Why Visit Bhutan?
Tucked away at the top of the world, Bhutan is a veritable paradise virtually untouched by outside influence. This tiny Buddhist kingdom was hidden from the world for centuries—its borders were opened to travelers less than 40 years ago—and thus retains the enigmatic allure of an ancient land crawling into modernity.
The government maintains strict guidelines in order to create a sustainable tourism—the result being an environment that is never overrun and is always enchanting.
Breathtaking Himalayan Scenery
The scenery alone is reason enough to tour Bhutan: ensconced in the mighty Himalayas, the country’s rugged white-capped peaks, lush rice paddies and pristine streams are a jaw-dropping testament to nature’s best rough-hewn handiwork. Yet it is so much more: a deeply spiritual culture, where monks live simply as they have for centuries.
Bhutan Trip Reviews
Preparing For Your Trip to Bhutan
Visas Information For Bhutan
Geringer Global Travel will take care of your visa. You will be emailed a letter of introduction that you will take with you and show to the immigration officer for your visa upon arrival into Bhutan.
Water In Bhutan
Drink only bottled water. All hotels will supply each person with bottled water to use for brushing your teeth. There will be bottled water in the vehicle.
Food In Bhutan
Food will include both non – veg and veg. If you are a vegetarian or have food restrictions, let us know. Emadatse is the national dish of Bhutan. This is a combination of chilies and cheese.
Language In Bhutan
Dzongkha is the national language spoken widely throughout the kingdom. English is widely spoken in major towns and is the principal medium of instruction in schools in the country. Other spoken languages are Nepali, Bumthap, Sharchop and Hindi. There are a host of local dialects spoken in small communities within the country.
Time In Bhutan
Bhutan has only one time zone and it is 6 hours ahead of GMT.
Weather In Bhutan
Weather in Bhutan depends upon altitude and season. There are four seasons in Bhutan: spring (March, April and May), summer (June, July and August), autumn (September, October and November) and winter (December, January and February). The best time to visit Bhutan is March to May and late September to November.
Clothing In Bhutan
Comfortable and inoffensive clothing are recommended. Sleeveless tops and short shorts may not be considered as decent. 3/4 pants are fine as long as you are not entering Dzongs (forts) or temples and monasteries. A shawl for women is recommended in some temples. In religious sites, you will be required to take off your shoes.
A jacket is often recommended for early mornings and evenings in the spring and autumn when the temperatures can be chilly. In the winter, warm clothes are recommended. No jackets and ties for men. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended.
Currency In Bhutan
The currency in Bhutan is the ngultrum and is equivalent to the Indian rupee. You can exchange money before going through immigration at the airport but it is suggested that you wait unless there is no line. The line can be long and slow. You can exchange dollars at most hotels. For exchanging US dollars, you get a better rate with $100 bills. You can also exchange $50 bills but will not get quite as good a rate and get a poorer rate for smaller bills. You can also get money from ATM machines and exchange money at a bank. You need to tell your bank if you will be using your ATM card in Bhutan or the card will be blocked.
Credit Cards In Bhutan
Not all places take credit cards. But if you want to use a credit card, you need to tell your bank you will be in Bhutan and the dates. Otherwise, the card will be blocked.
Healthcare Facilities In Bhutan
Bhutan has fairly good health facilities in most of the larger districts and towns. Should you need evacuation for serious health issues, we advise you to purchase evacuation insurance.
Health Related & Other Items
Please don’t forget to carry essential medications and a small medical kit including travel motion sickness medication and Diamox for altitude sickness, depending upon the altitude. Many visitors mistake motion sickness for altitude sickness due to the very winding and zigzagged roads. A small flashlight can be useful including daypack, binoculars and camera.
Roads In Bhutan
There is one road with one lane in each direction from east to west. There are many twists and turns on the road. Some people may feel motion sickness until getting used to the roads. If you think you could experience motion sickness, Dramamine or something equivalent is recommended.
Electricity In Bhutan
All towns in western Bhutan have a reliable power supply. Elsewhere, access is less consistent, and electricity is not available in most outlying areas of the country. The voltage supply is 220/240, the same as India. Bhutan operates on 220/230 voltages, 50 cycles AC system, which is generally reliable although short duration power outages are not uncommon. The standard socket is the Indian style round pin socket. However these come in a variety of sizes and there’s no assurance the plug you have on your appliance or converter will fit the socket in your hotel. Most European round pin plugs work although loosely in the socket. Take an adapter with you. If you are still having problems, there are plenty of electrical shops in most places that can assist with a local version.
Shopping In Bhutan
The most popular tourist purchases are traditional Bhutanese arts and handicrafts. Produced by skilled artisans, these are generally of a high quality, and include Buddhist paintings and statues, textiles, jewelry and wooden bowls and carvings. Bhutan is not a consumer society and the variety of everyday goods available is not particularly large. Be wary when purchasing antiquities as souvenirs as many are not permitted to be exported and will be confiscated without a letter of certification.
Tipping In Bhutan
It is customary to tip guides, drivers and other persons providing services. Tips should be given at the end of a service. You can pay in either US$ or local Nu (Ngultrum).
The following is just a guideline and tipping is at your discretion: US$5- $7/person/ day for the guide and US$3- $5/person/day for the driver.
Internet In Bhutan
All most all of the Tourism Council of Bhutan approved hotels and lodges have access to the Internet. Generally, Internet is free in most of the hotels. In addition, some hotels will have a business center. Some of the remote places like Gangtey Valley have intermittent power and Internet can therefore be erratic.
Phones In Bhutan
Do not keep your phone on roaming. If you have an unlocked phone, you can purchase a local SIM card for your phone.
Emergency Telephone Numbers In Bhutan
Ambulance 112 and Police 113
1. Beyond the Sky and Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa (who was once married to a Bhutanese)
2. Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming
3. Guide Book (Bhutan, Odyssey Publics, 2010) by Francoise Pommaret
4. Tales in Colour and Chilli and Cheese by Kunzang Choden
5. Bhutan Himalayan Mountain Kingdom by Franciose Pommaret
6. Butter Tea at Sunrise: A Year in the Bhutan Himalayas by Britta Das
7. Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon: A Journey through Bhutan by Katie Hickman
8. Under the Holy Lake by Ken Haigh
9. Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Queen Ashi Dori Wangmo Wangchuk
10. Radio Shangri – La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli
11. Beneath the Blossom Rain: Discovering Bhutan on the Toughest Trek in the World by Kevin Grange
12. So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas by Barbara Crossette
13. The Hero with a Thousand Eyes: A Historical Novel by Karma Ura
14. The Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden