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Useful information for Indian Travelers

Useful information for Indian Travelers

Entry Permit & Route Permit

  • No Visa is required to visit Bhutan.
  • Indian travelers wishing to visit Bhutan need to carry either (a) Passport, having validity of minimum 6 months OR (b) Voter Identity Card, issued by Election Commission of India. The accompanying children can also travel with birth certificate (reflecting name of the child) along with School ID card and a letter from School Principal.
  • The Entry permit, issued free of charge by Department of Immigration, Royal Government of Bhutan on arrival at Paro airport OR if entering Bhutan by surface via Phuentsholing then it is issued at this border town.
  • For Indian visitors, travelling with passport and booked tour with us, we can obtain their E- Permit in advance which is valid for all destinations. We require colored passport copy at least 15 days prior to date of arrival in Bhutan, in order to obtain this E-Permit.
  • For travelers entering Bhutan by surface, they need to complete biometric formalities at Phuentsholing town however biometric is not needed for those arriving by flight.
  • The Entry permit issued on arrival is valid for Thimphu, Paro & Phuentsholing only. Tourists desirous of going beyond Thimphu and Paro need to acquire a 'Route Permit’ from the Royal Govt. of Bhutan Immigration Office at Thimphu on any working days (Monday to Friday). Our offices located in Phuentsholing and Thimphu assist in obtaining Entry permit and Route Permit.
  • The Phuentsholing border gate normally remains open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and no entry permit required for entering Phuentsholing. Indian nationals not carrying either a valid passport or voter ID cards can also contact Consulate General of India, Phuentsholing and apply for Identification Slip. The Identification Slips issued by Consulate General of India, Phuentsholing may then be presented to Regional Immigration Office, Royal Government of Bhutan, Phuentsholing to obtain entry permits for visiting Thimphu and Paro. This Identification slip can be issued on the basis of Aadhar card, Driving license and birth certificate for children.
  • Phuentsholing Immigration office remains closed on Sat, Sun & Govt holidays and no permit issued on these days so it is highly recommended to check arrival date, incase arriving by surface. Whereas for air travelers, entry permit can be obtained on all days through airport Immigration office.
  • PIO, OCI & NRIs require visa for travelling to Bhutan and they need to book tour through package tariff prescribed by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB).
  • Valid passport is mandatory for Indian visitors, travelling between Nepal & Bhutan or from any other non-Indian sectors.


Accessibility
Entry into Bhutan can be made either by land or by air. Druk Air, the National Air Carrier of the Kingdom, operates regular fights to / from Paro to Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok and Singapore. The other prominent & reliable air carrier, Bhutan Airline (Tashi Air) operates regular flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu & Bangkok. Both these Bhutanese airlines, also operate seasonal flights from Mumbai as well. By surface, entry into Bhutan is conveniently possible through southern border town of Phuentsholing. This frontier town is about 4.1/2 hours’ drive from nearest Indian airport, Bagdogra and 6 hours’ drive from Thimphu and Paro. Phuentsholing is also the convenient entry or exit point if you wish to combine Bhutan trip with Darjeeling, Gangtok & Kalimpong.

Currency
The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum (Nu.) and is at par with Indian Rupee. Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan except currency notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 denominations.  Credit Cards have limited acceptability and are more prevalent at deluxe & luxury hotels and major shopping establishments so for regular day to day expense, it is advisable to carry cash only. ATMs are located in major tourist towns only.

Food & Drink
Indian cuisine is available at all tourist hotels & restaurants and vegetarians have good options as well. Apart from Indian, the other available options are Bhutanese, Chinese, Continental and also there are few restaurants serving Thai, Korean cuisine. Especially, in Thimphu & Paro, there are wide range of hotels & restaurants serving variety of cuisine.
Traditional Bhutanese food always features spicy red and green chillies, either dried or fresh.  The national dish Ema Datsi, a dish of ema (Chilli) cooked in datsi (cheese) is favourite among Bhutanese and a growing number of tourists. Most of the tourist hotels, restaurants provide meals in buffet style.
Also, all tourist hotels, restaurants have good selection of international and Bhutanese alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages.

