FAQs On Bhutan Travel
Bhutan is not your average tourist destination. Bhutan’s tourist attractions have always drawn visitors from all over the world, whether for its vibrant culture or mystical mountains. The undulating hills and attractive culture of this region emanate an undeniable appeal. A great experience is always provided by delightful people, lush forests, massive mountains, and fine cuisine. Bhutan is a location where you may experience and feel its warmth, which will stay with you for the rest of your life. It elicits a strong emotional response while maintaining its opacity to keep you fascinated. Bhutan is in its prime development, with its unique culture and traditions still attached to it.
A flight to Paro will undoubtedly be the most memorable experience of your tour, with the mysterious snowy mountains beckoning you to explore them. Hilltop monasteries abound in Bhutan, providing the tranquility that you seek during your visit. These monasteries are almost a century old, still stand strong in construction, and provide a strong sense of traditional value attached to them.
Some of these monasteries are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and they provide an introduction to a long-lasting faith. Bhutan is well known for its vibrant festivals that have been practiced since the kingdom’s inception. These celebrations bring the culture to life and reveal the tale that lies behind it. The following are the few questions mostly asked about Bhutan.
- Before visiting Bhutan, make sure you have medical or travel insurance. The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan makes it simple to obtain travel insurance.
- The US dollar and Indian Rupee are widely used in BHutan. Local banks offer exchange service on the following foreign currency: US Dollar, Pound, Euro, Indian Rupee, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, Singapore Dollar etc.
- Before you go out, make sure you have just enough cash to get around and enjoy yourself. Carrying too much cash may make you uncomfortable.
- You can travel at night but with the right companions and guides.
- Always travel in a group while visiting secluded trails or sites.
- You will hardly be misled by anyone but be conscious and aware.
- Avoid all types of drugs and narcotics. You can enjoy your drinks and smoke at designated areas.
- Bhutan is slightly cooler than the rest of the world. So make sure you pack your backs with warm clothes.
- If you’re hiking, make sure you have comfortable shoes because the trails are steep and slippery.
- We have a first-aid kit with us at all times for any medical emergencies.
- Trekkers must bring only their personal trekking apparels etc.
- If you’re going to a religious site, dress appropriately.
- Do not take photos in areas where photography is not allowed.
- Only film or capture videos if you have permission.
- Only hire a certified guide from a reputable agency.
Alcohol is not prohibited in Bhutan. It is a tradition to consume alcohol on holidays and weekends.
Air travel is the best and quickest way to get to Bhutan. The country’s only international airport is located in Paro, at a height of 7,300 feet above sea level. If flying out of Kathmandu, passengers will be treated to some fascinating mountain views (Mt Everest) between Nepal and Bhutan.
- By Air
Bhutan is accessible by air, with Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operating regular flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and other locations. Major airports operating direct flights to Paro Airport include Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International, Singapore Changi, IGIA (Delhi), Bagdogra International Airport (Darjeeling, West Bengal), and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata). From Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Chennai, there are no direct flights.
All tourists traveling into Bhutan need a visa except for Indian, Bangladesh, and Maldives nationality. These nationalities need two valid documents: a passport and a voter card. They can obtain a permit entry producing those documents.
Other than these nationalities, they need to obtain visa clearance before traveling to Bhutan from Druk Heritage. Visas are processed online by licensed Bhutan travel operators like Druk Heritage directly or through your foreign travel partner.
Bhutan’s currency is the Bhutanese Ngultrum, and Indian currency is accepted in Bhutan. International visitors can exchange money at Paro Airport’s foreign exchange desk or any of the banks in Bhutan or with Druk Heritage. ATMs are plentiful, so you won’t have to worry about carrying large amounts of cash. All hotels and most shops offer money exchange services.
