FAQ

  • What is the best time to visit Bhutan?

In Bhutan every season has its own charm; as such the country has variety of doings to the tourist according to their interest. But the most visited months are usually March, April and May during which the country is at its best scenery as the spring just hits off and of course in the later months of the year like August, September, October and November. These are the peak seasons as the weather during these time of the years are pleasant and warm and not to forget the festival months. However, Bhutan Travel Club is focusing to spread out visitation over the year because, come rain or shine, there is something for all parts of the year. The winters are cold, but we have winter treks and festivals in the southern parts of Bhutan, which has warm weather through out the year. A winter in Bhutan is characterized by clear blue skies, but you need your jackets with you.

 

  • Do I need a Visa for Bhutan? How can I obtain a Visa for Bhutan?

All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a Visa prior to your arrival to Bhutan, except for Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. After your confirmation to visit Bhutan with us, you can just download and fill out the Visa Application form from our website and send it to us. We’ll have the visa confirmation letter processed within 7 working days and send it to you. The Visa Application System used by the national tourism office is designed by our CEO when he was working as the Chief Researcher for the Tourism Council of Bhutan. This makes it very easy for us to leverage visa processing even during the final minutes before your arrival to Bhutan.

 

  • What Documents will I require at the Airport when I come to Bhutan?

You will need your Passport which has 6 months validity for its expiry date, Druk Air e-ticket, whether you booked it through us or the Druk air’s website and your Visa confirmation letter which we will send you prior to your arrival in the country. And please to carry a copy of your tour itinerary as well.

 

  • How do I enter Bhutan? From where do I enter?

You can enter Bhutan by Air, with Drukair airline or Bhutan Airlines which are Bhutanese airlines. No other international airlines fly to Bhutan. You can enter through the following entry points;

Bangkok, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Dhaka, Bagdogra, Singapore

You can also enter Bhutan by road through Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in southern Bhutan.

 

  • How can I purchase flight tickets?

You can directly purchase the Druk air tickets from their website (www.drukair.com.bt) or at Bhutan Airlines at (www.bhutanairlines.bt). However we strongly recommend you to book your Bhutan flights with us for your convenience and we are in a better position to follow-up with the airlines in case of changes in schedules etc.  Please note that all tickets are e-tickets and will be send to you via email.

  • How much does it cost to visit Bhutan?

Daily tariff to Bhutan is prescribed by the Government in order to maintain Bhutan’s exclusivity. A visitor has to pay an all-inclusive minimum amount depending on the season.

 

  1. USD. 250 per day for the months of March, April, May, September, October, November.
  2. USD. 200 per day for the months of December, January, February, June, July and August.

Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons are required to pay a surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:

  1. Single individual US$ 40 per night
Group of 2 persons
  2. US$ 30 per person per night

Visitors have to pay an additional USD 40 as one time Visa Fee.

Tour operators are required to maintain the minimum standards and are not allowed to sell tour packages below the prescribed daily rates.

 

  • What is included in the minimum dairy tariff/price?

The minimum price as prescribed by the government is inclusive of all your travel needs such as:

  1. USD 65 as government levy (which goes directly as Government revenue that is used for free education and free health and most importantly poverty alleviation)
  2. Accommodation in at least a 3 start hotels.
  3. All meals
  4. Airport transfers
  5. Licensed English-speaking guide service.
  6. Overland transport in a tourist standard car with licensed driver.
  7. Trekking equipment and haulage using ponies for treks.

We, at Bhutan Travel Club also include a list of extras through our own initiative to make your stay in Bhutan as convenient and memorable as possible such as mobile numbers, mineral waters, internet datacards, trekking insurance, tea and snacks, beverages etc.

 

  • What kind of visitors does Bhutan Travel Club cater to mostly?

We do not prioritize our holidays according to types. Going by numbers, most of our visitors are of the cultural type, followed by mountain biking tours and treks. Special interest groups such as marriage tours, textiles, homestays, fishing, bird watching and fishing tours are also popular. We are focusing on Community-based tours to enable more interaction between visitors and community residents and engage the local people to make income through our tourism services.

