Best time to visit
Bhutan is a year-round destination with each season having its own charm, colour and experience. March, April, May, till June (spring) is good for trekking and cultural sightseeing. July, August, Mid-September (monsoon) – avoid southern, central and eastern Bhutan tour. If you can endure some rain, it is the best time to see alpine flowers in the higher altitude treks. September, October, and November (fall) is good for trekking and cultural sightseeing. December, January and February (winter) – avoid high altitude trek. Low altitude treks can be done. Western regions of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and Wangdue good to tour all year round.
Getting into Bhutan
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are the only two air carriers in Bhutan. Drukair services to and from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Dhaka and Singapore. Bhutan Airlines services to and from Bangkok, Kolkata, Kathmandu and Delhi.
There are two overland entry and exit points – Phuentsholing, a southwest town bordering the Indian state of West Bengal, and Samdrup Jongkhar, a southeast town bordering Assam. Overland entry from Phuentsholing is more convenient if you wish to visit Sikkim and Darjeeling either before or after Bhutan. While Samdrup Jongkhar is the best entry and exit points if you have trips in neighbouring Indian states of Assam.
Since you need to get to Bhutan from one of these countries, no matter where you start your journey, you may also need to apply for a transit visa or standard tourist visa of the third country.
Getting in from Nepal
If you are traveling from Nepal, it is possible to get a Nepali visa on arrival at the immigration desk within the airport. You can also obtain a visa for Nepal from a majority of its foreign embassies and consulates in advance. It is a good idea to obtain a multiple-entry visa on your first visit if you are entering Nepal on your way to Bhutan and if you plan on going back to Kathmandu after so that you do not need to apply for a visa again.
Getting in from India
Nationals of most countries require a visa to go to India. It is advised to get your Indian visa from your home country before traveling to Bhutan via India. The pre-requisite is that you must have confirmed hotels and flight tickets out of India. You must also get a transit visa even if you do not go out of terminal and have flight out within 24 hours.
Getting in from Bangkok & Singapore
Bangkok & Singapore has a list of countries that do not require a visa to enter the country. You may not have to apply for a transit visa if you are on the list of their visa-exempted countries.
Bhutan tourist visa, unlike other countries, is not provided on arrival at the airport. Embassies and consulates abroad cannot grant the visa either. It has to be arranged through a local tour company. Another option is – you can directly avail your visa through the Department of Immigration after paying Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) and visa fee to them.
You will have to show your visa at the respective airports from where you board your flight to Bhutan. You must save the copy of e-Visa either in hard or electronically in your phone. You will not be allowed to board your flight without this e-Visa. The actual Bhutan Visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at Paro international airport.
There are other documents required for touring Bhutan, such as the route permit to travel from one place to another and a permit to trek through restricted northern borders. Your agency can take care of all these documents.
Bhutan Visa fee is USD 40 payable one time. Bhutan visa fee can be only paid in US dollar. The validity of your Bhutan visa corresponds with the length of the trip. Visa is granted for the exact dates of your visit as applied in advance. However, extension of visa is possible after arrival in Bhutan.
Your passport should have at least 6 months validity from the date of travel and 2-3 empty pages for visa stamp. You must travel with the same passport that you have booked your flights with and applied for the visa.
Bhutan time zone (BTT) is +6:00 ahead of Universal Time Coordinated (UTC +6). It does not have an associated daylight saving time and only applies to Bhutan.
Bhutan is 11 hours ahead of New York, USA. 10am Monday in New York is 9pm Monday in Bhutan. Bhutan is 1 hour behind of Thailand, 30 minutes ahead of Delhi, 15 minutes ahead of Kathmandu and no time difference with Dhaka.
As Bhutan has limited flights and hotels, we suggest booking your tour well ahead in advance, at least 3 months ahead. However, during peak spring and fall season as well as during festival time, you need to book at least 6 months to 1 year prior to your travel date.
The Bhutanese government have introduced a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) – it is US $200 per night per person. One time visa fees is US $40 per person. You will have to pay SDF and visa fee in advance for your visa approval.