Bhutanese cuisines are hot, and if you like spicy food, you’re in for a treat. Bhutan has a lot to offer. In Bhutan, most hotels serve good and spicy food. Bhutanese cuisine has a distinct Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan influence. If you wish to experience some local cuisine, the following are some of the greatest options:
- Ema Datshi-(chilies and cheese)
- Jasha Maroo or Maru- (spicy chicken)
- Phaksha Paa- (Pork with Red Chilies)
- Momos (Dumplings)
- Red Rice
This cuisine can be found in the following restaurants:
- Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant
- Bukhari at Uma by COMO
- Village Restaurant
- Chig-ja-gye at Taj Tashi
Bhutan does not have a large population, nor is it so large that trains are required to move around and tour the country. Walking or driving is the greatest method to go about and explore. Taxis are the most common mode of local transportation in Phuentsholing, Paro, Jakar, and Thimphu. Taxis have meters; however, they are rarely utilized. Therefore they operate on a flat fee. A taxi driver would charge you between Rs 2000 and Rs 2500 for a full-day excursion. Avoid taking the bus because it is usually packed, and you can get lost trying to get off at the appropriate stop – but it would be an experience for you if you want to hop on one.
When packing for Bhutan, it is recommended that you bring certain prescriptions with you. There may be health difficulties that accompany you as the weather and food tastes change. Diarrhea, respiratory infection, and other infectious diseases are very likely if you are not used to the climate or the local foods – However this is uncommon.
Before you leave for Bhutan, make sure to bring some prescriptions and seek medical advice on the meds you’ll need to take if you have any health difficulties. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A/B and Typhoid, which can be transmitted to your body through contaminated water and food in Bhutan. It is recommended to have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bhutan provides several photographic opportunities, particularly on outdoor touring trips. However, you should check in with your guide before photographing or filming within Dzongs, temples, monasteries, or religious organizations, since photography and filming videos are prohibited in some regions.
Landscapes, mountain range views, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture, and the exteriors of Dzongs and Chortens are all free to photograph.
Masked dances, bright clothing, and music are enough to keep you engaged and pique your curiosity. Then there are textiles and handicrafts, which showcase the people’s true art. Bhutan tourism includes festivals and monasteries and adrenaline-pumping mountain adventures, river rafting, archery tournaments and happy people. These exciting places and events combine to make Bhutan the Gross National Happiness country, which paints a quite different picture and a must-visit destination.
More FAQs On Bhutan Travel
What languages are spoken in Bhutan?
The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, which most of the population speaks. English is used throughout Bhutan’s education system, so it is widely used and understood.
However, Bhutan has 19 recognized languages and dialects, including Dzongkha and English. Here are a few examples of them:
- Sharchhopkha: spoken by the Sharchop people, who are the largest ethnic group in eastern Bhutan
- Nepali: spoken by a significant number of Bhutanese citizens of Nepali origin, particularly in the southern regions of the country
- Tshangla: spoken by the Tshangla people, who are an ethnic group in eastern Bhutan
In addition to these main languages, there are also many other languages spoken by smaller ethnic groups in Bhutan, such as Bumthangkha, Khengkha, and Kuruthangkha. The country has rich linguistic diversity, reflecting its unique cultural and historical heritage.
What is the weather like in Bhutan, and when is the best time to visit?
Bhutan has a varied climate due to its diverse topography, with the weather varying greatly depending on the altitude and region. Generally, the weather in Bhutan is pleasant for tourists, with temperatures ranging from warm to cool depending on the season.
The south of Bhutan, closer to the Indian border, has a tropical climate with high temperatures and high humidity. The monsoon season, which runs from June to September, brings heavy rainfall to the southern regions.
Bhutan’s central and western regions have a more temperate climate, milder temperatures, and less rainfall. This region is known for its diverse vegetation, including subtropical and temperate forests. The weather during the summer months is generally warm and pleasant, with cooler temperatures at night.
The north and east of Bhutan have higher elevations and colder and harsher climates. The winter months of December to February are characterized by sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall, making it difficult to travel.
The summer months of June to August are relatively mild, with average temperatures ranging between 5-15°C (41-59°F). The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at the highest altitudes through high mountain passes, giving Bhutan the name Drukyul, which means Land of the Thunder Dragon in Dzongkha (Bhutan’s national language).
The best time to visit Bhutan for tourists is typically between September to November and between March to May.
