Visit Bhutan 2017

Interested to visit Bhutan, the world’s first carbon negative country?

CNN Travel declares Bhutan as one of the best places to visit in 2017
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Contact our travel expert for advice on events, venues, dates, flights, hotels and packages for your holidays in 2017.

Bhutan’s unspoilt culture and traditions, Mahayana Buddhism, beautiful landscapes and mountains,

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HELP AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Can’t find what you’re looking for? You can email us on info@bhutangreentravel.com. We will respond as soon as possible.

1. Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan, the last Shangri-La, is a small, land-locked Buddhist Kingdom nestling in the eastern Himalayas between its powerful neighbours, north of India and south of China.

2. Is Bhutan a safe country?

Bhutan is definitely a very safe country to travel. The crime rate is very low, where begging and theft are not very common and a very safe place especially for women, children and solo travellers. However, women are advised to avoid walking to hotel late in the evening or night without your tourist guide!

3. What is the time zone of Bhutan?

Bhutan has only one time zone. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

4. When is the best time to visit? And when should I book my tour?

A trip to Bhutan is possible all-year-round, but the best months are March, April, May, September, October and November. During these months, there are several festivals taking place and the weather is favourable with warm and a clear blue sky. Seats of Drukair or Tashi Air and hotels during popular festivals such as Thimphu Tshechu and Paro Tshechu get booked up fully in advance due to limited capacity, so book early to avoid disappointment and guarantee your place.

5. How do I make my reservations or booking?

This can be done via Contact Us section on our website, by calling to our office in Bhutan on Phone: +975-2-333083 or Mobile: +975-17863436, by Skype on choki5star or by booking through one of our overseas appointed agents. Please note that you will also be required to complete and sign our Tour Booking Form (TBF) which you can find on the left hand side on the website both in PDF or WORD formats. Prior to booking, we strongly recommend that you read a simple guide to booking your trip on the link: www.bhutangreentravel.com/BookingGuide.php.

6. Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can come to Bhutan each year?

There is no limit on the number of tourists entering into the country each year. The government of Bhutan adopts a “high value, low impact” tourism policy instead of mass tourism, which is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect and appreciate the unique and rich cultures, traditions and values of the Bhutanese people offering an image of authenticity, remoteness and well-protected cultural heritage and natural environment based on the principle of sustainability, environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable.

7. What can I see in Bhutan?

Bhutan is today one of the most sought after emerging travel destinations especially to those of you seeking for out-of-the-ordinary-experiences and off the beaten track holidays. The country offers, first off, the safest and peaceful place on earth for tourists, devoutly Buddhist and hospitable people, the wonderful sights, the beautiful sounds, unspoilt traditions and cultures, amazing mountain landscapes, striking Dzongs (fortress-like), fantastic monasteries, unique Buddhist architecture and tapestries, spectacular and colourful religious dance festivals with playful clowns, outrageous archery competitions (only sport where the Bhutanese appear in the Olympic Games), diverse flora and fauna, a paradise for botanists, birders & trekkers, walking, etc. with about 72% of the land under forest cover, perhaps believed to be Yeti-spotting in Merak & Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, thrilling Bhutanese stamps and Gross National Happiness (GNH) where Bhutan is trying to measure progress not by the popular idea of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but through (GNH) concept – happiness is a place on earth.

8. I don’t want to travel in a group. Do you offer a private tour or tailor make itineraries specifically for my requirements?

We do not go by the “one size fits for all” and so offer private journeys. We will always do our best to customise any itinerary to suit your specific interests and needs.

9. Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?

Yes, it is a government regulation that you must book your travel to Bhutan through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or with one of their international agents or partners.

10. Do I need a visa to travel to Bhutan?

Yes, visa is required for everybody travelling to Bhutan except the nationalities from India, Bangladesh and Maldives. The Bhutan tourist visas are not issued by Embassies, Missions or Consulates overseas. Your licensed Bhutanese tour operator (like Bhutan Green Travel) with whom you book your travel can arrange your visa prior to arrival in Bhutan. A copy of the main data page of your passport having at least six months' validity at the point of arrival in Bhutan with sufficient blank visa pages is required. Visa fee is US$ 40 and issued upon arrival in Bhutan.

11. Can I extend my tourist visa after reaching Bhutan?

Visa can be extended even upon reaching Bhutan. This means an extension of your trip in which case you will have to pay an additional tariff on the actual numbers of nights spent plus a visa extension fee.

12. How do I get to Bhutan?

Fly into Paro International Airport, Bhutan by Druk Air or Tashi Air from Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata (India), Bagdogra (India), Bodh Gaya (India), Guwahati (India), Kathmandu and Dhaka (Bangladesh). You can also enter by road from the three Indian border towns via Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. No other airlines fly into Bhutan!