Language
The official language of Bhutan is ‘Dzongkha’ and a large number of dialects are spoken.  English has been the language of educational instruction since 1964 and is widely spoken. Also, locals at popular tourist destinations understand and speak good Hindi.

Climate
Geographically, Bhutan is a land of dramatic contrasts. From the near tropical southern border with India, steep slopes climb to snow-capped heights of over 24,750 feet / 7,500m at the northern border with Tibet. Consequently, temperatures vary greatly between day and night and at different altitudes, so layered clothing for changed conditions, is recommended. From mid-May to the end of Aug, the weather is warm at night (60-64F/ 17-18C) and in the day (72-78F/22-26C). In winter, the sky is bright and it is sunny but cold, especially when the sun hides behind the mountains in the morning and evenings. At night, the temperature falls below zero in winter months. Spring and Autumn are very pleasant with comfortable day’s temperature and cool nights. Basically, Bhutan is year-round destination with pleasant summer, relatively cold winter but with blue sky & sunny days and refreshing monsoon. The monsoon usually arrives by mid-June and lasts till mid-September during which light to heavy rain expected mainly in the late afternoons and evenings but without much impact on usual cultural tour.

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE: - (In Celsius Degree)

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

Places

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

 

Paro

12.8

1.4

14.9

3.3

17.6

5.7

20.1

9.1

22.5

12.6

24.5

15.7

 

Thimpu

14.6

-3.3

15.8

-0.7

18.2

3.0

20.7

6.7

22.8

10.9

24.4

14.6

 

Punakha

17.5

5.8

19.3

8.1

22.2

11.2

24.9

13.8

27.3

17.2

29.2

19.3

 

Wangdue

17.8

5.5

19.4

8.1

22.7

10.8

25.5

14.4

27.3

17.8

28.2.

20.3

 

Trongsa

17.5

5.6

19.3

6.2

22.3

10.4

23.9

13.5

23.6

14.5

24.7

17.2

 

Bumthang

11.0

-4.2

12.5

-1.3

14.8

1.9

17.1

5.7

19.4

9.4

21.7

12.9

 

Phuentsholing

23.9

16.2

26.5

5.1

29.5

18.2

31.1

6.3

32.4

20.9

32.6

10.1

 

 

 

July

August

September

October

November

December

Places

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Paro

25.4

17.9

25.2

17.4

23.5

15.4

20.4

11.0

15.8

6.3

14.0

2.6

Thimpu

24.8

15.9

25.1

15.4

23.8

13.6

21.2

8.0

18.3

2.2

16.0

-2.1

Punakha

29.1

20.1

28.9

19.0

27.9

18.1

25.6

15.6

22.1

12.1

18.9

7.5

Wangdue

27.6

20.9

27.9

20.6

27.1

19.5

25.6

15.1

22.4

10.5

19.5

6.0

Trongsa

25.9

18.2

26.6

17.1

25.0

17.1

22.3

13.4

19.3

9.7

18.0

7.2

Bumthang

22.5

14.3

22.4

14.3

21.1

12.3

18.0

6.6

15.1

1.6

12.6

-3.6

Phuentsholing

31.9

23.1

32.6

11.9

31.6

24.8

31.2

15.6

28.3

26.0

24.9

17.2

 

 

Source: Meteorology Unit, Department of Power, Ministry of Trade and Industries, Thimphu.

Clothing and Accessories
Comfortable clothing and sturdy, soft-soled shoes are essential for travel in Bhutan. In summer, heavy cottons and lightweight woolens will be acceptable while for winter months, warm clothing is necessary. Altitudinal differences account for a wide range of temperatures from day to night the year round. It is, therefore, suggested that clothing be layered so that you can adapt to the changing conditions.
While visiting temples and other religious institutions, dress modestly and respectfully. Please keep in mind that shoes must be removed when entering temples. It is, therefore, suggested that you carry a pair of socks to wear inside religious buildings.

