TRAVELLING TO BHUTAN

BHUTAN VISA

All visitors except visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, need Visa to travel to Bhutan.

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the point of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity. Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC) in lieu of passport.

All other visitors must obtain a Visa Clearance prior to their travel to Bhutan. BGTT can have your Visa processed for you prior to your arrival. Your Visa will be endorsed on arrival.

In order to process the visa, we will require a copy of your passport (page containing passport number and face picture in JPEG or PDF format) at least 20 official days prior to date of your entry into Bhutan. The validity of your passport should be at least 6 months from the date of exit from Bhutan.


Your visa clearance letter will be emailed to you prior to your travel date and you are required to show your visa clearance letter at the point of entry, after which the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

 

TARIFF POLICY
Inclusive Package Tour & Tariff

All tours (Cultural, Festival or Customised) to Bhutan must be booked in advance through a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator such as Bhutan Greets Tours & Travels.

Travellers will experience Bhutan only on an all-inclusive package tour for which a fixed daily tariff is set by the Royal Government / Tourism Council of Bhutan.

The following are the package rate depending on the season;

Minimum Package Tour Rate: (Standard Package)
  • US $ 250 per person per night (Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov – Peak Season)
  • US $ 200 per person per night (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug, Dec – Regular Season)
  • US $ 40 Bhutan Visa fee per person (One time cost)
  • Surcharge: In addition to the above tour rates given,  a surcharge is applicable as follows;
Single Individual:

US $ 40 per night per person (Peak & Regular Season)

Groups of 2 persons:

US $ 30 per night per person (Peak & Regular Season)

Group of 3 persons and more

Surcharge is waived off (Peak & Regular Season)

The above Standard Package covers the following Costs:

(a) Govt. approved standard hotels in twin sharing room (2-3 star)

(b) All meals at the Govt. approved standard hotels or local restaurants

(c) Standard Transport / transfers within Bhutan for the duration of the tour

(d) A licensed English speaking local guide for the duration of the tour

(e) Sightseeing, entrances fees to museums & monuments, all permits

(f) 35% royalty to the government & all taxes

(g) Trekking (basic equipments, haulage & crew)

It does not cover the following Costs;

(a) Client and travel insurance

(b) Personal expenses such as drinks, guide tips & laundry.

TOUR

1. Low Season (December, January, February, June, July and till Mid-August) -

* Full Refund will be made for the tour cancelled more than 30 days prior to arrival date. 

*   50% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 21 - 30 days prior to arrival date.

* 20% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 11 - 20 days prior to arrival date.

* 10% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 5 - 10 days prior to arrival date.

* No refund for the tour cancelled for less than 5 days prior to arrival date. This is because by this time, payments for logistics would be made and company is subject to cancellation charges for the logistics. 
2. Peak Season (March, April, May, Mid-August, September, October and November) -

* Full refund will be made for the tour cancelled  more than 60 days prior to arrival date.

*   50% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 41 - 60 days prior to arrival date.

* 20% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 21 - 40 days prior to arrival date.

* 10% of the total tour cost for the tour cancelled between 10 - 20 days prior to arrival date.

* No refund for the tour cancelled for less than 10 days in the peak season. This is because by this time, payments for logistics would be made and company is subject to cancellation charges for the logistics. 
3. Duration lost or trip/tour shortened due to any reasons (avoidable/unavoidable) after arrival in Bhutan, No refund will be made – because we would have already paid for the hotels and other logistics.

HOTEL

Cancellation charges will apply as:
1. Peak Season (March, April, May, Mid-August, September, October and November):

100% room charge will be applicable if the room is canceled within 60 days prior to the arrival date.

2. Low Season(December, January, February, June, and July and till Mid-August):

100% room charge will be applicable if the room is canceled within 30 days prior to the arrival date in Low Season.

No shows: 100% cancellation Fees

(The above policy differs from hotel to hotel)

FLIGHT

Ticket Cancellation & Refund Policy
* 100% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
* 50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 30 days - last 15 days from the date of travel. 
* No refund will be made for tickets cancelled less than 15 days or missed connections or “no show” at the airports.
* Additional fee of US$ 25 is levied for every date change once the tickets have been issued. 
* For every cancelled ticket, an administrative fee of US$ 30 is levied. 

