Helpful Tips to have before Planning a Trip to Bhutan

1. Debunking the myth that surrounds your visit to Bhutan

Debunking the myth that surrounds your visit to Bhutan

Its highly likely that the first time “would be visitor” somehow has this notion that its very expensive to visit Bhutan. “Bhutan?? way too expensive!!” or ” What’s so special about it anyway?” without necessarily understanding the intricacies surrounding the hearsay myth of this last Shangri-la on earth.
Yes, on the face of it, Bhutan may seem like an expensive destination than nearby Nepal, India or elsewhere, but it’s actually not a bad deal, if you consider all that is included and packaged within that fee. This fee actually includes a 3 star accommodation, a private guide and a driver for transportation, entrance fees to sites and all meals and Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours, during the entire course of your stay within the country. Also included in the fee is a $65 per day royalty that goes to the government towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation.
So when you are actually touring Bhutan, you will pleasantly realize that you really don’t need to dig your purse often as most of the things involving the visit has already been organized and paid through by your Tour Operator! And that you are actually a hassle free tourist on tour with your guide and driver as guardian deities 24×7.

2. Erasing the understanding that only limited tourists are allowed into Bhutan.

Erasing the understanding that only limited tourists are allowed into Bhutan

There are no limitations on the number of tourists visiting Bhutan. Till 1999, the limit was 5000 visitors but that has long ceased to exist. According to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor Annual Report (2016), a total of 209,570 foreign individuals visited Bhutan in 2016 which is an increase of 35% over 2015.

3. Ask yourself about “The Best Times to Visit and Travel to Bhutan”

Ask yourself about The Best Times to Visit and Travel to Bhutan

The Tourism Council of Bhutan categorizes the tourist season into the “high season”” and the “low season” depending upon several factors like climate etc. and there are different daily tariffs for both the seasons. The high season months are March – May and Sept – Nov. March, April, Oct and Nov are the busiest months and most visitors try to come during these months. These are also the best months for trekking and festivals.
If you plan to visit Bhutan during these months, please book your tour packages at least three months prior to your visit. The two airlines that fly to Bhutan are Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines, so at most times the flights are packed in advance. Please check the flight schedules well in advance from their websites or your Tour Operator.
But if you want to travel in peace and avoid over crowdedness, you can try the low season months as well.

4. Getting into Bhutan

Getting into Bhutan

If you are from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia or thereabouts, take the thrice a week Druk Air flights from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Paro. Singapore – Kolkata – Paro with a brief stopover at Kolkata. Bangkok has direct Druk Air flights to Paro.
Likewise, if you are coming from USA or Europe, travel east through Europe, then West Asia and then to Delhi or Kathmandu and get the connecting Druk Air flights to Paro.
Note : Paro, about an hour drive from Thimphu, is the only international airport.

5. Daily Tariff

Daily Tariff

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs $200 USD per person, per day and on the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs $250 USD per person per day, for groups of three or more. For groups of two, it costs $280 USD per day, per person and for a solo traveler, its $290 USD per day, per person.
Note that it costs $30 more if you are in a group of two and $40 more if you are solo. So you can indeed save costs if you are in a group of three or more. So why not go for this option?

6. Factor in the difference in the Daily Tariff in the low season.

Factor in the difference in the Daily Tariff in the low season

Bhutan can be visited all the year round! Even in the busy seasons it is not terribly crowded, so there are even fewer tourists in the off-peak seasons. The reason we recommend travel to Bhutan during the summer/monsoon season is for cost reasons, Since it’s the low season, you can save as much as 20% of your daily tariff!
Furthermore, most of the time, you will have the whole place to yourself e.g. restaurants, hotels, sight seeings, so no waitings at long queues. For example, during your visits to most places, you may be the only guests in the entire hotel and can land yourself the best rooms with the best views they have on offer. So you can definitely give it a thought.

7. Tour Operator

Tour Operator

It is mandatory by law that you can only book your tour package to Bhutan through a registered Bhutanese Tour Operator. All visa processes will be managed by Tour Operator.

8. Rainy Season (Monsoon)

Rainy Season

Rainfall or Monsoon generally starts from June till August but it’s not like the continuous daily rains in India. Yes once in a while they are heavy but not always.

9. Places/Things of Interest

Places Things of Interest

It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan. Following is a list of options that you may consider.
Magnificent Dzongs (Fortresses);
Buddhist Monasteries and Monuments;
Stunning, pristine Valleys, Mountains & Passes;
Ancient Bhutanese Art and Artifacts;
Unique Bhutanese Architecture;
Colorful Mask Dances; the Festivals of different valleys, Paro and Thimphu Tshechus;
Various Mountain Treks on offer (Druk Path Trek was the most popular in 2016);
The Bhutanese culture and tradition that is still intact and cocooned even today.
Preservation efforts by the government have ensured that Bhutan is still a living museum. Bhutan’s landscape and culture is so diverse across different regions that it offers distinctive charms and environs for exploration and experience to the enthusiastic traveler.

