We have put up answers to common questions we receive from our guests. If you do not find the answers here or in our entire website, please do not hesitate to contact us by filling up Contact Form at https://www.bhutanacorn.com/contact-us/ or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to get in touch with you.
Bhutan is a small Buddhist Kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Great Himalayas sandwiched between the two most populous countries in the world, India to the South and China (Tibet) to the North. It is a land of monasteries, fortresses and awe-inspiring landscapes with fast flowing rivers and rich flora and fauna. It is the only country in the world that is carbon negative as result of strict laws on conserving its rich natural environment. What is so unusual about Bhutan is not only being carbon negative, but measuring the progress of the nation through Happiness Index known as Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Bhutan is a landlocked country and so entry is only by land or by air. There is only one International Airport in Bhutan located in Paro and only two Airlines operating in and out of Bhutan. Tourists can enter Bhutan by road via India through the three border towns of Phuentsholing in the south, Gelephu in the south-central and Samdrup Jongkhar in the south-east. For more information on how to go to Bhutan please visit https://www.bhutanacorn.com/how-to-go-to-bhutan/.
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (Nu.) and is pegged at par with the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in Bhutan. However Indian currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 denominations are banned from circulation in the country.
Bhutan Standard Time is GMT +6 hours. Bhutan and its neighbouring countries do not observe daylight saving time.
Dzongkha is the National language of Bhutan. Although Bhutan’s geographical size is small with a population of less than a million, there are around 20 dialects spoken across the country. English is the medium of instruction at schools nationwide and is widely spoken.
Rice is the main staple diet of Bhutan although maize is also widely consumed mostly in the eastern region. It is served along with one or two items of meat or vegetable dishes. Commonly eaten meat are pork, chicken and beef. While most Asian people like spicy foods, Bhutanese particularly love to eat very spicy food and the essential characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is taste of hot chillies. Chilli is considered as an indispensable ingredients and is used in almost all the dishes so much so that it is consumed as vegetable not merely as seasoning. One very popular and easy to prepare dish is Ema Datsi (“Ema” means “chilli” and ‘Datshi” means “cheese” in Dzongkha) and some like to call it the National Dish of Bhutan. Ema Datshi can taste fiery hot to medium hot depending on the amount and type of chilli used. The other popular dish in Bhutan is Momo, a steamed dumplings stuffed with either meat or vegetables.
The standard voltage in Bhutan is 220V/240V and frequency is 50Hz. Wall sockets with multi round pins or 2 pins are used for outlets. We highly recommend you to carry a universal travel plug adapter.
The Royal Government of Bhutan, upon careful consideration, discourages backpackers and mass tourism by adopting a very cautious approach to growth and development of the tourism industry. The Tourism Council of Bhutan, an institution mandated to oversee the tourism industry, strongly adheres to a policy of ‘High Value, Low Impact’ tourism which serves as the purpose of making Bhutan as one of the most exclusive travel destinations in the world and to minimize the negative impact on its effort on conservation of environment, promotion of cultural heritage, safeguarding sovereign status of the Nation. Therefore, all tourists are required to pay a minimum daily fee which includes Sustainable Development Fee, accommodations in a 3-star hotel, three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and light snacks), a licensed tour guide and a dedicated land transportation with a driver for the entire duration of your stay in Bhutan. In essence, the minimum daily fee includes all the basic necessities that is required of a traveller once you are in Bhutan.
Bhutan’s strict tourism policy of discouraging backpackers and mass tourism by imposing minimum daily spending fee gives the travel enthusiasts a notion of “Bhutan is too expensive to visit”. If you think wisely and do the math, the minimum daily fee pays off considering the fact that it includes all the basic necessities for a tourist.
The daily minimum fee includes all internal taxes, Sustainable Development Fee of USD65, Accommodation at 3-star hotel, All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and light refreshments), A licensed tour guide, Land transportation with driver for the entire during of your stay, Airport transfers, Admisson fees to the parks, Museums and other monuments, Camping/Trekking equipment and haulage for trekking tours, Porter and pony charges for trekking tours.
