The only International Airport in Bhutan is located in Paro which is about an hour’s drive from the capital city Thimphu. Voted as one of the most beautiful airports in the world, the flight to the Paro valley makes for an exhilarating experience as the plane maneuvers between the valley before the landing.
The direct connection flights to and from Paro as as under:India (Kolkata CCU, Delhi DEL, Bagdogra IXB, Guwahati GUA)
To save time and the tedious driving hours by road, the Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines have opened up local domestic sectors to Bathbalathang in the central valleys of Bumthang, and to Yonphula in Trashigang in the east.
As flights can be delayed due to weather conditions, we advise you to keep at least 24 hours transit time between your international flight and Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines flight (incoming and outgoing).LAND/SURFACE TRANSPORT
The guests wishing to visit Bhutan have the option of arrival or departure through the south-western border town of Phuentsholing, South- central border town of Gelephu, or the South-eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar.
The nearest airport to the south-western border town of Phuntsholing is at Bagdogra, West Bengal, about 4 hours’ drive away. Phuentsholing is a convenient entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal along with Bhutan.
The nearest airport to the south-eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar is at Guwahati, capital of the Indian state of Assam, about 3 hours’ drive away. Samdrup Jongkhar is a convenient entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Assam and other North Eastern states of India along with Bhutan.
Dzongkha, “the language of the dzong”, belongs to the Tibetan linguistic family. Originally spoken only in western Bhutan, Dzongkha is now Bhutan’s national language. English is commonly spoken in the main towns and is the principal medium of instruction in schools throughout the kingdom.TIME
Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.
No vaccinations are currently required for traveling to Bhutan. Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and appropriate medication you should have prior to your travels. As a minimum you should have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.
Avoid drinking tap water which has not been boiled or ice cubes in drinks at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated. One can easily acquire affordable treated and bottled water. People prone to car sickness should bring appropriate medicine as the winding roads on the mountains have plenty of curves and turns.TRAVEL AND MEDICAL INSURANCE
We strongly advise travellers to get a comprehensive travel & medical insurance before travelling to Bhutan. If you are coming on a trek, your medical/travel insurance must include provision for evacuation by helicopter and repatriation – should this be necessary.CLOTHING
Due to the wide range of temperature and climatic conditions it is advisable to dress in layers. For protection against cold, layered clothing is better than one or two thick garments. Clothing should preferably be made from natural materials, which allow the body to breathe. It is also recommended to bring comfortable sport shoes for light hikes & sightseeing and hiking boots that have been broken in, for treks.
For those intending to trek in Bhutan, here are the items which we recommend you to bring along: Thermarest and sleeping bags (if you prefer to use your own, we provide used but clean sleeping bags and foam mats)
Mountain trekking shoes (soles with good grip that have already been broken in) Running/ walking shoes (to use after arriving at camp in the evening) Sandals or slippers (useful at camp site) Socks (bring plenty, wool ones dry quicker than cotton) Light warm jacket and/or fleece / down jacket T-shirt and inner wear (bring enough as spares) Rain and wind proof gear – pants/jackets/ponchos/gaiters Gloves, scarves, other clothing Water bottle Cap/hat to prevent sun exposure Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip protection, sun burn relief cream Insect repellent Tooth paste, tooth brush and other sanitary items Camera with extra charger (no facility to charge battery during trek) Flash light with spare batteries Personal medicines and/or medical kit Water proof bags/pouches to protect your clothes, electronics and personal items Backpack & waterproof backpack cover in case of rain Duffel bags or bags without wheels (easier for ponies to carry) to pack your belongingsMONEY
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), with 100 Chetrum = 1 Ngultrum. The Ngultrum is fixed to the value of Indian rupee. Tourists are advised to carry their money in the form of traveler’s checks (preferably American Express) and cash (US dollars would be best), which might be used for incidental purchases/expenses.
The banks are the only place to change money with the same exchange rates everywhere. There are bank branches in all major towns.
A few hotels and shops may accept payment by credit card, but with a surcharge added. Visas and Master cards are more widely accepted. Bank of Bhutan ATMs in Thimphu & Paro now allow the withdrawal of local currency from Master card & Visa cards (both debit & credit). The maximum amount per withdrawal per day is Nu. 18,000 – Nu. 30,000 (USD 300 -500). A small fee will be charged per withdrawal.COMMUNICATIONS AND INTERNET FACILITIES
You will be able to check your email and make international telephone calls from most towns while touring Bhutan. While Internet cafes are more widespread in the western region, even in the Far East the facility is commendably coming up.
Most hotels in major towns have free wifi services (either in the room, or lobby or both) and in some hotels it maybe chargeable.ACCOMMODATION
Most hotels in Bhutan are in the 2-3 star level and are referred to as Standard Hotels. A few luxury 4 & 5 star accommodations are also available. The standard accommodations all offer the necessary facilities, and are properly maintained. Generally speaking, hotels in western Bhutan are better appointed than the rest of the country. Accommodation establishments are more modest with fewer amenities in the more remote areas of Central and Eastern Bhutan.FOOD
Bhutanese delicacies are rich with spicy chilies and cheese. The tourist restaurants will normally tone down the chilly for visitors. Chinese, Continental, Bhutanese and Indian cuisine are available in the hotels and local tourist restaurants.PHOTOGRAPHY
The photographic opportunities on all trips are immense. The natural scenery is superb, and you will also wish to record the local people, their houses and shops etc. Outdoor photography is usually permitted, but when visiting such places, please check with your guide before taking any photographs. Photography is usually permitted in public areas, such as courtyards and dance grounds, but not permitted inside the chapels of religious complexes. Check first with your guide to avoid in advertently giving offence, and at all times take care not to intrude upon the social space of others when taking photographs. NEVER stray onto the dance ground at a festival in search of the perfect shot – this is the height of bad manners and will definitely give offence to all Bhutanese who see you!CUSTOMS FORMALITIES
Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form for checking by concerned officers on arrival. The following articles are exempt from duty:
(a) Personal articles for day to day use by the visitor
(b) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
(c) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use
The articles mentioned under (b) & (c) 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.
Bhutan Panorama Tours will be providing a full comprehensive pre departure information before you embark on a tour to Bhutan.