Practical Travel Tips: Bhutan

SHAREShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Share on StumbleUpon0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone

This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

Only one of us on the team have been to Bhutan. She described it as magical when she visited in 2008. Jennifer of the blog, From Mississippi with Love, who previously wrote about Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Namibia and Victoria Falls, recently went and here are her practical tips.

If you would like to write about your recent travel experiences on The Flight Deal, submit your pitch here.

===

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhutan is the smallest country in the region with only 800,000 inhabitants. As one of the most insular countries in the world, Bhutan is a fascinating place to visit in terms of its rich culture, boasting of some of the most stunning natural beauties in the world.

Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) near Paro. – Photo: (c) 2017 – Jennifer Wong of From Mississippi with Love

Getting in

Bhutan has one international airport at Paro. Flights into Paro are available on Druk Air for connection via a handful of cities in southeast Asia, namely Delhi and Bangkok. You’ll need to have all your visa documentation in place as they will not let you board the aircraft without proof of a visa.

Crossing immigration at Paro International Airport is seamless. Have your visa documentation and cash. You’ll be able to exchange cash at a window prior to immigration if you need to change money into the Bhutanese currency.

Most nationalities require a visa to visit Bhutan. To obtain a visa, you must book your travel through a local licensed tour operator, who will then process it for you. Your trip must be paid in full before the visa can be issued. The cost of a Bhutanese visa is $250 per day during high season and $200 per day during low season, which includes accommodation, transportation, meals, and special entry fees. Surcharges apply for groups smaller than 3. Exceptions to the tourist visa rule are those coming to visit a citizen or a volunteer organization, and guests of the government.

After passing through immigration, there is an ATM at baggage claim, where you can withdraw money. Drivers are usually waiting outside the airport, right past customs. The ride into Thimphu, the capital city, is roughly an hour.

Currency

Bhutan operates off the Bhutanese ngultrum (~66.6 nu to 1 USD). ATMs are located sparsely throughout the country, so be sure to withdraw money while in the capital city or larger towns as most of the country still operates on a cash-basis.

Transportation

Taxis are common and available in most of the larger towns and throughout Thimphu. However, to get around the rest of the country, it is best to hire a private driver, who is familiar with the roads in the country. With the entire country nestled firmly in the Himalayas, most of the roads are often winding along a cliffside. Bus drives are long and can be difficult to navigate. There is no mass transit system in the country.

Accommodation

To enter into Bhutan as a tourist, you will need to apply for a tourist visa through a local licensed tour operator (see above). The tourist fee will include accommodation.

Communication

Dzongkha is the national language; however, English is widely spoken.

Destinations

As the last remaining Buddhist kingdom in the world, Bhutan boasts of many religious and cultural sites. Below are the most popular tourist destinations:

  • Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest): Just outside of Paro is the Taktsang Monastery, which is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. The Monastery itself is built on a cliff, and trekking up is no mean feat (Apple health tracked 179 flights climbed!)
  • Punakha Dzong: The largest dzong in the country in Punakha, former capital of Bhutan. We luckily came here right on the day the Punakha Tshechu was occurring, which meant there was quite a crowd and a religious performance going on
  • Taa Dzong (Watch Tower) Museum: The Taa Dzong Museum is a national museum dedicated to the royal family of Bhutan. It provides a great overview of the history of the country and its relationship with Buddhism

Punakha Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan – Photo: (c) 2017 – Jennifer Wong of From Mississippi with Love

Additionally, given its location in the Himalayas, it is also home to some of the most spectacular nature treks and hikes in the world, though the treks are known to be difficult.

The eastern part of the country has just begun opening up to tourism, which makes it particularly fascinating for the off-the-beaten-path adventurist, but do note that you will require a route permit issued by the government anywhere you travel.

108 chortens to commemorate the King’s victory in 2003 at the highest pass overlooking the Himalayas – Photo: (c) 2017 – Jennifer Wong of From Mississippi with Love

Food

Bhutan offers a number of national dishes influenced heavily by neighboring countries. While the staple food is rice, usually accompanied by curry or veg, there are also a variety of noodle dishes. Dal is often served in Bhutanese meals as well. Lastly, my very favorite, momos (dumplings) are considered a fast food and absolutely delicious. They come in meat (beef or pork) varieties as well as veg (with or without cheese). Sometimes steamed, sometimes fried, they’re guaranteed to make you want more (usually 5 to an order). Every dish in Bhutan will also come with a side of chili paste, which is not for the faint-hearted but will also help keep you warm in this mountainous state!

Beef momos from Little Bhutan restaurant in Thimphu – Photo: (c) 2017 – Jennifer Wong of From Mississippi with Love

Internet

Connectivity is sparse but most hotels catering to tourists will offer wifi.

Clothing

Generally, clothing norms in Bhutan are very conservative. It is one of the few places in the world where the people still dress in traditional garb regularly. The cultural necessity for men and women to dress modestly is quite high, especially if you intend on visiting any cultural sites. Many religious temples require shoulders and legs to be covered completely.

Safety / Security

Bhutan is an extremely safe country given their religious background. Petty crime, such as theft, does not really occur. The Bhutanese are also extremely humble. Unlike many other tourist-ridden destinations, you will be hard pressed to find people on the street attempting to hustle you for money or to buy little trinkets.

Medical facilities in Bhutan are limited. While basic, primary healthcare is provided to all Bhutanese residents, health facilities and stocked pharmacies may be difficult to come by outside of Thimphu. When traveling here, it is recommended to bring any medication you may require on the trip prior to departing. It may be prudent to ask your doctor for some ciproflaxin (for traveler’s diarrhea and most gastrointestinal infections).

There is no malaria in Bhutan.

About the Author

Growing up in rural Mississippi, Jennifer always dreamed of exploring the world. Since those days, she’s developed irresistible wanderlust and called a number of places home: US (San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia), England, Malawi, Liberia, Israel, and most recently, Kenya. She’s in love with her sports teams (the New Orleans Saints and Manchester City), running (currently training for the Berlin marathon), and adrenaline sports (skydiving, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, sandboarding). One day, she hopes to utilize her love of cooking and sports by opening up her own Southern-style boozy brunch sports pub. Follow her on her blog, From Mississippi with Love or @jennnnnwong on instagram.

=====

To make sure you receive our latest deals, LIKE our The Flight Deal Facebook Page, follow us on Twitter @TheFlightDeal, or subscribe to The Flight Deal RSS Feed or Subscribe via Email (Once a Day)

The Flight Deal does not sell travel products or services. We provide you with information about third-party travel suppliers’ offers, and link you to their sites. The information posted by The Flight Deal is valid at the time of publication. However, we have no control over the suppliers, and we therefore do not warrant or guarantee that their offers will not change or become unavailable. Nor are we responsible for their products, services or site content. Please see their sites for their most up-to-date offer information and all applicable terms and conditions.

Stay Informed on the Latest Deals

Sign up to receive The Flight Deal Daily DealsLetter, to stay up to date with the latest and greatest flight deals available.

SHAREShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Share on StumbleUpon0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone

written by

The author didn‘t add any Information to his profile yet.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright - The Flight Deal

ADVERTISER DISCLOSURE: The offers that appear are from companies from which The Flight Deal receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. The Flight Deal does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers

EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE: The editorial content on this site is not provided by the companies whose products are featured. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser.