If you are Spanish and intend to travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain, the simple basic things you may need to know about Bhutan/Buthan is: Bhutan/Buthan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom in the eastern Himalayas, a bit bigger in size than the Spanish province of Catalonia (Catalonia – 32,108 sq km; Bhutan/Buthan – 38,394 sq km), landlocked and sandwiched between the two Asian giants – China on the north and India in the west, east and south. Very thinly populated, it has a population all of 750,000 with population density of just 19.3/sq km. Catalonia alone has a population of 7.5 million, so you can imagine and sort out the difference for yourself. Thimphu is the capital city with about 100,000 plus citizens and the nerve centre of the country. Other major cities are Paro, which houses the international airport, Phuentsholing, Punakha, Haa, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang. The national language is Dzongkha, though English is very widely spoken throughout the country. English is actually the medium of instruction in all schools. Bhutan/Buthan is one of the last remaining ecological hotspots in the entire world, where more than 70 percent of the land is under green vegetation with about 600 species of various plants and animals. So the abundance of unique Himalayan flora and fauna is undeterred, compact and preserved along with its history, tradition and Buddhist culture. Bhutan/Buthan is also the only country which believes in the concept of Gross National Happiness, which was coined by the fourth king of Bhutan/Buthan. This mystical country hidden up in the Himalayas has also earned itself the epitaph as the “Last Shangri – La on Earth”. There is actually a lot to experience and discover in this unique small little nation. So travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain and see and experience it for yourself!!
We, at Yak Holidays International, travel to Bhutan/Buthan, are more than happy to help you.
Yak Holidays International recently hosted Spanish Actress Pilar Macarena Cano in Bhutan/Buthan for 2 weeks (28 Oct – 10 Nov 2017).
Spanish Actress, Pilar Macarena Cano, at the foot of Mount Jhomolhari in Bhutan/Buthan near the Tibetan border.
Hi Mr. Sitar,
I did have a wonderful time in your beautiful country with Yak Holidays International. The Yak team was fantastic! I did feel really comfortable with them. They were very professional and really cared for my needs. Keep doing what you do, the way you do.
See you in the future!
Spanish Actress, Pilar Macarena Cano on Travel to Bhutan/Buthan @ Thimphu
How to Organize a Bhutan/Buthan Tour from Spain
1. Visa Formalities and Procedures
It’s a government regulation that all foreign visitors on travel to Bhutan/Buthan must use a licensed Bhutanese/Buthanese Tour Operator (Yak Holidays Int’l) or one of their international partners to book your travel to Bhutan/Buthan.
All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, and a visa clearance for Bhutan/Buthan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan/Buthan. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator here in Bhutan/Buthan and take at least a week to process. Air tickets to Bhutan/Buthan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Your Bhutan/Buthan visa will be arranged by Yak Holidays Int’l (www.traveltoBhutan/Buthan.travel), your tour operator, and all we usually need is a quality scan or photo of your passport photo page. Please be sure you carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan/Buthan visa or you will be denied entry. Bhutan/Buthan visas generally cost $40 USD but are sometimes built into your travel package. 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 International Airport. Druk Air and Bhutan/Buthan Airlines are the two airlines that fly into Bhutan/Buthan, please make sure you check with the Druk Air office at Madrid for availability of flights to Bhutan/Buthan. Or more importantly call and consult with Yak Holidays International, your Bhutanese/Buthanese Tour Operator, and we will do the needful. When you check in at the airport starting in Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata or Kathmandu, you must show your approved visa authority letter for Bhutan/Buthan (that has been sent to you via email by the tour operator). All visitors are now required to provide fingerprints and a facial image – biometrics, which is a smooth process and you’ll get through quickly.
Druk Air provides it is standard baggage allowance of 20 kg for economy class travelers and 30 kg in business class. The allowance for carry-on bags is 5 kg. Just prior to landing at Paro International Airport @2280m, as the Druk Air plane makes the descend from amongst the clouds, you will get wonderful views of the beautiful, serene Himalayan mountain ranges. This special occasion to view these mountains from above them would more than justify your Druk Air fares. This particular experience is “priceless” and won’t just happen every other day. For the best views and pictures/videos of the landscape, please check-in early for your Druk Air flight and reserve your seats on the left side of the plane if you are flying in from Bangkok. Likewise on your return flight, please request for a seat on the right side of the plane to get the best views. The seats on Druk Air are allocated on a “first come first served” basis. Yes, we promise, fulfillment of sublime satisfaction will be at hand when you travel to Bhutan/Buthan. It is as simple as that.
