Bhutan- FAQ

How do I get into Bhutan?

There are two ways to get into Bhutan, either by Druk Air line or from overland through India. Most prefer to fly into Bhutan via Druk Air, which operates several flights per week from Bangkok (Thailand), Delhi and Kolkatta (India) and Kathmandu (Nepal) to Paro (Bhutan). The flight from Kathmandu is perhaps the most amazing flight as it offers spectacular views of Everest, Makalu and Kanchenjunga on its way to Bhutan.

Flight schedules and other information are available with us on request. If you want to enter Bhutan by land, the only entry point is the town of Phuntsholing in southwest Bhutan. It is an approximately 5-hour drive from the Indian domestic airport Bagdogra, West Bengal. The scenic drive from Phuntsholing to Thimphu takes about 7 hours. As per Government rules, it is mandatory to travel at least one way by Druk Air. It can be either entry or exit. However, if Druk Air seats are not available, both entry and exit by road is permitted. The mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle only. There are no domestic airlines or trains.

Where do I get a Bhutan visa?

All foreigner visitors, other than Indian nationals, need a visa to visit Bhutan and these are only issued to people who have booked with a Travel Agency, or with a foreign travel agent. The visas are issued in Thimphu, and Mountain Sherpa Trekking & Expeditions will process your Bhutan visa for you. You can apply online Visa FORM and you will get paper Visa for Bhutan; however your passport will be stamped at paro Airport.

Is Bhutan a safe country?

Bhutan is a Buddhist country, and respect for others is a cultural cornerstone. Bhutanese are very hospitable people. You will find that Bhutan is a very safe country, with helpful and friendly people. Most young people speak excellent English, and even older people know enough English to help you find your way, or assist you in making purchases.

How about accommodation in Bhutan?

You will be staying in A-class hotels that combine comfort and charm. Although recently a few luxury five-star hotels have been established in Bhutan, visitors in general can expect as they travel through the country a unique combination of traditional Bhutanese style accommodation with modern services. Clean and well maintained, most of the hotels are equipped with telephones, fax machines and internet services. Hotels and lodges are categorized by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. International visitors will only be accommodated in hotels that fulfill the standard set by the Government. Five-star accommodations are available in Bhutan. But you would have to bear the extra charges over and above your daily tour cost you choose to stay in the luxury hotels in Bhutan.

How about the altitude changes in Bhutan? What is the range of altitude in Bhutan?

Our journeys in Bhutan lead us through the mid-mountain belt of the Eastern Himalayas, which ranges from 900 to 3,354 meters or 3,000 to 11,000 feet altitude. Most of our time is spent around 2,300m/7,544 feet or lower, but we do travel over high passes. If you have any altitude problems, please let us know and we can work additional acclimatization time into your itinerary. You will also want to consult your physician before traveling so he/she can give you suggestions as well.

When is high season or the best season to visit Bhutan ?

High season in Bhutan is March-May. September-November is also the best time of the year to visit Bhutan. Because of limited accommodations and flights in Bhutan during these two seasons, you must plan your travel well ahead of time. We recommend at least three months in advance during these busy times.

What clothes do Bhutanese wear?

In Bhutan, the traditional clothing is the gho for men, a long robe that is gathered and tied at the waist. This is accompanied by knee-high socks and dress shoes. Women wear the kira, a beautiful woven garment that covers nearly the whole body, from shoulder to ankle. A colorful silk jacket completes the outfit. Traditional clothing is still worn daily throughout the country today. If you’re interested, we can help you purchase your own gho or kira when you arrive. However, you don’t have to wear our traditional clothing unless you want to. Western clothing is perfectly acceptable. We do ask that you respect the cultural norms and bring clothing that compliments the country. Shorts, short skirts and sleeveless tops are not usually worn in Bhutan. When we visit temples and monasteries, you will also need to wear a long-sleeve top and long pants to enter. You will want to bring a selection of clothing that is comfortable and easy to care for. Good walking shoes are a must, as is a raincoat. A light jacket is good to have year-round and winter visitors will want to bring a proper coat.

What are the things I should bring for my Bhutan trip?

Your clothing needs depend on the season. Druk Air, the national carrier, limits baggage to just 20 kilos in economy class and 30 kilos in first class, so you must pack carefully. We can help you with suggestions when you book your trip. Bhutan is a developing country; so many things are not available. If you have any special medications, you need to bring all your medication with you. The same is true for specialty items like contact lenses and a backup pair of glasses. A flashlight is always helpful as well. In addition, it’s nice to bring things that help enhance your relaxing times – an i-pod, a good book and your favorite herbal tea. Comfy slippers are nice to wear around your room at night. Cigarettes and any other tobacco-related products are forbidden in the Kingdom. For personal consumption passengers are permitted to bring in 200 cigarettes (10 packets) on payment of 200 percent duty.

