Bhutan Travel Insurance
Before coming to Bhutan, make sure that you attend the following Bhutan Travel Advisory:
Travel/Medical Insurance? The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical scheme solely for our visitors. Hence you must get detailed information about the insurance scheme from Us as travel agents here in Bhutan. You may also visit the website at www.ricb.com.bt or send us an email.
Currency of Bhutan
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) which is at par with the Indian rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travelers’ cheques or cash, preferably American Express and US dollars instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency are limited to just a few towns including the capital city of Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.
Financial institutions in Bhutan
Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have several banks that cater to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail yourself of services and facilities while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB, and the Tashi Bank. Many of these banks provide you with SMS and Internet banking facilities.
There are also ATM facilities that you can avail and ATMS are located in several places where you can withdraw your money especially in Thimphu and in the border town of Phuntsholing. A traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and Internet facilities are available in only fewer towns and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu.
Modes Of Communication in Bhutan
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on and send messages home and to your loved ones. Also, most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.
Traveling kits for Bhutan
Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with an average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are cold. In winter temperatures are usually below 15 Celsius. So bring with you a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program. You might want to consider ‘what to wear for hikes, trekking, and sightseeing, as well as for dinners, appointments, and functions that we have for you.
Others that you could consider bringing with you would be:
- a pair of sunglasses,
- sunscreen lotion, and a hat;
- antiseptic cream,
- anti-histamine cream,
- anti-diarrhea pills,
- altitude & car sickness medicine;
- insect repellent, flashlight (w/spare batteries) umbrella,
- camera, films, and accessories (including spare camera batteries), etc.
Photography in Bhutan
Bhutan is an ideal place and a frequent haunt for photographers offering immense opportunities for photography, especially during our outdoor sightseeing trips. However, you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions is restricted unless you have 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 Chortens in particular.
Shopping in Bhutan
For people who love shopping and taking home gifts, Bhutan offers a variety of goods that revolve mainly around 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 stamps. One can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and also in major towns. Please remember that buying and selling antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Gratitude to Field Staff & Guides in Bhutan
Tipping is a purely personal matter. We do not have any tradition of giving tips and we leave it up to you as to whether you want to give tips to your guides and drivers depending on the service rendered by them during your journey through the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Customs Duty Act of Bhutan
The following articles are exempt from duty:
- Personal effects and articles for day-to-day use by the visitor
- 1 liter of alcohol (spirits or wine)
- 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
- Instruments apparatus, or appliances for professional use
- 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 are strictly prohibited in Bhutan:
- Arms, ammunition, and explosives
- All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
- Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
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.
Cloths for Bhutan Travel
With great altitudinal variations, the weather is quite erratic in Bhutan. So be prepared to brace for the erratic weather as you step outdoors. We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs, and other religious institutions. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps, etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions, and any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.
Accommodations in Bhutan
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 the warmth and comfort of the hotels and the ambiance 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 comfortable hotels. Away from town, you may find it tempting to camp outside in the forest or make a night halt at the purpose-built cabins sprinkled along some main trekking routes.
Food in Bhutan
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chili. Visitors should stick to the Chinese, Continental, or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. Visitors can also choose from various vegetarian and non-veg food. You can also try out momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring, you may try out the ema datshi dish served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes.
Safety precautions for Bhutan Travel
While safety is not much of a concern, however, it is good to come prepared for any mishap. One needs to avoid walking alone or roaming the streets after 9 pm as you may never know of any mishap that may occur. The capital city has begun to see burglaries, street fights, and an increasing number of drug abusers. You should keep a safe distance and be in your rooms. Or else you may visit the town in groups or with your guides. Also please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, route permits, cameras, wallets, and purses are properly secured. There have been incidents where visitors found their important documents missing.
Host and Interpreters in Bhutan
Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and guides that are well-versed in history and possess good communication skills. They are all certified and undergo training conducted by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Some guides speak fluent Japanese, Thai, and other European languages.
Public Holidays in Bhutan
Public holidays are declared by the government and a list of public holidays that we observe throughout the nation is listed below. However, each Dzongkhag has its list of holidays that are observed especially while conducting annual tshechus (Religious festivals).
Driving Distance in Bhutan
The mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle as there are no domestic airlines or trains so far. However, roads are well maintained and link all parts of the country. All transport vehicles are well maintained and tourist coaches are imported, which makes it very reliable and comfortable.
Language Spoken in Bhutan
- The national language of Bhutan is Dzongkha.
- Sharchokpa-Language is spoken in eastern Bhutan
- Nepali-Language spoken in southern Bhutan
- English is the common language spoken by every teenager.
Religion in Bhutan
Bhutan is the only one to retain the tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism (Drukpa Kagyu) as its official religion. The Buddhist faith has played and continues to play a fundamental role in the cultural, ethical, and sociological development of Bhutan and its’ people. Monks are held in great respect and play an active part in community life. It is a custom for one son from each family to enter the monastic order at about age 10.
The custom is less prevalent today because boys are now free to decide for themselves whether they wish to enter a monastery or not. They also allow Bhutanese people to maintain constant communication with heaven and have unique beliefs and practices.