Comprehensive travel guide put together by Bhutan Soul Tours and Travels to provide our guests with relevant information to assist them plan their trip to Bhutan with ease.

Travellers cannot process on arrival tourist visa hence all travellers must process the visa prior to their arrival in Bhutan. Tourism regulation set by the Royal Government of Bhutan mandates that all tours must be booked through a certified local tour operator. The local tour operator will process the tourist visa on traveller’s behalf. The Tourism Council of Bhutan approves the tourist visa upon full payment of the trip. A one-time visa processing fee of USD 40 per person is levied.

To achieve high value low impact sustainable tourism, all tourists visiting Bhutan are subject to the minimum daily tariff set by the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The Minimum Daily Package rate, Surcharge for FIT or small group and Cancellation Policy shall be as follows:

Season Minimum Daily Tariff Months Applicable
Peak Season USD 250 per person per night Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov
Lean Season USD 200 per person per night Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug, Dec

The Minimum Daily Package rate includes:

  • Sustainable Development Fee;
  • Charges for accommodation on a twin sharing basis;
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages;
  • Service of Guides;
  • Transport within Bhutan;
  • Trekking Haulage.

The charges for accommodation as mentioned above shall be for a minimum of 3-star accommodations and any additional service or demand for a higher grade of accommodations would contribute to a higher cost on the Minimum Daily Package rate.

Discounts:

Children and Student discount:

  • Children of 5 years of age and below during the time of their visit shall be charged only visa fee and any other charge therein shall be exempted;
  • Children above 5 years of age but below 12 years of age accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be entitled 50% discount on Minimum Daily Package rate including SDF after verifying their age from their passport;
  • Students who are 25 years of age and below shall be entitled to 25% discount on the Minimum Daily Package rate including SDF upon submission of valid student identification document;

Duration discount:

  • A discount of 50% on SDF shall be provided for tourist(s) who spend more than eight nights but less than fifteen nights;
  • There shall be no charge on SDF for tourist(s) who spend more than fourteen nights.

Group size discount:

  • In a group of 11 – 15 tourists, one person is entitled to a discount of 50% on the Minimum Daily Package rate including SDF.
  • For a group of 16 persons and more; one person is entitled to 100% waiver on the Minimum Daily Package rate including SDF.
  • If the group size is bigger than 27 people or more, the group shall not be entitled to one and a half or two separate discounts unless they belong to two separate groups;

A tourist traveling via Phuntsholing shall be exempted from paying SDF for one night halt either during entry or at the time of exit and for those traveling via Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar they shall be exempted from paying SDF for one night halt each during entry as well as exit. However, it must be reflected in their itineraries that they shall be lodged in one of the TCB approved hotels.

Surcharge for FIT or small group

Individual travellers up to 2 people visiting Bhutan are subject to a surcharge as follows over and above your minimum daily tariff:

Number of Tourists Surcharge
One traveller USD 40 per night
Two traveller USD 30 per person per night

 

By Air

 

Royal Bhutan Airlines and Bhutan Airlines operate an inbound flights to Paro International Airport from Singapore, Bangkok Thailand, Dhaka Bangladesh, Katmandu Nepal and from multiple Indian cities such as New Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai.

By Road

There are three points of entry by road. Phuntsholing district in the south west that links with the Indian plains of West Bengal. This point of entry is 176 kilometers away from the capital city Thimphu. Indian National Airport in Bagdogra is approximately 170 kilometers away from the border town. Tourist can also enter through Gelephu district in south central and Samdrup Jongkhar district in south eastern Bhutan that link with the Indian state of Assam. Guwahati International Airport is approximately 150 kilometers away from Samdrup Jongkhar. This route is preferable if travelers plan on exploring eastern Bhutan.

Depending on the size of the group of travellers, the following transport is recommended:

Vehicle Type Maximum Capacity
SUV 2 travellers
Hi-roof 6 travellers
Coaster 15 travellers

Average Drive Time:

From To Distance Travel Time
Paro Thimphu 55 KM 2 hours
Phuntsoling Thimphu 180 KM 6 hours
Thimphu Punakha 70 KM 3 hours
Punakha Gangtey 70 KM 3 hours
Gangtey Bumthang 193 KM 7 hours

Travellers can carry the following items for personal consumption:

200 cigarettes; 30 pieces of cigars or 150 gram of other tobacco

A person shall be allowed to import only one tobacco or tobacco product at a time as stated above. A proof or receipt of tax payment shall be valid only for one month from the date of payment of tax. A person importing tobacco and tobacco products from India for personal consumption shall pay 100% Sales Tax and at such rate as may be revised by the Board from time to time. A person importing tobacco and tobacco product from countries other than India for personal consumption shall pay 100 percent sales tax and 100 percent customs duty and at such rate as may be revised by the Board from time to time.

Note: While in Bhutan, visitors must retain the tax receipt to present to, if you encounter any checking by Tobacco Control Inspector.

Import/export of the following items is strictly prohibited:

  • Arms, ammunition and explosives
  • All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
  • Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  • Antiques
  • Import of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations.

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.

Ngultrum is the local currency. The Ngultrum is pegged with the Indian Rupee at par. Foreign currency exchange services are available at the local banks. Updated foreign exchange rate information can be found at the local bank website and at the airport.

Banks have also installed many ATM across the country. The ATM accepts VISA and MasterCard. Service charges may vary depending on the country and the Bank of where the card was issued and therefore we recommend travellers to get in touch with their bank prior to travelling to Bhutan. Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept card payment as well.