What we should know if we come for the festival in Bhutan?

Tourists are allowed to take photographs of and visitors are seated with the general public. However, tourists will have to obtain a Special Permit for Filming. Toilets are available for pay and use (a nominal fee). Tourists should be briefed beforehand not to disturb the festival audience or distract the performers while taking photographs.

Festival/tshechu dress code:

No hats. No umbrellas. No smoking. No slippers. No short skirts. No half pants. Tour Guide licenses may be checked by the police anytime to authenticate that the tour groups are handled by a licensed guide.

Do you also handle small group and custom tours?

We specialize in small groups and customer-crafted independent tours. Our group departures are guaranteed with a minimum of two sign-ups. We keep our groups small, usually less than 10 -12 persons, so that each participant receives personal attention from their guides and support staff. Small group travel allows our Travellers flexibility in itineraries and access to areas and sights unknown or unavailable to large tour groups—plus you have more independence and opportunity to socialize and share your experience with other participants.

Our itineraries are, in fact, an approximate indication of the schedule, scope of activities, and trip routing, rather than an inflexible schedule of events. Typically there are changes to the daily itinerary depending on local conditions and/or on the request of our guests, provided there is no financial consequence. These changes may vary from specific sights to the village or city visited. Every evening our guests and guide or Tour Manager sit down together to discuss the next day’s schedule, and at this time you will have the opportunity to put forth your ideas or request the change you would like to have in the itinerary.

Our trips cover history, the arts and architecture, religion and culture, local festivals and events, nature and landscape, and soft to moderate adventures (e.g., jungle safaris, river rafting, hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, etc). Cultural tours are basically motor vehicle-based tours, but we also offer optional hikes and village visits. During our trips you will have the opportunity to meet the locals, try local cuisine and attend local festivals and events. For those who want more active adventures, we offer rafting, mountain biking, trekking, jungle safaris and more.

More than 70% of our customers elect to customize their trips. Any trip featured on this website can be taken as a foundation upon which to build your own private trip. Select a date that suits you and we will suggest a detailed itinerary. If none of our existing itineraries works for you, we can craft one that does. If you do not have a travel companion, we can arrange a solo-traveler tour or look for a companion to join you.

Do I have to buy a tour package for travelling in Bhutan? Can I not travel on my own, choose any hotel I wish, and plan my own tour itinerary as I go along?

Yes. You must buy a package tour that is all inclusive (hotel, full board, transfer & transport, guide and sightseeing). Having paid for a package tour, you can be flexible in the tour programme, change the tour to see, or do what most interests you.

How can I get the Druk Air flight tickets?

Druk Air flight tickets can be sent to you via e-mail. We will forward tickets to your e-mail address as soon as we purchase the Druk Air tickets (E-Ticket system) prior to your departure for Bhutan.

How is the food in Bhutan? Is the water safe to drink?

You will be served relatively hot Bhutanese style cuisines that contain chilies. Most visiting tourists enjoy the food. Chinese and Indian-style food is also available. Though the Bhutanese water sources come direct from the Himalayas, it is suggested that you always drink bottled mineral water.

What is the best time to trek in Bhutan?

Spring (mid March – end of June) and autumn (mid September – end of November) seasons are the best time for trekking.

What kind of transport vehicles do you use?

For individual travellers we use Hyundai Tucson and 4WD Land Cruiser Prados. For groups of 3-7 persons we have Toyota Hiace mini buses. For larger groups of 8-20 persons we have Toyota Coaster Buses.

What outfit/clothes should I wear in Bhutan?

Like any other country, Bhutan also maintains a high sense of dress code for different places and events. If you are visiting temples, dzongs and offices, you are expected to dress in formal attire. In other, less formal, situations casual dress is appropriate. You are advised to bring warm clothing even if you are visiting in the summer (July-September).

Can I receive references from people who have travelled through your agency?

Yes, please feel free to contact us in this regard. We would be happy to provide you with all the information you require.

How can I pay for my tour? What currency do I have to pay in? Can I use my credit card?

Payments for the tour can be bank transferred or you could pay by your Visa/Master card (with extra 4% service charge).

Can I arrange air travel through your agency?

Yes. Air travel on any international flight, including for Druk Air flights, can be arranged through this agency.

How can I make my payment for a tour?

All the tour payments must be made in advance. Tour payment must be settled by one month prior to date of arrival in Bhutan. The VISA is cleared by the Government subject to advance payment only. Once your tour is confirmed we will send you our bank address details to wire transfer the tour payments or payment with credit cards also possible with us.