.
  • Other tobacco products : 50 grams.

Customs regulations strictly forbid the export of antiques or religious objects out of the country unless you have clearance from the Antiquities Department. If you are carrying religious items from another country, declare them on your customs form on arrival in Bhutan to avoid any problems on departure. It is forbidden to export samples of flora & fauna.

Weather :
The temperature and weather can change quickly and you may experience different climates in one day. Depending on the altitude, you may be freezing on top of a pass and an hour later you may be in a semi-tropical jungle. It is difficult to generalize about the climate of Bhutan because of the variations in elevations and seasons.

The southern belt is at an altitude of 300 meters and border to the Indian state of West Bengal & Assam. It is cool and sunny in winter and hot and rainy in summer.

The central valleys share the same pleasant climate but the eastern ones are lower and warmer. Bumthang is the highest and coldest. Winter from November to March is generally sunny except for the occasional snowfall; temperature can be relatively warm during the day (15’C 51 ‘F) but may fall below freezing at night. Spring, from mid – March to May, is cool and often stormy as it slowly warms up. Monsoon can start from mid –June and last until September. It is warm and cloudy with showers falling mostly in the evening and at night. October is a pleasant autumn month with clear skies, warm days and cool nights.

Clothing:
Practical and comfortable clothes are appropriate, with dressy outfits only necessary if you are on a business trip in Bhutan. Because of the variety of climates you may encounter in one day, choose garments which can be layered. From June to September cottons and a warm woollen sweater should be enough, while from October to May you must also bring a down jacket or warm coat. Especially in winter, west and central Bhutan are much colder than any other district apart from the north. A pair of slippers/sandals/sneakers and hiking shoes is the only footwear required unless you are trekking.

Electricity:
Officially 220 volts is supplied by the Department of Power. But the power supply can fluctuate. Some hotels and lodges don’t have American plug points or converters.

Battery:
In most places around Bhutan you will find the Indian made batteries available. But quality is very poor. It is advisable to bring your own supply of batteries. The only other possibility is purchase in Thimphu.

Time Difference:
Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of G.M.T. and half an hour ahead of India.

Money Matters:
The currency is the Ngultrum, divided into Chetrums, which are at a par with the Indian Rupee. The Indian Rupee is also legal tender in Bhutan except for the denomination of 500 notes which are banned in Bhutan because of counterfeit. All the Banks in Bhutan accept the following currency:

  • US dollar
  • Euro
  • Pound Sterling
  • Canadian dollar
  • Hong Kong dollar
  • Singaporean dollar
  • Australian dollar
  • Japanese Yen
  • Swiss Francs
  • Danish Kroner
  • Norwegien Kroner
  • Swedish Kroner
  • Traveller’s cheques

Credit Card:
There is no credit card facility available to cash money from banks. But it is accepted at all leading Gift shops, Handicraft stores and by hotels.

Business Hours & Holidays:

  • Government office hours are Monday to Friday 9 am – 4 pm from November to March and 9am – 5 pm for the rest of the year, closed Saturday & Sunday.
  • Banking hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 3 pm. Saturday 9am – 11 am
    Government holiday closed.
  • All the shops will stay open from 9am – 8 pm.
  • Restaurants open up to 11pm.

Taxes:
A departure tax of Nu.500 Ngultrum (US$ 12) is levied at Paro airport.

Transportation:
Every individual travelling to Bhutan through travel agents will be provided with a Toyota car for FITs and coaster bus for groups. In the case of clients preferring luxury vehicles an additional amount will be charged.

Hotels:
Hotels in Bhutan are not as high standard, compared to other developing countries. But all tourist lodges & hotels are recognized and regulated by the Department of Tourism.

GETTING AROUND

Taxi : Taxis are available and a bit expensive compared to buses, but it is not costly by western standards.

Bus : Every part of Bhutan is connected with local buses from the Bus terminal. The daily schedules differ according to destination and area.

Car : Hiring a car is no problem in the capital Thimphu but keep in mind that once you are out of Thimphu this is not so easy. The rates are Government controlled and charges are on a per- kilometre basis after the daily lump sum that covers 100km. A driver and petrol are included in the price. If you are travelling towards the East a 4-wheel drive is recommended, although it would be more expensive than a car.