The minimum daily tariff does not include Airfares – both International and domestic, Visa fee of USD40, Travel insurance, Emergency evacuation cost, Wire transfer fee, Alcoholic beverages, Laundry services, Telephone call charges, Cultural shows that require advance arrangement, Tips to your guide and driver, Any other expenditure of personal nature.
Tourist tariffs and discounts are strictly stipulated and fixed by the Royal Government of Bhutan. No charge other than visa fee of USD40 for children below 5 years of age, 50% discount is given to children between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by adults, 25% discount is given to a Full-Time student below the age of 25 years upon submission of valid student identification document issued by their academic institutions (we may contact the issuing authority to verify authenticity of the card), 50% discount on the Sustainable Development Fee of USD65 is given after the 8th night and 100% discount after the 14th night, 50% discount on the minimum daily fee is offered to one member in a group of 11 people and 100% discount to one member in a group of 16 people or more. For detailed schedule of discounts please visit https://www.bhutanacorn.com/tariffs-and-payment/.
Yes, you can book your trip through an international tour agent. However, you have to be aware of extra fees they charge. We do not charge extra fees of any kind on top of the government mandated minimum daily fee. You might also encounter tour agencies ready to compromise the quality of services by appearing to offer trips at a price lower than the minimum daily rate. This is against the Government’s policy and certainly you may not get all that you paid for.
Should you decide to cancel your booking for any reason, all your payment (minus administrative fee of US$100 per person) will be refunded if the cancellation is done at least 30 days prior to the date of your arrival. Please check our Cancellation Fee Schedule at https://www.bhutanacorn.com/tariffs-and-payment/ for more information.
Visitors are allowed to bring in free of tax and customs duty any used articles of personal effects and alcoholic beverage of one liter. Import of Pornographic materials, Antiques, Narcotics, Psychotropic drugs and substances are prohibited except prescribed medicines for personal use. Import of plants and live animals or its products, Arms and Ammunitions are strictly prohibited. Sale of tobacco products in Bhutan is banned and so is smoking in public places. However, for personal consumption tourists are allowed to import 200 pieces of cigarettes, 150 grams of pipe tobacco on payment of 200% import duty.
To preserve its religious and cultural heritage, the Royal Government of Bhutan monitors very strictly on the export of any old items, whether used or unused, especially items of religious and cultural significance. Tourists are advised to be vigilant while purchasing old items that are seemingly antique. You will not be allowed to take out of the country any old items that are deemed to have religious and cultural significance unless certified by the local authority. If you have any doubt about such matters, please notify your guide right away.
All foreign nationals must obtain visa prior to visiting Bhutan except citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives. For more information on visa requirement, visit https://www.bhutanacorn.com/passport-visa-requirements-visit-bhutan/
No, you cannot get visa on arrival in Bhutan. Visa is arranged in advance by a local tour company like us. Visa will be issued only to those on a pre-paid tour and will be stamped on your passport at the port of entry. Our company will send you a copy of visa clearance letter prior to your journey and you must carry a printout copy and present it at the check-in counter at the airport or at the border immigration check post.
All tourists aspiring to visit Bhutan cannot apply for visa directly without buying a trip. A trip can be one of the pre-packaged tours we have listed in our website or one that is customized to your interests and requirements. Visas are not issued by any of the Bhutanese Embassies/Missions abroad and therefore, it is only processed and issued in Thimphu through a licensed local tour operator.
A visa fee of US$40 is levied on all visitors to Bhutan except the citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives. Visa fee is not included in the minimum daily rate.
It depends on how soon you make the payment for your trip because visa application process is initiated only after receiving the full payment for the trip. Usually visa application must be submitted at least a month before the date of your arrival in Bhutan. Getting visa approval takes only about 3 working days. You also need to consider the availability of the air tickets. Flights operating in and out of Bhutan gets fully booked far ahead in advance especially during the months of peak season.
It is safe to say that you can visit Bhutan any time of the year. With festivals taking place throughout the country at different times of the year, stunning landscapes and pristine environment, magnificent historical sites and unique architecture, a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant Buddhist culture, makes Bhutan an ideal getaway all year round.