13. How much free baggage does Drukair or Tashi Air allow?

All passengers are restricted to carry two items of luggage each by Drukair or Tashi Air. One suitcase or backpack with a maximum weight of 20 kg (44 lb) to check-in and one hand luggage of 5 kg (11 lb) to carry-on. The luggage dimensions are the same as other international flights. If you are holding a Business Class ticket, both the airlines allow an extra 10 kg to check-in without additional charges.

14. What type of vehicles do you use during tours?

We use only imported vehicles like Toyota/Hyundai/Santafe such as SUV for solo travellers and group of two persons, Hiace Bus for group of three or more and Toyota Coaster Bus for larger group.

15. How much does it cost to visit Bhutan? And what does the tour cost include? Is the cost of international flights included in the cost?

The Government of Bhutan, in particular, Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) sets a minimum daily tariff for travel to Bhutan for a group of three persons or more:

(i) Peak season rate of US $250 per person per night for March, April, May, September, October and November.

(ii) Low season rate of US $200 per person per night for January, February, June, July, August and December

However, tourists travelling in a group of two persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates: (a) Single individual – US $40 per night and (b) Group of 2 persons – US $30 per person per night.

The daily tariff includes transfers to and from the airport, twin-sharing accommodation in 3-star hotels, camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours, all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), baggage handling at all hotels and camps, licensed Bhutanese English-speaking guided tours, entrance fees to museums and other attractions, comfortable transport within Bhutan, all applicable internal taxes and service fees (including royalty) and mineral water BUT services exclude international airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination), travel insurance, discretionary gratuities to guides and driver, single room supplement and other personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls, etc.

16. I am travelling alone. Do I have to pay a single supplement?

Yes. The price sets by the government is on the basis of a twin-sharing accommodation. If you are travelling alone, you would be required to pay the relevant single supplement. But if you would like to join on one of our popular group tours, then we can arrange for you to share a room with a fellow traveller of the same sex in order for you to avoid having to pay a single room supplement charge.

17. Can I find cheaper prices for holidays to Bhutan?

Perhaps yes, but behind closed doors only! Few tour operators charge prices other than the tariffs set by the government and are illegal to do so. Tourism in Bhutan is directly controlled by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) which is a government regulatory body and strictly checks any kind of undercutting from time to time. Under the strict rules of the TCB, no tour operator in Bhutan is freely allowed to undercut the prices and if found breaching the government’s minimum tariffs punitive measures are imposed, and you would be taking a serious risk – either make up the shortfall or other enforceable action such as revocation of business licence, disruption of tours and even to the extent of deporting clients. Ask yourself why would someone show you as a cost leader? Cheaper rates means delivering the poor customer services, sub-standard hotels, unqualified guides, etc. Ours is transparent and respect the TCB’s DOs and DON’Ts! This is why we have published detailed itineraries and prices on our website, where most don’t.

18. How can I pay for my tour? Is my money safe when booking a holiday with Bhutan Green Travel (BGT)?

Payments for your trip should be made by wire bank transfer. Once your booking is confirmed with us, we provide our bank details for making the payments. Note that payments by credit card are unacceptable by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). Bhutan Green Travel (BGT) is one of the licensed tour operators of the TCB and a member of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO). When BGT receives money from either you or from your travel agent, the funds are transferred into a Government Account of TCB and are not paid direct to us, which means your money is 100% financially secured and protected in the unlikely event of BGT ever broke or default. The money remains in this account until the day of departure of your trip. BGT, finally, receives your money only after your tour is completed. Rest assured you will have peace of mind when booking a holiday with us.

19. How much money should I bring after I have fully paid for my trip?

The price you pay covers almost everything during your stay in Bhutan such as hotel, food, transportation, water and guide(s). You may need extra money for soft drinks or alcohol, souvenir purchases like handicrafts, tapestries and thangkas (wall hangings), laundry and other personal expenses not covered by the tour. How much cash to bring is a personal matter – some spend more and others spend little! Here are some rough estimates of your likely costs to incur: a large bottle of beer costs US $4-5 in the hotels and slightly less in the restaurants or shops, a bottled water around US $1-2 in the hotels or half/less outside, laundry between US $2-4 and wines cost pretty expensive in Bhutan as it is imported from overseas. In altogether, we would estimate around US $20-25 per day per person. The widely accepted currency for shopping in Bhutan is US dollars and also other major currencies like GB pounds and Euros.

20. How much money should I spend on tipping?

Tipping is optional in Bhutan. It is up to you to decide whether or not to tip the individual depending on how he/she has made your travels more enjoyable and memorable. We recommend about US $5-10 per day per guide in a group and US $3-5 for one driver throughout the trip. In general, the tips may be slightly higher if the duration is short or less if more. For trekking, there are additional crews such as the cook and his assistants where he does most of the works. The cook is usually tipped as much as the guide gets or more and his assistants expect half. Your tour leader will split that costs between the members, collect all the tips and put them in an envelope to be given as one tip.

