Bhutan - Discover Bhutan
Bhutan - Discover Bhutan
Foreign Office Travel Warnings
We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At present there are no warnings against travel to Albania. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns or would like to know in detail what measures are being taken to ensure visits remain trouble free and without incident.
It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government
Accommodation and Meals
On this tour we use comfortable mid-range small hotels with private bathrooms. Air Conditioning will be provided when necessary. In general you will find your hotel has a restaurant and/or bar.
We welcome solo travellers and single rooms will be allocated subject to the applicable tour supplement. Please note that on occasions you may not always be allocated a double or twin room, as some hotels have designated single rooms. These may be smaller in size. However, the supplement payable takes this into consideration.
Food & Drink
The daily meal basis is shown in the tour itinerary; breakfast (B), lunch (L) and dinner (D). Please note that lunch may be a picnic. Water is included with the meals advised in the itinerary. All other drinks are not included and will be payable locally in cash.
If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
Budgeting for your Tour
You will need some extra money to cover meals and drinks not included in the tour price, any optional sightseeing, souvenirs and items of a personal nature such as laundry.
The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.
The prices for drinks can vary greatly depending upon location and the prices detailed below are an average guide. In general you would expect that drinks purchased in a supermarket or local bar to be less expensive, whilst drinks in an upmarket bar or restaurant may be more expensive.
Tipping – Guide and Drivers
Tipping is common practise in Bhutan. If your local guide has been helpful then you could think about tipping. This amount can obviously be left to you. When tipping a driver, a guide or hotel staff a few dollars will always be gratefully received
ATM Availability: Major towns now have ATM’s but they are not totally reliable
Credit and Debit Card Acceptance: Cards are not widely accepted in the region although can be used to draw cash at ATM’s
Local Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN)
Recommended Currency for Exchange: US Dollars
Where to Exchange: Your tour guide will advise you
Joining your Tour
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
Any flights included in your tour are made with either Druk Air, the Bhutanese national carrier or Bhutan Airlines (colloquially known as Tashi Air). For the best views it is worth sitting on the left of the plane as you fly into Paro from Kathmandu (and on the right when you fly out). It is amazing how close you get to Everest and the surrounding peaks! Unfortunately we are unable to influence seating in advance, so make sure you get to the airport in plenty of time to request this at check-in. Generally you should check in 2 hours before the flight. In the event of flight delays or cancellations we will attempt to make alternative arrangements so as to keep the tour operating as close to the original itinerary as possible
Joining Your Tour Abroad
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive an airport transfer, both on arrival and departure include in the tour price. In order that the transfer can be arranged please ensure that you advise us of your flight information once available. Please advise the date, time and flight number for your arrival/departure. If we have not been advised of this information at least 2 weeks before travel, then you will be required to make your own way to the hotel on Day 1 of your tour.
It is a condition of booking with Undiscovered Destinations that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip.
Most nationals including UK, EU and US visitors require a visa for entry to Bhutan – the only exception is Indian nationals who will be issued with a 14 day permit on arrival. For other nationalities, a visa will be issued on arrival providing that certain conditions are met.. We recommend that you check with your nearest embassy for the most up to date details.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to the UK.
We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages for each country visited, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities.
For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate. Alternatively UK citizens can visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Vaccinations & Protection
As with travel to most parts of Asia, we strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningitis. The use of a DEET-containing insect repellent is highly recommended.
Yellow Fever vaccination is required for travellers who are arriving from, or have transited through, countries with risk of yellow fever transmission..
Preparing for your tours
The best seasons to visit Bhutan are between the months of March and May, and from September to November. Outside of these times Bhutan experiences its monsoon season (June to August) and its winter (November to February). June and December are still the weather is still reasonably good – not too much rain in June and still surprisingly sunny in December, if slightly cold.
When it comes to clothing it is usually recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. Bhutan’s evenings can be quite chilly and so you should prepare for this. You may be thankful for some thick socks, hat and gloves as it can get quite cold at night with the altitude and hotels are not well heated.
It is appreciated if you dress reasonably smartly for festivals (eg no jeans or trainers if possible).
Formal dress is required to visit inside Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) and Paro Dzong. Men should wear long trousers. Short skirts (above the knee) are prohibited. Shirts may be short-sleeved but must have a collar. No vest tops. Any shoes with socks are acceptable (including trainers) but not flip flops or sandals.