Spring and Autumn (March, April, May, September, October and November) are the peak seasons and so the busiest months with flights getting fully booked months in advance.
March and April are the best time to see Bhutan in bloom with temperature so pleasant and the valleys are abundant in nature. During these months you will also see beautiful rhododendron flowers adorning the hills and passes.
December and January are the cold months but the skies are clear making it possible to view some of the tallest unclimbed mountains in the world.
Best time to venture on trekking would be during the months of Spring and Autumn (March, April, May, September, October and November).
There are many dazzling festivals across the country which takes place at different times of the year. The famous Paro Tsechu Festival takes place in March or early April and Thimphu Tshechu Festival in September. Check out Calendar of Festivals in Bhutan at https://www.bhutanacorn.com/festivals-of-bhutan/.
The climate in Bhutan is extremely varied. This variation in the climatic conditions and average temperature can be attributed to two main factors – the vast differences in altitude within the country and the influence of North Indian monsoons.
There are four seasons in Bhutan:
In most of the major towns in Western, Central and Eastern region of Bhutan, generally summers are warm with average temperatures ranging from 20 – 25 degree Celsius while in winter it is much colder and it can be several degrees below zero depending on the altitude.
In the subtropical Southern region of Bhutan, the climate is hot and humid. Temperatures can vary between 15 – 30 degree Celsius.
The monsoon season is from late June through early September and it brings heavy rains especially in the south. During these months, some of the trekking routes are closed owing to monsoon rains and leeches.
For more information visit https://www.bhutanacorn.com/climate-and-weather-in-bhutan/.
There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan and so securing air tickets can be difficult especially during the months of high season. We recommend you to book your flight tickets at least 2 – 3 months in advance especially if you plan to visit during the high season. To ease your burden and take the stress out of trip planning we can take care of your air ticket bookings at no extra charge for the incoming and outgoing flights from Bhutan. You just have to take care of the connecting flights.
All tourists are expected to dress modestly (long pants and sleeved tops) and be respectful especially while visiting monasteries or other religious institutions, Dzongs and government offices. As a show of respect, be kind to remove your hats or caps when you see the national flag hoisted and also when you visit the above places.
We advise trekkers to to bring appropriate warm clothes and comfortable trekking / hiking boots preferably with ankle support and weather-proof for wet weather and rugged terrain. You may not use new boots as it can be uncomfortable and one of the worst thing to have while trekking is blisters. So bring in your well broken-in boots.
You don’t have to put your hand in your pocket from the moment you are picked up from the airport / port of entry, right up until you are seen off at the airport / port of exit. This is because all basic necessities required for a tourist, while in the country, is included in the government mandated minimum daily tariff that you pay prior to your arrival in Bhutan. However, as a traveller you will want to buy souvenirs and venture outside of what is included in the minimum daily tariff and you may want to tip your guide and driver if you feel satisfied about your trip.
Most of the hotels and shops accepts Major Credit Cards. ATM machines are located in all major towns across Bhutan. Major currencies like US Dollar, British Pound, Euro, Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, Hong Kong Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Danish Kroner, Norwegian Kroner, Swedish Kroner can be exchanged for local currency Ngultrum (Nu.) at the Banks. Traveller’s Checques can also be easily exchanged at the banks.
The best option would be to change at least $100 or equivalent of whatever currency you are carrying into Ngultrums at the airport or at the banks in town. It is always better to get what you need the first time. If you need help or want to exchange more, ask our guide for assistance. Unlike other countries, exchange rates at the airport are same as at the banks in town.
See https://www.bhutanacorn.com/tariffs-and-payment/ for details of what is included in the minimum daily tariff.
Just like all the other countries around the world, Bhutan has its own very unique traditions and customs often strongly followed and it greatly differs from those of the Western world. As a foreign visitor, you will not be expected to know and follow all aspects of Bhutanese etiquette. However, learning and having a basic understanding of DO’s and DON’Ts will make a big difference when you interact with the local community. Bhutanese people are generally friendly and very helpful and they will appreciate when they find out that you understand and show respect to our culture and tradition.