2. What is the Daily Tourist Tariff when you Travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain?
During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs USD $200 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.
On the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs USD $225 per person per night for groups of three or more.
For group of two people, it costs USD $255 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.
For a single traveler, its USD $265 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.
So on the face of it, Bhutan/Buthan may seem like an expensive destination than nearby Nepal, India or elsewhere, but on a broader perspective it’s actually not such a bad deal, considering all that is included and packaged within that fee. This fee actually includes a 3 star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese/Buthanese tour guide and a driver for transportation, entrance fees to sites, camping equipment & haulage for trekking tours during the entire course of your stay within the country. Also included within the fee is a $65 per day royalty that goes to the government towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. Healthcare is free even for tourists. The philosophy behind the mandatory minimum fee being that it creates a “high-value/low-impact” tourist environment, as envisioned by the government of Bhutan/Buthan. The government executes and regulates this minimum fee in order to manage tourism in a more sustainable way, to grow and blend sensibly with the world, without taxing the local environment and more importantly, highlight and conserve the unique “culture and tradition” of the country.
3. Getting into Bhutan/Buthan from Spain.
The easiest option is to travel eastwards from wherever you are in Spain. You have to travel east, prioritize to getting to New Delhi, India, or to Kathmandu, Nepal and then get the connecting Druk Air flight to Paro, Bhutan/Buthan. Once you land in Paro International Airport in Bhutan/Buthan, Yak Holidays Int’l will be your guiding star.
4. Climate and Weather
The climate in Bhutan/Buthan varies with elevation, from a subtropical one in the south to temperate in the highlands and an alpine climate with round the year snowfall in the north. Bhutan/Buthan experiences four distinct seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Western Bhutan/Buthan has the heavier monsoon rains. Southern Bhutan/Buthan close to the Indian border has hot humid summers and cool winters, while the alpine north is cold throughout the year. Central and Eastern Bhutan/Buthan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cold winters. Depending on the climatic conditions in the Indian subcontinent, monsoon rains usually start from June until the end of August and winter usually setting from November to February can be cold with frequent bouts of snowfall in the north.
December – February: Are the coldest months, especially in the mountains, but the clear skies can really reward those who can brave low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny during the day with clear views of the incredible Himalayas. There are fewer tourists around, so sometimes you can have the entire place for just yourself!
March – April: March and April are popular times to travel to Bhutan/Buthan as the climate is pleasant and the valleys are abundant in flowers of different varieties. The blooming will have started by then. Paro Tshechu usually is on early April, so book your trip ahead to get the best accommodation and flights.
May: Thermometers start to shoot up in May, bringing humidity as well as cloud all. However, fewer visitors and lower prices can make it a perfectly viable time to visit. The rhododendrons would also still be in bloom which can be ideal for photographers and nature lovers.
June – August: June to August and sometimes till September is monsoon time in Bhutan/Buthan. Although showers can occur at night without killing your daytime experiences, conditions are ideal for day hikes. Sightseeing can still be done, but have a raincoat handy! You can go to a spa or take a hot stone water bath. But morning views are at their very best after night-time downpours, the smell of the air and the earth, you will have it all.
September: September, October and November are excellent times for hiking, watching festivals, particularly the popular Thimphu Tshechu and enjoying the stunning views of mountains, valleys and the flora and fauna. Expect it to be around 20-25°C in the sun during the day, but it is going be a lot cooler in the evenings/mornings and at higher altitudes. So don’t forget your woolens.
October: About 80% of all international visitors want to visit Bhutan/Buthan in October, theres a dead rush, a rat race, so plan well in advance to ensure you get your preferred accommodation and Druk Air flights. Pl also note that Druk Air planes have a capacity of 114 pax.
Black-necked cranes migrate from the cold Tibetan Highlands to the protected Phobjikha Valley each year and also to Bumdeling in eastern Bhutan/Buthan. They remain in the region from late October to early February. In Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha, a special Black Necked Festival is held every November to celebrate the arrival of the birds. Pl note and plan in advance if you want to be part of it.