 

  • What happens if I have already made a booking with you and then I have to cancel the trip due to unavoidable circumstances?

Tour Programmes booked with us and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as prescribed by the government as follows.

  1. Within 30 days of start of programme ~ no charges
  2. Within 21 days ~ 10% of rate
  3. Within 14 days ~ 15% of rate
  4. Within 7 days ~ 30% of rate
  5. Less than 7 days or without notice ~ 50% of rate
  6. After arrival in Bhutan ~ 100%

The remaining amount is remitted back to your bank account.

  • Are there any discount schemes provided by your company?

Yes, our discount schemes are given as follows;

  1. There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount on Royalty.

 

  1. Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily rates.

 

  1. A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11 to 15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.

 

  1. 50% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 14th night.
  2. Visitors availing discounts under Sections A, B & C shall not be eligible for discount under E.
  • What kinds of vehicles do you use?

We make sure of your comfort to or fullest and therefore we use comfortable, clean, well-maintained vehicles. Our fleet of vehicles include Toyota Land Cruiser Prados, Toyota Hiace vans, Toyota Coaster buses, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Tucson SUVs. Through our Corporate Social Responsibility criteria, we at Bhutan Travel Club do not use vehicles that are more than 3 years, in order to minimize our company’s carbon footprints.

 

  • How far in advance do I have to sign up for the tours?

If you can book your tour as early as possible, it will give us more time to plan your travel. However, given our company’s purchasing power and experience, we can also hand last minute bookings without hassle. It is however advised to book your travel 6-8 weeks in advance if it is coinciding with popular festivals like Thimphu and Paro Tsechu. Given that we only have one airline, tickets are notoriously overbooked during that period.

  • What will be the food like?

You will have a variety of cuisines to choose from – Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, and Thai to Continental. The main staple diet of Bhutanese is rice which is savored with the most favorite dish made out of chilies and cheese called “ema datshi”. Meat is widely eaten in Bhutan as are the vegetables. Our partner hotels and restaurants are always aware of your eating habits and serve according to your palate. Even if you want to try Bhutanese, we do not make it as spicy as we are used to.

  • What is the language of Bhutan?

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, though there are many other dialects that each region in the country has maintained. Since English is an official language, it is easy to communicate with most Bhutanese people.

  • Are there any embassies in Bhutan?

We only have an Indian embassy in the country. There are consulate offices of the Netherlands, Kuwait, and Canada. The closest international embassies are in Delhi, India, Kathmandu, Nepal and Bangkok, Thailand.

  • What vaccinations do I need?

We do not have any screening to come to Bhutan, but for your own safety in the region, please check the following website for the latest international requirements (Centre for disease control website www.cdc.gov/).

  • What is the currency of Bhutan?

The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. The value of Ngulturm is equivalent to the currency of Indain Rupee. You cannot buy Ngultrum prior to your arrival to Bhutan but once you arrive, you can easily exchange your currency to Ngultrum at the banks or even in your hotel. Please check the current exchange rates at www.bnb.bt.

  • Can I use credit cards in Bhutan?

You can use your Mastercard and Visa cards to withdraw Ngultrums from local banks. Some handicrafts shops also accept these international credit cards. However, you cannot pay the Visa fee of USD 20 at the Immigration Counter while entering Bhutan. You have to carry at least USD 20 with you while you enter Bhutan!!

  • Are there ATM’s in Bhutan?

There are ATM machines in most parts of the country and you can use your Debit and Credit cards to withdraw local currency.  The limit is Nu. 10,000 per day (USD 180).

  • What is the time zone of Bhutan?

Bhutan has only one time zone. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 3o mins ahead of India, 15 mins ahead of Nepal and an hour behind Thailand. In USA during daylight saving time, Bhutan is 10 hours ahead of New York City and during standard time, Bhutan is 11 hours ahead of New Your City. The country telephone code for Bhutan is +975.

  • Is it safe to travel to Bhutan?

Given the minimal crime records in the country, it is very safe to travel in Bhutan.

  • How do I pay for my tour?