The fall season (September to November) is a popular time to visit Bhutan, as the weather is mild and pleasant, and the views of the Himalayas are at their best. The clear skies and the temperature are comfortable, making it easy for visitors to explore the country’s many temples, monasteries, and trekking routes. The fall season is also the time when famous harvest festivals, such as the Thimphu Tshechu, are held, which are a must-see for visitors.
The spring season (March to May) is also a good time to visit Bhutan. The weather is mild, and the country is full of rhododendrons and other wildflowers. The days are warmer, and the nights are cooler, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and sightseeing.
The high tourist season in Bhutan is from March to May and September to November, so it may be more crowded during these months. But this is also the time when the weather is ideal for travel.
What currency is used in Bhutan?
The currency used in Bhutan is the Ngultrum (BTN). The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee at a rate of 1 INR = 1 BTN, and both currencies are accepted throughout Bhutan. The Ngultrum comes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000.
Which power plug is standard in Bhutan?
Three different plugs are used throughout Bhutan:
- The British three-pin plug (compatible with type G sockets)
- The European two-pin plug (compatible with type C sockets)
- The Indian three-pin plug (compatible with type D sockets)
It is advisable to bring adaptors for all three.
It is important to note that Bhutan uses 220-240V, 50Hz electricity, and it is advisable to check electronic device voltage and frequency compatibility before traveling to Bhutan.
What is the international country code?
The international country code for Bhutan is +975. This code is combined with the local telephone number to make international calls to Bhutan or to call Bhutan from abroad.
When dialing a Bhutanese number from another country, the caller must first dial the international access code for their country (e.g., +1 in the United States), followed by +975, then the local telephone number. For example, if a caller in the United States wanted to call a Bhutanese number with the local number 555-1234, they would dial +1-975 555-1234.
Planning Your Trip
Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan?
Yes. A visa is required for tourists travelling to Bhutan. All visitors require a visa before travelling to Bhutan (except those from India) require a visa before entering Bhutan. Visitors from Bangladesh and the Maldives can apply either in advance of travel or upon arrival in Bhutan.
Indian nationals can apply for a permit but must hold an Indian passport or an Indian voter ID card. Those under 18 years of age require a passport or birth certificate and must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
Nationals of Switzerland and Thailand holding diplomatic or official passports are eligible for a visa at their port of entry. The visa will be stamped upon arrival at the Paro International airport or any other port of entry by Immigration authorities. But those carrying ordinary passports need to process their Bhutanese visa in advance.
Are there any nationalities restricted from being granted a visa to enter Bhutan?
No, there are no restricted nationalities in Bhutan. However, individuals with a history of engaging in criminal or unethical activities may be restricted from entering Bhutan.
I’m an Indian national from Bangladesh or the Maldives. How can I obtain a travel permit or visa?
Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian nationals can apply for a permit or visa at the point of entry or through the Department of Immigration or through us.
We recommend arranging your permit/visa beforehand, as there may be a long wait depending on the number of applicants.
How long does it take to issue my visa?
The processing time for a visa in Bhutan is typically around 5 to 7 business days. However, the exact processing time may vary depending on several factors, such as the time of year and the volume of applications being processed. It is advisable to apply for your visa well before your intended travel date to ensure sufficient time for the visa to be processed and approved.
How much does the visa cost?
The application processing fee for a visa is US$40 per person, payable at the same time as your Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). The cost of a visa in Bhutan is usually included in your tour package, as all tourists to Bhutan must book their trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator.
However, it is important to note that prices can vary significantly depending on the time of year, the tour operator you book with, and other factors. Therefore, it is advisable to check with a licensed Bhutanese tour operator for the most up-to-date information on the cost of a visa and tour package in Bhutan.
How long does my visa allow me to stay in Bhutan?
You can remain in Bhutan for 90 days from the entry date for tourist visas.
Can I extend my visa while I’m in Bhutan?
Yes. You can extend your visa in Bhutan if you apply for the extension before your original visa or permit expires.
Visitors can extend their stay by using the online visa application portal. They will need to use the same login details that they used to process their original visa. The portal can also be used to pay the fees for processing the extension application and the daily SDF for the extended stay.
What is the SDF, and how is it used?
