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WHERE IS BHUTAN?

Bhutan also officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked south asian country in the Eastern Himalayas. This picture shows a scheduled network of flights within the South Asian region to the Paro International Airport of Bhutan, around an hour of driving distance from the capital city of Thimphu. Bhutan area is 38,394 sq km.

WHO ARE THE BHUTANESE PEOPLE?

There are around 770,000 Bhutanese people. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a King known locally as the Druk Gyalpo as the Head of state and a Prime Minister as the Head of the Government. Vajrayana buddhism is the state religion with a head known locally as the Je Khenpo. Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the mid-20th century. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country’s culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism is the second most dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangrila.

WHAT IS BHUTAN’S NATURAL LANDSCAPE?

Placed right at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan has three major landform features: the southern foothills, the inner Himalayas and the higher Himalayas, it is indeed one of the world’s 10 most biodiverse regions. The subalpine Himalayan mountains in the north rise from the country’s lush subtropical plains in the south. In the Bhutanese Himalayas, there are peaks higher than 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) above sea level. Gangkhar Puensum is Bhutan’s highest peak and is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Bhutan, although a small country, has one of the biggest commitments to conservation. With the highest proportion of forest cover in Asia at 70.46%, it has almost 5 million acres of protected land that is rich in forests, pristine rivers and thriving wildlife. Bhutan’s topography makes for exhilarating drives and breathtaking hikes.

HOW IS THE WEATHER IN BHUTAN?

Bhutan is a year-round destination. There are four seasons: summer (June to August), autumn (September to November), winter (December to February) and spring (March to May). But because of the range of altitudes in the country, and the influence of the north Indian monsoons, the climate is incredibly varied. 

In the south, the humid, subtropical climate is fairly consistent year-round, with temperatures between 15 degrees celsius and 30 degrees celsius. Central Bhutan, with its temperate forests, has a more seasonal climate, with warm summers and cool, dry winters. The northern regions are much colder during winter. Because of the high altitude, mountain peaks are snowy year-round and the lower reaches remain cool in summer.  

In summer, the Indian monsoon season runs from late June or July to late September, mostly affecting the southern regions. Most farming activities take place in the summer, when crops thrive in verdant landscapes.

Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is characterised by bright, sunny days and some early snowfall at higher elevations. It’s the season of feasts and festivals as farmers reap the fruits of their work.

From late November until March, the crisp, clear and sunny winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3,000 metres. 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). 

Bhutan’s generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. It is a botanist’s delight, with nature in full bloom. Summer weather commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues to late June.

IS BHUTAN SAFE?

Bhutan is the most peaceful country among the South Asian countries. Bhutan ranks 17th out of the 163 countries across the globe, according to the report of the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2023; and is also the highest-ranking country on the GPI outside of Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America. It is advisable to stay informed about any travel advisories issued by authorized agencies and to exercise normal safety precautions while traveling. It is also advisable to get in contact with a tour operator well in advance especially during the peak seasons (March to May & September to November) due to high tourist influx.

DO BHUTANESE SPEAK ENGLISH?

The national language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, however the medium of instruction in the schools of Bhutan is English, resulting in most of Bhutan’s literate youth being fluent and conversant in the language. The Department of Tourism certified guides with the tourists are all English speaking guides and other language speaking guides are also available.

WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BHUTAN?

Bhutan categorizes herself as a LUXURY DESTINATION and is known for many tourism specialities such as cultural tours, trekking, eco tourism, adventure and sports, spiritual and wellness, venue for meetings and conferences. The most famous place to visit is the Tiger’s Nest locally know as the Taktshang and we are also proud to have the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, which is the Gangkhar Puensum standing at 7,570 metres (24,836 ft). There are many other attractions are the Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. Bhutan also has one of the toughest treks in the workd, which is the snow man trek.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIWUE EXPERIENCES BHUTAN HAS TO OFFER?

