TRAVEL TO BHUTAN FROM EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
Bhutan Travel: Pack your bags, it’s a new year, a new dawn, as the possibilities for travel to Bhutan have been increasingly expanding over a period of time with exciting events and festivals on this ever existing mystical and hidden kingdom that the entire world didn’t even care to think about. This small nation, perched in the Eastern Himalayas, about the size of Switzerland, with about just 750,000 people is a very sparsely populated Himalayan Buddhist nation with its own unique avatar and intriguing history, culture and tradition.
When you travel to Bhutan, there will be those unexpected magical moments that you will discover to unwind and be at ease with yourself. Peace and tranquility will seem omnipresent, abundant and just about everywhere. You can actually smell it.! As Europeans on travel to Bhutan from the first world, it sure can be a different and contrasting experience, but the experience that is waiting for you on this last Shangri-la on earth will the best takeaway back home ever. We at Yak Holidays Int’l can assure you that.
Booking the Bhutan Tour / Trekking:
All Foreign Tourists on travel to Bhutan must travel through an all-inclusive package Tour, for which there is a fixed tariff set by the Government of Bhutan. This Tariff includes the services of a 3 star accommodation, all Meals and Transportation within the country, Guide, Driver, sightseeing and entrance fees for the museums and monuments.
All Tours must be booked through a Local Tour Operator/ Travel Agent such as Yak Holidays Int’l and the entire Land arrangements will be made by the same Agent.
For Clients traveling at peak seasons and Festivals, it is necessary to book the Tour at least 2 ½ months in advance. Festivals held in autumn and spring are peak times for tourists and without early reservation it can be difficult with hassles to confirm flights and hotels.
With the exception for visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors need a visa to enter Bhutan.
Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain visas at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters’ Identity Card (VIC).
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to their travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.
You are required to send the photo-page of your passport copies to your tour operator, who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within the next 72 working hours.
At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter duly sent by your Tour Operator, the visa will then be stamped into your passport. Courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan.
- Please don’t forget to bring the same passport that you sent, otherwise you may have unnecessary hassles at immigration.
Minimum Daily Package
- The minimum daily package covers the following services:
- A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
- All meals.
- A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the entire extent of your stay.
- All internal transport (excluding internal flights).
- Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours.
It also includes:
- All internal taxes and charges.
- A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.
The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:
- USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August & December.
- USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October & November.
These rates are applicable as per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.
- On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.
- The list of hotels and lodges approved to provide accommodations all listed on this website. If you accommodation is not listed on this website then it is not licensed cater for international tourists.
- The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US dollars prior to your arrival in Bhutan.
Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons shall be subject to surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:
- Single Person: US$ 40 per night
- Group of 2 persons: US$ 30 per person per night
- The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.
- The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.
- There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount 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 to 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 shall be provided after the 14th
- Visitors availing discounts under Sections A, B & C shall not be eligible for discount under E.
Detailed information on flights, tour and trekking programmers, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc can be obtained from us.
Tour Cancellation Policy:
Tour Programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
- Within 16 – 30 days of start of programme – 50% of rate
- Within 15 days – 100% of rate
- After arrival in Bhutan- 100% of rate
Delayed Arrival & Departure:
There is no charge for delays in arrival and departure because of weather conditions disrupting flights or road blocks. The tourist must however bear the cost of food, accommodation, transportation, and other services required.
Note: INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 2,000 are not accepted in Bhutan.
(Information courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan)
Getting into Bhutan from Europe
Please remember that Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that fly into Bhutan. Druk Air flies to Kathmandu (Nepal), Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bodhgaya, Guwahati, (India), Dacca (Bangladesh), Bangkok and Singapore.
