FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAVEL TO BHUTAN

TOURISM REGULATION, TARIFF, VISA, PACKAGES

No. There is no limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit in a year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment, the government has adopted a unique policy of “High Value, Low Impact”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.

Yes. You just cannot book your flights to Bhutan and travel around the country on your own. As per government regulation you must book a guided package tour through a Bhutanese tour operator/agent and it must be paid in advance before your arrival. The Bhutanese tour operator must be registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). Check out our profile here on the TCB website

Yes. As per regulations, all tour services in the kingdom must be provided by local operators only – there are no international operators that directly operate on the ground here. Therefore, all international travel agencies have to tie up with local operators like us, and routing trips through them just means that you be paying additional commission to cover their function as agents.

There is a minimum daily tariff set by the Government of Bhutan. For tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more the tariff is as follows:

  • Peak tourist season: USD $250/ night per person for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.
  • Lean tourist season: USD $250/night per person for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.

Tip: It is illegal to charge below the minimum and they are probably pulling tricks. 

Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates. These are as follows:

  • Single individual - US$ 40/ night per person
  • Group of 2 persons only - US$ 30/ night per person

In the daily tariff USD 200 (off season) or USD 250 (peak season), the following are included:

  • All meals
  • Bottled water throughout the trip
  • A qualified & licensed English-speaking tour guide
  • All internal transport in a chauffeur driven vehicle, and sightseeing
  • Entry fees to all the sites
  • Road/Route permits
  • A Sustainable Development Fee of $65 per night. This royalty/SDF goes towards the provision of free education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, etc.
  • Extensive Bhutan-specific pre-departure information, including advice on money, packing, tipping, language, food, and much more
  • Thoughtful customer service & 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip

The following are not included:

  • Flight into Bhutan (can be arranged with us)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks and beverages
  • Meals at 4-5 star restaurants
  • Special arrangements such as pony hire, hot stone bath, etc.
  • Single room supplement charges
  • Any other services not specified

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors wishing to enter Bhutan must obtain a visa clearance prior to your travel to Bhutan. Applications must be processed by an authorized travel agent in Bhutan on your behalf. We make the process very smooth for you; all we need is a copy of your passport that should have a validity of at least 6 months at the time of your entry in Bhutan.

A visa fee of USD 40 is charged to all travelers to Bhutan by the Department of Immigration and this must be paid in advance to us along with your tour payment.

While we do have itinerary samples on our website for your inspiration, all trips are fully customized to your liking. We at Share Bhutan know that each individual or the group that we work with has different needs, and we consistently work to provide the highest level of customization.

While basic medical services are readily accessible and free, in case of serious accidents, we recommended that you be insured against medical and personal accident risks (including repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue services). Please ensure that your policy provides a sufficient level of protection and covers you for the activities involved.

Even though the altitude in Bhutan is higher than most people are used to, altitude sickness is rare in Bhutan as most valleys are under 2,500 meters, and mountain passes are generally only just over 3000 meters. Unless you are going on a high altitude trek this is normally not an issue.

GETTING TO BHUTAN

Druk Air (the national carrier) and Bhutan Airlines (privately owned) are the only two Bhutanese airlines that connect Bhutan with the outside world.

Druk Air flies in and out of Bhutan from the following cities:

Cities No. of flights per week
Bangkok (BKK – Thailand) Daily (sometimes 2 flights a day)
Delhi (DEL – India) Daily
Kolkata (CCU – India) 6
Bagdogra (IXB – India) 2
Gaya (GAY – India) 3
Guwahati (GAU – India) 2
Kathmandu (KTM – Nepal) Daily
Dhaka (DAC – Bangladesh) 2
Changi (SIN – Singapore) 2

Important Note: Druk Air & Bhutan Airlines operate in an alpine environment with a small fleet and, although rare, delays can occur due to weather or other operational requirements. We strongly advise visitors to Bhutan to factor in at least 3-4 hour transit time before connecting to or from a Paro flight.