The following is fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for the trip; clothes as per season, sunglasses / spare glasses, pair of casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissor, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, a preparation for the relief of sunburn and any medication you take regularly.

Dress code and etiquette
Bhutanese by and large are conservative in their approach. Please avoid body hugging, sleeveless Tops or short skirts while walking around public areas. Shorts and Tank Tops are strictly not recommended inside the temples, monasteries and Dzongs. Hats need to be takeoff while entering religious site.
Always walk in a clockwise direction while visiting religious places or objects like temples, monasteries, Stupas (Chorten), prayer flags etc. Please do not point a finger at a sacred object or place as it is considered being disrespectful.

Religion
Mahayana Buddhism is the state religion and the majority of Bhutanese people follow Drukpa school of the Kagyupa sect. While Hinduism is practiced mostly in southern part of the country. The influence of religion is highly visible in people’s everyday life and there is profound worship of the Buddha, Guru Padsambhava and other tantric deities. Buddhism has shaped the nation’s history and still play a vital role in daily life of its people. Bhutanese language & literature, arts & crafts, drama, music, ceremonies & events, architecture and basic social and cultural values draw their inspiration from Buddhist values.

Security
Bhutan is extremely safe destination with perhaps lowest crime rate in the world. In general, you will find Bhutanese people very warm, hospitable, helpful and friendly.

Photography
Bhutan’s landscape, buildings and people are some of the most photogenic in the world. While photographic local people, it is always better to take permission first. There are certain places such as monasteries and temples, where photography is prohibited however there is no restriction on photographing Dzongs and Goemba from outside. If you are uncertain about whether or not photography is permitted, please check with your local guide. You should refrain from taking pictures of military installations.

Communication
Bhutan has an efficient telecommunication system. All accommodation units have facilities of international dialing, fax, internet and also majority of them provide Wi-Fi services.
To use your cell phone in Bhutan, it must have GSM technology in order to tap into the local network. If you plan on bringing the phone that you use on a daily basis at home, PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER to determine charges for both outgoing and incoming calls and texts. You can also consider carrying an old phone that is ‘unlocked’ and have GSM technology in order to tap into the local network and then purchase a local SIM card. When you add the new SIM card, this phone will be assigned a number which you can share you with your family to call you directly on that number. Our local office will help you in procuring local SIM card.

Shopping
Shops are normally open between 0900-2000 Monday to Sunday. Markets are held regularly and are a rich source of local clothing and jewelry. Bhutan is also famous of its exquisite postage stamps, hand woven fabrics, carved masks, woven baskets, wooden bowls, handmade paper, finely crafted metal and Thangkha painting.

Smoking
Bhutan is non-smoking country and smoking is banned at public places. However, tourists are allowed to bring any of the following tobacco products for their personal consumptions & subject to payment of 100% custom duty and 100% sales tax; 200 sticks of cigarettes, 400 sticks of bidis,50 pieces of cigar or 250 grams of other tobacco or tobacco products. Any excess quantity is subject to confiscation.  Further, tourists are permitted to smoke at designated smoking areas only.

Electricity
Bhutan uses clean & green energy generated by hydropower. The voltage supply in the country is 220 / 240 volts AC, 50 Hz.  Standard Indian round pin sockets are normally used at all places. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with set of adapter plugs.

Laundry
Laundry service is available in most of the hotels. However, it is advisable to check the hotels’ individual laundry return policy before choosing to have laundry done at a hotel.

Gratuities
Tipping at hotels and for guide and driver is appreciated and although it is at guests’ discretion but the bottom line for determining is the contribution made by individuals to make your trip a memorable one.