Payment will have to be done through a wire transfer or Internet Banking through one of the correspondent banks. Please send us an email and we’ll send you the banking details.

 

  • What is the baggage allowance of Drukair?

For the economy class, your check-in luggage cannot exceed more than 20 kg and for first class, and upto 30 kg for Business Class. You can carry some few extra kg in your luggage but you will have to pay for it.

Is there an official number of tourists allowed to travel in Bhutan each year?

No, there is no such official ceiling on the numbers of visitors to Bhutan. However, the premium which visitors have to pay as daily tariff and the requirement of taking a tour operator maintains exclusivity and limits arrivals. This is the high-value, low volume tourism policy that is aimed at averting mass tourism and backpackers.

 

  • How high is the elevation in Bhutan?

The elevations on our trips range between 7000 feet and 12,000 feet. Altitude is definitely an important consideration for anyone planning to visit Bhutan as most of the people are not used to it. The average elevation is about 7000 feet. Most of our itineraries entail travel as high as about 12,000 feet, including a highest sleeping elevation of about 10,000 feet. We make sure to minimize the risks of altitude sickness and this is something we’re happy to discuss with our travelers.

 

Getting to Bhutan

Entry by Air

Bhutan’s airlines Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines operate several flights per week from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Guwahati and Kathmandu and Singapore to Paro. The modern Airbus A-319 jets carry passengers through one of the most spectacular flight paths in the world. If you are flying in, do not forget to ask for left-side seating to enjoy majestic views over the Himalayan mountain ranges. permitting; passengers will be treated to intimate views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga. Landing in the Paro Valley, surrounded by 4000 meter high mountains stretching across the west of Bhutan, means a visual landing is the order of the day. The Bhutan’s only international airport at Paro, is located at a height of 7300 ft above sea level. Our guides will be waiting for you at the airport and you will be ushered into the comforts of your vehicle to begin your holiday. The only other domestic airline is in Bumthang valley with 3 flights a week from Paro to Bumthang and back on the same day. Those visitors who visit Bumthang are advised to take the domestic flight back to Paro in order to reduce significant drive time. Domestic flights are also as safe and reliable as the international flights.

Entry by Road

Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border areas open for international tourists. The town of Phuntsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuntsholing, your journey then begins its mountainous climb through endless turns and hair-pin bends till you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The travel time for the 176 km stretch can be more than 6 hours.Gelephu in South-Central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three Districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest District in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangde Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.A combination of overland and air travel is also possible. All overland travel requires an Indian visa. Our guides would have prepared everything for a hassle-free entry/exit in and our of the country.

Best time to Travel to Bhutan

Bhutan has a season for everyone. The Kingdom stretches across all climatic zones; from the sub-tropical jungles in the south, to the moderate heights of 2000 – 2500 metres in the centre and up to the alpine world of the towering Himalayas and glaciers of the north. The best time in terms of weather and events is in spring (March-May) and in autumn (Sept – Nov).

In Spring the trekking season commences in moderate altitudes. Above 3000 metres spectacular rhododendron forests bloom. It is also the perfect time for a rafting tour. In Paro, one of the largest monastic festivals – Paro tshechu – takes place.The temperature is pleasantly mild even up to the Alp regions. Rain comes only in May as the harbinger of the approaching monsoon.

The Summer brings with it the monsoon, but this should not deter travellers. In the settled areas of the medium ranges of Central and Western Bhutan pleasant summer temperatures without heat or humidity can be found. Rain falls for short periods daily but is manageable with adequate planning and equipment. Treks in high mountain areas, e.g. the Snowman Trek, are characterised by mild temperatures, verdant green meadows, and pastures of Blue Poppies and Edelweiss. Nomads tending their yaks in the high Alps are a common sight.

Autumn is the traditional high season in Bhutan. September and October have the highest number of tshechus (monastic festivals). Trekkers particularly enjoy the clear view of the mountains in October and the low rainfall. Rice harvest means a picturesque landscape remarkable terraces and changing colour.

