Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.

2.Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?

It is a government regulation that you must use a license Bhutanese Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.

3.Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan?

All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.

4. How much does the visa cost?

International tourist visas a cost of USD $65applies. This can be paid in advance to you tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives there is no cost incurred.

5. How long does it take to get my Bhutan Visa?


 Visa is usually released about 1 - 2 weeks before your arrival in Bhutan. This is to accommodate travelers who have a last minute change of plan due to personal or other issues. We can arrange for your Visa within a one-week period. So it is possible to book your trip this week and be in Bhutan in 7 day.

6. How do I get to Bhutan?

There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings, which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only - Phuentsholing, Gelephu and SamdrupJongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator. A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all the necessary arrangements.

7.What does the $200/$250 per day minimum daily package include?

The $200 per day (low season) and $250 per day (high season) package includes a minimum of 3 /4star accommodations, costs for fooding, an experienced guide and transportation (with driver) within the country. Also included in the price is a $65 per day royalty that goes towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. Your tour operator will arrange all of these services.

8.What currency is used in Bhutan?

Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (NU). Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee, which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian notes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable.

9. Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year?

There is no limit on the number of tourists admitted into the country each year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment the government has adopted a strict policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.

10.What’s the food like in Bhutan?

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy. 
Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.

11. Is there a tourist quota to the number of people who can visit Bhutan every year?


 There is no tourist quota set by the Royal Government of Bhutan. Tourist number is about 29,000 per year (2010) largely because of the limited flight capacity and shortages of good hotels currently.

12. Can I stay at exclusive resorts like 5star?

Visitors who opt for more exclusive resorts (5star) will have to pay for their accommodation on top of the daily tariff specified.

13. What does my tariff pay for? 


USD 65 (deemed royalty) actually goes toward a development fund for free health care, free education and road building in Bhutan. The remainder of the tariff goes to accommodation, meals, and services like tour guides, transportation, drivers and all entrance fees.
VISA
Most countries issue visas from their embassies abroad and stamp in your passport, but not Bhutan, Bhutan Visas are issued only when you arrive in the Country, (Either at Airport or Road Border)
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 airport 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. Your tour operator processes visas through an online system, directly or through a foreign travel agent.

You are required to send the photo-page of your passport copy to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. Thevisa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment 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. DISCOUNTS
A) There shall be no charge for CHILDREN below the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 5-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates. This Royalty is currently set at $65 per day.
B) Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years, holding valid student identity cards from their academic institutions, shall also be given a 25% discount on the Royalty.
C) A discount of 50% on minimum daily package shall be given to one person in a group of 14+ people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16+ persons.
D) A 50%discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 14th night.
E) Visitors availing discounts under Sections A & B shall not be eligible for discount under D. Note: Discount given only in Royalty 65USD

When is the best time to go?
Go anytime – you won’t be disappointed. However If you are prepared to travel outside of the peak season periods (APR-MAY and mid SEP-NOV) there are fewer tourist visitors & you will enjoy a more rewarding experience. We especially recommend June – July (Summer) and December-March (Winter/Spring). If you are trekking you will need to generally travel in the peak season months for suitable conditions.

Why is it so expensive to visit Bhutan?
Lets put this myth to sleep straight away! Because the Bhutanese Government has imposed an ‘all inclusive’ nightly tariff structure a Bhutan tour can ‘appear’ to be expensive. In our experiences with Bhutan we regularly receive comments from returning visitors on how great the ‘value for money’ genuinely is. Considering every visitor has access to a private guide, driver, private vehicle and a land package including all meals, accommodation, sightseeing, entry fees, transfers, taxes, Govt Royalties & visa fees it is indeed excellent value for money.

Can I travel totally independently in Bhutan?
YES….and no! It is not possible to gain an entry visa for Bhutan unless you pre-pay for a pre-arranged land package itinerary with a licensed and approved inbound operator and pay the appropriate nightly tariff. Bhutan prohibits independent backpacker style visitors to maintain its strict cultural and ecological values. However please be aware you can enjoy a degree of flexibility during each day to hike, visit markets & villages and interact with locals as you wish. You can take your own private tour and you do NOT have to join a group tour….however it must be pre-arranged and pre-paid.

What currency do I take?
With the introduction of ATM’s in Thimphu & Paro in 2011 it is now possible to withdraw local currency via Visa & MasterCard credit & debit cards & Cirrus endorsed bank debit cards. The local currency called Ngultrum (nu for short) is pegged to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted throughout the Kingdom (except for 500 & 1000 rupee notes which are not accepted).

As a more convenient alternativeI to taking in Indian Rupees we strongly encourage visitors to take in USD cash and/or travellers cheques which we recommend as a back-up in case ATM’s are not working. Take low denomination USD to cover any small daily purchases and use higher denomination USD for exchanging into Nu at local banks and also for guide/driver tips at the end of the journey.As at DEC 2012 , and due to the strength of the Australian dollar, major banks in Paro & Thimphu will also now exchange Australian cash (no coins) for Bhutanese Nu.

What do we tip?
Our tipping guideline for your guide and driver will be detailed in our itinerary and also in our pre-departure kit which we send to each traveller after they have paid their initial deposit. Guides & drivers expect their tip on the afternoon before you depart the Kingdom or the morning of your departure. Otherwise personal tipping is generally discouraged except for hotel porters and US$1.00 per bag would suffice.

Is their internet available?
Most of the standard tourist class hotels now have WiFi….plus have a business centre where you can use the hotel . Generally speaking WiFi is free. All of the luxury resorts & lodges offer a wireless internet facility however not necessarily in guest rooms.

Will my mobile phone work?
Currently only a Telstra sim card mobile phone will work in Bhutan. We recommend you contact your Telco for up to date advice. Beware of prepaid phone cards which have been recommended from Australia as in our personal experience they rarely work. A local Bhutan sim card with prepaid call credits can easily be purchased on arrival.

What do I pack to wear?
Please refer to our Travel Tips section on our website, which is kept up to date, and again this information will be sent to those travellers who have paid their initial deposit by way of our Pre-Departure Kit.

What will the weather be like?
Bhutan, like many countries in the world, is experiencing some climate change. Broadly speaking Summers (June-mid-September) are warm, humid and wetter and Winters (Dec-early March) cooler and dry. Winter nights are cold however the days are clear, sunny and surprisingly mild in the valleys and only averaging 2 snow falls per annum. The wettest month is August. You will find a climate chart on our website and also one is sent in our Pre-Departure Kits.

What gifts can we take for the local children?
The Bhutanese wish to discourage gifts of any kind be given to individual children to avoid promoting a culture of begging. A gift of coloured pens/pencils etc given to a local schoolteacher is appropriate. Even better is a gift such as an oral hygiene kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash) or donate some warm clothing/shoes when you leave. By purchasing a Bhutan travel package from Bhutan Travel Centre a contribution of 1% of our revenue is made to the charity.

We are certified tour operator by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) & member to Association of Bhutan Tour Operators (APTO)