The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a fee charged to all tourists visiting Bhutan, except for children under the age of 5. The fee is intended to support Bhutan’s commitment to sustainable development and conservation of its cultural heritage.
It funds various initiatives in areas, such as cultural preservation, environmental protection, and rural development. The SDF is typically included in the cost of your tour package and is collected by the Bhutanese government.
How much is the SDF?
The SDF for all visitors except those from India is US$200 per person per night. For guests from India (who have an Indian passport or Indian voter ID card), the SDF is 1,200 ngultrum, or the equivalent amount in Indian rupees, per person, per night. Guests without an Indian passport or Indian voter ID card will be charged the full SDF of US$ 200.
Children aged six to twelve visiting Bhutan receive a 50 percent discount on their Sustainable development Fee, while those younger than six are exempted from paying Sustainable Development Fee.
Day visitors to the towns bordering India are also exempted from paying this fee until they reach a point designated by the Bhutanese government.
Are guests from Bangladesh and Maldives eligible to pay the reduced SDF?
No, guests from Bangladesh and the Maldives are not eligible to pay a reduced Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).
All guests must pay the SDF of US$ 200 per person per day (with discounts applied for children). Only guests from India, Maldives, and Bangladesh are eligible to pay the rate of Nu. 1,200 (or equivalent in Indian Rupees) per day.
If I cancel my trip, will my SDF be refunded?
Yes. If you cancel your trip, the SDF will be refunded by the Department of Immigration; any bank charges will be deducted from the total refunded. Requests for SDF refunds can be submitted to your travel partner and we can process it for you. The refund will be processed after visitors leave Bhutan.
Is travel insurance mandatory?
Yes. All visitors are required to have full, valid travel insurance for the duration of their visit. For all visitors except those from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, this requirement applies when you make your visa application.
Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian visitors can purchase domestic travel insurance at their ports of entry.
Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?
No. Tourists can now book all aspects of their travel to and within Bhutan independently.
However, we recommend booking travel through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, who can arrange visas and accommodations, guided tours, and cultural activities. This is to ensure that your visit to Bhutan is both enjoyable and sustainable and that you have the support you need to make the most of your time in this unique and beautiful country.
How much does it cost if I want to drive my own car into Bhutan?
The charge is Nu. 4,500 per car per day. A guide is also mandatory and will be at an additional charge.
If guests want to bring their car, the cars must meet the requirements of Bhutan’s Roads Safety and Transport Authority and have a valid driver’s licence, insurance documentation, pollution control documentation, an entry permit, and a vehicle in reasonable condition. A valid Indian driver’s licence is accepted for self-driving within Bhutan.
If you are not the owner of the vehicle you are travelling into Bhutan, you will need an authorization letter. For more information on this, please contact us.
How can I plan my trip to Bhutan?
To plan a trip to Bhutan, consider the following steps:
- Determine travel dates: Decide when you want to travel to Bhutan, and check if there are any peak season or festival dates to avoid or plan around.
- Choose a tour operator: Bhutan requires all tourists to book their trips through licensed tour operators. Choose a reputable operator who can help you plan your itinerary and handle all the necessary logistics.
- Decide on the itinerary: Bhutan has a lot to offer, from cultural sites and monasteries to outdoor adventures. Plan your itinerary based on your interests and the length of your trip.
- Obtain a visa: You will need to obtain a visa before travelling to Bhutan. Your tour operator can assist with the visa process.
- Book accommodations: Bhutan offers a variety of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to traditional guesthouses. Choose the option that best suits your budget and preferences.
- Transportation plan: Depending on your itinerary, you may need to arrange for flights, car rentals, and other forms of transportation. Your tour operator can help you with this.
- Pack appropriately: Bhutan has a range of climates, so be sure to pack clothing and gear suitable for both warm and cool weather.
Following these steps, you can plan an unforgettable trip to Bhutan that meets your travel preferences and interests.
Our team is also on hand to help provide you with information as you plan your journey.
How do I get to Bhutan?
To reach Bhutan, you have the following options:
- Fly: Two airlines fly into Bhutan, Bhutan Air, and Druk Airlines. These flights typically arrive and depart from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, and Singapore. However, it is also possible to fly into Bhutan using a private jet or charter after obtaining the relevant approvals.
