Visa and Passports:
A visa is needed to enter Bhutan but it is not
issued abroad. Visas will be stamped in your
passport upon arrival in Paro, cost US$ 20 and
are included in your tour payment. To apply
for a visa, contact either your host agency
or foreign or Bhutanese tour operator. You have
to send the PP details 15 days in advance.
All visitors are required to complete a customs
form upon arrival at Paro. The following items
are exempt from customs duty:
Personal effects for day
to day use
or appliances for professional use
video cameras and other electronic goods
Import of tobacco and tobacco products for personal
consumption – 100% sales tax and 100%
customs duty. The maximum allowed for personal
1 carton of 200 cigarettes.
Pipe tobacco :
3 tins of 50 grams each.
Other tobacco products
: 50 grams.
Customs regulations strictly forbid the export
of antiques or religious objects out of the
country unless you have clearance from the Antiquities
Department. If you are carrying religious items
from another country, declare them on your customs
form on arrival in Bhutan to avoid any problems
on departure. It is forbidden to export samples
of flora & fauna.
The temperature and weather can change quickly
and you may experience different climates in
one day. Depending on the altitude, you may
be freezing on top of a pass and an hour later
you may be in a semi-tropical jungle. It is
difficult to generalize about the climate of
Bhutan because of the variations in elevations
The southern belt is at an altitude of 300
meters and border to the Indian state of West
Bengal & Assam. It is cool and sunny in
winter and hot and rainy in summer.
The central valleys share the same pleasant
climate but the eastern ones are lower and warmer.
Bumthang is the highest and coldest. Winter
from November to March is generally sunny except
for the occasional snowfall; temperature can
be relatively warm during the day (15’C
51 ‘F) but may fall below freezing at
night. Spring, from mid – March to May,
is cool and often stormy as it slowly warms
up. Monsoon can start from mid –June and
last until September. It is warm and cloudy
with showers falling mostly in the evening and
at night. October is a pleasant autumn month
with clear skies, warm days and cool nights.
Practical and comfortable clothes are appropriate,
with dressy outfits only necessary if you are
on a business trip in Bhutan. Because of the
variety of climates you may encounter in one
day, choose garments which can be layered. From
June to September cottons and a warm woollen
sweater should be enough, while from October
to May you must also bring a down jacket or
warm coat. Especially in winter, west and central
Bhutan are much colder than any other district
apart from the north. A pair of slippers/sandals/sneakers
and hiking shoes is the only footwear required
unless you are trekking.
Officially 220 volts is supplied by the Department
of Power. But the power supply can fluctuate.
Some hotels and lodges don’t have American
plug points or converters.
In most places around Bhutan you will find the
Indian made batteries available. But quality
is very poor. It is advisable to bring your
own supply of batteries. The only other possibility
is purchase in Thimphu.
Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of G.M.T. and half an
hour ahead of India.
The currency is the Ngultrum, divided into Chetrums,
which are at a par with the Indian Rupee. The
Indian Rupee is also legal tender in Bhutan
except for the denomination of 500 notes which
are banned in Bhutan because of counterfeit.
All the Banks in Bhutan accept the following
Hong Kong dollar
There is no credit card facility available to
cash money from banks. But it is accepted at
all leading Gift shops, Handicraft stores and
Business Hours & Holidays:
Government office hours
are Monday to Friday 9 am – 4 pm from
November to March and 9am – 5 pm for
the rest of the year, closed Saturday &
Banking hours: Monday –
Friday 9am – 3 pm. Saturday 9am –
Government holiday closed.
All the shops will stay
open from 9am – 8 pm.
Restaurants open up to
A departure tax of Nu.500 Ngultrum (US$ 12)
is levied at Paro airport.
Every individual travelling to Bhutan through
travel agents will be provided with a Toyota
car for FITs and coaster bus for groups. In
the case of clients preferring luxury vehicles
an additional amount will be charged.
Hotels in Bhutan are not as high standard, compared
to other developing countries. But all tourist
lodges & hotels are recognized and regulated
by the Department of Tourism.