In Winter, there is beautiful sunshine and the days are pleasantly warm. However, it could reach -5 to -6 degree Celsius during the night. The South of Bhutan beckons during the Winter. Dry and pleasant conditions make this the best time of year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitudes or a bicycle trip along quiet mountain roads. The trekking routes in the high mountains are covered in deep snow and are impassable at this time of year. The impressive and endangered Black Necked Crane spends the winter in the high valley of Bumdeling (in eastern Bhutan) and Phobjika (in central Bhutan).
Temperatures and vegetation in the altitudes between 200 and 300 metres are comparable to the moderate climate of middle Europe. The tree line lies just under 4000 metres. During winter there is little precipitation. Snow falls rarely below 2500 metres.

Tourism and Visa Policy

The Royal Government of Bhutan implements the “High Value, Low Volume’ tourism policy by means of setting a minimum selling price for packages to Bhutan. This must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan. Other than Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals, all visitors to Bhutan require a visa; all visas are issued from Thimphu. A registered local travel company like us have to apply for tourist visas mandatorily. The remittance channel is such that the tour costs remitted by the guests (you) have to be deposited prior to your arrival into the bank account of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, upon which visa clearances are issued. The local tour operator do not even get access to the money until you have left the country and the balance (after deducting all government tariffs specified below) is then deposited into our bank account. Visa clearances take 3 to 4 working days.

Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without your visa clearance. Your airfare which is NOT included in the holiday price have to be remitted together with the tour costs and the airfare is forwarded to the National Airline Druk Air’s Bank account. Tickets can be purchased only when Druk Air receives the money along with your visa clearance.

At your point of entry the visa will be stamped in your passport. Two passport photos will also be required. Visas are issued for a 15-day period. If you are staying longer, we will get the visa extension done.

As your chosen host in Bhutan, we will do the necessary travel arrangements upon receiving your tour costs. And all you need is relax and look forward to your holiday.

• Daily Tariff

As prescribed by the government, the minimum tariff for tourists visiting in a group of 3 persons or more during high season is USD 250 per person per night halt if your travel time is in the months of March, April, May, Sept October and November.

For regular season it is USD 200 per person for the months of December, January, February, June, July and August. The pricing is for 3 or more people in a group.

The minimum price includes:

• All internal taxes and charges (including the Royalty which is USD 65 per person per night halt)
• All Accommodation on twin sharing basis in a standard 3-star hotel.
• All Meals
• All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
• All Internal Transport with Driver
• Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours
• Road Permits/Special Permits
• Entry fees to attractions and natural parks etc.

The minimum price does NOT include:
• USD 40 as Visa Fee
• Surcharges
• Single Room Supplements
• Laundry
• Donations to Monasteries and Temples
• Alcohol / Beverages
• International Telephone Calls / Internet
• Souvenirs/ Gifts
• Tips for Guide / Driver / Trekking Team
• Round trip Air fare

The rates given above are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.

The rates apply uniformly irrespective of locations and the type of accommodation provided/asked for. List of hotels approved for international tourist accommodation is updated from time to time and issued by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

• Mandatory Surcharges Applicable as prescribed by the Government

Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons is subject to surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:

Single individual US$ 40 per night
Group of 2 persons US$ 30 per person per night

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

• Discounts

a) There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates.
b) Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
c) A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person is a group of 11 to 15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.

Getting Around

All major towns in the 20 districts of Bhutan are accessible by road. Despite high mountains, steep slopes, and the deepest of valleys Bhutan has a relatively accessible network of roads. That said, rarely will one find a length of either straight or flat road. In some stretches one can encounter 6 to 7 bends per kilometre! Steep ascents and descents are characteristic of road travel in Bhutan and this can make travel much slower than one may be used to. Average speeds for road travel rarely exceed 30 km/h, with tourist buses making even slower progress. One is however handsomely rewarded for the long and sometimes tiring car journey, by the spectacular views of towering mountains, lush green jungle, ancient villages and majestic monasteries.

