BHUTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION AND GUIDELINES
Bhutan often referred to as ‘land of the thunder dragon’ or ‘the last Shangri La’ on earth, is situated in the lap of Eastern Himalayas between India and the People's Republic of China. Covering an area of 18000 sq miles, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom is one of the most isolated nations in the world. Spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna, ancient Bhutan Buddhist monasteries, and magnificent landscape of Bhutan have made it an exemplar tourist destination. Bhutan is bestowed with rich bio-diversity harboring around 300 medicinal herbs and 165 endangered species. Each part of Bhutan has its own historical, geographical, cultural, traditional and religious significance.
With its wonderfully unspoiled environment, friendly people and Buddhist stupas, chortens and prayer flags abounding, Bhutan really is an idyllic place to visit.
You will find the entire useful travel guide to Bhutan given below, all these information have been compiled with care and is provided in good faith in order to help you plan your trip to Bhutan.
VISA REQUIREMENT & PROCEDURE
In order to process Bhutan visa we require clear readable colour copy of passport (page containing passport no and face picture in JPEG or PDF format) at least 30 days prior to date of entry into Bhutan. Remaining validity of passport should be at least 6 months from the date of entry into Bhutan (excluding the travelling month).
Tourism Council of Bhutan issues visa clearance letter closer to travelling date which we email or fax you or your local travel agent. Travellers are required to produce aforesaid visa clearance copy at the time of check-in for Druk Air flight while those entering Bhutan by surface via Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jonkhar, they are required to produce this Visa Clearance letter at the Immigration counter. Actual visa is stamped on passport on arrival in Bhutan.
Visa fee of US$ 20 is included in the tour package cost.
* Guests are required to have multiple entry visa for India if they are travelling to Bhutan from India and again re-entering into India from Bhutan. Please also check if your Indian visa has ‘2 months re-entry restriction’. If restriction has been stamped in your Indian visa, you have to get it endorsed by Indian embassy in Thimphu also but you need to be in Thimphu on working days, Mon – Fri during office time excluding govt holidays, to allow you to re-enter India. You will be asked to provide the proof of your travel to Bhutan (Druk air booking etc).
Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form on arrival.
The following articles are exempted from duty :-
a). Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
b). 1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)
c). 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
d). Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
e). Photography equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use .
The articles mentioned under d). & e). must be declared on declaration form. If any such items are disposed in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Custom authorities.
Import / export restrictions
Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited:
a). Arms, ammunitions and explosives
b). All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
HEALTH AND VACCINATION
No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan. However, in case the guest is arriving from a country infected with yellow fever, then a vaccine for the same is required to be taken. In case of arrival from a Cholera infected area then officials may ask for evidence of Cholera vaccination. Anti – malarial medication is recommended for all travelers to Bhutan who are visiting rural areas in the districts that border India.
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler’s medical kit appropriate to destination, length of trip and general health. On a tour in Bhutan, there are long drives, and roads are winding so medication for motion sickness is strongly suggested. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
Adequate travel insurance is important for your personal safety. Mountain and other adventure sports enthusiasts should have insurance that covers trekking, climbing and mountain biking.
All major towns and cities have basic communication facilities, including phone, fax, and email service. Local and international calls can be made from all hotels and public phone booths for a fee. Cell phones with a Bhutanese SIM card can also be used in most urban places and some rural places as well, and can be used with a commonly available pre-paid mobile voucher.
Standard mail service in Bhutan is handled by Bhutan Post, and is commonly found throughout the country. DHL and Federal Express now offer courier services from Thimphu.
Internet facilities are continuously increasing in number and can be found in major cities and towns. Although many of the Internet cafes still rely on a dial-up connection, which can be very slow, high speed wireless and broadband can be found in certain areas.
Bhutan’s landscape, buildings and people are some of the most photogenic in the world. While photographic local people, it is always better to take permission first. There are certain places such as monasteries and temples, where photography is prohibited however there is no restriction on photographing Dzongs (fort or fortress) and Goembas (monastery) from outside. If you are uncertain about whether or not photography is permitted, please check with your local guide. You should refrain from taking pictures of military installations.
Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum (Nu.) and is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee. The Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan with the exception of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. Credit Cards have limited acceptability and payment through credit card is accepted mainly by deluxe hotels and few selected Handicrafts establishments only.
There are ATMs in Bhutan but currently they only operate with their respective Bhutanese banks, hence ATM’s cannot be used by visitors. Traveler’s checks / cash are best option if you need additional money.
Cash and Travelers Cheques exchange facility is available for most of the main currencies including the US dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee, Yen, Thai Baht, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, Hong Kong dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Singapore dollar, Danish Kroner, Norwegian Kroner, and Swedish Kroner.
SHOPPING AND SOUVENIRS
Most common souvenirs include postage stamps, lovely hand-woven fabrics, carved masks, woven baskets, thangkhas, wooden bowls, handmade paper and finely-crafted metal objects. In Bhutan, the buying and / or selling of antiques is strictly forbidden.