You can book them online directly from the websites of Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines or we can also purchase them for you with no additional charges. Most of our clients prefer purchasing their tickets through us as we have the ability to block and hold seats for you while you take the time to finalize your travel dates. We will also be the first ones to be informed in case of any changes in the flight schedules.

PHONE, INTERNET AND CASH

Most tourist hotels offer free Wi-Fi but the speed depends on the choice of hotel. You may also purchase a local tourist SIM card and subscribe to a variety of short-term voice and 4G data plans. Please let us know if you wish to obtain one and we will arrange it for you before your arrival at no additional cost.

Please make sure that your phone is not locked. If it is a locked phone you may have to unlock it before your arrival to Bhutan. If it is too much trouble to go through the process of unlocking your phone, consider carrying an old phone that is “unlocked” –and doesn’t have a call plan attached to it. To use the service of a local operator, please ensure your phone has GSM technology and is compatible with the following specifications:

  • B-Mobile: LTE Band 3 (1800Mhz)
  • Tashi Cell: LTE Band 28 (700Mhz)

International credit cards are not very widely accepted in Bhutan. Some large souvenir shops, hotels, etc. may have credit card facilities. However, be warned that most places may charge a high fee/commission for cards.

It is better to carry sufficient cash (US $ is recommended) to cover your purchases as you may not be able to rely on ATM or credit card access. Also note that Indian rupee is also widely accepted.

FOOD AND TRANSPORTATION

Your tour package already includes the cost of all meals during your entire tour. In all likelihood, you’ll be eating your breakfast at the hotel you are staying. The lunch and dinner will be arranged at different restaurants and will most likely be set meals or buffets. Expensive meals at high-end luxury resorts/restaurants is not a standard inclusion, and if you would like to dine in such places, surcharges will apply.

Rice is the staple diet of Bhutan. Bhutanese eat A LOT of rice and it is a part of every meal we eat. The sautéed chili-cheese dish locally known as Ema Datsi is the local favorite.

Tip: During your tour booking, do let us know your dietary preferences so that we can better plan the food and restaurants for your itinerary.

Unless your itinerary involves an internal domestic flight, you will be traveling by road. A dedicated private car and a certified driver, along-with a tour guide will be arranged for you (included in your tour package) for the full duration of your trip. The type of vehicle will depend on the size of your tour group. We generally assign the following type of vehicles:

  • SUVs (Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan): up to 2 pax
  • Minivan (Toyota, Hyundai): up to 8 pax
  • Toyota Coaster bus: for more than 8 pax

Tip: If your itinerary takes you beyond Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, the road can get a bit narrow and windy. Bring along some motion sickness medications if you are prone to getting car sick.

Helicopter sightseeing tours are available through the Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services Ltd. A variety of tour options are available and have to be booked in advance – they range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The rides offer stunning up-close views of the Himalayan mountains, glaciers, lakes, gorges, etc. We can assist with booking such tours.

TIPPING FOR SERVICE

Although tipping is not mandatory or expected, it is more than appreciated. You do not need to tip at restaurants, as they already include a service fee to the cost. If your guide and driver go out of their way to help you and make your trip as pleasant as possible, you can go ahead and tip them at the end of your trip as token of appreciation.

OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS AND ADVICE
  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date
  • Inform your bank/credit card company of your upcoming trip
  • Bring any prescription medicine you are taking, enough to last your entire trip
  • No need to bring dressy clothes, bring comfortable long sleeve clothing and comfortable shoes.
  • Some monasteries and monuments have photography restrictions, obey them. Good way to remember this is if your shoes are on, snap away. If they’re off, it’s not appropriate, so just capture the moment in your mind
  • If you’re flying to Paro from Kathmandu, ask for a window seat on the left side of the plane on the flight in and on the right side on the way back. On a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of Mount Everest.
  • Pack earplugs for good night sleep as the Bhutanese dogs tend to sleep all day and bark all night.