At Bhutan Travel Club, our itineraries are designed to keep the driving times minimum and we ensure utmost safety and comfort while driving around in Bhutan. Our Transport Unit is highly discerning about vehicles that we use for your transportation – we only use luxury cars like the Toyota Hiace buses and the Toyota Land Cruisers for small to medium sized groups and Toyota Coaster buses for group sizes more than 6 people. We have a policy NOT to use vehicles that are more than 3 years old to guarantee utmost safety and minimise our carbon footprint to help the environment. All our drivers are licensed by the Road Safety and Transport Authority who are well experienced in catering to tourists where the cars need to ply slower than regular traffic speeds.

• Driving Times

From/To Distance Travel Time
Thimphu – Paro 65 km 1 hr 30 min
Thimphu – Phuntsholing 176 km 6 hrs
Phuntsholing – Bagdogra (India) 170 km 4 hrs
Thimphu – Ha 115 km 3 hrs 30 min
Ha – Paro 60 km 2 hrs 30 min
Thimphu – Wangdue Phodrang 70 km 2 hrs
Thimphu – Punakha 77 km 2 hrs 15 min
Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang 21 km 30 min
Wangdue Phodrang – Trongsa 129 km 4 hrs
Trongsa – Bumthang 68 km 2 hrs 30 min
Bumthang – Mongar 129 km 4 hrs
Mongar – Trashigang 90 km 3 hrs
Trashigang – Trashi Yangtse 55 km 2 hrs

Travel Insurance and Safety

When you are travelling, there could be unseen turn of events, which are sometimes beyond your control and our capacity. Therefore a need for a proper insurance. With us, there were cases where insurance came in handy when the timings of the only airline in Bhutan changed because of bad weather, emergency evacuations when our very own guests were stranded up in the mountains because of heavy snowfalls and rain etc. Other companies have had incidences where travelers met with accidents and even death; a case of robbery in the history of Bhutanese tourism etc.

Therefore a travel medical insurance, and trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money to enjoy your holiday – why not spend a bit more to safeguard it?

Travel medical insurance is mandatory. Adding cancellation insurance to your medical insurance is optional, but always recommended. By having ‘all-inclusive’ coverage you do not need to worry about emergencies that can happen any time, any where, before or during your travels. Including the cost of your airfare, as well as your tour(s), ensures that you do not have to worry about any unforeseen situations such as having to rush home to a family member or having a tour changed or cancelled because of a natural disaster.

There is relatively little crime in Bhutan and is considered one of the safest place to travel! But, as with all forms of travel, it is always advised that guests should be very careful about personal belongings and we would not be responsible for its loss. Any kind of loss should be reported to the nearest Police Station, and Bhutan Travel Club will facilitate such matters as much as possible on behalf of our guests.

Health Advisory

Although no vaccinations are currently required for any of the featured destinations. Although the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) & the World Health Organization recognize a risk of malaria for certain areas of South East Asia and South Asia, Malaria vaccine is NOT needed for Bhutan unless you travel to to the tropical climate of southern Bhutan. We suggest you contact your personal physician for details of the health measures you should take prior to your departure.

Visa and Passport

All visitors (with an exception of India, Bangladesh and Maldives Nationals) must apply for Visa prior to arrival. Visas are not granted abroad by embassies or foreign missions. It is processed in Thimphu through the Department of Immigration and the Tourism Council of Bhutan – the National Tourism Organisation. Once you have made full payment to the government of Bhutan, Bhutan Travel Club will process your visa ahead of time and the copy of the Visa Clearance letter will be emailed to you. You must print and bring a copy of your Visa Clearance with you, as you will have to show it while checking in at the Port of Embarkation. The actual Visa will only be stamped upon arrival. Visa costs for tourists are included in the tour cost. There are no provisions for applying for visas upon arrival. It is important that you send us a clear passport copy well ahead of time in order for us to process the approval in time. Passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of departure from Bhutan. Bhutan Travel Club normally sends the visa clearance as an email attachment 15 days prior to the date of travel, unless asked explicitly by the guests to send it earlier as some guests are part of a long trip.

All visitors flying to and from Bhutan via India must have Indian Visa prior to departure from your country. Visa for India is not available upon arrival in India. Similarly if you are travelling to China or Myanmar, visas are not available upon arrival. Nepal visa can be obtained upon arrival at the airport, so it is not necessary to get it before departing.

