Travel Information

Best Time to Travel 
Visitor can choose to visit anytime of the year, depending on one’s interest.

The winter season (December to mid-March) brings snow to the higher regions however the southern regions and main valleys where visitors generally travel are considerably warmer. Paro and Thimphu normally experience only light dustings of snow so still well worth a visit with mid-December to mid-January normally offering cool, pleasant days and clear skies although temperatures fall below zero at night. It is also one of the best time for bird lovers especially the black –necked crane at Phobjikha.

Spring Season (March – May)

Is considered the best time to visit Bhutan for touring and trekking when magnificent wildflowers are in bloom and birdlife is abundant. It is also a perfect time for kayaking, rafting and trekking in moderate altitudes. The most popular religious dance festival Paro tshechu takes place in spring.

Summer Season (June - August) you may experience occasional heavy falls of rain during the afternoons however to see Bhutan so green and full of clear streams and waterfalls is worth it. While you may not experience grand Himalayan vistas at this time, you will enjoy the warmer weather and a noticeable reduction in tourist numbers. It is a beautiful time to visit!

Autumn season (late September, October & November) are the most popular times to visit with generally clear, mild weather, excellent scenery, lower rainfall and a range of festivals called Tshechus and Dromchoe. It is also a time to harvest rice which would give a superb picturesque landscape of rice terraces and its changing color

 Clothing

Cotton clothes are sufficient from May until September but warm clothes are very much necessary from November to the end of April. However, visitors are advised to carry clothes consisting of layers (or preferably woolen sweater and jacket) throughout the season, as weather may change at any time. Formal dress is also required for visitors attending festivals or if you are in the company of high government official members. Visitors are advised to dress comfortably as Bhutan is generally a formal place. Shorts, skirts and revealing tight clothing are to be avoided.

The following lists will be useful for all treks.

  • Two pairs of foot wear either trekking or running/ walking shoes
  • Camp shoes or thongs
  • Socks (polypropylene)
  • Down or fiber-filled jacket
  • Jumper or piled jacket
  • Hiking shorts
  • Waterproof jackets, poncho or umbrella
  • Hiking pants
  • T-shirts or blouses
  • Underwear
  • Sun hat

Vehicle

Bhutan Travelers provides comfortable passenger coaster buses for groups of seven visitors or more. You will also be traveling comfortably throughout the country in six seater Japanese hi-ace buses. Smaller groups of one to two passengers will discover the country in comfortable 4WD Toyota Prado and Korean cars like Tucson, Santa Fe and Terracan. 

 Food

A variety of meals are available in most hotels – the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food.

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.

Travel Insurance

Though Bhutan is a peaceful country and crime rate is very low, we still recommend you to purchase adequate travel and medical coverage insurance from your respective country before your departure to Bhutan, including the insurance coverage for the delay or loss of luggage, personal effects and travel documents.

 Guide

You will be accompanied by our English speaking guides throughout the trips. All the guides are well trained and certified by the government of Bhutan. where required French, German and Japanese speaking guides can also be arranged upon the additional fees.

Electricity

Bhutan uses a 240 v system. Electrical supply is generally good, but can be less stable in the smaller towns outside the capital, Thimphu. If you are using computers and other sensitive equipment, be prepared for fluctuations and power surges. Many rural areas are still without electricity although some farms have solar electrification. Bhutan uses the Indian round pin sockets. You can find adaptors in many of the hardware shops in the capital, Thimphu.

Internet

There are abundant internet access facilities in the entire town but once you proceed further to central and eastern Bhutan, you will have limited access to them. The rates are very reasonable. However, international telephone and fax services are excellent and available in all the towns.

Tobacco/ Smoking

As buying and selling of tobacco products is banned in Bhutan, you may want to bring in your own stock. (200 cigarettes for personal consumption with payment of 200% import duty). Also it is prohibited to smoke in public offices and in government premises. It is also sacrilegious to smoke near temples and any other religious sites.

