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Bhutan Tourist Information for 2017

Tourism Regulations

Tourism has not been that much widespread in Bhutan as we look at preserving and nurturing our culture and tradition. Bhutanese are immensely religious people and therefore it would be good on ones part to respect and understand the local customs and way of life, especially while visiting those places of religious significance.

Tourism Industry in Bhutan is founded with the principle of sustainability in mind, which means that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable, and also economically feasible.

Due to this, tourism is monitored with a strict hand and the number of tourists visiting Bhutan is maintained at an environmentally manageable level.

Visitors may experience Bhutan only on all-inclusive package tours for which a fixed daily tariff is set by the Royal Government of Bhutan. This tariff covers the following services: accommodation & all meals, transport, guide, entrances fees to museums, monuments and cultural sites, and additionally a cultural program for visitors traveling in a group of three or above

VISA for Bhutan

Your passport must have at least 6 months' validity. You will also make sure that you have an additional page for a visa for Bhutan, as well as space for the visas for any countries you are visiting en route. If you need to get a new passport please do so well before your planned trip so that there is no delay in applying for your Bhutanese visa. The visa is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within Bhutan as Bhutan has very few embassies abroad. No foreign missions abroad grant Bhutan tourist visas. You may apply in advance through a tour operator such as Bhutan Tours Trip and receive confirmation that your application has been approved before you travel to Bhutan. You can fill up the Contact Us form. There is no need to send the pictures or sign the visa application at this time.

It is advisable to apply early for the visa because the process takes a little more time than a normal visa application. Once you send your personal information, Bhutan Tours Trip submits your application first to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and then to the Foreign Ministry, both based in Thimphu. The visa is not issued until the DOT has checked that the full tour payment has been received into its bank account. The confirmation and reference number then sent to Bhutan Tours Trip and a copy will be send to you. You have to show this at the check-in desk for Druk Air. You can not board the Druk Air flight without this document so it is very important to have it along with your passport.

Upon your arrival in the country, either at Paro Airport or at Phuentsholing/Samdrup Jonkhar (if you are entering by road) the actual visa is stamped on the passport. At this time at the place of entry you have to present a passport photo with your passport number written on the back and pay the visa fee, directly to the immigration officer. The going rate is US$20 cash. Before departing for Bhutan you have to prepare the cash in advance. Please keep in mind that the visa is issued for exactly the same number of days and dates as booked by you. If circumstances arise for a visa extension once you are in Bhutan it can be arranged. Members of groups are expected to arrive and depart together.

PERMITS

Route permits are required when moving between all districts in Bhutan except from Paro to Thimpu. Bhutan Tours Trip obtains a permit for the places mentioned in your itinerary and this permit is checked and endorsed by the police at immigration checkpoints strategically located at important road junctions. Permits to Enter Temples after 2001 the rules were changed to allow tourists to visit the courtyards of dzongs and, where feasible, one designated lhakhang (temple) in each dzong but only when accompanied by a licensed Bhutanese guide. This provision is subject to certain restrictions, including visiting hours, dress standards and other rules that vary by district. Because dzongs are open to all during the time of a Tsechu. You may visit the courtyard, but not the lhakhangs, if your trip coincides with a festival. If you are a practicing Buddhist, you may apply for a permit to visit specific dzongs and religious institutions. This is issued by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs, and an application should be made in advance through Bhutan Tours Trip. The credibility of your application will be enhanced if you include a letter of reference from a recognized Buddhist organization in your home country.

TOURS BOOKING

  • Tours must be booked through a recognized Bhutanese Tour Operator such as Bhutan Tours Trip , with entire land arrangements provided by one and the same operator.
  • For Cultural Tours, booking arrangements must be completed 60 days in advance, but for Cultural Tours during festivals, arrangements must be completed 90 days in advance. The spring and autumn festivals are our prime times for tourism; if booking is not done early it can be difficult to confirm flights and hotels.
  • Booking arrangements should be completed at least 90 days in advance for Trekking groups, as this activity requires a lot of detailed planning. Bhutan Tours Trip offers you a choice of the most excellent and finest organized trekking experiences in the entire Himalayas.

ACCESSIBILITY

The most convenient way of entering Bhutan is by Druk Air, the country's national (and so far only) carrier. As flights can be delayed due to weather conditions (particularly during the summer months), it is advisable to allow 24 hours before any onward connection.

DRUK AIR is the only airline flying to Bhutan.
- Two A319 aircraft with 20 business class seats and 94 economy class seats.
- We have only one international airport and it is situated at an elevation of 2,200 meters in Paro, Bhutan.

