Required Information for travelers to Bhutan
Independent travelling is not permitted in Bhutan. All travelers excepting Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals require Visa which is issued only when a confirmed booking through a Bhutanese tour operator directly or through an agent has been made.
ENTRY BY AIR
Entry in to Bhutan can be made by land and air. The two Airlines – Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are connected to Bangkok in Thailand, Bagdogra, Delhi, Guwahati, Gaya, Kolkata and Mumbai in India, Kathmandu (Nepal), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Singapore.
The town of Phuntsholing in south-west and Samdrup Jongkhar in south-eastern Bhutan are currently the only two land border access open for international tourists. Phuntsholing lies approximately 170 km east of the Indian airport of Bagdogra and New Jalpaiguri Train station in the State of West bengal. And Samdrup Jongkhar is 101 km from Guwahati in Assam.
There are various ways of getting around in Bhutan. The most convenient is to contact a tour operator who will arrange a tour package to suit your needs. you can also hire taxis. Bhutan is fairly connected by buses.
A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from farm house stays to budget hotels to high end resorts. Most of the accommodation is basic but clean. Information on rates is available with the information counter of the Tourism Council of Bhutan at Phuntsholing or from the headquarter Tourism Council of Bhutan , Thimphu. Three star accommodation is provided for all tours booked through a local tour operator for all tourists paying the minimum tariff except for Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals.
Almost all restaurants serve Indian and Chinese. Bhutanese dishes are also available in all the restaurants, the favorite being Ema Datsi, a cheese and chilly dish. All Bhutanese dishes use an abundance of chilly so do order according to your palette strength. Besides the locally produced beer and whisky the local brew – Ara which is brewed from rice, barley or wheat is also popular with visitors.
Bhutan is popular for its textiles, but there are various hand made arts and crafts items for sell. Souvenirs items with price range of a few pennies to expensive paintings (Thankas), jewelries, statues, wood carvings, etc. are available. Royal Government of Bhutan established an organization “Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Craft” to promote growth of handicrafts through the enhancement of skills and business knowledge of the craft/rural community by setting up shop space where they can sell their products. One such place is Craft Bazar in Thimphu.
The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum and is at par with the Indian Rupee and both are used in Bhutan.
1 Nu.(Ngultrum)=100 Ch(Chetrums)
US$ 1=55 Nu. (approximately)
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at the airport and from Banks. Some credit cards like the Visa, the American Express and the JBC are accepted by the bigger hotels and business establishments mostly confined to the bigger town like Thimphu, Paro and Phuntsholing.
Bhutan is well connected with mobile phone connections and tourists can get temporary sim cards. And most hotels provide free Wifi connections
Bhutan has one time zone for the entire country. It is six hours ahead of GMT. Bhutan is 30 minutes ahead of India, one hour behind Thailand, and 15 minutes ahead of Nepal.
Bhutan has three climate zones- the southern belt that is tropical in nature. the cool and temperate zone of the central part and the alpine region in the north.
Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) is the regulatory authority of the Tourism industry, in particular to frame policy directives, which will ensure the Industry’s healthy growth. As a rule, all monetary transactions must be deposited to TCB’s account and only then the visa is issued. The payment is approved and released to the tour operators after deducting the Government Taxes only after the tour is completed and the standards are met. As such, there is no risk involved while booking your Tours .
All our Tours are escorted by well trained, knowledgeable guides, trained and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. All the guides speak English but Japanese, French, German and Chinese or for other Nationality, advance well trained guides can be provided with prior information and on additional cost.
Bhutan is a photographers paradise. The locals are mostly humble and always smiling but if you wish to take their pictures its always nice to ask by gesture if it’s okay to take pictures. Also while visiting Dzongs, monasteries and religious institutions, please follow your guide’s instruction. Photography inside the Dzongs and monuments are not allowed.
The rules and rates for filming in Bhutan differ from that of normal treks and tours. Tourists or professionals intent on filming in Bhutan must abide by the Bhutanese Filming Regulations 1995, available with the implementing agency, the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Applications for a filming permit must be submitted to the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
- First 30 Minutes or part thereof ~ US $10,000
- Next 30 Minutes or part thereof ~ US $6,000
- Every additional 30 Minutes or part there of US $3,000
In addition a security deposit of US $5,000 must be deposited with the TCB. This deposit will be refunded upon completion of the film to the satisfaction of the TCB.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH
Anyone who enjoys out door life and is physically fit can participate on our treks and tours. How ever some treks maybe rigorous and difficult because of high altitude and therefore a good training of fitness for at least a month at home is required for treks going to an altitude in excess of 4000m. There is no compulsory vaccination for travel to Bhutan. However it is recommended that you be protected against Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A, Malaria, especially if you are traveling out of Bhutan. If you have heart condition, please check with your doctor to ensure that it is alright to undertake high altitude treks.
The costs that we offer do not cover your Travel Insurance. It is imperative that you have full comprehensive insurance cover to protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps. Such policies are not available in Bhutan. It should adequately cover baggage and travel delays etc. and helicopter evacuation, transportation and medical assistance in case of treks.
ALTERATION OF ITINERARIES
Chen-Ray Travel & Tours reserves the right to modify or alter any trip itineraries due to circumstances beyond our control such as Flight cancellation, weather condition, political strikes or restrictions etc.
Airport tax of Nu/300.00 or USD 10.00 per person is payable at the time of departure. It is subject to change.
CUSTOM AND REGULATIONS
The Royal Bhutan Customs Rules and regulations strictly prohibit the export of any religious Antiquity or antiques of any type. All personal electronics items – Cameras, Computers and personal electronic equipment may be brought into the country but they must be declared on the customs form provided on arrival at Paro and will be checked on departure. The following are the lists of permitted and prohibited items:
• 2 Cartons of Cigarettes – subject to 100 percent Customs Duty and 100 percent Sales Tax
• 2 boxes or 50 pieces subject to 100 percent Customs Duty and 100 percent Sales Tax
• 2 bottles of alcoholic spirits – each bottle not larger than one liter
• 1 bottle of perfume up to 2 ounces
• 50 grammes of Gold
• 1 kilo of Silver
• Maximum of 10 pieces of clothing whether stitched or unstitched
• Other household or personal goods including electronics and bedding shall be limited to one piece each. Video cameras and photographic equipment can also be freely imported into the country.
*Items of gifts and presents shall be included in the above free allowance.
• Most foreign currency can be imported or exported up to the equivalent of 10,000 USD.
• Illegal drugs
• Guns, explosives and ammunition
• Knives and deadly weapons
• Plant and plant products
• Meat and meat products
• Pets and animals
• Religious or rare cultural artifacts
• Hazardous materials
• Counterfeit money and goods
• Pornographic material
• Any other goods which are prohibited by any laws or international conventions or treaties to which Bhutan is a signature
• All arms and ammunition are prohibited from entering the country unless special permission has been granted from the Royal Bhutan Army.
• Plant and plant materials will require permission from the Ministry of Agriculture before being granted permission to enter the country.
• Animal and animal products will also require permission from the Ministry of Agriculture to enter the country. All cats, dogs and other pets will also need a travel health certificate clearing the creature of any potential infection or contamination.
• Wireless and remote sensing telecommunications equipment will need a permit from the Ministry of Information & Communication.