Custom & Immigration
Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form on arrival.
The following articles are exempted from duty:
a) Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
b) 1 liter of alcohol (spirits or wine)
c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200% (on MRP printed on pack)
d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
e) Photography equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use

The articles mentioned under d) & e), must be declared on declaration form. If any such items are disposed in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Custom authorities.

Import / export restrictions
Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited:

  • Arms, ammunitions and explosives
  • All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs

Health and Vaccination
No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan. Further, it is suggested to assemble a traveler’s medical kit appropriate to destination, length of trip and general health. On a tour in Bhutan, there are drives on winding roads so medication for motion sickness is recommended. One should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Senior travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should also consult their physician about high-altitude travel. Most people do not suffer from altitude sickness in Bhutan but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution especially at high altitudes.
You’re also suggested to avoid tap water and stick to Mineral water, easily available everywhere.

Travel Insurance
Adequate travel insurance is important for your personal safety and we recommend you get your insurance cover before traveling to Bhutan.

Newspapers
Kuensel, Bhutan Observer and The Bhutan Times are the popular local newspapers published in English. Kuensel’ is also published in local language Dzongkha and Nepali. The Newspaper is also available online: www.kuenselonline.com; www.bhutantimes.com; www.bhutanobserver.bt

Transportations
All mode of transport with in Bhutan is by road. The motorable roads are well maintained and connect most of the places. However, the mountainous terrain and winding road restrict the average driving speed of vehicle to about 35 km per hour.
We use Hyundai Tucson/ Santa Fe for a team of 1 – 2 guests. A Toyota Hiace minivan for a team of 3 – 6 guests and a deluxe Toyota coaster for a group of 7 – 18 guests. All these vehicles are periodically checked and maintained.

Radio & Television
Bhutan Broadcasting Service has programs in Dzongkha, English and Nepali. Television started in year 2000 and various channels are now available such as BBC, CNN, Discovery, Star TV, ESPN and various other Indian channels.

Entrance Fees to Monuments & Museums
As of date, following entrance fees is applicable for Indian nationals at places of tourist interest :
* Ta Dzong (NationL Museum),  Paro :  Rs. 25 Per Person
* Trashichhoe Dzong, Thimphu : Rs. 300 per person
* Simply Bhutan, Thimphu :  Rs. 200 per Person
* Folk Heritage Museum, Thimphu : Rs. 30 Per Person
* Takin Preserve, Thimphu : Rs. 100 Per Person
* Arts & Crafts School ( Institute of Zorig Chusum), Thimphu :  Rs. 100 Per Person
* Textile Museum, Thimphu :  Rs. 50 per Person
* National Memorial Chorten, Thimphu :  Rs 300 Per Person &  Students – Rs. 150 Per Person
* Taktsang Monastery, Paro  :  Rs 500 Per person & Students - Rs 250 Per child
* Ringpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) : Rs 300 Per person & Students - Rs 150 Per Person
* Kichu Lhakhang, Paro  : Rs 300 Per person & Student - Rs 150 Per Person
* Punakha Dzong : Rs 300 Per Person & Students - Rs 150 Per Person

Dzongs visiting Timing

  • Trashichhoedzong, Thimphu : 5.30 - 6.30pm on Mon - Fri, 8 am - 6pm Sat & Sun, in Summer, 4.30 pm to 5.30pm in Winter
  • Punakha Dzong :  9 am – 5 pm from Jun – mid Nov, 11 am – 1 pm & 3 – 5 pm mid Nov – May
  • Paro Dzong : 8 am – 6 pm & until 4.30 pm from Nov - Feb
  • Trongsa Dzong : 6 am – 5 pm in Summer  & 6 am to 4 pm in Winter
  • Jakar Dzong, Bumthang : 9 am – 5 pm
  • Mongar Dzong : 9 am – 5 pm
  • Trashigang Dzong : 9 am – 5 pm

(rules and regulations are subject to revision by govt authority from time to time, please check with us for the updated information)




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