10. Other Miscellaneous Tips

Food & Cuisine

National Language : Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken. Your guide will speak fluent English.

Currency & Money : Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (Nu). Its value is pegged to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian Rupee notes in 500 and 2000 denominations are not acceptable. US Dollars are widely accepted.

It is best to obtain some Bhutanese Nu from the Paro airport ATM (right of exit door).
ATMs are available for use by visitors in western & central Bhutan.

Food & Cuisine : Rice (white Indian rice or the indigenous red variety), is the main dish, accompanied by several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and veggies and “Emma Datshi”, the national dish with lots of chilies n cheese. You can also try “Momos”, the Tibetan dumplings. But most hotels, restaurants and eateries do modify the cuisine to make it more palatable for visitors and also do a variety of Chinese, Continental and Indian dishes.

Climate & Weather : Bhutan has four distinct seasons : Spring, Monsoon/Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit and travel to Bhutan (end of Feb till May) and (Sep till Nov). Summers are usually warm (avg. temperature ranging from 20-25 degrees Celsius), while winters are cold (usually below 15 degrees).

Tobacco & Smoking : It is against the law to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while travelling in Bhutan. It is, however, 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.

Communications & Internet : The country has a good network of communications facilities. Almost every town has an internet café and IDD calling booths from where you can log and connected with the world. Bhutanese SIM cards are available at a SIM counter located in the post office (to the right of the terminal exit door) at Paro Airport.

Electricity : 230 volts, 50 cycles AC system. The standard socket is the Indian-style round pin socket. We always suggest bringing a universal plug adaptor.

Photography : Bhutan is an ideal place and frequent haunt of photographers and offers immense opportunities for photography, especially during outdoor sightseeing trips. However on the other hand you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as it’s not allowed inside Dzongs, temples and monasteries or religious institutions.

Health Innoculations : Before embarking on a tour to Bhutan it’s advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

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. However we recommend you to keep all cash & valuables either on your person or in your vehicle where they will be safely managed by your driver whom you can trust implicitly. Please do not leave cash or valuables on display in hotel rooms. Your guide and driver can be your best safety advisors.

Some useful words in Dzongkha, the national language
Kuzuzangpo La – Respected Greetings.
Tashi Delek – May all good things come to you. (use this as a farewell)
Kardenche La – Thank you.
Goempa – Meditation Centre.
Lhakhang – Temple.
Chhapsa – Toilet.
Chhu – Water.
Bang Chhang – Rice Wine.
Toh – Rice.

Travel to Bhutan from Australia

A brief introduction of Bhutan

A brief introduction of Bhutan

If you are Australian and intend to travel to Bhutan from Australia, Bhutan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom, about the size of Taiwan, landlocked and sandwiched between China on the north and India in the west, south and east in the Himalayas. The standard time is 6hrs ahead of GMT. Bhutan is called “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” and also known as the last Shangri-la on earth! The landscape ranges from sub tropical foothills (150m) the south to alpine forests and snowcapped mountains (7000m) in the north. It’s about 300km from west to east and 150km from north to south. With a population of just about 700000, about 70% of the land is still under forest cover, so it naturally has a well maintained and rich biodiversity with more than 700 species of birds, 50 species of rhododendron and an estimated 300 species of medicinal plants and orchids. The national language is Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken throughout the country. Your guide will speak fluent English as most young Bhutanese do.

Bhutan – Lonely Planet

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan

Bhutan – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan

Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | History | Culture | Government …

www.kingdomofbhutan.com/

Visa Formalities / Bhutan Visa

Visa Formalities Bhutan Visa

All visitors require a passport, and an visa authority letter/visa clearance for Bhutan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. All visas are issued at Thimphu (a Bhutan visa costs $40 USD) and are only issued to tourists booked with a local tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator and takes at least 7 days to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Please remember, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that fly into Bhutan. A visa authority letter is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and the actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro Int’l Airport. Please carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan Visa or you will be denied entry. When you arrive at Paro Int’l airport, all visitors are required to provide fingerprints and a facial image along with 2 passport photos.

Visa policy of Bhutan – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Bhutan

Visa | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trip Planner

Visas and customs in Bhutan – Lonely Planet

www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/visas

Drukair

https://drukair.com.bt/images/Include/OurOffices.htm

Sydney Australia Bhutan Flights | Bhutan Travel | Druk Asia

https://www.drukasia.com › Bhutan Tour

Flighs to Bhutan and Roads in – Bhutan and Beyond

https://www.bhutan.com.au/getting-to-bhutan/

Daily Tariff

Daily Tariff

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs $200 USD per person, per day and on the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs $250 USD per person per day, for groups of three or more. For groups of two, it costs $280 USD per day, per person and for a solo traveler, its $290 USD per day, per person.

