Bhutan Travel: 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 at 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 translates and manifests itself into a very successful and memorable one!
The choice is for you to make..
Welcome to Bhutan!!
How to Travel to Bhutan?
You can travel to Bhutan by flying directly to Paro International Airport or by traveling overland from the Southern part of Bhutan entering from 3 border ports, Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Flights to Bhutan: There are no direct flights to Bhutan from USA (US), Canada and European countries. If you wish to travel to Bhutan from United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ireland and other the European, East Coast of the US and Canada, you have to fly to Delhi, Kathmandu or Kolkotta to connect your flight into Bhutan.
If you wish to travel to Bhutan from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hongkong, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian countries, west coast of the USA (US) and Canada, it would be easier and more feasible to travel to Bhutan via Singapore and Bangkok. Please check the flight schedule below:
A brief description of 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 6 hrs ahead of GMT. Bhutan is also called “Druk-Yul” or “The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan’s landscape ranges from sub tropical foothills (150 m)in the south to alpine forests and snowy mountains (7000 m) in the north. It’s about 300 km from west to east and 150 km 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 to visit in Bhutan:
It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your Bhutan tour. 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 900 m 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 center 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 (3000 m), 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 traveled 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. Many travelers incorporate Paro (2280 m), Thimphu (2320 m), Punakha (1310 m), Wangduephodrang (1320 m), Gangtey (2800 m), Trongsa and Bumthang (2800 m), though some travel solely for the pleasure of trekking in the Himalayas.
We have many Bhutan tour packages ranging from 4 nights / 5 days to 16 nights/ 17 days trip. Whether you are interested in Cultural Tours, Trekking, Photography, honeymoon, rafting, Kayaking or Birding. Highly recommended Bhutan tours are 7 nights / 8 days and 9 nights/ 10 days Bhutan tour packages.
7 nights/8 days Bhutan tour package: This is a short trip and covers Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang and Gangtey/ Phobjikha. The highlights of the trip are visit to iconic Taktsang monastery or the Tiger’s Nest, a world Heritage site and must visit monument hanging on a cliff, The Dochula pass with well arranged 108 Stupas with the beautiful Himalayan Range in the background, Spectacular Punakha Dzong, Phobjikha valley, the most beautiful glacial valley of the Himalayas which is the roosting ground for the rare black – necked cranes and more.
One of the best Bhutan tours is 9 nights / 10 days trip. Besides the above highlights mentioned in 7 nights / 8 days package. This trip will take you further to Bumthang in Central Bhutan which is a Cultural hub of Bhutan. Bumthang is also called Mini Switzerland of the Himalayas.
The Colorful Festivals are a year round events taking part in various parts of the country. We highly recommend you to coincide your trip to Bhutan with one of these FESTIVALS IN BHUTAN.
Bhutan visa is processed by the Local Tour Operators such as Yak Holiday Int’l and is issued by the Department of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs in Thimphu Bhutan. No Embassies or Consulates abroad are authorized to issue Bhutan visa. The duration of Bhutan visa depends on the length of the Bhutan tour package you buy from the Local Bhutanese Tour Operator or International Tour companies. Bhutan Visa fee is US $ 40 which is a one time fee and is payable along with the Tour payment when you buy Bhutan travel package. The Bhutan visa can be extended depending upon how long you would like to extend your Bhutan Tour package.
Bhutan Visa Formalities:
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 in Thimphu ( Bhutan visa costs is $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 can be purchased without visa clearance. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that fly into Bhutan. A visa approval letter is issued after prepayment of your travel arrangements and the actual visa is stamped in your passport upon arrival at the Paro Int’l Airport. Please be sure you carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan visa or you will be denied the entry.
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.
Travel to Bhutan FAQ
A. For the tourist traveling to Bhutan on diplomatic mission, the visa will be processed by the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi and duly approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thimphu Bhutan. For those, who wish to travel on a business trip to Bhutan, your counterpart/business partner in Bhutan should process the Bhutan visa.
All tourist wishing to travel to Bhutan as tourists should book a prepaid holiday with one of the Tour operators in Bhutan or International Tour operator who has a business partner in Bhutan. The duration of your holiday package you book in Bhutan determines the length of your Bhutan visa. The Local Bhutanese Tour operator processes the Bhutan visa which takes a week. The Visa approval letter issued by the Department of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs will be sent to you. The Actual Bhutan visa will be stamped in your passport upon arrival at the Paro Airport or other ports of entry like Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar. Bhutan visa fee is USD 40.
Q. How can you travel to Bhutan?
A. You can travel to Paro International Airport, the only International airport in Bhutan by Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines from Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Bagdogra, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkotta (India), and Kathmandu.
Q. What is the travel requirement when you travel to Bhutan?
A. If you are traveling as a Tourist, you have to purchase pre-paid package Holiday with one of the registered Travel company in Bhutan or International Tour operators with partner in Bhutan. Passport validity should be minimum 6 months before your date of travel to Bhutan. Indian nationals can travel with Voter ID and other nationalities have to carry their passports as a travel document. The citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives are given the visa upon arrival in Bhutan but rest of the nationalities have to pre- obtain the Bhutan visa. Children under 12 years should be accompanied by their parents.
Q. Whats the exchange rate of US Dollar to Bhutanese Currency?
A. 1 US Dollar is exchanged for 73 Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu.) as of 27. 03 2020
Q. How to avoid paying extra Supplementary Government charges?
A. You have to book pre paid Bhutan Tour package in a group of 3 or more people to avoid paying extra supplement Government charges called FIT Surcharge. For Solo traveler its US $40 per night and for 2 travelers its US $30 per night per person.
Q. How many days is required for Bhutan Tour?
A. If you wish to visit Paro and Thimphu, 4 days will be enough but if you want to add Punakha and Wangdiphodrang and Gangtey (Western Bhutan), you have to book minimum of 7 days package tour. If you plan to visit Trongsa and Bumthang in Central Bhutan, you have to book at least 9 days trip. Yet if you wish to travel eastern part of Bhutan, you have to book minimum 17 days trip and this will cover places like Mongar, Trashigang, Lhuntse and Trashiyangtse.