There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.
- Overland: You can enter Bhutan by land from India through one of four border crossings: Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelephu, and Samtse.
Are face masks required to be worn anywhere or anytime in Bhutan?
As of now, guests are no longer required to wear face masks at any venue or time in Bhutan except in hospitals and health centres. However, guests may choose to wear face masks at their convenience if they wish.
Additionally, the government may mandate that face masks be worn in the future if the number of COVID-19 cases increases. Therefore, it is recommended that guests always travel with a face mask in their luggage as a precaution.
What are the current covid-19 regulations in Bhutan?
Although we recommend all visitors stay up to date with vaccinations against the covid-19 virus, there are now no vaccination requirements for adults or children to enter Bhutan. There is no quarantine period either.
All individuals (12 years and above) entering Bhutan may be subjected to random RT-PCR testing at entry points or at the worksite to maintain covid-19 surveillance for new variants. The RT-PCR testing for surveillance is free of charge.
If guests test positive for covid-19 during their stay in Bhutan, they will be required to quarantine in their hotel until they test negative. The guest shall bear the cost for the additional quarantine nights and PCR tests. The Sustainable Development Fee will be waived during the quarantine period.
There will be no covid-19 protocols to leave Bhutan unless the guest’s destination requires them.
How can I get to my hotel from the airport?
Two ways to get to your destination from the airport are by taxi or organized airport transfer. You can take a taxi from outside the airport, and your hotel or tour operator can help you arrange an airport transfer. This is the only public transport available at the airport.
What are my transport options for travelling around Bhutan?
The most convenient way to travel in Bhutan is to hire a vehicle and driver from a tourism service provider. It is not possible to hire a self-drive vehicle in Bhutan. You can book transport using the Druk Ride app.
If you are travelling with a tour operator, they will arrange your transport.
Travelling by domestic flight is often the quickest way to get around Bhutan, with flights to and from Yonphula in the east, Bumthang in the centre, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.
If you’re looking to add extra excitement to your trip, special itineraries that include helicopter services can be arranged. For more information about helicopter services, do let us know.
Can I go hiking or trekking independently, without a tour operator?
No. Independent hiking or trekking is not allowed in Bhutan. All travellers must be accompanied by a licensed guide and book their travel through a registered tour operator.
This is because the country has implemented strict tourism policies to preserve its unique culture and natural environment. The government wants to maintain the country’s traditional way of life and prevent over-tourism, which can negatively impact the environment and local communities.
Do I need a guide or a route permit to travel around Bhutan?
Yes. A guide is required for all travelers in Bhutan, and a route permit is necessary for certain areas. Having a guide accompany you on any journey or trek beyond Thimphu and Paro is mandatory. This also applies to visitors who enter Bhutan via our land borders and plan to travel beyond the border towns.
Guests no longer require a Route permit to travel around the country if they’re accompanied by a guide certified by the Department of Tourism. You can contact us or the Department of Tourism’s list of approved tourism services.
We recommend that visitors book a guided tour when visiting temples, local places of interest, and other similar experiences. While guides aren’t required for every experience, they can be very helpful in providing context and ensuring that you get all the important information.
For instance, it is mandatory to have a guide when visiting monuments such as dzongs (fortress). Guides will enlighten you with the history and descriptions of the place while exploring.
If you are on a package holiday or itinerary in which your travel company arranges the excursions, you will not need to book a guide; the company will provide one.
What kind of accommodation is available in Bhutan?
Accommodation in Bhutan ranges from traditional Bhutanese-style guesthouses to high-end luxury hotels. The most common types of accommodations in Bhutan are:
- Bhutanese-style guesthouses (known as “homestays”)
- Mid-range hotels and lodges
- Luxury resorts and hotels
Homestays offer a unique cultural experience, while mid-range hotels and lodges provide comfortable and clean accommodations. Luxury resorts and hotels offer more amenities and higher-end services.
Accommodations in Bhutan are often basic, but clean and comfortable, and are well-suited for adventure travelers and trekkers. It’s important to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak season, as availability can be limited.
Can I stay in a private home or campsite in Bhutan?