Local telecom service companies offer tourist SIM card. The services include talk time, text and data services. Tourists can avail the SIM card from the airport or visit distribution shops in town. Tourists are required to submit a copy of their passport. The SIM card cost Ngultrum 100 to 200. SIM cards are available in Standard, Micro and Nano sizes.

Bhutan generally has four seasons in a year. Winter months in western and central region generally experiences warm days and cold nights. The temperature seldom drops below 0 degree Celsius and light snowfall is expected. Summer is characterized with frequent rainfall and humid conditions. The most favorable weather conditions are experienced in spring and fall. These periods are ideal for outdoor activities.

Bhutan has a season for everyone.  Kingdom stretches across all climatic zones, from the sub-tropical jungles in the south, to the moderate heights of 2000 – 5000 meters in the center and up to the alpine world of the towering Himalayas and glaciers in the north.

Winter:

Winter is dry and pleasant and makes it the best time of the year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitudes or a bicycle trip along quiet mountain roads.  The endangered Black Necked Cranes spend their winter in Bhutan.

Spring:

Spring brings the trekking season in moderate altitudes where spectacular rhododendron forests bloom.  The largest monastic festivals, the Paro festival, take place.  The temperature is pleasantly mild even up to the Alpine regions.

Summer:

Summer is the monsoon season but the settled areas of Central and Western Bhutan have pleasant summer temperatures.  Rain falls regularly but is manageable with adequate planning and equipment.  Treks in high mountain areas are characterized by mild temperatures, green meadows, and pastures of Blue Poppies and Edelweiss.

Autumn:

Autumn is the festive season in Bhutan.  September and October have the highest number of festivals.  Trekkers particularly enjoy the clear view of the mountains in October with low rainfall.  Harvests, harvests rituals and festivals can add to your Bhutan experience.

Clothing:

Due to the wide range of temperature and climatic conditions it is advisable to dress in layers. For protection against cold, layered clothing is better than one or two thick garments. Clothing should preferably be made from natural materials, which allow the body to breathe.

You will be offending people if you walk around in skimpy or tight fitting clothes. Shorts are not welcomed and women are advised to wear below the knee skirts or fairly loose trousers. Do not wear sleeveless T shirts (singlet’s, vests) as outer garments. Dress modestly and respectfully for visits to monasteries, dzongs and other religious institutions, and refrain from smoking while on the premises. Hats, caps etc. should be removed before entering the premises.

For trekking:

Durable comfortable trekking boots, sunglasses, headgear, rain coat and warm clothing are recommended.  A sleeping bag is must and it is advisable to have a medium to heavy one.  A torch can be handy.  (Note: for trekking a load of 20kg is allowed).

What to Pack:

The following is fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for the trip: Clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses, pair of casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, camera,  and accessories (including spare camera batteries), insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissors, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, a preparation for the relief of sunburn, medicine for anti-motion sickness and any medication you take regularly, or might need to take for a periodically recurring condition, such as asthma.

Photography:

The photographic opportunities on all trips are immense. The natural scenery is superb, and you will also wish to record the local people, their houses and shops etc. Always ask by a gesture if it is ok to do so. Don’t take your destination as a living museum! Also, note that photography in shrine rooms of dzongs, monasteries and religious institutions is generally not permitted. Outdoor photography is usually permitted, but when visiting such places, please check with your guide before taking any photographs.

Language:

“Kuzu Zangpola” Greetings! & Kadinche – Thank you! Dzongkha is the national language. English is commonly spoken throughout the Kingdom.

When is the best time to visit Bhutan?

Bhutan receives majority of the tourists in the spring months of March, April and May and fall months of September, October and November as major festivals are celebrated in these period. Hence these months are considered peak travelling season and a minimum daily tariff of USD 250 per person per night is charged.

However if tourists are not particularly interested in the festivals and plan on just exploring Bhutan, we suggest you to plan your trip during the lean period. The minimum daily tariff during the lean season is only USD 200 per person per night.

What is the weather like in Bhutan?

Weather in Bhutan varies in different region. The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the lower altitude to alpine in the north. Southern and Eastern Bhutan enjoys a subtropical climate and are generally warmer and humid. The temperature in the capital city of Thimphu ranges from -2.5 degrees Celsius in winter to 25 degrees Celsius in summer.

What is minimum daily tariff?

Minimum Daily Tariff is a tourism regulation set by the Royal Government of Bhutan. In order to promote high value low impact sustainable tourism, an all-inclusive daily tariff is levied to all tourists visiting the country. The daily tariff during the peak season (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov) is USD 250 per person per night and USD 200 per person per night during the lean season (Dec, Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug)

How can I get to Bhutan?

Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operate an inbound flight to Paro International Airport in Paro Bhutan from India (New Delhi, Calcutta, Guwahati and Bagdogra) Dhaka Bangladesh, Bangkok Thailand and Singapore.

Is it mandatory to book my trip through a local tour operator?

The Government regulation mandates that you must book your trip through a local tour operator.

Do I need a VISA to visit Bhutan? How do I apply for a tourist VISA?

With the exception of Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian, all tourists visiting Bhutan must apply for a tourist visa prior to their arrival to Bhutan. Tourist VISA can be processed through a local tour operator.

You will need to submit a duly filled VISA form, scanned copy of your passport (with at least a validity of 6 months). The Tourism Council of Bhutan approves your VISA upon the full payment for your trip.