Bhutan is a small landlocked country with constitutional monarchy having its capital in Thimpu and population of around 800,000 people. Bhutan is also called ” Land of Thunder Dragons” because of the frequent fierce storms originating in the eastern Himalayas. It has stunning natural beauty, well preserved cultural heritage and committed to preserve it, which is why the country adopts a policy of “High Value Less Impact Tourism”. Some of its features make it unique such as Gross National Happiness Index and a Carbon Negative Country. Bhutan’s official language is Dzongkha but English is widely spoken.
How to obtain Tourist Visa to Bhutan?
Nationalities of India, Bangladesh and Maldives can obtain a visa at the entry point, on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC). All other foreign nationals must obtain a visa before arriving in Bhutan.
To obtain a visa for Bhutan, foreign nationals must book their trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, or through their international partners, who will handle the visa application process on their behalf. The tour operator will submit the visa application to the Bhutanese government, and the visa will be issued once the application is approved.
Visa application process can take several weeks, so it’s recommended that travelers start the process well in advance of their planned trip to Bhutan. 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 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, and the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
How to get into Bhutan?
Bhutan, being landlocked between two Asian giants of China and India, it is accessible either through land or by air only. Paro International Airport is the only Intrnational Airport in Bhutan and upto now only 5 countries are connected with direct flights of Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines to Paro International Aiport: NEPAL, INDIA, THAILAND and SINGAPORE. Flights of no any International Airlines fly to Bhutan.
To enter Bhutan by road, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land border areas open to tourists. The town of Phuentsholing in south-west Bhutan is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, it takes about 6 hours to reach Thimphu. Most tourists wishing to travel to Thimphu via Nepal by land choose the Phuentsholing route.
What is the Best Time to Travel to Bhutan?
Bhutan has a varied climate due to its varied topography. The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, while the central and northern regions are more temperate. The best time to visit Bhutan depends on the type of weather you prefer and the activities you plan to do.
The peak tourist season in Bhutan is from March to May and September to November when the weather is pleasant, and the skies are clear. During these months, the temperatures are mild, and the landscapes are lush and green. It’s an ideal time for trekking and sightseeing.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds, you can consider visiting Bhutan during the offseason from December to February or June to August. During these months, the weather can be colder, especially in the higher elevations, and the skies may be cloudy. However, the landscapes are still beautiful, and the tourist sites are less crowded.
Do I need Insurance?
A travel insurance policy that covers medical expenses, evacuation, theft and loss is recommended. Make sure the insurance also covers all the adventure activities during your stay in Bhutan. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payment directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
The unit of Bhutanese currency is ngultrum (Nu), and is equivalent to one Indian rupee.There are only few ATMs availble in cities such as Paro and Thimpu. Credit card payments are accepted only in few places and not all cards are accepted except Visa, Master and American Express card. Daily expenses of accommodation, meals, transportation and local guide is already paid when doing Bhutan visa. For rest of the expenses, travelers are suggested to carry enough USD cash which can be exchanged to Bhutanese currency at banks and authorized currency exchange counters in Paro and Thimpu.
Bhutan’s electricity supply is 220-240 volts, with a frequency of 50 Hz. Most of the electrical outlets in Bhutan are three-pronged, using British-style plugs. Some hotels and lodges may also have outlets that accept two-pin plugs.
Tourists visiting Bhutan should bring along a universal adapter and converter if their electronic devices do not match the Bhutanese electrical outlet and carrying a power bank or portable charger for phones and other electronic devices is recommended.