So travel to Bhutan/Buthan checking your month wise priorities.
5. Food and Cuisine in Bhutan/Buthan
Bhutanese/Buthanese food includes rice as the main dish with several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and lamb. The typical Bhutanese/Buthanese will eat rice (the indigenous red variety or Indian white rice), which is the main dish, chillies and vegetables three times a day. Along with that, they often serve different side dishes of beef, pork, chicken and yak meat, of course with Bhutanese/Buthanese chillies and veggies.
When you travel to Bhutan/Buthan you sure might miss out the seafood, paella and the extra virgin olive oil of your native Spain, but you can try Bhutanese/Buthanese red rice for a change rather than the “arros negre”, the black rice from the Catalonian region. You can also try pork sikaam, which is a Bhutanese/Buthanese version of bacon or spicy beef jerk dishes. The“Momo”dumplings and various versions of noodles with meat or with veggies. If you happen to be a jalapeno lover, then you are in the right place on the right time.
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese/Buthanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of almost every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese/Buthanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy enough!
Ema Datshi, which is chillies and cottage cheese, is the national dish and prepared differently wherever you go. It’s spicy and is typically eaten every single day. Veterans say you haven’t really visited Bhutan/Buthan unless you’ve tried Ema Datshi. Have your guide ask for it at your hotel or restaurant as it may not be served with your meals because it may be too spicy for many visitors. And yet another hot fiery rough chili paste is “Ezzay” which the Bhutanese/Buthanese people just love to have.
Salted Butter tea or Suja served on all social occasions, as is prevalent among all Buddhist communities of the Himalayas (from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh). In traditional homes in the Bhutanese/Buthanese hinterland, the serving host will sit beside you with a jar full of the butter tea and will almost instantly fill your cup up to the brim after you have had a sip! That’s part of the Bhutanese/Buthanese tradition, of course.
Chang is a local beer and “Aara” is a clear alcohol distilled from various grains.
The diet in the mountains also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat, and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, mushroom, lentils, and dried vegetables, spiced with chilli peppers and cheese, are a favourite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows are also popular and indeed almost all milk is turned into butter and cheese. Popular spices include curry, cardamom, ginger, thingay or Sichuan pepper, garlic, turmeric and caraway.
The typical tourist class hotel serves a western style breakfast and quasi-Bhutan/Buthanese style lunches and dinners which are adjusted for the western palette. Some hotels and restaurants, however, forego Bhutanese/Buthanese cuisine entirely for a more international fare which is quite a shame as Bhutanese/Buthanese food is quite good!
While you are eating it will be rare that your guide or driver will eat with you. If you ask them to join you (sometimes you have to press them), then they reluctantly join. Otherwise they’ll eat in a back room with the other drivers and guides at the hotel or restaurant.
6. Things to do in Bhutan/Buthan
You can do several things in Bhutan/Buthan:
- Take a Cultural Tour
- Hike as you like
- Go for Magnificent Himalayan Treks
- Participate the world famous ” Snow Man Trek”
- Rejoice Buddhist Mask Dances
- See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs.
- Stay in Typical Bhutanese/Buthanese Homestays
- Enjoy local Bhutanese/Buthanese Food
- Get an extra Experience of Rarified Bhutanese/Buthanese Atmosphere at over 2000m asl
- Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese/Buthanese culture.
- Get to see the last Shangri-la on Earth
7. Places of Interest
- Taktshang Monastery, 900 m above Paro valley.
- Chele La Pass, highest motorable road at 3980m.
- Dochula Pass
- Punakha Dzong, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal chorten, Chimi Lhakhang
- Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu
- Thimphu Valley
- Paro Valley, Drugyal Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong
- Phobjikha Glacial Valley
- Trongsa Dzong
- Bumthang Valley, the famous 4 valleys of Tang, Chumey, Chokor and Ura. plus “membar tsho” or the burning lake.
ADIOS AMIGOS, YOU ALL ARE WELCOME TO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN. PLEASE COME TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN AND WE AT YAK HOLIDAYS ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO ENTERTAIN YOU.
SO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN… ONCE A YEAR GO SOMEPLACE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN TO..
THE CHOICE IS FOR YOU TO MAKE…