We take utmost care in selecting your hotels and try to book upscale 3 starred hotels in all locations. All these hotels are approved and classified by the Department of Tourism. They are clean and well maintained with good choices of Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese and Continental foods. With some supplement, we can also arrange other 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts.
Licensed local Bhutanese guides will introduce you to many facets of this wonderful country. Our guides are trained and certified by the government and refreshers course are given frequently to update their knowledge and skills. They are knowledgeable, friendly and can speak fluent English.
We always provide well maintained cars with experienced drivers. For 1-2 people, we use comfortable SUVs 4WD cars such as Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and Korean cars like Tucson, Santa Fe and Terracan. For 3-4 people in a group, we provide comfortable Korean Hyundai H-1 and Toyota Hi-ace buses and for 5 people and above, we provide AC Toyota coaster buses.
Although Bhutanese meals are rich with spicy chilies and cheese, restaurants that cater to western tourists will tone down the spice. You will have choices of Chinese, Continental, Bhutanese and Indian cuisine in the hotels and local restaurants. Vegetarian meals is also available in Bhutan.
While on trek, Bhutan Travelers have trained chefs who will prepare dishes suitable to western taste and quite often people say that our trek food is better than in cities. Any special dietary requirements that you have can be met with an advance notice.
Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu.) is the currency of Bhutan. USD 1 is equal to Nu.85 with little variations. You can exchange your money with the banks or a money changer. US dollars are widely accepted in Bhutan including some handicraft stores and cafes. The exchange rate for the 100 denomination notes is slightly higher than the lower denomination.
All flights to Bhutan must be re-confirmed 72 hours before departure. This is to avoid any last-minute inconvenience in light of any flight cancellations, delays, or changes in flight time. If you have booked flights yourself, you must send a copy of your ticket to your tour company. We will re-confirm on your behalf and inform you of the changes if any.
If you are traveling from Delhi and Kathmandu you should opt for left window seats when flying in and the right window seat flying out. Seats are not assigned at the time of flight purchase however, you can check-in online and select the seat of your preference 24 hours prior to your flight departure. If your flight has been arranged through us, we will check-in online for you.
Visitors are advised to dress comfortably as Bhutan is generally a formal place. Shorts, skirts and revealing tight clothing are to be avoided.
The Bhutanese people wear their full traditional dress and formal wear to Dzongs and to temples. Visitors should wear long pants (even if jeans), shirts with full sleeves, and more formal skirts below the knees to these places. Slippers and sandals are discouraged. Sun caps are also not permitted inside Dzongs and temples.
The sale of tobacco products and smoking in public places is banned. For personal consumption, a person may carry any one of the following tobacco at a time:
- 200 sticks of cigarette or
- 30 pieces of cigar; or
- 150 grams of other tobacco products
You must declare tobacco products at the airport or entry points. On-demand, you must also produce proof or receipt of tax payment. Tobacco products imported from India shall pay 100% Sales Tax and from other countries 200% duty.
Tips are not compulsory but it is expected. Tipping is a matter of social custom and showing gratitude for the hard work and sincerity of the people involved to make the best out of your time in Bhutan. You may tip your guide and driver at the end of the trip. And your cooking staff – trek chef, assistant, and horseman at the end of the trek. Tips may be handed directly to them.
You can buy large assortment of hand-woven textiles, handicrafts, silver and gold ornaments, Thangka or scroll paintings and exquisite Bhutanese stamps. Carved masks, woven baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper products also make great souvenirs. Exporting antiques is strictly prohibited. You may be able to carry the antique items only with a government seal on it.
If you wish to bring gifts and are not sure, our past clients have brought storybooks, pens, and stationaries to gift to the local school children. And spectacles for the elderly, but really anything works. However, we discourage giving chocolates and money as gifts.
Besides FITs and solo tours, we also arrange group tours. The maximum size we take for a cultural tour is 16-18 people and 8-10 people on treks. We have handled tours consisting of a large number and have the fitting experience to arrange group tours. You may check our website for the upcoming join-in tours.
Bhutan is safe for gay and lesbian travelers. Bhutanese government have decriminalized homosexuality in 2022. However Bhutanese are not used to open intimate behaviour.