21. What is the currency in Bhutan? How do I change my currency? Can I use credit cards?

The currency in Bhutan is called Ngultrum (Nu). Its value is officially pegged at par with the Indian Rupee (Rs) which is also accepted as legal tender. Ngultrums can be bought only upon arrival in Bhutan at the Paro International Airport, Banks and major hotels, all of which also accept traveller’s cheques and/or dollars and various other major currencies such as GB Pound Sterling and Euro. The Ngultrum is currently traded at an approximate rate of Nu. 61.90 = US $1.00. Travellers can encash and/or withdraw money from ATM for those holding Visa, MasterCard and Maestro with a PIN code and also credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express can be used at major handicrafts shops and some major hotels at an additional processing fee up to 5% of the transactions.

22. What’s the food like in Bhutan?

Most hotels provide buffet-style meals including Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, Continental and Chinese. Some larger hotels provide a la carte service but may not always have everything on the menu. The traditional Bhutanese food is mainly white or red rice, seasonal vegetables and often eaten meats (pork, beef and chicken) cooked with chillis and cheese. Most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy. All hotels have a good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.

23. Can I drink the local tap water?

We advise you to avoid drinking tap water, fountain drinks or ice cubes. Drink only bottled or boiled water and carbonated drinks in cans or bottles. All hotel rooms will provide flasks of boiled water for drinking and cleaning teeth.

24. Will the hotels have a laundry service?

Laundry services are available in the hotels you’ll be staying in at a reasonable price. You are advised to use the laundry service only when you are at the hotels for more than one night because the climate conditions in Bhutan will be difficult for your clothes to dry overnight.

25. What about Internet access in Bhutan?

Most hotels and lodges now have either Wi-Fi service or computers (except when trekking) for guests to use. Sometimes the service is free, sometimes it’s not. The speed may not be fast but good enough for you to check and send your emails.

26. Are there mobile phone services in Bhutan?

Yes, there are currently two cell phone networks that operate in the country, namely B-Mobile and Tashi Cell, both of which have bilateral and unilateral roaming links with the operators outside Bhutan covering Asia, Europe, Australia and USA. If your mobile phone is without international roaming facilities, then bring an unlocked mobile phone with GSM 900-1800 technology. Upon arrival in Bhutan, you can purchase a local SIM card for relatively cheap price and will get a phone number that you can then share with your family at home. Incoming calls on your cell phone are free.

27. Do I need travel insurance?

Insurance is not included in the tour price. We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance to cover you against any situations that may arise.

28. If I become ill on my trip, will there be sufficient medical care?

Your guide will assist with a doctor’s visit or hospitalization should you require. All towns in Bhutan have government hospitals providing only basic health care. There are also government funded Basic Health Units (BHUs) in rural villages. All travellers can get free medical attention during emergencies in Bhutan, however, we strongly recommend that you have a comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu has the best facilities.

29. Which immunizations do I need for travelling to Bhutan?

Every destination has different health requirements. Please consult your GP or doctor for relevant health and vaccination advice before travelling to Bhutan.

30. What type of dress code is expected of visitors in Bhutan? Can I wear shorts or skirts? How about calf-length skirts and capris?

Generally speaking, there is no such formal dress required while travelling as tourists in Bhutan. However, visitors are advised not to wear any type of dress that expose or reveal. Calf-length skirts will be fine including capris. Shorts and skirts (above the knee) are disallowed when visiting temples, monasteries and dzongs (fortress-like), and hat & shoes too have to be removed. Also, when attending a formal meeting or entering offices, hat has to be removed.

31. Would you recommend taking a rain coat?

Most of the time there should be nice weather in Bhutan but bring a light rain jacket just in case. For more information about the climate of Bhutan, please have a look on the link – www.bhutangreentravel.com/Climate.php.

32. If I wanted to change my travel dates, what should I do?

Once you know what dates you want to change it to, please contact us immediately. We will try to change it without any additional admin fees but our policy is to charge if any of associated suppliers apply extra charges on the new changes made.

33. If I wanted to cancel my booking, what should I do?

We must be informed in writing about the cancellation of your tour. The cancellation charges apply according to the notice period received before your dates of travel. For details, please visit the link provided here – www.bhutangreentravel.com/Cost.php.

34. What should I do if I am not satisfied with my tour provider?

Firstly, we suggest you to speak or write to us about your complaints. We’ll try to resolve to the best possible means from our end, and if you are still not happy with our responses then please lodge your formal complaints to the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and/or the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO).