The Handbook

About Travel & Visa

You'll need that visa and a reliable tour partner.

Enlist the services of your Destination Buddy to apply for your visa.  All international tourists, including children, must obtain visa clearance to travel to Bhutan.

According to the government mandate, travel bookings can only be initiated by a Bhutanese tour operator and their international partners.

Visas are sanctioned by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and are allotted on receipt of payment in full including visa fees. Please refer to the Cost & Currency section for details.

Expect to receive your visa within 1 to 2 weeks from the date of application. This is subject to documents & payment being processed. 

If you’re a national of India, Bangladesh or Maldives you can obtain a permit at the port of entry by furnishing a passport valid for over a period of 6 months. Indian nationals can also use their Voter’s Identity Card. A child below the age of 12 years can travel on a birth certificate only if accompanied by parents holding Indian passports. In such cases, they can enter Bhutan only from India and have to exit to India only. 

Airline & Transport

Attention: Tours organized by Destination Bhutan do not include international flights. Please ensure that you make all necessary arrangements to enter and exit Bhutan.

From the time you land at Paro Airport we will be happy to take care of all your travel needs – including local flight booking, helicopter rides and road journeys to destinations within Bhutan.  

Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the two national carriers that will fly you in to Bhutan’s only international airport at Paro. Flights take off from Bangkok, Singapore, Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Guwahati, Bagdogra and Kathmandu.

Tickets can be booked online in-person or by a Destination Buddy. Please get in touch with us to help you book air tickets.

A vehicle is made available for both, short and long distance on-road travel within the country to guests holding a tourist visa. This service is provided at an inclusive cost. You are not required to make any extra payment(s). 

Note: Please be informed that in case of any flight delay or cancellation, we are NOT liable to give you any refund for hotel booking or any other services already paid for. Hotels have very strict cancellation policies. It is your responsibility to inform us in case of any last minute delays or cancellations, so we may inform the hotels and arrange cab transport accordingly.

Accommodation

There’s only room for places that remind you that you are special.

Stay at some of the most sought after hotels in Bhutan. Destination Bhutan has tied up with hotels and resorts that you may have envisioned to be your sanctuary and abode. There’s something to suit every taste. 

3-Star Deluxe accommodations are standard for all travelers paying the minimum applicable daily tariff. Premium tariffs apply to 4 and 5 star hotel bookings. 

All tours offered by Destination Bhutan are complete with all-inclusive dining, assisted check-in and welcome drink on arrival. You’ll consider choosing your hotel the next best decision you’ll make, second only to the decision to visit Bhutan.

Costs & Currency

Your entire trip is pre-paid. Leave your wallet behind!

At the time of booking your trip to Bhutan, you will be required to make payment in full. Please transfer the full amount for your trip to Destination Bhutan. Reach out to us for any assistance you require. A Destination Buddy will ensure all other necessary arrangements are made.

Please ensure that all payments are made in US Dollars. You can wire the payment to our International USD account maintained with Standard Chartered Bank and send us the wire transfer details. Alternately, you can also pay using a valid international credit card with applicable surcharge.

Travel to Bhutan is covered by the ‘minimum daily package’ as stipulated by The Royal Government of Bhutan, this includes –

• Royalty Fee or The Sustainable Development fee of USD 65 per person per night. 

• USD 250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.

• USD 200 per person per night for the months of December, January, February, and June, July, August.

The package payment excludes:

• USD 40 - One time Visa Fee.

• Tourists travelling in a group of 2 persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.

•  Single individual - USD 40 per night  

•  Group of 2 persons only - USD 30 per person per night.

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives or foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit(s) duly approved and cleared by The Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Ngultrum (Nu) is the Bhutanese currency.

Finding an ATM should not be a problem. 

Money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. 

Stocking up on cash at the ATM at Paro Airport is a good idea.

Carry lower denominations of USD notes. The more the value of a note, the higher is its exchange rate.  


Communication & Connectivity

Be Mobile with BMobile or Tashi pre-paid SIM cards.

The best way to stay connected on-the-go is to purchase a local BMobile or Tashi pre-paid SIM card which works everywhere in Bhutan. The SIM card can be bought at stores in Thimphu town for a little less than $2. You’ll need to furnish a copy of a valid personal ID. Please ask your Destination Buddy to help you get a local SIM card.

