Practical information Bhutan

  • Bhutan
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  • Bhutan
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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Bhutan
Bhutan : the key figures

Area : 14,987 sq mi km2

Population : 691,141 inhabitants

Bhutan : Travel Information before you go!

Flights

The flight takes approximately 10 to 14 hrs (at least) depending on the route taken and waiting times at connecting airports. For example, via India, you can expect an 8 hr flight to Delhi, and then 2 hrs to get to Paro airport in Bhutan. Druk Air is the only airline that flies to Bhutan. It connects Paro to Bangkok (3 flights a week), Calcutta (3 flights), New Delhi and Kathmandu (2 flights a week). Thimpu is 4,776 mi from London.

Airports

The only international airport in Paro is 4 and a half miles from the city centre and 33 miles from the capital. Since everything has been organised for your trip to Bhutan, a car should be waiting for you on arrival. Otherwise, there is a shuttle service provided by the airline Druk Air which takes you to Thimphu, the capital. Taxis are few and far between here.

Security

Bhutan is a particularly safe country for tourists; there are no major risks.

Languages

Dzong-ka, or Dzongkha (Tibetan dialect) is the official language of Bhutan. The bureaucratic language, now taught in schools is, however, only spoken by 20% of the population. The Bhutanese and Nepalese speak in a number of dialects (a total of twenty) and, although it is not very widespread, English is the most frequently spoken foreign language.

Required travel documents for

European citizens must request a visa before departure, but it will be issued upon arrival in the country (whether you travel by plane or by road). You must allow 10 days before departure for the procedure. The visa costs USD 20 (14) and you will need to provide two identity photos. Since opening up to tourism in 1974, Bhutan has done everything to protect its ancient traditions. The conditions for entry into the country, for example, are very demanding, but not insurmountable; there are just a few rules to follow. You are advised to go through a travel agency (whether local or not) which will deal with transferring your visa request to the Bhutan Tourism Authority governmental service, in charge of issuing this precious document. Before you go to the travel agency, though, make sure that your route has been planned beforehand, as it is only after this step that the travel agency will be able to book your plane tickets with the airline Druk Air, the only company to provide flights to Bhutan. A travel agency can create a tour for you, but be aware that the fewer people coming with you, the more expensive it will be. In fact, you will need to pay a daily package price, which incorporates a set of services when you get there: accommodation (hotels, guest houses, camp sites...), meals, transportation and guide services. The lowest rate is USD 200 (140) per person during the high season (from March to May and from September to November) and USD 165 (115) for the rest of the year. Groups of less than three people must pay an extra charge of USD 40 (27) per day and per person, and USD 30 (20) for two people.

Religion

75% of the population is Buddhist. Bhutan is, moreover, the only country in the world to have established Mahayana Buddhism in its tantric form, as an official religion. In the south, the population of Nepalese origin follow the Hindu religion.

Currency

The currency is the Ngultrum (BTN), but the Indian Rupee (INR), which can only be obtained when you're out there, is also used. 100 Ngultrums equals 1.44 Sterling. Tourists can exchange travellers cheques or cash through the country's two bank networks or in hotels. Your credit card will be no use to you here (except maybe to pay for your purchases in one of the few shops in Thimphu, which only accept American Express). Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 8.00am to 5.00pm.

Local transportation

The country has no domestic flights or trains, so you have to use motor vehicles or walk. The condition of the roads varies in accordance with the seasons; it is possible, for example, for some roads to be cut off during the monsoon season. The main road network makes it possible to visit the country from west to east, passing through some of the major sites.

Health

No vaccine is required, but plan to have typhoid and hepatitis A and B shots done. During the monsoon period, malaria is common in the south of the country, so as a precaution, be sure to take a preventive treatment.
As for water, it is undrinkable and you will not find bottles of mineral water everywhere. Therefore, you must plan to bring tablets to disinfect the water (but keep in mind that this does not work against amoebae).
Finally, the most visited valley areas of the centre are located at an average altitude of 8,200 ft, but treks can easily go beyond 16,400 ft. During your first few days here, you may feel sick from the altitude.

Electricity

220 V. An adapter is not needed. Power cuts are frequent.

Tourist numbers

The annual number of visitors to Bhutan is generally around 5-6,000 people.

Taxes and tips

Giving tips is not common practice.

Telephone

To call Bhutan from London, dial: 00 + 975 (country code) + the no. of your correspondent.
To call London from Bhutan, dial: 00 44 20 + the no. of your correspondent.

Bhutan : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Honorary Consul of Bhutan in London, United Kingdom
2, Windacres, Warren Road
Guildford GU1 3HG
United Kingdom
P O Box 1044, Thimphu
tel: +44 (0) 148 353 8189
Email: mrutland@aol.com
Office Hours: preferred initial contact by email


At the destination

Tourism Authority of Bhutan
Post Box 126, at Thimphu, Bhutan.
Tel: +975-2-323251, +975-2-323252
Fax: +975-2-323695

Druk Air, the airline serving the airport of Paro:
Druk Air Corporation Ltd. (Head Office)
Royal Bhutan Airlines
Nemeyzampa
Paro, Bhutan
Phone : +975 8 271856/57/58, +975 8 271860
email: reservationparo@drukair.com.bt

The British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata also covers Bhutan.

Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner
British Deputy High Commission
1, Ho Chi MinhSarani, Kolkata 700 071
Tel: +91 33 22885172-76
Fax: +91 33 22883996 / 2288 3435
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00am-1:00pm and 2:00pm-3:00pm
Emergency out of hours number: 91-11-24192100
Email: Kolkata@fco.gov.uk

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