 Language
Dzongkha, “the language of the dzong”, belongs to the Tibetan linguistic family. Originally spoken only in western Bhutan, Dzongkha is now Bhutan’s national language. English is commonly spoken in the main towns and is the principal medium of instruction in schools throughout the kingdom.
Time
Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.
Health Inoculations
No vaccinations are currently required for traveling to Bhutan. 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.
Precautions
Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world however you should still exercise caution when visiting. Please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, cameras, wallets and purses are properly secured. Please refrain from leaving such items within sight in locked vehicles while sightseeing. Avoid drinking tap water which has not been boiled or ice cubes in drinks at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated. One can easily acquire affordable treated and bottled water. People prone to car sickness should bring appropriate medicine as the winding roads on the mountains have plenty of curves and turns. Bring any medication you take regularly, or might need to take for a periodically recurring condition, such as asthma.
Travel & Medical Insurance
We strongly advice travellers to get a comprehensive travel & medical insurance before travelling to Bhutan. If you are coming on a trek, your medical/travel insurance must include provision for evacuation by helicopter and repatriation – should this be necessary.
Climate
The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general the eastern region of the country is warmer than the central valleys. However, bear in mind that the higher the altitude, the cooler the weather, and that with a brisk wind blowing down off the mountains, even a low-lying valley can become quite chilly. The central valleys of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Tashigang and Lhuentse enjoy a semi-tropical climate with cool winters, whilst Paro, Thimphu, Tongsa and Bumthang have a much harsher climate, with summer monsoon rains and winter snowfalls which may block passes leading into the central valleys for days at a time. Winter in Bhutan is from mid-November till mid-March, and at this time of the year the climate is dry and sunny for the most part, temperatures peaking at around 15c. in the daytime and falling below zero at night. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with light rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. At the end of September, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives, and is a magnificent season for trekking until November. Average Temperature (in Celsius)
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.
Shoes
Bring comfortable sport shoes for light hikes & sightseeing; hiking boots for treks; semi-formal shoes for dinners/appointments/functions.
Money
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), with 100 Chetrum = 1 Ngultrum. The Ngultrum is fixed to the value of Indian rupee. Tourists are advised to carry their money in the form of traveler’s checks (preferably American Express) and cash (US dollars would be best), which might be used for incidental purchases/expenses. Daily expenditure varies from person to person, but in general you should allow US$5-10 daily for laundry, drinks, phone calls overseas, small souvenirs, postcards and stamps. The banks are the only place to change money with the same exchange rates everywhere. There are bank branches in all major towns. A few hotels and shops may accept payment by credit card, but with a surcharge added. Visas and Master cards are more widely accepted. Bank of Bhutan ATMs in Thimphu & Paro now allows the withdrawal of local currency from Master card & Visa cards (both debit & credit). The maximum amount per withdrawal per day is Nu. 18,000 – Nu. 30,000 (USD 300 -500). A small fee will be charged per withdrawal.
 
 
Communications
You will be able to check your email and make international telephone calls from most towns while touring Bhutan. While Internet cafes are more widespread in the western region, even in the Far East there are public IDD calling booths. Bhutan has a comprehensive mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming also assessable. There are two telecom providers: Bhutan Telecom/B-mobile (national network provider) and Tashi Cell (private network provider). Sim cards are available at the Bhutan Telecom/B-mobile and Tashi Cell outlets and authorized dealers.
Internet
Most hotels in major towns have free wifi services (either in the room, or lobby or both) and in some hotels it maybe chargeable. Data Cards for internet (usb/thumb drives) can also be purchased and can be used where ever there is cellular network (B-mobile or Tashi Cell).
Accommodation
Most hotels in Bhutan are in the 2-3 star level and are referred to as Standard Hotels. A few luxury 4 & 5 star accommodations are also available (Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang). The standard accommodations all offer the necessary facilities, and are properly maintained. Generally speaking, hotels in western Bhutan (Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue) are better appointed than the rest of the country. Accommodation establishments are more modest with fewer amenities in the more remote areas of central (Gangtey, Trongsa, Bumthang) and eastern Bhutan (Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Samdrup Jongkhar). Sometimes the best accommodation may be the only accommodation and a very modest one in that area especially in the central and eastern regions.
 