Hotels offer Wi-Fi services for free, but internet speeds might not be quite what most visitors are used to.

All major towns and cities have basic communication facilities, including phone, fax, and email service. Local and international calls can be made from all hotels and public phone booths at nominal rates.

What to Pack ?

Throw in a pair of these.

  • A compact umbrella or a good raincoat for any region, any time of the year.
  • Mosquito repellent .
  • A jacket or a shawl will be required early in the morning and late in the evening when it gets cooler, in summer.
  • Woolens, jackets and thermal underclothes are essential to keep you from the cold in winter.
  • Hats, caps, scarves, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses always come in handy.
  • Pack a swimming costume if you wish to experience the traditional hot stone bath or hot springs.
  • Carry a flashlight for unexpected power cuts and to navigate your way through the dark temples and monasteries.
  • Put together a first-aid kit and carry essential medicines. You won’t find many drug stores, pharmacies or even hospitals around.
  • Slip on shoes can save you some trouble when visiting temples and monasteries where you’ll need to take off your footwear.
  • A sturdy pair of hiking boots will hold you in good stead.

What’s the weather like & which is the best time to visit?

It’s the land of four seasons of which spring and autumn are breathtakingly beautiful.

Bhutan welcomes spring in the months of March, April and May; the summer months June, July and August are warm. Autumn blooms from September to November, and the cold days of December, January  and February mark the winters.  

Spring and autumn seasons and the months of March to May as well as September to November are ideal for a visit to Bhutan.

The rains come pouring in from July to August making treks almost impossible, but the setting is perfect for a book, steaming cups of tea and serenity. During this time, it mostly rains in the morning and evening. Day time is quite pleasant and sunny, perfect to wander around and visit the famous sights. 


Dress code – is there one?

In all modesty…

Propriety demands a certain degree of formality in dressing, especially for special occasions and while visiting places like dzongs, temples and government offices. 

Choose appropriate attire for such events – garments that do not leave, arms or legs exposed. Do not wear revealing clothes, sleeveless tops, vests, or shorts at such times.  

Meals & options to consider

Lots of spice and everything that’s nice; for vegans and vegetarians too.

Eateries serve a cornucopia of cuisines - the authentic local flavor laden with generous helpings of cheese and chilies, meats or vegetables, the well-known lentils, rice and sabzi from the Indian kitchens and the reassuringly familiar Tibetan, Korean and Continental fare.  

Dessert is not a regular ice cream or chocolate truffle but sliced fresh fruits like watermelon, grapes, apple and sweet bananas washed down with a hot cup of coffee or tea. 

It’s always a good idea to order an hour or more in advance or expect a long wait. Don’t be surprised if some or many of the offerings in the menu are not available. 

Safety & Security

As safe as it can get; apart from the usual perils of trekking.

Easily counted among the safest places to be in the world, Bhutan has negligible incidences of crime or theft. The culture promotes peace and harmony in general. People are gracious, helpful and soft spoken. They act responsibly.  Security of tourists, especially women, is of paramount concern for hoteliers, travel agents, citizens and the government.

Heads up – a few things toconsider

  • Book your flights at least a month in advance. The flights are limited and usually booked to capacity.
  • If you're flying internationally and require a connecting flight to Paro, your luggage will not be checked in all the way to Paro via your first flight. You will need to re-check your luggage at the counter before you catch a connecting flight. This is important to note if you've got a connecting flight and require the time to go through immigration, collect your luggage and check-in again.
  • Flights do not operate at night or in poor conditions, so flights can be delayed – sometimes for a few days. Keep basic necessities in your carry-on baggage to get you through any potential delays or unexpected stopovers.
  • Travel insurance is highly recommended and mandatory.
  • Book your hotels in advance. It can be particularly difficult to make reservations during the peak season.
  • Don’t try to lose your guide or be a speed demon if you take the wheels, it is imperative for your own safety.
  • Remember to carry a personal medical kit with medicines you may need. Drug stores, pharmacies or even hospitals are few and far between.
  • Carry medicines to treat motion sickness and altitude sickness. 
  • Smoking is prohibited in public places

Say what ?

Something specific you need to know? We’ll be more than happy to fill you in.

Email us at team@destinationbhutan.travel and we'll be happy to answer all your questions...