You should be prepared for some rain, so bring a light rainproof jacket and if you are planning to try a hot stone bath don’t forget your swimming costume.
You should bear in mind that Bhutan tends to have a conservative attitude towards dress. Women, and also to a certain extent men, will find that the way they dress will often determine the degree of respect they receive from both men and women.
The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription drugs, along with a medical kit. Suncream/sunblock is a must. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have. A torch or head torch is useful for any unexpected electricity outages or to assist in dimly lit areas.
Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended as well as a comfortable pair of shoes/trainers.
Luggage on tour
Your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). One large suitcase/rucksack, and one small hand luggage rucksack is acceptable.
Binoculars, torch, water bottle, insect repellent, high factor suncream (at least factor 15), good quality sunglasses and a lip salve with sun protection. You may wish to take walking poles with you for the Tigers Nest waik.
Cultural and environmental guidelines
The Bhutanese are generally tolerant of Westerners and don’t expect that they will necessarily follow, or understand, local customs, so they are not quick to take offence, but it is worth bearing in mind the following:
It is polite to take any items offered to you (or to hold something out to another person) with two hands. This is also often done when shaking hands. If you only use one hand to take something from someone make sure it is the right hand.
Follow your guide’s lead - it is customary to remove your shoes on entering the important rooms of temples and private houses.
It is customary to leave a small amount of money on the altar and you will see people touching the note to their forehead first. If a monk is present he will then pour some holy water from a small jug into your hand – if you wish you could make the gesture of taking a sip and then spreading the rest over your head.
Don’t touch people on the head or feet (although this rule does not apply to small children), and don’t point your feet at anyone. If you are sitting on the floor try to sit cross-legged or kneel with your feet behind you.
Don’t point at people or religious objects or pictures. If you are indicating something in a painting, use your whole hand, palm upwards, pointing the tips of your fingers in the relevant direction. If you are waving someone towards you use your hand palm downwards..
Remember that you should always turn prayer wheels or navigate round a chorten, religious monument or temple in a clockwise direction.
Don’t give money or candy to local children. It will encourage them to beg whenever they see foreigners. Instead you could leave small donations to schools or the village development fund so that the money can be used to benefit the whole community.
Haggling is a way of life in Bhutan when making many purchases, especially with tourist souvenirs. Usually, but not always, the vendor will start with a price that is higher than they are prepared to accept, and the buyer is expected to haggle. There are no hard and fast rules with this – some vendors may initially quote a vastly overinflated price, others may start with a price close to the true value, while others may just present you with one price and not be prepared to discuss it. Although many tourists may feel uncomfortable with this, it’s important to remember that this is best entered into in a relaxed manner. Once you have agreed upon a price, it is extremely bad form to then not pay this. Please also bear in mind that a small amount of money to you can be a relatively large amount for the vendor, and that it is not necessarily best practice to ‘beat the vendor down’ to the lowest possible price. Remember that they also have a living to make.
Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotels with you where it can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well. Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline.
Except in a few districts in the east of the country where there is a total ban on tobacco, smoking is still allowed in Bhutan but the sale of tobacco is prohibited. So if you need to smoke, bring your own and be prepared to be taxed on your supplies on entry to the country. There is also a recent law prohibiting smoking in offices and some public places.
It is not advisable to drink untreated water in Bhutan. Mineral water is freely available. We always carry bottles during the day for you to use on the journey. Water in the hotels and restaurants needs to be purchased separately.
Overseas mobiles generally don’t work in Bhutan. If you want to you can purchase a SIM card for the B-mobile network and use this in your phone - you need to ensure you have unlocked your phone from your home network first. The mobile network in Bhutan is available across the country, although there are still some black spots. Internet and wi-fi is also available in most of western Bhutan and in some other towns (including Bumthang), but it is patchy and intermittent with slow speeds, so be prepared for frustrations and delay with connecting this way.
Photography and filming inside temples is not allowed. You should always ask permission before taking anyone's photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - in return for a photo. Taking photos of state buildings and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.
Electric Supply & Plugs
The voltage in Bhutan is also the same as India - 230V, 50 cycles AC.
Tour Itinerary Versions
Please ensure that you have an up-to-date copy of these tour notes immediately before you travel, as from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. You will be informed of any major changes to your tour but small changes may just be added to these tour notes. These tour notes were prepared on 30/01/17