Travel Information of Bhutan

Travel Information on Accommodation: Tourists are accommodated in a minimum of 3-Star category hotels; most of these hotels are comfortable and clean but not so luxurious comparing to western standard. International chains of Resorts by conglomerates like Amman Resorts, Como Resorts, Taj Hotels and Starwood have come-up, that are expensive but offer world-class facilities. Most of the places in western, central and eastern Bhutan have good standard 3-4 Star hotels, while accommodation is very basic in some places like Gangtey and Samdrup Jongkhar. All hotels and lodges are built in traditional architectural style and are offered with traditional Bhutanese food with a mix of western cuisines.

Travel Information about Trekking Camps/Tents: For trekkers, comfortable high altitude tents of good quality standards are provided; at some places you will also find all-purpose huts for campers and trekkers.  Palatable dishes are provided by trained cooks while trekking. The Bhutanese have a tradition of hospitality that always makes you feel welcome wherever you go.

Travel Information for Food: Bhutanese delicacies are limited to spicy chilies and cheese. However, you will be served a buffet of Continental & Chinese food with local dishes too. Even on trek, dishes are served suitable to your taste ranging from Continental to Chinese, Indian and Bhutanese.

Travel Information on Climate: Southern region of Bhutan is tropical; Punakha & Wangduephodrang valleys in the west and Mongar, Trashigang, Lhuntse in the east enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Paro, Trongsa and Bumthang has a harsher climate, with heavy rains in summer and snow fall in winter. Winter here begins by mid-November and stays till mid-March; at this time of the year climate is dry with daytime temperature of 16-18° C and night time temperature falling below zero degrees Celsius. Monsoon usually arrives by mid-June with the downpour mainly in afternoons and evenings; Autumn begins by end of September till mid November and is pleasant for everything, especially for those who wish to trek in the deeper Himalayas.

Travel Information for Clothing: Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing. For protection against cold, layered clothing is better than a few thick ones. Clothes should be preferably of natural material, which allows the body to breathe better. It is also not advisable for you to walk around in skinny or tight fitting clothes and is advisable for the women to wear shirts or loose trousers. Please avoid wearing shorts and hats while visiting Dzongs, Monasteries and other religious institution.

Travel Information for Driving distance: Mode of transportation within Bhutan is prominently by motor vehicle. Domestic air services connecting Eastern, Central and Southern Bhutan is in an initial phase of its infrastructure development and the services are yet to be established. Since land transportation is the most reliable mode, roads are well maintained and are linked to most parts of the country. Due to the mountainous terrain and the winding roads, the average driving speed is restricted to not more than 40 kilometer per hour.

From To Distance [in Km] Driving Time (approx)
Thimphu Paro 65 1 hr 15mins
Thimphu Phuentsholing 176 5 Hrs.
Thimphu Wangduephodrang/Punakha 77 3 Hrs.
Punakha Wangduephodrang 17 40 mins
Wangduephodrang Trongsa 129 4 hrs.30mins
Trongsa Bumthang 68 2 hrs.30mins
Bumthang Mongar 198 7 Hrs.
Mongar Trashigang 91 4 Hrs.
Trashigang Chorten Kora/Trashiyangtse 52 1 hr.20mins
Trashigang Samdrup Jongkhar 180 6 Hrs.
Samdrup Jongkhar Guwahati (India) 110 3 Hrs.
Samdrup Jongkhar Phuentsholing 380 9 hrs.30mins
Phuentsholing Bagdogra 170 4 Hrs.

Time Zone: Bhutan has only one time zone. It is exactly six hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

Travel Information for Currency: Ngultrum (Nu) is the official currency of Bhutan and has equivalent value to Indian Rupee, which is accepted in Bhutan. Selective international ATM cards are accepted by local banks and certain business houses including hotels. US dollar and Euro is widely accepted all over the country. Changing of money is possible in Banks as well as in hotels.

Travel Information for Restricted Area: not all places of religious establishments are open to tourists. This is to ensure that monastic life can continue unhindered and for environmental and safety concerns. Details can be provided with a full list of places and festivals that are open to tourists.

Travel Information for Customs: Visitors are required to complete the Customs formalities by submitting Declaration Form to customs authorities on arrival. The following articles are exempted from customs duty.

  1. Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
  2. 2 liters of alcohol; 400 sticks of cigarettes; 150 gms of pipe tobacco after declaration with Customs and payment of taxes. Selling of Cigarettes and Smoking in public places is banned in Bhutan; violation of this regulation can face imprisonment.
  3. Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
  4. Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use
  5. Articles described in & 4 must be declared on the Customs Form. If such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift they become liable for customs duty.

Import and export of the following goods are strictly prohibited

  1. Arms, ammunition, explosives and military stores
  2. All narcotics and drugs (medically prescribed drugs are exempted)
  3. Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  4. Antiques

Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items. Customs authorities will not allow any old/used items to be taken out of the country if they have not been certified as non-antique.  Import of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be declared on arrival. 

Filming: Commercial filming in Bhutan requires prior approval from the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) and payment of royalty as per the Bhutan Filming Regulation, 2007. Applications received at least 30 days in advance along with following details:

  1. Synopsis of the film-theme/background/objective/purpose
  2. Specific locations/objectives/activities
  3. Duration of filming activity in the country
  4. Composition of the team and list of equipment, accessories/consumables
  5. Letter of recommendation from the sponsoring agency, company profit and resume
  6. Any other additional information, as the Authority may require.

Royalty @ will be applicable:

  1. Documentary @ US$ 3,000/-
  2. Commercial Films @ US$ 10,000/-
  3. Advertisement US$ 5,000/-
  4. Music Video US$ 3,000/-
  5. TV Series (per episode) US$ 3,000/-

In addition, a security deposit of US$ 2,000/- needs to be deposited to BICMA on a refundable basis.

Photography: Photographic opportunities are immense on all trips.