Travel Information

Before coming to Bhutan, make sure that you have Travel/Medical Insurance.

The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) has initiated a travel and medial scheme solely for our visitors, so it is important that you get detailed information about the insurance scheme from your travel agents here in Bhutan. You may also visit the web site at www.ricb.com.bt

Money
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), which equates to the Indian rupee. It is, however, recommended that you carry travelers’ cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollars as the ATM facilities for foreign currency are limited to just a few towns. Visa and American Express credit cards are widely accepted.

Banking
Financial institutions in Bhutan have improved greatly and today we have a number of banks to cater to your needs. These include the Bank of Bhutan Limited (BoB), the Bhutan National Bank (BNB), the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Most of these banks now provide SMS and Internet banking services.  ATM facilities are located in a number of places including Thimphu and the border town of Phuentsholing. Travelers’ cheques can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do any financial transactions while in Thimphu.

Electricity
all major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green generated by hydro power.

Communications
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on.  Most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access.

Travelling Kits
Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with average daily temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are harsh and cold. In winter temperatures can drop below 15 Celsius so warm clothes are essential. Other things that could come in handy are sunglasses, sun screen lotion and a hat, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, altitude & car sickness medicine; insect repellent, flash light (w/spare batteries) umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries) etc.

Photography
Bhutan is an ideal place for photography. Trekking and sightseeing will provide you with a host of photographic opportunities. However, you may need to check with your guide before taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions, as you may need special permission from the Department of Culture.

Shopping
For people who love shopping and taking home gifts, Bhutan offers a variety of goods particularly textiles. You can find hand-woven textiles either in raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven cane and bamboo baskets, and wooden bowls (known as Dapas), handmade paper products or finely crafted silver ware. You can also shop for thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamp.  You will find these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.

Gratuities:
Tipping is a personal choice. It is always good to leave some tips for your guides and drivers.

Customs
The following articles are exempt from duty:

Personal items for day to day use by the visitor
1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)
200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic accessories for personal use.

You need to complete the passenger declaration form on arrival.  The last two articles mentioned, 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 if purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.

Language
Bhutanese speak a variety of languages, but Dzongkha is the national language and one of the most widely spoken languages.  Most Bhutanese speak English. Communicating in English especially with the people in the urban areas and the towns will enhance your knowledge of Bhutan.

Clothes and other paraphernalia
with great attitudinal variations, the weather can be quite erratic in Bhutan. So be prepared.  We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if they are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. As a mark of respect, please remove your hats, caps etc.  When you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place

Time
Bhutan Standard Time (BST) is 6 hours ahead of GMT. The whole country has the same time zone.

Office hours
Official office hours in Bhutan are divided into two seasons: Summertime (March until the end of October) and winter time (November until the end of February). In summer, government offices are open from 9am – 5pm and in winter from 9am – 4pm. For private firms and businesses, office hours are generally open from 9am – 5pm all year round.  Summer timing begins at 9AM Bhutan Standard Time (BST) till 5PM in the evening. Summer timing is followed from March till the end of October. Winter timings begin from November till the end of February. Offices open at 9Am and close at 4PM. These timing is followed only by the Civil Servants who work under the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). Corporate and private employees follow different timings. The timings are usually from 9AM till 5PM irrespective of the season.

Health: Inoculations
before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, it is advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.
Tobacco/Smoking As buying and selling of tobacco products is banned in Bhutan, you may want to bring in your own stock. (200 cigarettes for personal consumption with payment of 200% import duty). It is strictly prohibited to smoke in public offices and in government premises. It is also sacrilegious to smoke near temples and any other religious site.

Accommodation
Over the years, many good quality hotels have been developed in Bhutan. Hotels can be found not only in Thimpu and Paro but also Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang.  The hotels are warm, comfortable, well maintained and known for their hospitality and welcoming ambience. 5 Star hotels are mostly located in Thimphu, and Paro.   Away from town, you may want to camp outside in the forest or make a night halt at the purpose-built in cabins dotted along the main trekking routes.

Food
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chilli. It is advisable that visitors stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. You may want to try out momos, which are Tibetan dumplings and if you dare the famous Ema Datshi served with cheese and chili, which is the national dish of Bhutan.

Weights and measures
Bhutan has a standard system of weights and measurements in place with most items being   measured in grams (g) and kilograms (kg). Most of the shop keepers in the capital city make use of electronic weighing scales however, as you travel further east, you will find the ordinary weighing scale in place.

Safety precautions

 

In Bhutan, it is not necessary to take more than the usual safety precautions when travelling. Always ensure that your passport, important documents and valuables are kept safe and secure.