Money

Bhutan’s currency is the ngultrum (NU) and is equivalent to the Indian rupee which is widely accepted in Bhutan. You will not be able to purchase ngultrum outside Bhutan, but you can easily buy ngultrum at the Paro airport, at Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan, and at major hotels in Thimphu and Paro, all of which accept traveler's checks and/or dollars and various other currencies. It is advisable to bring ngultrum with you when visiting smaller towns as it may not be possible to exchange your currency. Credit cards are accepted in very few hotels and shops in the capital and towns. All credit card transactions take extra time and are cumbersome to use. For convenience, it is preferable to have traveler’s cheques and cash. If you have visa, masters and Maestro with a pin code, you can encash money from all the banks in Bhutan.

 Time

Our standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country. Office hours in Bhutan are divided into two timings – the summer timing and the winter timing. The summer timing begins at 9AM Bhutan standard time and goes on till 5Pm in the evening. The summer timing is followed from March till the end of October. The winter timing that lasts for the months of November till the end of February begins at 9AM in the morning till 4 PM in the evening. However, these timings are followed only in Thimphu and few other Districts.  These timing is followed only by the Civil Servants who work under the Royal Civil Service Commission. For those people employed in Corporations and private organizations, the timings are usually from 9AM till 5PM irrespective of the season.

Greeting people, and basic etiquette

Bhutanese people have a distinct manner of greeting people, sometimes with a slight nodding of the head or bowing slightly if we meet older, senior people. Guests are encouraged to observe the local etiquette and not to talk too loudly when meeting Bhutanese. A nod of the head is also appreciated when meeting people, particularly in villagers and towns outside Thimphu. Intimacy in public is generally not appreciated.

Greetings
Here are some useful words and greetings in the national language, Dzongkha.
When addressing elders or anyone older than you, we use the term "Au" which is a respectful form of saying older brother, sister, or uncle…

English

dzongkha

Hello

Kuzu Zangpo la

How are you? 

Chhoe gadebe yue?

Thank you

Kadrinche la 

Good luck

Tashi Delek

Yes  

iee, yue

No

Me

I am hungry

Nga to kechei la

What’s your name?

Choe ming gachi mo?

My name is????

ngi ming…(name) iee

Where is the bank?

Ngul khang gatey mo la?

Where is the post office?

Dhrem khang gatey mo la?

Where is the toilet?

Chabsa gatey mo la 

I want some water.

Nga chu gobey la

Accommodation

Over the years, many quality hotels have come up in Bhutan. Most hotels in Bhutan meet the recent standardization policy, most tourists accommodate in a 5 star or a 3 star hotel. The hotels are well maintained and have all basic amenities such as geysers and shower rooms and are properly maintained. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels and the ambience and the hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible. The 5 star hotels are mostly located in Thimphu, and in Paro,  towns like Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang also have a variety of hotels that are comfortable. Away from town, you may find it tempting to camp outside in the forest or make a night halt at the purpose-built in cabins sprinkled along some main trekking routes.

 Custom

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 on your arrival before checking out. The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty.
On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.

Import/export restrictions 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

Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. 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.

Shopping

For people who love shopping and taking home gifts, Bhutan offers a variety of goods that revolve mainly round textiles. You may shop for items like hand-woven textiles that are either in 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. You can also shop for Thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamp. One can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and also in major towns. The export of antiques is prohibited by law. Tourists should buy only artifacts that have been certified for sale and for export. The government provides an official seal to certify that artifacts can be taken out of Bhutan.

Photography

Bhutan is perhaps one of the most photogenic places in the world. The landscape, nature, architecture and the people make it a photographer’s paradise. People are generally happy to pose for pictures, but do ask before you do so if you are focusing on one person. Photography is not permitted inside Dzongs, monasteries and temples unless you have a special permission from the Department of Culture. One can however, capture images of the landscapes, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, the rural folk life, the flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture and the Dzongs and stupas.