The gateway cities into Paro, Bhutan are:
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Kolkata, India
- Gaya, India
- New Delhi, India
- Bagdora, India
- Katmandu, Nepal

Baggage weight limits are:

- 30 kg for Business Class
- 20 kg for Economy Class

Extra luggage cost per kilogram is:
- US $5.00 / kg from BKK
- US $4.00 / kg from DEL
- US $2.50 / kg from all others

GATEWAY BY LAND:

- Arrival or departure by land is also possible through the southern border town of Phuentsholing. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra, West Bengal, about 4 hours drive away. Phuentsholing allows entry/exit for travelers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal along with Bhutan. It is possible to arrange land exit through the southeastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar, which is approximately 3 hours drive from Guwahati, capital of the Indian state of Assam. Please check with Bhutan Tours Trip if you are interested in this route.

FLIGHT CONNECTION

It would be very convenient if you arrive at Bangkok, Delhi or Kathmandu, one day earlier to the Druk Air departure for Bhutan. Druk Air flights usually depart early in the morning. We cannot be held responsible if you miss the connection to Bhutan, though we will do our extreme to help you get on the next flight and to extend your visa. All additional costs incurred will be borne by you. Similarly, on the return journey, we would not advise you to book a flight which connects on the same day unless you have a ticket that allows some flexibility. Druk Air flight schedules are subject to weather conditions in the mountains and are often altered at the last minute.

FLIGHT FREQUENCY AND AIR FARES

Our national airline flies several times a week between most of its destinations, but flight timings and frequency vary according to season. Druk Air's website www.drukair.com.bt includes details of current flight schedules and airfares(airfare cancellation policy ). Please check the website or contact Bhutan Tours Trip for the latest information when planning your travel arrangements. Please let us know if you would like the current flight schedule.

The magnificent mountain landscape en route is seen at its best in the winter months, when skies are generally very clear. While flying via Kathmandu to Paro you experience the most impressive view of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges, including the Everest region. Mountain Kanchenjunga is visible for some time on all routes when the weather is clear. Flying to and fro from Bhutan is a lifetime experience to be cherished.

CUSTOMS

Visitors have to complete a passenger declaration form which will be checked by custom officials at the exit point.

After collecting your baggage you must decide which channel to take - Green Channel(nothing to declare) or the Red Channel(goods to declare).

As per international risk management practice, random checks on your baggage may be conducted by the Customs official even if you are proceeding through the Green Channel.

The following articles are exempt from duty: -
a) the visitor shall be allowed to import temporarily free of Customs duty his/her personal effects and articles required for the visit, provided that items imported are for personal use and that the items will be re-exported on their leaving Bhutan.
b) 1 bottle of Spirits not larger than one litre
c) 1 carton of Cigarettes (containing 200 pieces) subject to 100 percent customs duty and 100 percent sales tax
d) device, equipment or appliances for professional utilization
e) photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic gadget for personal use.

The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If these items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty. Visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities while departing.

IMPORT/ EXPORT

Import/export of the following goods is prohibited

  • Arms, ammunitions and explosives
  • All narcotics and drugs excluding medically prescribed drugs
  • Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  • Antiques

Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items cannot be exported without a clearance certificate.

Himalaya Holiday Services - Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan Tours - We offer Nepal Tour, Trekking, Sightseeing, Adventure Activities, Home-stay Tour, River Rafting, Jungle Safari, Peak Climbing and Expedition as well as Hotel Reservation at reasonable price.

Some useful Bhutanese phrases during tours
Hello :              Ku-zu-zam-po-la (meaning good health)
Thank You :     Ka din chey la
See you :          Lok jey gay
Good bye :       Lus la “or” Laso la






Latest Review

Dear Rajan,
Many thanks for organizing such a wonderful tour for us. This will remain our unforgettable trip! We felt so lucky that we were able to visit your beautiful country during the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Bhutan and Japan.

We spent one night in Thimphu, two nights in Phunakha, and two nights in Paro. Phunaka's Lobesa hotel became one of the most impressive splendid hotels we have ever stayed! Its view from the window was just gorgeous and took our breath away.

Nawang was a knowledgeable, kind and caring guide and we learned a lot about your beautiful country from him. Ugay was a safe driver and we felt so comfortable in the lovely Nissan four wheels.

The tour was both very informative and fun. In addition, Nawang accommodated many of our requests and re-arranged the original schedule to our satisfaction. Going to the weekend market in Thimphu became one of the highlights of this tour for us !

We'd like to visit Bhutan again in the future and we will definitely ask you again to organize tour for us.

Finally, we would like to thank Rajan for being such a friendly coordinator. Your responses were always so prompt!!

Yours sincerely,
Nory and Mayuri from Tokyo, Japan
Email: mayurih@hotmail.com

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