A brief description of Bhutan
If you are American (US Citizens) or Canadian citizens and intend to travel to Bhutan from USA (US) or Canada, the standard time is 6 hrs ahead of GMT. For those traveling from East coast, you have to fly to New Delhi, India or Kathmandu and those of you who live in west cost and wish to travel to Bhutan, you have to fly to Bangkok or Singapore to catch the onward fight to Paro Bhutan.
Bhutan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom, about the size of Switzerland, landlocked and sandwiched between the two Asian giants – China on the north and India in the west, east and south in the eastern Himalayas. The standard time is 6hrs ahead of GMT. Bhutan is also called “Druk-Yul” or “The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan’s landscape ranges from sub tropical foothills (150m)in the south to alpine forests and snowy 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.
Places of tourists’ interest and things to do in Bhutan
It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan from USA. The magnificent Dzongs, 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. Thanks to preservation efforts by the government, Bhutan is 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 spirited traveler.
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 in winter down 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.
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 onto the traveler’s imagination and analysis of Bhutan, as a mystical, historical place and a very interesting country for you to discover.
Eastern Bhutan, a congregation of six eastern districts, is a world away from the world, be it the distinct way of life of Merak Sakteng or the fabric, art & craft and woodwork in Trashigang and TrashiYangtse. The Drametse Monastery at Mongar where the famous “Drametse Ngacham” Mask Dance is performed is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Our destination specialists will make the best recommendations as per your travel preferences, and you can in fact choose the exact Bhutan tour packages for USA 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 Himalayas.
Detailed Visa Policy of Bhutan
All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, 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 is the only airline that flies 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 be sure you 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 now required to provide fingerprints and a facial image along with 2 passport photos.
Tour programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
- within 30 days of start of programme : no charges
- within 21 days : 10% of rate
- within 14 days : 15% of rate
- within 7 days : 30% of rate
- less than 7 days or without notice : 50% of rate
- after arrival to Bhutan : 100%
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.
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 single 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, 2 and 3 shall not be eligible under section 4.
Detailed info on flights, tour and trekking programmes, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc. can be obtained from the tour operator.
Addresses and website URLs of Embassy of Bhutan in USA for Possible and Helpful tips to get Bhutan visa from USA
Embassy of Bhutan in United States of America – Bhutan Visa – VisaHQ
Bhutan Washington DC Embassy Official Visa – Passport Visas Express
Bhutan Embassy in Washington D.C. | EmbassyWashingtonDC.com
Bhutan – US Department of State
Consulate of Bhutan in Washington, D.C., United States
Consulate General of Bhutan in New York, United States
Consulate General | Bhutan – Permanent Missions to the United Nations
Visa policy of Bhutan – Wikipedia
Do US citizens need a visa for Bhutan?
You will need a passport valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Bhutan and a visa to enter and exit Bhutan. All visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visa clearance from Thimphu before travelling to Bhutan.
If you happen to be on the west coast, it would be easier and more feasible to travel to Bhutan thru Japan, Singapore, Bangkok and to Paro in Bhutan. Likewise, it you are on the east coast, the better option would be to travel thru Europe, Delhi/Kathmandu and then to Paro.
The opportunity to travel to Bhutan, considered a “special destination” by even the most privileged travelers, can be the experience of a lifetime. Bhutan is often described as the last Shangri-la on earth, and this holds true in many ways than one. It’s a secluded location, so secure and pristine in her own domain and is still a magical kingdom of the past in many ways. Preservation efforts have shielded many from visiting this jewel of the Himalayas. Bhutan opened its doors to tourism in 1974, with the number for tourists kept to an alarmingly low and at an environmentally sustainable level through government structured tourist regulations. We @ Yak Holidays Int’l (www.traveltobhutan.travel), have always made our best efforts to raise the bar every single time to see that your tour to Bhutan from USA translates and manifests itself into a very successful and memorable one!
The choice is for you to make..
Welcome to Bhutan!!