No. Private homes and camping are not permitted for tourists in Bhutan. This is to protect the country’s natural resources and maintain its traditional way of life.
However, you may stay in accommodations or campsites approved by the Department of Tourism. We have some amazing lodges for your stay in Bhutan.
Is it safe to travel to Bhutan?
Yes. Bhutan is generally considered a safe destination for travellers. Crime rates are low, and the Bhutanese people are known for their friendliness and hospitality. However, like any destination, it’s important to take normal safety precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and protecting your valuables.
In some areas, you may encounter stray dogs-please be cautious around them, as they are not domesticated and may be aggressive.
Bhutan is a remote and isolated country, so it’s important to be prepared for travel in the mountainous terrain. Visitors should also be aware of the country’s strict laws, which include restrictions on independent travel and requirements for a guide and permits in certain areas.
In terms of natural disasters, Bhutan is prone to earthquakes and flash floods, so it’s important to stay informed of any weather-related warnings and be prepared to adjust your travel plans as needed.
Overall, Bhutan is a safe and welcoming destination, and visitors are encouraged to follow the advice of their tour operator and guide to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Check with your hotel or tour operator regarding possible disruptions.
During Your Trip
Are there visitor information centers?
Yes. There are visitor information centers in Bhutan.
The Department of Tourism has a dedicated visitor center at the Paro International Airport and the four border entry points.
Where can I exchange currency?
You can exchange currency in Bhutan at:
- Banks: Most banks in Bhutan offer currency exchange services for major international currencies.
- Airport: The International Airport has currency exchange facilities that offer exchange services for major international currencies.
- Hotels: Some hotels in Bhutan have their currency exchange desks or can arrange for currency exchange through a local bank.
- Money changers: There are authorized money changers in major cities and tourist destinations in Bhutan, who offer currency exchange services for major international currencies.
It’s a good idea to exchange enough currency for covering your immediate expenses upon arrival in Bhutan, as currency exchange facilities can be limited in remote areas. It’s also a good idea to carry some local currency, such as the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN), as some local vendors may not accept foreign currencies.
How much cash can I bring into Bhutan?
You may bring up to US$10,000 in cash into the country.
Can I use my credit card and ATM card in Bhutan?
Yes. You can use your credit card and ATM card in Bhutan, but with caution. Credit card facilities and ATMs are available in major cities and tourist destinations in Bhutan, but their availability can be limited in remote areas.
It’s important to inform your bank or card issuer of your travel plans and the dates you’ll be in Bhutan to avoid potential disruption of your card services. Visitors can download the digital wallet app goBoB launched by the Bank of Bhutan, which can be used with a local SIM card and is widely accepted throughout the country.
Cash in US dollars and Indian rupees is also widely accepted. However, we advise you to carry some cash in local currency, such as the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN), and a backup credit card or ATM card.
Is there a good internet connection and Wi-Fi in Bhutan?
Yes. Tourists can find good internet connections and Wi-Fi in Bhutan, especially in tourist areas and hotels. However, the quality of internet connectivity can vary in rural areas.
We recommend obtaining a guest SIM card to access data more conveniently and obtain a more reliable internet connection. Mobile data in Bhutan may also be expensive, so purchasing a SIM card from B Mobile is best. You can easily top up using the Bank of Bhutan app goBoB, which facilitates other payments within the country.
Where can I get a visitor SIM card?
You can purchase SIM cards for your mobile phone upon arrival at the Paro International Airport’s visitor information centre or from branch offices of Bhutan Telecom and TashiCell. Some hotels also offer SIM card services for tourists. You can also get them from authorised agents in towns.
It’s advisable to carry a passport as a form of identification while purchasing a SIM card in Bhutan.
Are there any restrictions on dresses?
There are no rules about what visitors should wear. However, visitors are expected to dress modestly and respect Bhutanese cultural norms, especially when visiting religious sites and monasteries.
For women, it’s recommended to avoid wearing revealing or tight clothing; for men, it’s advised to wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves. Additionally, you should remove shoes before entering religious temples/buildings.
Do I need a guide to enter monuments and Dzongs in Bhutan, and are they chargeable?