Flights and Baggage Allowance

There are two national airlines operatingin Bhutan – Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Both airlines are deemed very safe due to high aviation standards in the country. As Paro airport is “daylight restricted” and totally dependent on weather, flights can sometimes be delayed. Passengers should keep at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights out of Paro to cover in case of the flight delay. Flights into Paro are also sometimes disrupted by weather. Under such circumstances flights may not leave the airport of embarkation. To be prepared for such an event, it is advised to carry essential personal items like medicines, toiletries, minimum change etc. in your hand baggage. It is also advised that international flights be at least be booked with one day transit time especially in cases of long delays and cancellations due to severe weather conditions. Please note that Bhutan Travel Club is not responsible for costs incurred due to flight disruptions.

Hand Baggage Allowance:
Druk Air requests that passengers limit their hand baggage to one piece, the size not exceeding weight not exceeding 10 kg (11lbs). In addition to hand baggage a passenger may carry on a laptop or camera bag.
Checked Baggage Allowance:
Economy Class: 30 kg, Business Class: 40 kg. Departure taxes are included in the cost of your Druk Air tickets.

Druk Air Ticket Collection
Guests booking Druk Air tickets through Bhutan Travel Club will be emailed e-tickets. They must carry a copy with them. Especially airports in India will ask for the valid tickets before letting you inside the terminal. We strongly recommend that you check-in early if you have particular seat requests. Bhutan Travel Club has no control over the allocation of seats and, even if pre-booked with the airline, no guarantee can be made that the seats will still be available on departure.

Customs Duties

Visitors are required to fill out a Custom Form upon arrival. The following articles are exempt from duty: (a) Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
(b) 1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)
(c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
(d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
(e) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use. The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty.

On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.
Import/export restrictions of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
(a) Arms, ammunitions and explosives
(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
(d) Antiques, Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance; as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate. Always ask your guide if you have any questions while shopping certain antiques.

Banking

Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that caters to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail services and facilities while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. There are ATM facilities that you can avail and ATMS are located in a number of places where you can withdraw your money especially in Thimphu, Paro and in the border town of Phuentsholing. There are bank branches in all major towns. A few hotels and shops in Thimphu accept payment by credit card, but with a surcharge added. Visas cards are more widely accepted than Mastercard or American Express. Traveller’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and Internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu. However it is also recommended to take some cash while visiting Bhutan, as sometimes ATMs may become dysfunctional due to technical reasons. It happens very rarely.

Electrical Adaptors and Voltage

All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 Volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydropower. Guests from USA and Canada who are used to 100 – 110 Volts should bring a travel adapter with surge protection.

Accommodation

Bhutan’s government as rolled out a Star Classification System to accredit hotels and accommodation providers for visitors, However, it is important to note that the Star Classification is NOT at par with the international Star Accreditation System. Therefore, please do not expect a 3-star or a 4-star hotel in Bhutan to be the same as in a developed city in the world. Hotels and guesthouses in Bhutan have comfortable rooms with basic amenities and a traditional ambience. Generally, hotels in western Bhutan are better appointed, while accommodation establishments in the central and eastern part of the country are more modest, with fewer amenities. The majority of hotels in Bhutan are 3-Star properties. Four and Five star luxury properties are available now in certain places. Accommodation in all resorts, hotels, lodges or inns, is in standard rooms, unless otherwise stated. If you have any special request for certain services, please advise us so that we could notify your hotel, but we cannot guarantee that it will be accommodated.

Tipping, Gratuities and Alms-giving

Tipping isn’t de rigueur – however, if you are satisfied with the staff’s services, you are welcome to tip them according to your will. The amount does not really matter, however that being said it is a accepted practise to tip and service providers will always be expecting an appreciation for heartfelt service. So, we leave it up to you as to whether you want to tip your guides, drivers and trekking crew.