Tourists visiting Bhutan can enjoy unique experiences such as trekking in the Himalayas, visiting ancient monasteries and dzongs, attending local festivals like the Paro Tsechu, and experiencing traditional Bhutanese culture and cuisine. Bhutanese are skilled workers in metals, wood and slate carving, and clay sculpture based upon Vajrayana Buddhism. Marvelous works can be seen from the beautiful architects of ancient Dzongs or fortresses, temples, houses and other artifacts (made of wood include bowls and dishes, some lined with silver). The Bhutanese attire is very colorful and beautiful, which is worn proudly by the Bhutanese. Bhutan being blessed by many religious saints have contributed to many artifacts however major works is attributed to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan in the 1620s. Our monarchs have contributed to the preservation and renovation of artifacts; and have founded many new ones also.

DO TOURISTS NEED VISA TO VISIT BHUTAN?

Yes, tourists require a visa to visit Bhutan. The visa application process can be arranged through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or an international partner.

There are tourists visiting Bhutan from all over the world and Bhutan prides itself in being a LUXURY DESTINATION for tourists. The guiding principles for Bhutan, which underpin Bhutan’s vision for sustainable tourism destination are:
i. Develop and promote forms of tourism that is consistent with our national development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
ii. Promote High value, Low volume tourism
The High value shall mean targeting mindful and responsible high-end visitors, creating good value for money experiences, high revenue and yield, quality infrastructure and tourism products and services and Brand Bhutan. While ensuring that the numbers of tourists Bhutan
receives are as per the absorptive carrying capacity of our natural, sociocultural and infrastructure to reduce negative impacts – Low volume.

A SDF of USD 200/- per day is charged for tourists visiting the country, which is exclusive to the cost of other expenses. The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) enables investment in transformative programmes that sustain our cultural traditions, protect our environment, upgrade infrastructure, and build our resilience. however The Royal Government of Bhutan is pleased to announce additional incentives and policy measures to boost the tourism sector. This is in view of the important role of the tourism sector in generating employment; earning foreign exchange; realizing the potential for spillover benefits for ancillary industries; and in boosting overall economic growth. However the Royal Government of Bhutan has granted a fifty percent discount on the prevailing rate, therefore any tourist visiting Bhutan will only pay USD 100/ per day till 31st August 2027.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO VISIT BHUTAN?

Aside from paying the daily 100/- USD as SDF to the RGoB, depending on the affordability and preference, Bhutan Nomad Adventures would be able to plan customizable trips suitable for any type of tourists. The mandatory requirements to visit Bhutan are confirmed accommodation, a tour guide, travel insurance and transportation including airport pick up.

DO TOURISTS HAVE TO BRING CASH TO BHUTAN?

The local currency in Bhutan is called Ngultrum and is pegged to the Indian Rupee. Tourists can withdraw their money in cash from the local ATM using EMV (Europay, Master and Visa) chip enabled cards and the same is also acceptable in big hotels and shops. There would be a transaction charge applicable while using your Credit Card. Tourists are advised to check in your their banks to confirm also.

The FOREIGN EXCHANGE REGULATIONS, 2013 of Bhutan states for people traveling in and out of Bhutan that (a)  A person bringing foreign currency worth USD 10,000 or more shall declare the value in the prescribed form at the customs point of arrival or departure.; and (b)  A person bringing INR exceeding 10,000/- to any country other than India or Nepal shall declare the value in the prescribed form at the customs point of arrival or departure.

HOW IS THE INTERNET CONNECTION IN BHUTAN?

Bhutan has mobile network coverage in all the the 20 Dzongkhags. 5G services is available in all Dzongkhags except for Gasa and Lhuentse where 4G network is available. All hotels have broadband and provide internet over WiFi. Tourist Sim can be availed from any two of the Telecom providers (Bhutan Telecom or Tashi Cell) with a passport copy.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC CULTURAL SENSITIVITIES THAT TOURISTS HAVE TO BE AWARE OF?

Tourists are requested to be respectful of Bhutanese customs and traditions, including dressing modestly, removing shoes before entering religious sites, and seeking permission before taking photos of people, especially monks and religious ceremonies.