Visiting Bhutan - Visa

All visitors to Bhutan require a visa.

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a Visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC))

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan.  Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.   

To assist you in processing your Visa, send us the photo-page of your passport. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account.  Once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours. 

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

Tourism Policy of Bhutan

 The Royal Government of Bhutan with a vision “to foster a vibrant tourism industry as a positive force in the conservation of environment, promotion of cultural heritage, safeguarding sovereign status of the Nation for significantly contributing to Gross National Happiness.” The vision adheres strongly to a policy of ‘High Value, Low Impact’ tourism which serves the purpose of creating an image of exclusivity and high- yield for Bhutan. Therefore, the Royal Government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. All tourists visiting Bhutan are therefore required to avail the guided tour package through an authorised tour operator. The tour operator is responsible for all arrangements during your stay in Bhutan including in-country travel/road permits, temple permits and special permits. Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan.

Customs

All visitors are required to complete a customs declaration form upon arrival at Paro airport. The following articles are exempt from duty:

(a) Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor

(b) 1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)

(c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%

(d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use

(e) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use

The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.

Import/export restrictions 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 (d) Antiques Imports of plants, soils etc., are subject to quarantine regulations.  These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance.

Standard Tariff

The peak seasons, when most visitors come to Bhutan, are during the Spring and Autumn. Spring is from April through June and Autumn from September through November. There are many festivals during these periods, and visitors come to take advantage both of the pleasant climate and the wonderful festivals. For those wanting to avoid the busy tourist periods the winter months of December, January, February, are recommended.

 

The minimum daily package covers the following services

-All internal taxes and charges

-A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

-A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).

-All meals

-A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay

-All internal transport (excluding internal flights)

-Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours

SURCHARGES

Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.

These are as follows:

-Single individual – US$ 40 per night

-Group of 2 persons only – US$ 30 per person per night

-The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

There are many different types of accommodations available in Bhutan. There are options ranging from luxurious 5-star resorts to cozy little hotels and home-stays in traditional Bhutanese homes. The types of accommodations can be divided into  Hotels, Resorts., Farm-stays, Home-stays  For 4 – 5 star accommodation, you may write to us to upgrade your standard tour package to premium tour package.

Additionally visitors embarking on long treks will be provided with tents and whatever other camping equipment is deemed necessary. Regardless of where they stay, visitors can be assured of their comfort and traditional Bhutanese hospitality.

 

GETTING TO BHUTAN

You can enter Bhutan either by air or through surface. Legpai Drukyul will assist you as per the tour package of your choice.

AIR

Drukair with an impeccable safety record, without a single mishap since its inception in 1983 is operating flights into and around the country with a fleet of Airbus A319’s.  It services Bangkok in Thailand, Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Guwahati in India; Dacca in Bangladesh; Kathmandu in Nepal; and Singapore. There are a regular domestic service to Bumthang (central region) and flights available to Trashigang (eastern region) and Gelephu (southern region). A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border to India. www.drukair.com.bt

Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air Pvt. Ltd) of Tashi Group of companies started International fights on 10th of October 2013 with an A320 aircraft with 150 passenger seating capacity from Paro to Bangkok and began operating to Kolkata sector on 7th December 2013. Bhutan Airlines being the country’s first private airline. It has always strived to provide excellent services to the people with the lowest fares possible. www.bhutanairlines.bt/

Bhutan’s Paro International Airport, located in the west of the country at a height of 2,225 m (7300 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft).

GETTING TO BHUTAN

SURFACE/ROAD TRAVEL

Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are all located along the southern border of India and are the only overland border entries open to international tourists.

Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your will begin a mountainous climb through hair-pin bends until you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The 176 km journey usually takes around 6 hours.  Travel sickness tablets are recommended for young children and adults who may not be accustomed to the mountain roads.

Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu. The journey will take you through lush sub-tropical jungles and pristine alpine forests before finally bringing you into Thimphu. You will traverse across three districts with a travel time of approximately ten hours.

Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will have to travel through Trashigang, the largest district in the country, and from there east through Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa and Wangde Phodrang to reach the capital city, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and you should allow three days journey time.

Travel Insurence

You are responsible for your travel insurance therefore, we suggest you to have an adequate travel insurance prior to visiting Bhutan as per your scheduled itinerary.

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.

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. Traveller’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency. Many of these banks provide internet banking facilities. TMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. For concerned travelers a list of ATM locations throughout In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores.

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 MasterCard. For concerned travelers a list of ATM locations throughout Bhutan is found here: http://www.bob.bt/contact-us/atm-locator/.

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

Climate in Bhutan

Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate. In general summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 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 (well broken in) 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-diarrhoea pills • Altitude sickness medication it trekking above 3000m • Insect repellent

Reminders to travelers

Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate. In general summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 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 (well broken in) 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-diarrhoea pills • Altitude sickness medication it trekking above 3000m • Insect repellent
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