Some of things you need to be aware of before coming to Bhutan
The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) has initiated a travel and medical scheme solely for our visitors. . You may also visit the web site at www.ricb.com.bt to check the modalities of insurance schemes available in Bhutan.
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) that is at par with the Indian rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travellers’ cheque or cash, preferably US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.
Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that caters to your needs. Some of the banks that you can avail services and facilities while in Bhutan as follows:
All the banks provide SMS, Internet Banking Services and ATM facilities located in various places. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency.
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets.
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town and hotels have internet access to be connected with your parents and families. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.
Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are harsh and cold. In winters temperatures drop below 15 Celsius. Warm set of clothes, thermals and comfortable shoes for walking. sunglasses, sun screen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhoea pills, altitude & car sickness medicine; insect repellent, flash light (w/spare batteries) umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries) etc.
Bhutan offers a variety of goods that revolve mainly around textiles. You may shop for items like hand-woven textiles that are 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 wares. You can also shop for thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamp. One will come across these items in the many handicraft shops in all the major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Tipping is solely personal choice. It is always good to leave some tips for the guide and drive as a gesture of appreciation for their services.
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
Photography equipments, video cameras and other electronic accessories for personal use.
You have to complete the passenger declaration form on your arrival before checking out. 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
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.
Bhutanese speak a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language, widely spoken languages. English is also a medium of communication and most Bhutanese speak English.
Clothes and other paraphernalia
With great attitudinal variations weather is quite erratic in Bhutan and need to bring appropriate clothes We expect visitors to dress respectfully especially visiting the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. As a mark of respect and expects everyone to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other places where you see the national flag.
Bhutan Standard Time (BST) is 6 hours ahead of GMT. The whole country falls under the same time zone.
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.
Over the years, many quality hotels have come up in Bhutan. Most hotels in Bhutan meet the recent standardization policy. The hotels are well maintained, equipped with modern amenities and services with great ambiance. 5 Star hotels are mostly located in Thimphu, and Paro, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang. Also you can avail the facilities of camping and farmhouse stay to experience a local living.
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chilli. The most of the hotels and restaturants serve Chinese and continental and Indian Cuisines. Visitors can also choose among the various vegetarian and non-veg food and many other typical Bhutanese dishes.
While safety is not much of a concern, however it is good to aware for any untoward incidences. You need to avoid walking alone or after 9PM. You also need to ensure that your belongings especially your passports, route permits, cameras, wallets and purses are properly secured.
Guides or Escort of the trip
Bhutan has a good team of interpreters and guides that are well versed in history and possess good communication skills. They are all certified trainees who undergo training conducted by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). There are also guides who speak fluent Japanese, hai and other European languages.