You can try this link to get a hang of Druk Air : https://www.drukair.com.bt/: https://www.drukair.com.sg/drukair-flights
4 flights per week, 2h 20m duration
New Delhi (DEL) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)
|5:20 am||→||8:10 am||Druk Air 205||S||–||–||–||–||–||–||DEL-PBH|
|6:35 am||→||9:25 am||Druk Air 205||–||M||T||–||–||F||–||DEL-PBH|
7 flights per week, 1h 0m duration
Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)
|9:15 am||→||10:30 am||Druk Air 205||–||–||–||–||T||–||S||KTM-PBH|
|9:15 am||→||10:30 am||Druk Air 401||–||–||–||W||–||F||–||KTM-PBH|
|10:00 am||→||11:15 am||Bhutan Airlines 774||S||M||–||W||–||F||–||KTM-PBH|
11 flights per week, 1h 10m duration
Kolkata (CCU) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)
|8:15 am||→||9:55 am||Bhutan Airlines 701||S||M||T||W||T||F||S||CCU-PBH|
|8:30 am||→||10:10 am||Druk Air 121||–||M||–||W||–||–||–||CCU-PBH|
|9:10 am||→||10:50 am||Druk Air 501||S||–||–||–||T||–||–||CCU-PBH|
For Europeans, the simplest idea would be to fly east from Europe, over the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, across the Middle East and either land in Kathmandu or Delhi and then take the connecting Druk Air flights to Paro International Airport in Bhutan. Paro is 54 km away from Thimphu city; it is the only existing international airport.
Three domestic airports are currently in operation, Bumthang (central), Gelephu (south) and Yonphula (east).
Entry into Bhutan by land can be done at Phuentsholing (Bengal Border), Gelephu (Assam Border) and Samdrup Jongkhar (Assam Border).
Please also remember that Druk Air planes are not massive – Airbus 319.that have a 114 seats configuration with 20 business class seats and 94 economy class seats. So there can be a dead rush in the high tourist season for seats, so please try to make bookings in advance.
Tourist Circuit of Bhutan
The Bhutanese tourist circuit is broadly divided into :
Western Bhutan : the districts of Haa, Paro Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang which is where most the tourists get to experience Bhutan in their limited time.
Central Bhutan : the districts of Trongsa and Bumthang (along with its four magnificent 4 valleys)
Eastern Bhutan : The districts of Mongar, Lhuentshe, Trashi Yangshi, Trashigang, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar.
For a greenhorn and a spirited traveler on travel to Bhutan, as you travel eastwards from western Bhutan to Central Bhutan you begin to understand the real psyche and jist of the real Bhutan. Central Bhutan is considered the spiritual heartland of the nation. Our guide will of course explain all the magnificent history of Bhutan’s yester years.
Travel further eastwards, and the six eastern districts are in a world of its own.
Weather and Climate
Bhutan experiences four distinct seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring but the climate 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.
December – February are the coldest months, especially in the mountains, but the skies can really be clear and reward those who can brave the low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny during the day with clearer views of the incredible Himalayas. There are fewer tourists around, so sometimes you can have all the place for just yourself and this can a sheer advantage for you.
March – April
March and April are popular times to travel to Bhutan as the climate is pleasant and the valleys are abundant in flowers of various species. The blooming of flowers will have started by then. Paro Tshechu (festival) usually is on early April, so book your trip ahead to get the best accommodation and flights.
Temperatures start to shoot northwards in May, bringing humidity as well as clouds all over. However, fewer visitors and lower prices can be a bonus and 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. Although showers can occur at night without killing your daytime experiences, conditions aren’t ideal for trekking. 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, October and November are excellent times for hiking, watching festivals, particularly the popular Thimphu Tshechu (festival) and enjoying the stunning views of mountains, valleys and the flora and fauna. Expect temperatures to be around 20-25°C in the sun during the day, but it will be a lot cooler in the evenings/mornings and at higher altitudes. So don’t forget your woolens.
About 80% of all international visitors want to visit Bhutan 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 180 pax.
Black-necked cranes migrate from the cold Tibetan Highlands to the protected Phobjikha Valley each year and also to Bumdeling in eastern Bhutan. 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 checking your month wise priorities.
Gross National Happiness
The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was first coined by The fourth King Jigme Singay Wangchuck, wherein he emphasized that GNH was a more important factor to gauge to consider balance of life of a nation than GDP. Happiness and self satisfaction are more important than the millions of bank balance.
The four main pillars of Gross National Happiness are:
1, Equitable and equal socio-economic development
- Preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage
- Conservation of environment and
- Good governance which are interwoven, complementary, and consistent.
These pillars personify national and local values, aesthetics, and spiritual tradition.
Food and Cuisine in Bhutan
Bhutanese food includes the indigenous red rice as the main dish with several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and lamb. The typical Bhutanese 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 chillies and veggies.
When you travel to Bhutan you sure might miss out on your staple local food from back home, but you can try Bhutanese red rice for a change. You can also try pork sikaam, which is a Bhutanese version of bacon or spicy beef and yak jerky dishes and an assortment of various dishes unique to Bhutan. Or momo dumplings and various versions of noodles with meat , veggies or eggs. But if you happen to be a jalapeno lover, then you are in the right place at the right time.