Health:
Every district in Bhutan is equipped with a General hospital, but only at Thimphu will you find modern facilities and Pharmacies. Come well prepared with all necessary medicines like sleeping pills (high altitude can hinder your sleeping), anti-nausea pills, anti-diarrhoea pills, water purifying tablets (if you are trekking), oral dehydration packets, eye drops, antibiotic ointment and anti-histamine ointment.

Medical Services:
Every District has hospitals staffed with competent doctors and offer basic services but there is no Intensive Care Unit and most patients are referred to Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital at Thimphu. The exception is Mongar (in the east) which has a well equipped hospital if you are lucky enough to be near by.

COMMUNICATION AND NEWS

Post:
Mail service within the country and airmail abroad is available, but can be slow at times, unless it is registered or express mail. International parcel post is also available. Bhutanese stamps are particularly beautiful. Do not miss the Philatelic Bureau in Thimphu.

DHL is owned and run by a private company. They have an office in the Changangkha area: Tele: +975-(2) 324730 Ext 15. Fax: +975-2-322088

Telephone:
Telephone & fax services were started in 1990 and now have been upgraded to international standard. It is now possible to direct dial from any part of the country. The Bhutan country is code +975. Telephone communication is very reliable in Bhutan.

Internet:
Internet Service in Bhutan was introduced in 1999 coinciding with the Sliver Jubilee celebration (25 years ruling) of the 4th King. Now it is available in every tourist lodge/hotel as well as in town Cafés at cheaper rates.

Television:
Television was also introduced in 1999 and we have our own channel called BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Service) which was made nationwide recently in the month of April 2006. It broadcasts in two different languages, Dzongkha and English. Besides news they also feature documentaries and other activities. In addition to this, there are around 30 other international channels.

Mobile:
Mobile was introduced in the month of November 2005 and now covers up to 9 districts in Bhutan. It has two categories of services. Post Paid and Pre-Paid.

1) Post Paid: Monthly billing system.
2) Pre-paid: Voucher range Nu.100, Nu.200, Nu. 300, Nu.500, Nu. 1000. Nu.1500.
3) Sim Card is available at every dealer shops.

Two Categories of SIM CARD:

1) NU. 600 can receive incoming calls up to 6 months without voucher recharge.
2) NU. 400 can receive incoming calls up to 4 months without voucher recharge. After which the card expires if not recharged.


NEWSPAPERS

Three Categories:
1) Kuensel, is owned by the Government and is distributed twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday in three languages:

  • English
  • Dzongkha (National Language)
  • Lhotsham (Nepali)

2) Bhutan Times: It is owned by a private sector and was introduced recently on 5th April 29, 2006 and is distributed once a week on Sundays. (English version only).

3) Bhutan Observer: started on 2nd June 2006 coinciding with the 4th king’s 32nd coronation celebration is distributed once a week and is especially design to cover rural news. It has two versions (English & Dzongkha).

Laundry:
It is usually possible to have clothes washed and ironed in one day. Dry cleaning is possible with every lodge and hotel that has been approved by the Department of Tourism. Consign in the morning and pickup in the evening.

Night Clubs:
Thimphu is Bhutan’s biggest city and has around five licensed night clubs which operate on a weekly basis, on Saturday night and some of them on Wednesday as ladies night. They also organize parties on special occasions and Government holidays. Apart from Thimphu there are also clubs in other Districts, and even if they don’t have one, they organize New Year celebrations or special occasions by renting hotel and halls.

 

BHUTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

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Trekking
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Terms and Conditions
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BHUTAN FESTIVALS TOUR
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Thimphu Tshechu (Festival): 9 Days
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Paro Tshechu (Festival): 8 Days
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Jambay Lhakhang Festival: 11 Days
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Thimphu and Thangbi Mani Festival
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Jambay Lhakhang Drup & Prakar Tshechu (Festival) : 13 Days
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BHUTAN CULTURAL TOUR
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Bhutan Tour 17 days
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Mythical Central Bhutan 12 days
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Essence of Himalayas 7 days
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Glimpse of Bhutan 5 days
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Bhutan & India 16 days
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BHUTAN TREKKING
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Druk Path Trek 09 Nights
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Samtengang Trek 09 Nights
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Chomolhari Trek 14 Nights
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Laya-Gasa Trek 21 Nights
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Snowman Trek 23 Nights
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Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek 11 Nights
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Snowman Trek Gangkhar Puensum Extension 24 Nights
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Bumthang Cultural Trek 12 Nights
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Wild East Rodungla trek 19 Nights
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Dur Hot Spring Trek 17 Nights
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