The giving of alms to mendicants and holy men in the vicinity of markets and outside temples is an accepted practice. In exchange for your contribution of a small coin, a prayer will be intoned for you. Some of our visitors have also made charitable donations to schools and other needy people, but please consult with us for the necessary procedures, and we will facilitate your assistance. In order to discourage begging, please do not entertain children who come asking for money.

Food and Beverages

Food staples for the Bhutanese include rice. We also eat beef, pork, poultry, goat, yak, and fish. Yak cheese is part of the diet of upland nomad. Meat soups, rice or corn, and spiced chilies comprise daily food; beverages include buttered tea and beer distilled from cereal grains. Menus of restaurants in Bhutan are a fantasy concocted of the ingredients, a restaurant would like to have and what is actually on their shelves. As your trip will be an all-inclusive package, expect to eat most meals at your hotel (buffet fans are in for a treat, but wherever not appreciate, we try to provide Ala Carte meals as a value-added offering of Bhutan Travel Club). The dishes of buffet usually are a soup, rice, noodles, seasonal vegetables, potato, dal (lentils), and some protein (Chicken/Pork/Beef). This is followed by a sweet dish which is usually a fresh fruits, fruit cocktail etc. Tea and coffee (Nescafe) is served too. These foods are tampered to western taste and therefore are not spicy hot as locals would eat.
Your guide can arrange dinner at local restaurants but beware: traditional Bhutanese food always features chilies and the most popular dish is ema datse made with large, green hot chilies in a cheese sauce. Though there is plenty of white rice, Bhutanese prefer a local, slightly nutty, red variety. At high altitudes, wheat is the staple. Several Tibetan-style dishes are common, including momos (dumplings), and thukpa (noodles).
If you are touring, in many cases you will eat breakfasts and dinners in your hotels. In the countryside and on long drives, we often have picnic lunches. In some cases, we will stop at roadside restaurants.
Please be informed that Bhutanese Culinary is limited in diversity owing mainly to the age-old isolation and lack of western ingredients and expertise. Guests who are very sensitive about food are advised to notify us in advance so that we can at least try to cater to your needs wherever possible.

Cultural Sensitivities

For monasteries/Temples, do not wear hats. Shoes are always taken off outside before entering the shrine or temple. Socks are allowed. Floors of these temples sometimes tend to be cold, so we recommend wearing warm socks. Smoking, consumption of alcohol or narcotic in and around temples/monasteries or religious monuments is a taboo and so is shouting, yelling or laughing with loud voice in and around religious area. Do not point with your forefingers to a person, religious figures or statues. Instead a stretched palm is used as a reverence or respect to point to someone. When visiting temples or monasteries, small donations are welcomed. If you wish to give these donations as an offering, convert into smaller denominations. Always walk clockwise for circumambulations around monasteries, Chortens (stupa) and Prayer Wheels.
Photography is usually permitted in public areas such as courtyards and dance grounds, but not permitted inside the chapels of religious complexes. During festivals, never enter the performing arena in search of the perfect shot as most local spectators will not appreciate it.

Check-list of things to bring

Bhutan Travel Club offers a wide variety of holidays, which require different travel kits. Rule number 1 is – “Don’t bring a lot, and keep it simple”! Type of clothing and equipment you need in Bhutan will depend on the time of your visitation also (please read seasonal weather conditions). Summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 68 to 77 oFarenheit, while winters are cold. In winters temperatures are usually below 50oFarenheit and sometimes as cold as 21 to 19 oFarenheit in high altitude places. So bring with you a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program.
Very short skirts, hats and sleeveless shirts are not appropriate in Bhutan to enter many religious sites.
You should always bring a good set of hiking boots, jacket and a raincoat. Others that you could consider bringing with you would be a pair of sunglasses, sun screen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhoea pills, altitude & car sickness medicine; insect repellent, flash light (w/spare batteries) umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries) etc.
You may use suitcases or backpacks to carry your travel kit to Bhutan. If you are in a trek, we can leave the suitcases with your crew members and take the Rucksack for trekking. For tours that involve a biking, personal biking gear such as biking shorts and shirts should be brought by you.

