PASSPORT & VISA
All foreign travelers are required to apply for a Visa before entering Bhutan. Do print out a copy of your Visa for your trip. A physical copy of your Visa is required during Druk Air check-in for your flight to Bhutan.
Do make sure that you are traveling with the passport that is registered on your Visa. If you have renewed your passport, please get the Passport number on the Visa updated. Immigration Department imposes a USD 200 fine if you carry a passport that is different from the one registered.
It is strongly recommended that you be insured against medical and personal accident risks (including repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue services) and that you also take out cancellation insurance. You should be aware that some policies restrict coverage or do not cover travel to Bhutan and may not cover activities such as trekking and mountain biking. Please ensure that your policy provides a sufficient level of protection and covers you for the activities involved.
GUIDE & DRIVER
Your guide will be waiting for you outside the arrival hall. Both your guide and driver will be with you throughout the trip until you step into the departure hall. Do feel free to inform your guide of any adjustments/changes that will allow yourself a comfortable trip and he will try his best.
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu), which is pegged to the Indian Rupee; it’s about 1USD to 60 Nu. You also can use Indian Rupees for transactions, preferably in a small denomination of 50 and 100 rupees.
USD is also accepted in Bhutan but only for notes printed after the year 1996. If you carry other currency (USD, Euro & SGD), you can change them at the banks that are available in all towns and at the arrival hall at the airport (turn right after custom check).
There is two convenient trusted place to change currency:
- Just before the immigration counters, there is a counter on the right to change money. At the arrival hall, after the customs check and luggage scan, there is a currency exchange counter
- You can also change your currency in the local bank but the waiting time may be much longer. We would recommend changing a few hundred dollars just in case if you find interesting souvenirs to buy.
CREDIT CARD ACCEPTANCE IS LIMITED
Visa is the only credit card that is accepted in Bhutan. Transactions are generally through banks in Thailand or Singapore.
Note that Master and Amex cards are not accepted in Bhutan, even in the 5 stars-hotels. Credit Card with Cirrus is blocked in Bhutan.
We do want to share that some of our travelers have problem processing their Visa credit card even in shops that accept them.
Doctors’ availability is the same as internet access. They are readily available in the main towns like Paro and Thimphu. In other towns, you can expect rural clinic. Accident rate among our travelers has been very low, less than 0.1% of our travelers require a visit to the doctor for any ailment or sickness. Additionally, none of our travelers have complained about or required medical attention for altitude sickness.
- Essentials: Passport, tickets, currency, credit cards, driving licence, itinerary, visas, hotel and insurance documentation, copies of paperwork
- Computers & Communications: Camera, camera film, laptop, mobile phones
- Miscellaneous: Ear plugs, eye mask, guidebooks, luggage strap locks, map, and water bottle
- Keep lip balm, hand-warmer pads, sunglasses and sunblock handy at all time
Check In Baggage
- Normal daily clothes, footwear, undergarments
- Sufficient supply of Medications
- Toiletries & Beauty Extras: Hairbrush, clippers, tweezers, shaving gear
- Long-sleeved shirts, windbreaker or thermals for layering. (For evening and during winter)
- Pack a variety of warm accessories: Socks, Hat, Gloves, Scarf (For evening and during winter)
- Shorts for cycling and tracksuit
Please do bring some earplugs as well, especially if you are spending your night in Thimphu. Bhutan being a Buddhist country does not euthanize their stray dogs. They have been known to be noisy at night so some earplugs will help remedy the situation if you do encounter them.
LANGUAGE & SIMPLE TERMS
Bhutanese speaks a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language. A few words that you may like to know include:
“Ku-zu Zang-po-la” greetings with the “la” suffix used as a term of respect
“Ka-ding-che” means Thank you.
You can also add the suffix “la” at will.
But not to worry for foreign travelers as English is also a medium of communication and is widely spoken.
Note: Bhutan has become the first nation in the world to ban the sale of tobacco. While visitors can still bring in cigarettes for their own use the items will attract a duty of 200%. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items.
Customs authorities will not allow any old/used items to be taken out of the country if they have not been certified as non-antique.
It is also recommended that you keep the invoice for any old or used items that you purchase in Bhutan in case customs authorities request them at the airport on departure.