Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of GMT & there is only one time zone throughout the country.
The national language is Dzongkha. English is widely spoken in major towns & is a medium of education in schools. There are a host of local dialects spoken in small pockets within the country.
All our guides speak fluent English.
Visas are required by all visitors to Bhutan. We process your Visa prior to your arrival in Bhutan. The actual Visa will be stamped onto your passport when you l& in the country, for a Visa fee of 20 USD. Visas are valid for 14 days only. The duration is easily extended for up to 6 months for an additional fee of 20 USD.
Credit cards are only accepted by some shops in the bigger towns. Do not rely on credit cards as a source of cash while in Bhutan. We suggest that you take sufficient travelers checks & cash & use the credit card as a back-up only.
The unit of currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), which is equivalent to the Indian Rupee. The Indian rupee is also an accepted legal tender. Major convertible currencies & travelers’ cheques can be exchanged at banks in major towns. Certain credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, & American Express) are accepted at a few large hotels & shops.
- 1 USD = 42 Nu.
Depending on where you buy, the following is a rough chart of price of different commodities:-
- Coke: 20 – 100 Nu.
- Beer: 50 – 150 Nu.
- Bottled water: 15 – 50 Nu.
- Men’s haircut: 30 – 150 Nu.
- A finely woven kira (woman’s dress): 50,000 Nu.
The most popular tourist purchases are traditional Bhutanese arts & h&icrafts. Produced by skilled artisans, these are generally of a high quality, & include Buddhist paintings & statues, textiles, jewelry & wooden bowls & carvings. Bhutan is not a consumer society, & the variety of everyday goods available is not particularly large.
Buying & selling of antiques is strictly forbidden.
Traditional Bhutanese cuisine is very rich & renowned for the plentiful use of chilies. The most popular dish, ema datsi, is comprised of chilies (used as a vegetable) in a cheese sauce. Hotels & restaurants generally serve Indian, Chinese, Continental & Bhutanese food.
Bhutan is the only country in the world to totally ban the import & sale of all tobacco products. You can bring in a reasonable amount of cigarettes for personal consumption, but you will be charged an import duty of 100%.
Smoking is banned in all public places including restaurants & bars.
Even though the Bhutanese drink water straight from the tap, we urge you to drink only bottled water. On treks, we provide boiled & filtered water.
A reasonable variety of both hard & soft drinks are available in hotels, restaurants & shops in most towns. Many Bhutanese enjoy drinking traditional homemade alcoholic brews made from wheat, millet or rice.
The st&ard of accommodation remains relatively basic, particularly away from the major western towns. All the hotels we use are approved by the Royal Government’s Department of Tourism & they are under constant inspection. They are simple but clean, & service is slow but friendly.
In Bhutan, electricity runs at 220 / 240 volts. If you do bring electrical appliances, do not forget an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs.
The main health risks are similar to other South Asian countries, namely diarrhea, respiratory infection or more unusual tropical infection. It is wise to have health insurance, & although vaccinations are not required they are recommended. When trekking there are also risks associated with altitude sickness & accident. In the event of health problems there are basic hospital facilities in each district.
As a sensible precaution we recommend that you consider getting at least some of the following recommended immunisations:
- Hepatitis A & B
Please check with your doctor for the latest recommendations.
The crime rate is currently extremely low, making Bhutan one of the safer places in the world. It is rare to feel at all insecure within the country.
All major towns have basic communication facilities, including post, telephone, fax & telegraph. Television & internet (dial up) were introduced in 1999, & can be accessed in major western centers.
- Country dialing code: 975