Food
Bhutanese delicacies are rich with spicy chilies and cheese. The tourist restaurants will normally tone down the chilly for visitors. Chinese, Continental, Bhutanese and Indian cuisine are available in the hotels and local tourist restaurants.
Alms giving
The giving of alms to mendicants and holy men in the vicinity of markets and outside temples is an accepted practice. In exchange for your contribution of a small coin, a prayer will be intoned for you. Take your cue from the Bhutanese on such occasions and, when in doubt, ask your guide what would be the appropriate thing to do.
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.
ETIQUETTE FOR VISITS TO DZONGS, MONASTERIES, TEMPLES & FESTIVALS
Clothing & behavior
Dress neatly and modestly and wear full sleeved collared shirts (covered arms, no shorts or short skirts) and remove hats, caps, sunglasses before entering the precincts of Dzongs or religious complexes. Do not smoke. Walk clockwise around Chortens (stupas) and Mani (prayer) walls. If you see a prayer flagpole on the ground waiting to be erected, do not step over it, as this is considered extremely disrespectful, walk around it instead.
Photography
Photography is usually permitted in public areas, such as courtyards and dance grounds, but not permitted inside the chapels of religious complexes. Check first with your guide to avoid in advertently giving offence, and at all times take care not to intrude upon the social space of others when taking photographs. NEVER stray onto the dance ground at a festival in search of the perfect shot – this is the height of bad manners and will definitely give offence to all Bhutanese who see you!
Shopping
Hand-woven textiles, carved masks, woven baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper products, finely crafted metal objects, Thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps are the items mostly purchased by travelers in Bhutan. Thimphu & Paro has the most extensive range of the handicraft items. It is recommended to carry cash such as Euro, Pounds, US dollars, Japanese Yen and related travelers’ checks for expenses in Bhutan. Credit cards are new to Bhutan and only few shops may accept it. The buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden. Be cautious when considering the purchase of old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate. Bhutan Greet’s advice should be sought before committing to such purchases. It is best to buy more expensive items at reputable shops, which provide receipts as proof of purchase.
 
Tipping
Hotel and restaurant bills include service charges amounting to 5-10%. There is no need to add anything further on this. Bhutan Greets will take care of this. Clothing & behavior Dress neatly and modestly and wear full sleeved collared shirts (covered arms, no shorts or short skirts) and remove hats, caps, sunglasses before entering the precincts of Dzongs or religious complexes. Do not smoke. Walk clockwise around Chortens (stupas) and Mani (prayer) walls. If you see a prayer flagpole on the ground waiting to be erected, do not step over it, as this is considered extremely disrespectful, walk around it instead.
Photography
Photography is usually permitted in public areas, such as courtyards and dance grounds, but not permitted inside the chapels of religious complexes. Check first with your guide to avoid in advertently giving offence, and at all times take care not to intrude upon the social space of others when taking photographs. NEVER stray onto the dance ground at a festival in search of the perfect shot – this is the height of bad manners and will definitely give offence to all Bhutanese who see you!
Shopping
Hand-woven textiles, carved masks, woven baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper products, finely crafted metal objects, Thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps are the items mostly purchased by travelers in Bhutan. Thimphu & Paro has the most extensive range of the handicraft items. It is recommended to carry cash such as Euro, Pounds, US dollars, Japanese Yen and related travelers’ checks for expenses in Bhutan. Credit cards are new to Bhutan and only few shops may accept it. The buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden. Be cautious when considering the purchase of old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate. Bhutan Greet’s advice should be sought before committing to such purchases. It is best to buy more expensive items at reputable shops, which provide receipts as proof of purchase.
Tipping
Hotel and restaurant bills include service charges amounting to 5-10%. There is no need to add anything further on this. Bhutan Greets will take care of this.
Gratuities
Tipping of your guide, driver and trek crew (on treks) is a purely personal matter. The bottom line in determining whether or how much to tip is to ask yourself how much Bhutan Greets team members did to make your Bhutan travel experience more enjoyable.
Customs
  • Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form for checking by concerned officers on arrival. The following articles are exempt from duty
    • (a) Personal articles for day to day use by the visitor
    • (b) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
    • (c) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use

The articles mentioned under (b) & (c) 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, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate. Bhutan Greets’s advice should be sought before committing to such purchases.

  • Sale of Tobacco products is banned in Bhutan. Import of Tobacco products for personal consumption requires payment of import duty. Kindly bring you own Tobacco products and declare at the Customs counter at the airport in Paro or if traveling by road at the Immigration/Customs check points in Samdrup Jongkar/ Phuntsholing/Gelephu. You will have to carry with you the Customs Receipt (proof of import duty payment) at all times as you may be asked to show the Customs Receipt by the local authorities if seen smoking in public areas.
  • The permitted amount is 300 sticks of cigarette or 150 grams of tobacco products or 50 pieces of cigars. You will be charged a 200% import duty.
Flight Frequency & Airfares
Druk Air & Bhutan Airlines flies several times a week between its destinations, but flight timings and frequency vary according to season. Please check our website www.bhutangreets.com (contact us) or contact Bhutan Greets bhutangreets@gmail.com / bhutangreets@yahoo.com for the latest information on flight schedule and airfare when planning your travel arrangements. If you would like the current flight schedule sent to you, please let us know.