Bhutan

Bhutan

Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas, bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India. The altitude varies from 300m (1000ft) in the narrow lowland region to 7000m (22,000ft) in the Himalayan plateau in the north, and there are three distinct climatic regions. The foothills are tropical and home to deer, lion, leopards and the rare golden monkey as well as much tropical vegetation including many species of wild orchids. The Inner Himalaya region is temperate; wildlife includes bear, boar and sambar and the area is rich in deciduous forests. The High Himalaya region is very thinly populated, but the steep mountain slopes are the home of many species of animals including snow leopards and musk deer

A abode in the heart of the vast Himalayan region, but little known to the outside world just being wedged between giant neighbors and secluded by some of the highest mountain ranges. A Hidden in the mighty Himalayas, between India and China, the independent Bhutanese people have largely lived a life of totally isolation from the world. They have succeed in maintaining their cultural and spiritual heritage preserved in age-old traditions.

Bhutan-the last paradise on the earth reflects age-old religion, culture, arts & architecture in its golden peaks in the background of deep green valley and hillside. Bhutan exudes a special a feeling of calm and serenity, which envelops each the very instant they set foot in the Kingdom. People are deeply religious following the Mahayana form of Buddhism. The air of spirituality is evident, even in the urban centers where the spinning of prayer wheels the murmur of mantras and the glow of butter lamp in the houses are still important feature of everyday life. Monastery, temples and religious monuments are doted across the landscape, bearing witness to the importance of Buddhism. Different age of monks are everywhere in Bhutan.

 Travel Information !

VISA

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa. Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).  All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan.  Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.   You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa.  The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account.  Once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

TOUR GUIDES

In order to ensure that visitors receive high quality, professional service every guide must complete a training course. Guides are trained to specialize in either cultural or adventure tours. Many guides complete language courses in German, Japanese, Thai and other languages so that they can easily communicate with guests and all are proficient in English. All tour operators must employ only registered and certified guides.

Accommodations

A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to cozy little hotels and home stays in traditional Bhutanese homes and settings. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels. Similarly, the ambience and hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible.

The types of accommodations can be divided into:

  1. Hotels
  2. Resorts
  3. Farm-stays
  4. Home-stays

Additionally visitors embarking on long treks will be provided with tents and whatever other camping equipment is deemed necessary. Regardless of where they stay, visitors can be assured of their comfort and traditional Bhutanese hospitality.

HOTELS

Bhutan has hundreds of hotels located all across the country. They range from small, simple and clean local hotels to luxurious resorts for affluent travelers seeking the ultimate getaway.Hotels in Bhutan are rated according to a National 5 Star rating System. All Tour Operators are required to provide their guests with a minimum of 3 Star accommodations so you can be assured of your comfort. Most hotels provide their guests with Television, Room Service, Fitness Centers, Spas and Wi-fi. However the exact services available will vary from hotel to hotel.

GUEST HOUSE

There are various Guesthouses located around the Bhutan. They are graded on the same scale as hotels. The exact services available can vary among Guesthouses.

HOME-STAY

Visitors have the option of spending a night in the traditional home of a Bhutanese family. A Home-Stay will give you an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host. All officially sanctioned and listed home-stays are located in the gorgeous Bhutanese countryside, far from the noise and crowds of population centers. In order to experience a traditional life, electricity and running water are not available at Home-Stays. Hot water can be provided by the family but will be served in a wash basin/bowl.

FARM-STAY

Visitors also have the option of spending a night in a traditional Bhutanese Farm House. Agriculture is still one of the major sources of livelihood amongst the Bhutanese people and a Farm-Stay will give you an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You’ll be able to observe age old Bhutanese farming traditions as the family goes about its daily tasks. You’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host.

All officially sanctioned and listed Farm-stays are located in the gorgeous Bhutanese countryside amidst lush farmland far from the noise and crowds of population centers. In order to experience a traditional life, electricity and running water are not available at Farm-Stays. Hot water can be provided by the family but will be served in a wash basin/bowl.

Travel Tips

The following information acts as a guide when traveling to Bhutan. This practical advice is not a comprehensive list but should provide some useful information for you as you plan your travelling. 

TRAVEL/MEDICAL INSURANCE

You should not travel internationally without travel insurance. The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for our visitors. Travel insurance can be provided through your Bhutanese tour operator or international partner. You may also visit the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan website at www.ricb.com.bt for more information.

MONEY

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) It is at par with the Indian rupee which is accepted as legal tender in the country.

Note:

INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan. ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard.  In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores.

BANKING

Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that cater to the needs of the people.Some of the banks that you can avail of while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveller’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency. Many of these banks provide internet banking facilities.TMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard.  In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores.

ELECTRICITY

All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. It is recommended that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics if necessary, however, most hotels offer multi plug sockets. Bhutan is a carbon neutral destination. Our energy is clean and green generated by hydro power.

TRAVELLING KITS

Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate. In general summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, while winter temperatures are usually below 15 degrees Celsius. The northern regions of the country are colder than the more tropical south and it is recommended you pack accordingly. Trekkers will need to bring appropriate warm clothes and comfortable hiking boots (well broken in) preferably with ankle support and weather-proof to complement the weather and rugged terrain.

Others suggested items to pack:

• A pair of sunglasses

• Sunscreen lotion

• Hat

• Umbrella

• Camera

• Spare camera batteries

• Flash light (with spare batteries)

• Travel sickness tablets

• Antiseptic cream

• Anti-histamine cream

• Anti-diarrhoea pills

• Altitude sickness medication it trekking above 3000m

• Insect repellent

PHOTOGRAPHY

Bhutan offers immense opportunities for photography especially during outdoor sightseeing trips.

However you should check with your guide before taking pictures or filming inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions as in some area photograph/filming is not permitted.

You are free to capture images of the landscape, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture and the exterior of Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

SHOPPING

Some popular handicraft items available for purchase are hand-woven textiles of raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products or finely crafted gods of silver. Other items you may be interested in are the exquisite Buddhist thangkha paintings or Bhutan’s wide array of colourful and creative postage stamps. You can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.

GRATUITIES

Tipping is a purely personal matter. We leave it up to you as to whether you want to give a gratuity to your guides and drivers. However, if doing so, we recommend that you place the gratuity in an envelope.

CUSTOMS

The following articles are exempt from duty:

 (a) Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor?

(b) 1 liter of alcohol (spirits or wine)

(c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%?

(d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use?

(e) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use

You have to complete the passenger declaration form at your port of entry.

Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.

If importing any items to Bhutan which are for sale or gift, they may be liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to fill out a departure form, which will be asked for by Customs authorities.

Import/export of the following goods is strictly prohibited:

 (a) Arms, ammunitions and explosives?

(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs?

(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species?

(d) Antiques

COMMUNICATIONS

The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Most hotels and cafe’s offer Wi-Fi internet access. Bhutan has a comprehensive mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming also assessable.

Language

Bhutanese speak a variety of languages with Dzongkha being the national language and one of the most widely spoken. English is also spoken by the majority of Bhutanese making communication very easy. It is encouraged to speak with the local Bhutanese, especially in the urban areas and towns,as it will enhance your knowledge on Bhutan.

Guides and Interpreters

Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and licenced guides that are well versed in local history and possess good communication skills. All guides are tested and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Guides are available who are fluent in Japanese, Thai, Spanish and other European languages.

Activities in Bhutan

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