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Bhutan travel information: Bhutan or the land of the Thunder Dragon is one of the most highly acclaimed travel destinations. This is a land of remarkable natural beauty with a pristine and intact environment and a friendly, tradition-bound people. To the discerning international traveler, Bhutan has become an exotic and enticing final frontier.Bhutan ‘s present travel status comes as no surprise given that this tiny kingdom, the size of Switzerland , was zealously sequestered from the world for centuries. The door to this mythical Buddhist kingdom was opened to limited tourism only three decades ago.
Travel to Bhutan is still regulated through a policy of high value tourism. At this time and age when tourism most often dictates national economics, travel to Bhutan is a refreshing experience. Here, a deeply ingrained sense of hospitality, a universally acknowledged ecosystem and a living culture ensures every traveler the best that any nation has on offer. Travel to Bhutan is really an exploration. Explore a tradition and culture that has been preserved through the centuries. In Bhutan , it is not about seeing a display showcased for tourists but living and sharing an experience with the Bhutanese. From religious festivals to a celebration on a farm or a game of archery, become a part of it all. This is true interactive travel.
The Kingdom of Bhutan covers a land area of 46,500 square kilometers. The land lies between latitudes 26o 45’ N and 28o 10’ N and between longitude 88o 45’ E and 92o 10’ E. The country has a maximum latitudinal distance of 170 kilometers and maximum longitudinal distance of 300 kilometers.
Bhutan is almost entirely mountainous with flat land limited to the meandering border river valleys. The land rises from approximately 300 meters above the sea level in the south to the towering Himalayan mountains in the north of over 7,400 meters high. The densely populated central valleys are separated from the south by a 2,000 meter high chain of mountain within a distance of less than 175 km.
Bhutan has three major landform features: the southern foothills: the inner Himalayas and the higher Himalayas. The southern foothill rises from the plains to heights of about 1,500 meters extending to the north by about 20 kilometers. Southern Bhutan consists of a heavy network of steep hills covered with large tract of dense forest and jungles.
Bhutan is comprised of a mosaic of different peoples who continue to live in valleys isolated from one another and the outside world by formidable mountain passes. Differing ethnic groups are also distributed according to the varying environments.
People and Language:
The country’s population of 600,000 is composed of three main ethnic groups. The Sharchopas, who are considered to be the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan, live mostly in eastern Bhutan and are of Indo-Mongoloid origin. The Ngalops populate mostly western Bhutan, who migrated from the Tibetan plains and are the importers of Buddhism to Bhutan. The Lhotsampas who are Nepalese origin settled in the southern foothills of the country in the early twentieth century.
Flora & Fauna:
770 bird species in Bhutan have been recorded in Bhutan and much still remain unknown. Snow leopard, blue sheep, red panda, tiger, takin, marmot and musk deer are some of the species found in the high altitude. Temperate zone fauna include Tiger, leopard, goral, gray langur, Himalayan black beer, red panda, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The tropical forests in the south have tiger, clouded leopard, elephants, one horned Rhinoceros, water buffalo, golden langur, gaur, swamp deer, hog deer, horn bills etc.
The festivals known as the “ Tshechus “are in Bhutan throughout the year at different locations. These festivals are celebrations of faith, legends, myths and history of Bhutan in ancient ritual of colorful dance and music. The most popular for tourists are those held in Thimpu, Paro and Bhumthang. The dance known as Cham brings blessings upon the onlookers, to instruct them in the teachings of the Buddhist religion, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise evil influences. It is religious festival and it is believed one gains merit by attending it. It is also yearly social gathering where the people rejoice together, dressed in their finest clothing and jewellery. Bhutanese festival dates are mostly based on Bhutanese lunar calendar. Most of Bhutanese festival dates are given below.
Climate & Temperature:
Bhutan’s climate is as varied as its altitude and, like most of Asia, is affected by monsoons. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits.
Average Temperature in Thimpu: Winter (December-February) Max. 10 to 15 and Min. 0 to -3 degree Celsius. Spring (March- May) Max.17 to 23 and Min. 5 to 12 degree Celsius. Summer(June-August) Max. 18 to 25 and Min. 13 to 16 degree Celsius. Autumn (September –November) Max.17 to 23 and Min. 5 to 15 degree Celsius.
There are comfortable hotels in the major towns such Thimpu, Paro and Phuentsoling, while in smaller towns, modes, but adequate hotels, lodges and guest houses are available. All tourist lodges & hotels are recognized and regulated by the Department of Tourism.
Food and Drinks:
Traditional Bhutanese food tends to be hot and spicy. For our visitors, however, a range of Chinese, Indian and Continental food is served. If you like, you can also try the local delicacies like the tasty, but fiery, ematatshi, the national dish of Bhutan, made with red chilies and cottage cheese.
Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of GMT and half an hour ahead of India.
Currency used is 1 Ngultrum(NU), broken into 100 Chetrum(CH). The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee(which is also accepted as legal tender). Notes are in denominations of NU100, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of NU 1, and 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5 Chetrum.
Visa and Mater Card:
Very few hotels and shops accept credit card hence it is better if clients carry enough cash or American Express traveler’s cheque for shopping and paying the bar bills.
Bhutan Travel information What to Bring:
Casual clothes are fine. Use a layering system, starting with thermal underwear and adding a shirt, pile jacket and windbreaker or parka as necessary. Some useful things are given as follows:
Most of the time, you will be outside and much of this time is at altitude above 2500 meters so there is plenty of sun and win. Bring a supply of sun cream and some lip protection, such as Blistex; these items are not available in Bhutan.
Access to Bhutan
There are 2 ways through which you can enter Bhutan:
The best way to enter Bhutan is by Druk Air, the national air carrier. The following cities are connected to Bhutan with Druk Air flights.
Druk Air is the only airline operating in Bhutan. As Druk Air flights may be delayed because of weather in the monsoon (July & August), it is advisable to keep a 24-hour gap before any onward international connections.
Bhutan Travelers can assist you in arranging your Druk Air flights. For the Druk Air reservation, we would require your full names as in your passports. We will buy your Druk Air tickets and send them to you in advance or to the respective Druk Air check-in counters from where you board your flights. You may collect them at the check-in counter on arrival.
There is one overland entry and 2 exit points:
Some major places driving distance:
|Tashigang||Chorten Kora||52km||02 hrs|
|Tashigang||Samdrup Jongkhar||180km||07 hrs|
|Samdrup Jongkhar||Guwahati(Asam)||110km||03 hrs|
|Samdrup Jongkhar||Phuentsoling||380km||10 hrs|
Visa and Permit
All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a visa and it is processed and arranged by us. No foreign mission grants Bhutan tourist visa.
We will handle the visa procedures for you. The Govt. will sanction the VISA only after the receipt of full payment in advance. The cost of the visa itself is US $20, which can be further extended with an additional fee of US $15. Visa fee should be paid along with the tour payment and actual Bhutan VISA will be stamped in your passport on arrival on Paro airport.
For all travelers, entering into the country by road through Phuntsholing (border town in the south of Bhutan), the visa is stamped on arrival and Visa Clearance Number is forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu.
Visa applications must reach Bhutan at least three weeks prior to your arrival date to allow time for processing
Most countries issue visas from their embassies abroad and stamp it in your passport, but not Bhutan. Bhutanese embassies abroad cannot issue Visas for travel to Bhutan.
You must apply in advance through a tour operator and receive approval before you travel to Bhutan.