Travelers Tips

Banking
Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that cater to the needs of the people.

Some of the banks that you can avail of while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency.

ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or Master Card.

In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores.

Clothes and Other Paraphernalia
With great altitudinal variations, weather is quite mixed in Bhutan. So be prepared to face the unforeseen weather conditions.

We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn when visiting such places. As a 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 national flag being raised.

Communications
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Most hotels and cafes offer Wi-Fi internet access. Bhutan has a mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming also assessable.
English is also spoken by the majority of Bhutanese making communication very easy.

Guides and Interpreters
Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and licensed guides that are well versed in local history and possess good communication skills. All guides are certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Customs
The following articles are exempt from duty:

  • Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
  • 1 liter of alcohol (spirits 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 at your port of entry.

Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.

If importing any items to Bhutan which are for sale or gift, they may be liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to fill out a departure form, which will be asked for by Customs authorities.

Import/export of the following goods is strictly prohibited:

  • Arms, ammunition and explosives
  • All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
  • Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  • Antiques

Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival.

Electricity
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets.

It is recommended that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics if necessary, however, most hotels offer multi plug sockets.

Health

Inoculations
Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and appropriate medication you should have prior to your travels. As a minimum you should have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

Money
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) It is at par with the Indian rupee which is accepted as legal tender in the country.

Note: INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan.

ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or Master Card.

In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores.

Photography
Bhutan offers immense opportunities for photography especially during outdoor sightseeing trips.
However you should check with your guide before taking pictures or filming inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions as in some area photograph/filming is not permitted.
You are free to capture images of the landscape, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture and the exterior of Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

Precautions
Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world however you should still exercise caution when visiting. Please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, cameras, wallets and purses are properly secured. Please refrain from leaving such items within sight in locked vehicles while sightseeing.

Avoid drinking tap water which has not been boiled or ice cubes in drinks at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated. One can easily acquire affordable treated and bottled water.

Also, Bhutan has a duty to protect its citizens from drugs and tobacco products. To do this we need your help and cooperation. Please co-operate if stopped and asked about your baggage. Please do not carry tobacco goods in excess of the set limit.

Shopping
Some popular handicraft items available for purchase are hand-woven textiles, wood carvings, cane and bamboo baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper products etc… Other items you may be interested in are the exquisite Buddhist thangkha paintings or Bhutan’s wide array of colorful and creative postage stamps. You can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly prohibited.

Tipping
Tipping is a purely personal matter. We leave it up to you as to whether you want to give a gratuity to your guide and driver. However, if doing so, we recommend that you place the gratuity in an envelope.

Travel / Medical Insurance
You should not travel internationally without travel insurance.
The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for our visitors. Travel insurance can be provided through your Bhutanese tour operator or international partner. You may also visit the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan website at www.ricb.com.bt for more information.

Traveling Kits
Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate. In general summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, while winter temperatures are usually below 15 degrees Celsius.

The northern regions of the country are colder than the more tropical south and it is recommended you pack accordingly. Trekkers will need to bring appropriate warm clothes and comfortable hiking boots preferably with ankle support and weather-proof to complement the weather and rugged terrain.

Others suggested items to pack:

  • A pair of sunglasses
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Hat
  • Umbrella
  • Camera
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Flash light (with spare batteries)
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Anti-histamine cream
  • Anti-diarrhea pills
  • Altitude sickness medication if trekking above 3000m
  • Insect repellent

Visa

All visitors to Bhutan require a visa.
All tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator i.e Bhutan Holiday Planner.

You are required to send the scanned photocopy of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $ 40 visa fee and USD $ 10 as Tourism development fee) has been wire transferred and received by Bhutan Holiday Planner. Once we receive the visa clearance letter from Tourism Council of Bhutan we will then forward the letter to you via email.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.