Sheila Poh and her husband Curtiz Jr. from Singapore witnessing Punakha Festival, 5th March 2020.
Bhutan is also called “Druk Yul” or “The Land of Thunder Dragon”. More than 70% of the land is still under forest cover as mandated by the country’s constitution. It has a well maintained rich bio-diversity with more than 780 species of birds, 48 species of rare Rhododendrons and an estimated 400 species of medicinal plants and orchids. Much of the country’s forests are designated as Wildlife sanctuaries and parks and the wild animals roam freely. This is why Bhutan is designated as one of the top 10 Bio-diversity Hotspots in the world.
Bhutan is also the only carbon negative country in the world which means, it emits less carbon than it produces. Here, Gross National Happiness (GNH) is given a higher platform than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Buddhist religion, age old tradition and culture are well preserved and play a vital role in the daily lives of the Bhutanese people. Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan but, English is also widely spoken throughout the country.
Things to know when you travel to Bhutan from Singapore.
Flights to Bhutan from Singapore:
Singapore to Bhutan Flights are on Thursday & Sunday: Druk Air is the only Bhutanese airline that flies to and from Singapore to Bhutan. There are two flights a week i.e on Thursdays and Sundays. Singapore to Bhutan flight time is at 6:30 Am and arrives Paro, Bhutan at 10:30 Am, Flight No. KB 541.
Bhutan to Singapore Flights are on Wednesdays & Saturdays: Flight No. KB 540 departs from Paro at 7:30 Am and arrives Singapore at 3:35 Pm.
All the above flights will have a lay over at Gauhati, India for 45 Minutes. Flight from Singapore to Bhutan duration is 5 1/2 hours.
Singapore to Bhutan flight cost:
- Economy Class: SIN – PBH – SIN: US $ 1003.00
- Business Class:SIN – PBH – SIN: US $ 1657.00
20 kg for economy class, 30 kg Business class.
Hand carry is 5 kg.
Singapore – Bhutan – Singapore Tour packages.
Considering the availability of flights from Singapore to Paro, Bhutan and return flight to Singapore, we have designed 4 best Singapore – Bhutan – Singapore Bhutan Tour packages.
- Thursday: Singapore – Paro, Bhutan & return on Wednesday – 6 nights/ 7 days Bhutan tour package.
- Sunday: Singapore – Paro, Bhutan & return on Saturday – 6 nights / 7 days Bhutan tour package.
- Thursday: Singapore – Paro, Bhutan & return on Saturday – 9 nights / 10 days Bhutan tour package.
- Sunday: Singapore – Paro, Bhutan & return Wednesday – 10 nights / 11 Days Bhutan tour package.
If you wish to combine your Bhutan trip with a short 2 days trek, then we would like to suggest Bumdra Trek. This is a short trek in Paro with beautiful views of the mountains and valley below. The highest point is 4000 meter. The camping facilities at Bumdra are the most luxurious.
Please click on the link for the itinerary.
Bhutan Festival: We advise you to coincide your Bhutan Tour package from Singapore with one of the Spectacular festivals of Bhutan. Links to the Bhutan Festival dates for 2021 and 2022.
Bhutan Visa formalities:
It is Bhutan government’s regulation that you use a licensed Tour Operator in Bhutan such as Yak Holidays Int’l or one of their international partners to book your travel to Bhutan.
Every visitor requires a passport, valid for at least 6 months. The visa clearance for Bhutan must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. Your Bhutan visa will be arranged by the Local Tour operator such as Yak Holidays Int’l. Bhutan visa cost is US $ 40 for Singaporean. The applications for tourist visas are processed by your tour operator and it takes at least 10 days. You should send us a scanned copy of your passport. Please make sure to carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan visa or you will be denied entry.
The Bhutan visa approval letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (Bhutan) will be sent to you after the receipt of your payment in full. You should produce your visa approval letter when you check-in at the airport (Port of entry). The actual visa will be stamped in your passport upon your arrival at the Paro airport.
Daily Bhutan tourist tariff:
Low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec): US $ 180 per person per night (For a group of 3 or more people).
High season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov): US $225 per person per night (For groups of three or more people).
FIT Surcharge (Extra supplement charge) will be levied for smaller groups:
- For a solo traveler, it is US $ 40 per person per night.
- For 2 people in a group, it is US $ 30 per person per night.
What is included in the daily tariff?
This fee includes accommodation in 3 star, all meals, licensed tour guide, driver, transportation, entry fees for the museums and monuments. While on trek, you are provided camping equipment & ponies to carry supplies, cook and helpers. Also included within the fee is a US $ 65 per night royalty. This fee goes to the government towards free education, free health care and poverty alleviation of the Bhutanese people. The health care is also free for tourists.
The philosophy behind the mandatory minimum fee being that it creates a high value/low impact tourist environment. The government regulates this minimum fee in order to manage tourism in a more sustainable way.
The Views from your flight & Seating arrangements:
The Views of Himalayas.
Just prior to landing at Paro airport, the Drukair plane makes the descent from amongst the clouds; you will get wonderful views of the beautiful, serene Himalayan mountain ranges. This special chance to view these mountains from above would more than justify your high Drukair fares.
This particular flight experience is priceless and it won’t happen to you every other day. For the best views, please check-in early for your Drukair flight and request your seat on the left side of the plane if you are flying in from Singapore or Bangkok. Likewise on your return flight, request for a seat on the right side of the plane. The seats on Drukair flight are allocated on a “first come, first served” basis.
11 Things you need to know when you travel to Bhutan from Singapore:
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (Nu). Its value is pegged at par with the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However, Indian Rupee notes in 500 and 2000 denominations are not acceptable in Bhutan. US Dollars are widely accepted.
Here are some useful tips on currency & credit cards:
- Consider a budget of US $ 30 per person per day to cover tips and drinks.
- 1 US $ is exchanged for 72 Nu as of Jan. 2021.
- US dollar bills issued before 2000 are NOT accepted in Bhutan.
- ATMs generally offer small sums (US $ 100 – 200).
- Traveler’s Cheques (Amex) are accepted, but we do not recommend bringing them as the exchange rate isn’t very good.
- Visa, MasterCard & American Express are now frequently accepted in the larger handicraft shops and in most hotels. When using your credit card please ask the merchant if there is a fee surcharge (Usually 3 to 7%).
2. Food and Cuisine:
There are 2 things you need not worry about when traveling to Bhutan from Singapore. This is particularly true if you are used to Singaporean/Chinese food which is highly likely.
- You will “Never get Hungry”. The Bhutanese dish courses are quite a handful to negotiate.
- Bhutanese food tastes pretty much like Chinese/Southeast Asian food, except for a bit more chili and cheese on top of it. If you happen to be a jalapeno or hot sambal lover, you can consider yourself lucky, because typical Bhutanese cuisine revolves around chili and cheese.
The Bhutanese equivalent of hot Southeast Asian sambal is Ezay, a fiercely fiery one in its own right. But you may not get your usual satays though. Rice (Indian basmati rice or the indigenous Bhutanese red variety), is the main dish, accompanied by several side dishes of pork, beef, yak meat, lamb, chicken, fish and veggies and “Ema Datshi”, the national dish with lots of chilies n cheese. You can also try “Momo”, the Tibetan dumplings and the various noodles on offer. But most hotels, restaurants and eateries do modify the cuisine to make it more palatable for visitors and also do Chinese, Continental and various Indian dishes.
3. Climate and Weather:
Bhutan has four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring and autumn are the best times for travel to Bhutan (end of Feb till May) and (Sep till Nov). Summer is usually warm, avg. temperature ranging from 20-28 degrees Celsius. The winter is generally cold at night but warm during day time. It is usually 12 degree Celsius during daytime and below 0 degree Celsius at night.
Bhutan can be visited all the year round. Even in the busy seasons it is not terribly crowded with tourists and naturally there are even fewer tourists during the Low seasons. The reason why we recommend travel to Bhutan during the summer/monsoon season is for cost reasons. Since it is considered the low season, you can save as much as 10% of your daily tariff. Furthermore, most of the time, you will have the whole place to yourself e.g. restaurants, hotels and sightseeing. During winter, the sky is clear and you can see the great view of the snow covered mountains.
4. Clothes, Traveling Kits and other Paraphernalia:
Singapore is 1 degree north of the equator with an average elevation of 15 m. When you travel to Bhutan where the altitude is almost 2300 m at most times, you have to bring warm clothes and comfortable shoes to negotiate with the variable cold weather and the rugged mountainous terrain.
You might even consider what to wear when hiking, trekking and sightseeing, as well as for dinners. A pair of sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti diarrhea pills, altitude & motion sickness pills (induced by the winding roads); insect repellents, flash light, umbrella, camera and accessories etc. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully especially when visiting monasteries, Dzongs and religious institutions. As a mark of respect, please remove hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises and institutions or in any other place where the national flag is raised.
5. Tobacco & Smoking:
It is against the law to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while travelling in Bhutan. However, it is NOT forbidden to smoke in appropriate areas. You may carry a small supply for personal use. Please note a 200% duty applies to all imported tobacco products and you must show a valid receipt of purchase to avoid confiscation.
The following are the allowances per person when entering Bhutan:
- 1 liter bottle of spirits or wine.
- 250 ml of perfume.
- 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams tobacco. A 200% duty fee will apply to bring cigarettes and tobacco products into Bhutan.
6. Communications & Internet:
The country has a good network of modern communications facilities. Almost every town has an internet café from where you can be connected to the world. You can also purchase a local SIM card from the Post Office. The cost for the SIM is approximately US $ 4.00 plus call credits.
Bhutan operates at 230 volts, 50 cycles AC system, which is generally reliable, although power outages can occur. The standard socket is the Indian style round pin socket. We always suggest bringing a universal plug adaptor.
Bhutan is an ideal place and a frequent haunt of photographers. It offers immense opportunities for photography, especially during outdoor sightseeing trips and festivals. However, you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography. It is not permitted inside the Dzongs, temples and monasteries or religious institutions.
9. Health Inoculations:
Before embarking on Bhutan trip, it’s advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.
10. Safety Precautions:
Bhutan still remains an extremely safe destination with an exceptionally low risk of theft or harassment. Foreign tourists are usually held in high esteem and are respected. However, we recommend you to carry your cash and valuables with you. Please do not leave cash or valuables on display in hotel rooms and unattended. We also advise you NOT to roam in the town late at night. If you wish to visit Pubs and Disco theques, please ask your guide to accompany you.
11. Some useful words in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan:
- Kuzu Zangpo La – Respected Greetings.
- Tashi Delek – May all good things come to you. (Please use this as a farewell).
- Kardin Che La – Thank you.
- Goempa – Meditation Centre.
- Lhakhang – Temple.
- Chapsa – Toilet.
- Chu – Water.
- Bang Chang – Rice Wine.
- Toh – Food/Rice.
Our guide can even arrange a visit to traditional Bhutanese farmhouse for you. You can get to see and experience exactly how the local people lead their daily lives. Sitting cross legged on the floor of a traditional kitchen to have dinner can be quite an experience. It can indeed be an eye opening experience for someone travelling to Bhutan from Singapore. Seeing exhibits at grandiose museums is one thing but experiencing the Bhutanese culture and tradition first hand in the true Bhutanese sense and at real time, can be quite another!
Welcome to Bhutan!!