Taxi : Taxis are available
and a bit expensive compared to buses, but it
is not costly by western standards.
Bus : Every part of Bhutan
is connected with local buses from the Bus terminal.
The daily schedules differ according to destination
Car : Hiring a car is no problem
in the capital Thimphu but keep in mind that
once you are out of Thimphu this is not so easy.
The rates are Government controlled and charges
are on a per- kilometre basis after the daily
lump sum that covers 100km. A driver and petrol
are included in the price. If you are travelling
towards the East a 4-wheel drive is recommended,
although it would be more expensive than a car.
Every district in Bhutan is equipped with a
General hospital, but only at Thimphu will you
find modern facilities and Pharmacies. Come
well prepared with all necessary medicines like
sleeping pills (high altitude can hinder your
sleeping), anti-nausea pills, anti-diarrhoea
pills, water purifying tablets (if you are trekking),
oral dehydration packets, eye drops, antibiotic
ointment and anti-histamine ointment.
Every District has hospitals staffed with competent
doctors and offer basic services but there is
no Intensive Care Unit and most patients are
referred to Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral
Hospital at Thimphu. The exception is Mongar
(in the east) which has a well equipped hospital
if you are lucky enough to be near by.
COMMUNICATION AND NEWS
Mail service within the country and airmail
abroad is available, but can be slow at times,
unless it is registered or express mail. International
parcel post is also available. Bhutanese stamps
are particularly beautiful. Do not miss the
Philatelic Bureau in Thimphu.
DHL is owned and run by a private company.
They have an office in the Changangkha area:
Tele: +975-(2) 324730 Ext 15. Fax: +975-2-322088
Telephone & fax services were started in
1990 and now have been upgraded to international
standard. It is now possible to direct dial
from any part of the country. The Bhutan country
is code +975. Telephone communication is very
reliable in Bhutan.
Internet Service in Bhutan was introduced in
1999 coinciding with the Sliver Jubilee celebration
(25 years ruling) of the 4th King. Now it is
available in every tourist lodge/hotel as well
as in town Cafés at cheaper rates.
Television was also introduced in 1999 and we
have our own channel called BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting
Service) which was made nationwide recently
in the month of April 2006. It broadcasts in
two different languages, Dzongkha and English.
Besides news they also feature documentaries
and other activities. In addition to this, there
are around 30 other international channels.
Mobile was introduced in the month of November
2005 and now covers up to 9 districts in Bhutan.
It has two categories of services. Post Paid
1) Post Paid: Monthly billing
2) Pre-paid: Voucher range Nu.100, Nu.200, Nu.
300, Nu.500, Nu. 1000. Nu.1500.
3) Sim Card is available at every dealer shops.
Two Categories of SIM CARD:
1) NU. 600 can receive incoming
calls up to 6 months without voucher recharge.
2) NU. 400 can receive incoming calls up to
4 months without voucher recharge. After which
the card expires if not recharged.
1) Kuensel, is owned by the
Government and is distributed twice a week on
Wednesday and Saturday in three languages:
2) Bhutan Times: It is owned
by a private sector and was introduced recently
on 5th April 29, 2006 and is distributed once
a week on Sundays. (English version only).
3) Bhutan Observer: started
on 2nd June 2006 coinciding with the 4th king’s
32nd coronation celebration is distributed once
a week and is especially design to cover rural
news. It has two versions (English & Dzongkha).
It is usually possible to have clothes washed
and ironed in one day. Dry cleaning is possible
with every lodge and hotel that has been approved
by the Department of Tourism. Consign in the
morning and pickup in the evening.
Thimphu is Bhutan’s biggest city and has
around five licensed night clubs which operate
on a weekly basis, on Saturday night and some
of them on Wednesday as ladies night. They also
organize parties on special occasions and Government
holidays. Apart from Thimphu there are also
clubs in other Districts, and even if they don’t
have one, they organize New Year celebrations
or special occasions by renting hotel and halls.