The minimum price includes :

All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty of $65 USD)
3 star Accommodation
All meals
All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
All internal Transport
Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours
There shall be no charge for children up to the age of 5 years. However, for those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/guardians 50% discount on daily rates and 100% on royalty.
Full time students below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11-15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
50% discount on royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on royalty after the 14th night.
Visitors availing discounts under sections 1,2and 3 shall not be eligible under section 4.
Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements! – Bhutan …

https://www.tripadvisor.com › Asia › Bhutan › Bhutan Travel Forum

Bhutan Visa & Visiting Fees – Is It Worth it? – Jessie on a Journey

jessieonajourney.com/bhutan-visa-travel-fees/

Addresses and website URLs of Embassy of Bhutan in Australia for Possible and Helpful tips to get Bhutan visa from Australia

Embassy of Bhutan in Australia – Bhutan visa – VisaHQ.com.au

https://bhutan.visahq.in/embassy/australia/

Embassy Of Bhutan In Canberra | EmbassyCanberra.com

www.embassycanberra.com/bhutanese/

Travelling Tips to Bhutan from Australia

Travelling Tips to Bhutan from Australia

The most convenient way to travel to Bhutan from Australia is to first fly to Singapore, then to Bangkok, Kolkata and finally to Paro Int’l Airport in Bhutan. Paro is about an hour’s drive from Thimphu, the capital.

Detailed info on flights, tour and trekking programmes, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc. can be obtained from the tour operator.

Travel Requirements | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trip Planner

Bhutan travel guide :: Lonely Planet India

www.lonelyplanet.in/travel-guides/201/bhutan-travel-guide

Money and costs in Bhutan – Lonely Planet

www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/money-costs

Places of tourists’ interest in Bhutan

Places of tourists' interest in Bhutan

It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan from Australia. The magnificent Dzongs (Fortresses), Buddhist Monasteries and monuments; the stunning, pristine valleys and mountains; the ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts; the unique architecture; colorful Mask Dances; the Tshechu festivals of different valleys ; the various mountain treks on offer; and the Bhutanese culture and tradition that is still intact and cocooned even today. Preservation efforts by the government have ensured that Bhutan is a living museum even today. Bhutan’s landscape and culture is so diverse across different regions that it offers distinctive charms and environs for exploration and experience to the spirited traveler.

Dzong architecture – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzong_architecture

Tshechu – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tshechu

Festivals | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Discover › Activities

Bhutan’s magical mask dances – BBC News

www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24642016

Western Bhutan

Western Bhutan

Considered the gateway to Bhutan and the circuit comprises Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Haa districts. Paro is home to the spectacular Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) at 900m above the Paro valley and the famous Drugyel Dzong or the “Fortress of Victorious Drukpa People”. Paro valley is also the rice bowl of Bhutan. Thimphu, the capital city, is a vibrant cultural centre of all aspects that emanates Bhutan as a nation. Punakha, the ancient capital till 1950, enchants tourists with the magnificent Punakha Dzong at the confluence of the Pho-Chu and Mo-Chu (Male and Female rivers). And the Gangte Monastery overlooking the bowl shaped alpine wetland valley of Phobjika (3000m), where the black necked cranes migrate every winter from the Tibetan highlands at Wangdue district. The west, especially, Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, is also the starting point for many of Bhutan’s famous treks which traverse to the north of the country. Laya, Gasa, Lingtshi and the northern reaches of Bumthang and Trongsa complete this circuit.

Paro Tourism (2017): Best of Paro, Bhutan – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Tourism-g321541-Paro_Paro_District-Vacations.html

5 Best Places to Visit in Punakha (2017) – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in › Asia › Bhutan › Punakha District › Punakha

Thimphu 2017: Best of Thimphu, Bhutan Tourism – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.com › Asia › Bhutan › Thimphu District

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan is the spiritual heartland of the nation and comprises the four valleys of Bumthang and the district of Trongsa. The temples and festivals of Bumthang and the historical grandeur and significance of Trongsa, showcase a rich and lively cultural heritage. With the initial experience of having travelled Western Bhutan under the belt, a sense of real insight begins to set in on the traveler’s imagination and analysis of Bhutan – as a mystical, historical place and a very interesting country for you to discover.

Bumthang Tourism (2017): Best of Bumthang, Bhutan – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in › Asia › Bhutan › Bumthang District

Trongsa – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trongsa

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan, a congregation of six eastern districts, is a world away from the world, be it the distinct and characteristic way of life of Merak Sakteng or the fabric, art & craft and woodwork in Trashigang and TrashiYangtse. This region of Bhutan has ethnically the most diverse people resulting therefore, in a large mix of local customs and traditions. The Drametse Monastery at Mongar where the famous “Drametse Ngacham” Mask Dance is performed is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Drametse Ngacham – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drametse_Ngacham

Merak Sakteng Trek | Tour Operator Directory

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trek

Our destination specialists at Yak Holidays Int’l will offer the best recommendations as per your travel preferences, and you can in fact choose the exact Bhutan Tour Packages for Australia from our website www.traveltobhutan.travel/. Many travelers incorporate Paro (2280m), Thimphu (2320m), Punakha (1310m), Wangduephodrang (1320m), Gangte (2800m), Trongsa and Bumthang (2800m), though some travel solely for the pleasure of trekking in the High Himalayas.

The choice is for you to make..

Welcome to Bhutan!!