Before coming to Bhutan, make sure that you attend the following:
The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for our visitors. Hence it is important that you get detailed information about the insurance scheme from your travel agents here in Bhutan. You may also visit the web site at www.ricb.com.bt
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum(Nu.) that is the par with the Indian rupee. It is how ever recommended that you carry traveler’s cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollars instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including that capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.
Financial institution in Bhutan have been greatly enhance and today we have a number of banks that caters to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail services and facilities with the Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, The Druk PNB and Tashi Bank. Many of this Banks provide you with SMS and internet banking facilities. There are also ATM facilities that you can avail and ATM are located in a number of places where you can with draw your money especially in Thimphu and in the border town of Phuntsholing. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchange into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu.
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts’ wit round hole two-pin and three power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydro power.
The country has the good net work of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet café and IDD calling booths from where you can log on to and send messages home and to your loved ones. Also all hotels in Bhutan have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.
Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with average daily ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are cold. In winter the temperatures are usually below 15 Celsius. So bring with you a couple of arm cloths and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program. You might want to consider ‘what to wear’ for hikes, trekking and sightseeing as well as for dinners, appointments and functions that we have for you. Others that you could consider bringing with you would be a pair of sunglasses, sun screen lotion and a hat, antiseptic cream; anti-histamine cream; anti-diarrhea pills; altitude and car sickness medicine, insect repellent, flash light (w/spare batteries) umbrella; camera; and accessories (including spare camera batteries).
Bhutan is an Ideal place and a frequent for photographers offering immense opportunities for photography especially during our outdoor sightseeing trips. How ever you may need to check with your guide for indoor photographs as taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious instructions are restricted unless you have a special permission from the Department of culture. One can how ever, capture images of the landscapes, the panoramic views of the mountains ranges, the rural folk life, the flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture and the Dzongs and chortens in particulars.
For people who love shopping and taking gifts, Bhutan offered variety of goods that revolve mainly round textiles. You may shop for items like hand- woven textiles that is either in raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane ad bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products or finely crafted gods of silvers. You can ask shop for Thanka paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage atamps. One can come across these items in many handicraft shop in and around Thimphu and also in major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Tipping is purely personal matter. We do not have any traditional given tips and we clearly leave it up to you as to weather you want to give tips to your guides and drivers (for the cultural trip), Guide, cooks and horseman (if you are doing the trek).
The following articles are exempted from duty:
- Personal effects and articles for day to day used by the visitors
- Liters of alcohol (sprit or wine)
- 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
- Instruments apparatus or appliances for professional use
- Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use
You have to complete the passenger declaration form on your arrival before checking out. The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration forms. If ANY such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for customs duty.
On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.
Import/export restriction of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
(a) Arms, ammunitions and explosives
(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
Imports of plants, soil etc. are subjected to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautions in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported with out a clearance certificate.
Bhutanese speak a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language and one of the most widely spoken language. English is also a medium of communication and most Bhutanese speaks English.
Communicating in English especially wit the people in urban areas and the towns will enhance your knowledge on Bhutan.
Cloths and other paraphernalia.
With great altitudinal variations weather is quite erratic in Bhutan. So be prepared to brace the erratic as you step outdoors. We expect our guest to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the Monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. As mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the flag being raised.
Our standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one-time zone through out the country.
Office hours in Bhutan are divided into two timing- the summer timing and the winter timing. The summer timing begins at 9 AM Bhutan standard time and goes on till 5 PM in the evening. The summer timing is followed from March TILL the end of October. The winter timing that lasts for the months of November till the ends of February begins at 9 AM in the morning and goes till 4PM in the evening.
However, this timing is followed only in Thimphu and few other districts. The timing is followed only by the civil servants, who work under the Royal Civil Service Commission. For those people employed in Corporations and private organization, the timing is usually from 9AM till 5PM irrespective of the season.
Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, it is advisable to have tetanus, Typhoid and hepatitis A inoculation.
Avoid drinking un-boiled water or taking ice cubes at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated though they have their source in the mountains. One can come across treated and bottled water readily in any town and are affordable.
We have a duty to protect Bhutan from Drugs and Tobacco Products. To do this we need your help and cooperation. If we stop, you and ask you about your baggage please co-operate.
** Please do not carry tobacco goods that are over the limits. For more information, please see following link.
Tobacco Control Act
Over the years, many quality hotels have come up in Bhutan. Most hotels in Bhutan meet the recent standardization policy, most tourist accommodate in a 5-star hotel. The hotels are well maintained and have all basic munities such as geysers and shower rooms and are properly maintained. Visitors can e assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels and the ambience and the hospitality offered by he hotels are incredible. The 5 star hotels are mostly located in Timphu,and Paro, town like Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang also have varity of hotels that are comfortable. Away from town, you may find it tempting to camp outside in the forest to make a night halt at the purpose-built in cabins sprinkled along some main trekking routes.
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with lots of cheese and chili. It is advisable that guest stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian Cuisine that is served in most restaurants.
Guest can also choose among the various vegetarian and non veg food. You can also try out Momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring, you may try out the Ema Datshi served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes.
Weight and measures
Bhutan has a standard system of weights and measurements in place and most weights are measured in Gram (g) and kilogram(kg). With better and efficient measurement systems readily available, most of the shop keepers in the capital city make use of electronic and weighing scale. However, a s you travel further to the East, you will find the ordinary weighing scale in place.
While safety is not much of a concern, however it is good to come prepared for any mishap. One need to avoid walking alone or roaming the streets after 9 pm as you may never know of any mishap that may occur. The capital city has begun to see burglaries, street fight and an increasing number of drug abusers. It is advisable that you keep a safe distance and be in your rooms. Or else you may visit the town in groups or with your guides.
Also please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, route permits, cameras, wallets and purses are properly secured. There have been incidents where visitors found their important documents missing.
Guides and Interpreters
Bhutan has good team of interpreters and guides that are well versed in history and possess good communication skills. They are all certified who undergo training conducted by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. There are also guides who speaks fluent Japanese, Thai and other European languages.
Public holidays are declared by the government and a list of public holidays that we observe throughout the nation is listed below. However, each Dzongkhag has its own list of holidays that is observed especially while conducting annual tshechus (Religious festivals). For this one may contact your service provider or your travel agent.