Yes. You need a guide to enter monuments and dzongs in Bhutan. Some monuments and dzongs have an entrance fee, which you can pay in cash or via the GoBob app.
The guide services can be arranged through a local tour operator or travel agent, and the cost will depend on the tour’s length and the group’s size.
Where are good places to buy handicrafts and gifts?
There are several places to shop for special objects at the Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) Market, Centenary Farmers’ Market, and Textile Museum shop. The Tarayana and Craft galleries nearby also sell artisan-made textiles and homewares.
You can find various wooden masks, sculptures, and other hand-carved items made from bamboo, wood, and other natural materials. Visitors can also find locally made jewellery, such as semi-precious stone and silver jewellery, as well as traditional clothing and accessories.
It’s best to shop for handicrafts at local shops or directly from the artisans, as this supports the local economy and helps preserve traditional Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Our OGOP shops are an excellent place to find food, drink, and handcrafted products from the country’s artisans and farmers.
Are there certain things I can’t take out of Bhutan when I leave?
Yes. Certain items are restricted or prohibited from being taken out of Bhutan by tourists. They include:
- Antiques: Bhutan has strict laws regarding the export of antiques, including religious artefacts and items of cultural significance.
- Wildlife products: Bhutan has laws protecting its wildlife and prohibits the export of items made from protected species, such as tiger skins, ivory, and other animal products.
- Religious items: The export of religious items, such as prayer flags and sacred texts, is restricted in Bhutan.
- Medicinal plants: Some medicinal plants are protected and cannot be taken out of Bhutan.
- Cultural objects: Bhutan has laws protecting its cultural heritage, and exporting items considered part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage, such as thangkas, may be restricted.
To ensure any items you acquire to comply with the law, you will need an Export Permit for Non-Antique Artefacts. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, confiscation of items, or other penalties. Find out more about the permit and how to apply for one here.
Where can I find customs information?
Please click here for a full list of prohibited, restricted, or declarable items.
Who should I contact in an emergency?
In an emergency in Bhutan, you should contact the local authorities or emergency services. Here are a few numbers you can try: If you have a guide, he/she will be your first contact to assist you.
- Police: 113
- Fire and ambulance services: 110 and 112, respectively
- Bhutan Red Cross Society: +975 2 323232
- Bhutanese Ministry of Health: +975 2 331 102
- Department of Tourism directly: +975 1712 2257 (or 2300 within Bhutan).
It’s a good idea to have these numbers saved in your phone before travelling to Bhutan and ensure you have reliable communication and access to emergency services. Additionally, it’s a good idea to inform your tour operator, hotel, or local contact of your itinerary and plans while in Bhutan in case of an emergency.
Can I use a drone for photography while in Bhutan?
The use of drones for photography and other purposes is regulated in Bhutan, and there are restrictions on where and when drones can be used.
Visitors must obtain permission from the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority before using a drone. This includes obtaining insurance and following specific guidelines regarding the use of drones in Bhutan. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines or other penalties.
You can email us and we will assist you.
Do I still need a guide if I drive my own car into Bhutan?
Yes. If you plan to drive your car into Bhutan, you must have a licensed Bhutanese tour guide accompany you throughout your visit. The tour guide will also act as a cultural liaison, helping visitors to understand and appreciate Bhutanese culture and customs.
Don’t hesitate to contact our team here if you need help arranging a guide.
Are Route Permits required for guests to move around between areas in Bhutan?
No. Route permits are not required for tourists to travel within Bhutan. However, some areas of Bhutan may be restricted or closed to visitors, and tourists may be required to obtain additional permits or approvals to visit these areas.
On the other hand, anyone on a business visa or for an official purpose must have a Route Permit.
Are permits required to enter National Parks in Bhutan?
Yes. Permits are required to enter National Parks in Bhutan. These permits can be obtained through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator and are required for visits to any of Bhutan’s protected areas, including its national parks and wildlife reserves.
The permits specify the routes and activities allowed within the parks, help regulate the number of visitors, and protect the park’s fragile ecosystems.
However, the process can be done online, and the permit should be issued quickly. We will assist you with the permits.