Bhutan FAQ

Bhutan FAQ & Information

Do I need a visa to travel to Bhutan?

As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

All nationalities require a visa for entry to Bhutan, except Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. Visas must be obtained in advance. We will forward you the scanned copy of your Bhutan Group visa shortly prior to your trip start date.

You must show the copy of your Bhutan Group visa at the check-in for your flight to Bhutan and on arrival at the immigration in Bhutan where you will have your Bhutan visa stamped into your passport.

PLEASE NOTE: You need to bring the original copy of your visa application (make an additional color copy aside) / Passport scan copy in color (made a few additional copies in case you are applying for sim card or shopping for products that need export permits)

Is tipping customary in Bhutan?

Tipping isn’t compulsory in Bhutan, but many people who work in tourism are accustomed to receiving tips so it’s wise to set aside a guideline amount of USD10 per day or more to show your appreciation for drivers, cooks and other service workers.

What is the internet access like in Bhutan?

You will be able to find some internet cafes in Thimphu and Paro. Most large hotels also have internet access. As expected, rural and remote areas will have limited to no internet access.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Bhutan?

You will be able to use your mobile phone in some of Bhutan’s cities, although more remote areas may not have network coverage. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile while in Bhutan.

If you wish to replace your mobile SIM card with a local one, please carry extra photocopies of your passport to process obtaining your local SIM card and internal route permits.

What are the toilets like in Bhutan / Toilet rolls / Wet Wipes?

You will have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation while in Bhutan. The standard toilet is of the squat variety and this may take some getting used to, although western style, flushable toilets can be found in large hotels and some tourist areas. Our advice is have extra toilet rolls with you during sightseeing and also wet wipes for cleaning.

What will it cost for a…?

Due to Bhutan’s unique tourism regulations, meals are included for all travel within Bhutan. Use local currency to buy small items like snacks and soft drinks and use US dollars to buy larger items like souvenirs. Expect to pay:

Prayer flags = US$1 – USD 5

Hand made coin purse = US$5-10

Gofur (wooden bowl) = US$10-15

Ceremonial mask = US$20-40 (not antique)

Can I drink the water in Bhutan?

Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Bhutan. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found, some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It’s also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating. If you have sensitive stomach kindly carry iodine pills for cleaning.

Are credit cards accepted widely in Bhutan?

International credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. Some souvenir shops may have credit card facilities; however, credit cards aren’t generally accepted elsewhere. Be prepared by carrying enough cash to cover your purchases.

You should not count on using a credit card in Bhutan. Credit cards are accepted at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium, a few other handicraft shops and some of the larger hotels in Thimphubut these transactions do take time. The credit-card companies charge high fees and the verification office is only open from 9am to 5pm. This precludes paying your hotel bill at night or when you check out early in the morning.

Money

At the time of research, the few Bhutan National Bank ATMs could only be used by local customers. The bank does have plans, however, for extending the network and providing credit-card facilities.

If you plan to make a major purchase, for example textiles or art, consider bringing US dollars in cash. Most shops will accept this, and it can save you the hassle of exchanging a large quantity of money in advance and then attempting to change it back if you don’t find the exact piece you were looking for.

Travellers cheques

You can cash travellers cheques at any bank, most hotels and the foreign-exchange counter at the airport. There are bank charges of 1% for cheque encashment. You should carry only well-known brands such as American Express, Visa, Thomas Cook, Citibank or Barclays. There is no replacement facility for travellers cheques in Bhutan.

What is ATM access like in Bhutan?

ATMs are very rare in Bhutan. Be sure to carry enough cash to cover your purchases as you won’t be able to rely on ATM or credit card access.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling in Bhutan?

Absolutely. All passengers travelling to Bhutan are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

What public holidays are celebrated in Bhutan?

Jan 12 Traditional Day of Offering

Feb 11 Losar *

Feb 21 Birth Anniversary of Fifth Druk Gyalpo

Apr 20 Zhabdrung Kuchoe *

May 2 Birth Anniversary of Third Druk Gyalpo

May 25 Lord Buddha’s Parinivana *

Jul 10 Birth Anniversary of Guru Rinpoche

Jul 12 First Sermon of the Lord Buddha *

Sep 11 Thimphu Drubchen *

Sep 14 Thimphu Tshechu *

Oct 5 Dashain *

Nov 1 The Coronation of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo

Nov 11 Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

Dec 17 National Day

* Bhutan’s towns and villages also celebrate many small festivals, which change date each year. Buddhist festivals are timed according to astrological observances – so some of the dates above are estimates only and are subject to change.

For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Bhutan/public-holidays


Uling Dharma Tours
City Mall, 5th Floor, Chubachu
P.O Box No. 900, Thimphu, Bhutan
Mobile: 975-17612011 / 77612011
Tel: 975-2-339631
E-mail: uling@druknet.bt/ ulingconsult@gmail.com

Mobile Numbers:
Mr. Khaling Karma +975-1761-2011

Office is opened from 9AM till 05PM
Bhutan Time is +6hrs GMT