Bhutan Travel Club will provide a full camping and trekking support, however, there are certain items
that we recommend you to bring along with you.

• Waterproof Rucksack or a Small Day pack with a Platypus Collapsible Plastic Bottle (or just a screw-top water bottle)

• A very good rainproof Jacket (Preferably with Hood)
• T-Shirts/Light weight Wool Sweaters/Long Sleeved Shirts/Sweat Shirts
• Trousers (Combine Jeans with Quick Dry Pants)
• Swimming wear if you expect to soak along hot-springs (on some treks), and outdoor bathing
• Hiking Shorts
• Scarf/Gloves/Sun Cap/Sun Glasses/Wool Hat/Balaclava
• Waterproof hiking boots/sandals/trainers/gaiters
• Several pairs of Good Hiking Socks (Very Important)

Toiletries
• Soap/Shampoo/Shaving Creams
• Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Dental Floss
• Face Cream/Lip Cream/Good Sun Screen (with SPF 50+)/After Sun Cream
• Hand Lotions
• Hand Towels/Handkerchiefs/Wet Wipes/Tissues
Medicines
• Small First-Aid Kit
• Cold and Flu remedies/Paracetamol/Aspirin/Nurofen
• Imodium/Rehydration/ Sachets
• Insect Repellent/Sting Relief
• Anti Diarrheal
• Antibiotic Cream
• Ear Plugs
• Dramamine (for motion-sickness with Bhutan’s hairpin bends

Other Items
• Camera and Accessories
• Pocket Knife
• Cigarette Lighters
• Rain Poncho
• Flashlights with extra batteries
• Adventure watch (for those who want to record their physical performances!)

Other Optional Items
• Favourite snacks
• Guidebooks/maps
• Reading books
• Cell phone
• Laptop/IPad
• Alarm Clock
• Small Binoculars
• Walking stick (s) that pack into your suitcase easily.

Our Tour Leaders, Guides and Crew

Bhutan Travel Club is a family more than a business. Our tour leaders were mostly friends that we grew up with or have been working with us for a long time. If there is one reason why we are truly special is for the time we have invested in grooming our field staff and the trust we have built with eachother over the years. All our Tour Guides are licensed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. They are educated in English medium schools and are well spoken in English but please under-stand that English is still their second language. Most have an excellent knowledge of culture and history that they learn in course of school or as a part of their Guiding course, and we not only focus on knowledge but overall personality, friendliness, humour are what we look for in our field team. So many of our guests who have never used guided tours before leave Bhutan with the contention that perhaps it isn’t that bad afterall, coz our guides really enrich the trip experience.

Cancellation and Refund Policies

For Tours and Treks (As per standard tourism regulations):

• Non-refundable administrative cancellation fee for all cancellations – $100 per individual.
• 100% refund for cancellations made before 60 days prior to trip.
• 75% refund for cancellations made before 45 days prior to trip.
• 50% refund for cancellations made before 30 days prior to trip.
• 25% refund for cancellations made between 14 days – 7 days prior to trip.
• No refunds for trip cancellations made less than 7 days prior to trip
• No refund for No Shows
• If guests do not complete the trek due to personal reasons, there will be no refund. Accommodation & meals will be extra US $ 40/person/night for those nights not used for treks.
• If guests do not complete the trek due to unavoidable circumstances such as weather conditions, there will be no refund. However, accommodation & meals will be provided.
For Flights (Official Policy of Drukair and Bhutan Airlines)

• 90% refund permitted for the ticket cancelled more than 30 days from the first date of travel.
• 75% refund permitted for the ticket cancelled from 10-29 days from the first date of travel.
• 50% refund permitted for the tickets cancelled from 04-09 days from the first date of travel.
• 03 days or less no refund permitted. * Rescheduled ticket not permitted for refund. * For every date change reschedule fee applicable.
• No refund for tickets cancelled on medical grounds.
• Administrative fee of USD 100 applicable per cancellation/reservation amendments/ date change etc.
• No name change permitted once booking is made on the same PNR.
• USD 50 applicable for No Shows, but want to postpone their trip by 6 months.
• Airfares are subject to change.