(Award-winning chef, Vikas Khanna is the owner of New York’s Michelin star restaurant, Junoon).
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 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. An yet another hot fiery rough chilli paste is Ezzay which the Bhutanese people just love to have.
The typical tourist class hotel serves a western style breakfast and quasi-Bhutanese style lunches and dinners which are adjusted for the western palette. Some hotels and restaurants, however, entirely forego Bhutanese cuisine for a more international fare which is quite a shame as Bhutanese food is quite good!
(Mark Wiens, based in Bangkok is a world known Travel and Food Blogger)
Tobacco/Smoking : It is against the law to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while traveling 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.
The following are the allowances per person when entering Bhutan:
1 liter bottle of spirits or wine (rigidly enforced)
250 mls of perfume
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250grams tobacco ** A 200% duty fee will apply to bring cigarettes and tobacco products into Bhutan. If you do not have your receipt, you will not be able to bring it into Bhutan.
Currency – no restriction
Gifts/Souvenirs – no restriction
Clothes, Travelling Kits and other Paraphernalia : As an European on travel to Bhutan for the first time, you may want to bring a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the variable cold weather and the mountainous terrain. With big altitudinal variations weather can be quite erratic in Bhutan, So pl be prepared to brace the erratic weather as you step outdoors. You might even consider what to wear when hiking, trekking and sightseeing, as well as for dinners, appointments and functions. A pair of sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti diarrhoea pills, altitude & car sickness medicines (induced by the winding roads); insect repellants, 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, pl remove hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises and institutions or in any other place where the national flag is raised.
Another important factor to consider is acclimatization. You might want to stay a day in Thimphu to get the hang of the climate and acclimatize yourself. If you get altitude sickness, always descend to lower ground, asap.
Communications : 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. You can also purchase a local SIM card that would give you connectivity outside the hotels or when you are travelling, if you want to. Bhutanese SIM cards are available at a SIM counter located in the post office (to the right of the terminal exit door) at Paro Int’l Airport. Here you can purchase and get assistance for activating your new SIM cards in your devices. The cost for the SIM is approximately US$2.00 plus call credits.
Health Inoculations : Before embarking on a tour to Bhutan it’s advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.
Things to do in Bhutan
There are several things you can do in Bhutan..
- Take a Cultural Tour, Festival Tour, Special Interest Tour
- Hike as you like, Flexibility and Customization are guaranteed
- Go for Magnificent Himalayan Treks
- Participate the world famous ” Snow Man Trek”
- Rejoice Buddhist Mask Dances and Tshechu Festivals
- See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs.
- Stay in Typical Bhutanese Homestays
- Enjoy local Bhutanese Food
- Get an extra Experience of Rarified Bhutanese Atmosphere at over 2000m asl
- Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese culture.
- Get to see the last Shangri-la on Earth
Places of Interest
- Taktshang Monastery, 900m above Paro valley.
- Chele La Pass, the highest motorable road at 3988m.
- Haa Valley (2670m)
- Dochula Pass, on a clear day you can see almost all the mountain peaks of Northern Bhutan
- Punakha Dzong (1518m), Chhmi Lhakhang, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal
- Tashichhoe Dzong, Thimphu, Motithang Takin Preserve, View Point, Handicrafts Museum, Centenary Farmers’ Market, Changgangkha Monastery, Buddha Point, Chery and Tango Monasteries
- Thimphu Valley (2350m)
- Paro Valley (2250m), Drugyal Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong
- Phobjikha Glacial Valley (2900m)
- Trongsa Dzong (2316m), Kuenga Rapten Palace
- Bumthang Valley (2800m, the famous 4 valleys of Tang (2880m), Chumey (2700m), Chokor (2800m) and Ura (3100m). plus “Membar Tsho” or the burning lake and Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery.
YES, DO COME, VISIT AND TRAVEL TO BHUTAN. WE, AT YAK HOLIDAYS WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO ENTERTAIN YOU AND MAKE YOU EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BHUTAN, THE LAST SHANGRI-LA ON EARTH WITH US.
ONCE A YEAR GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO..
YES, TRAVEL TO BHUTAN WITH YAK HOLIDAYS.. Travel to Bhutan