Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) that is at par with the Indian rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travellers’ cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.
Bhutan has one time zone for the entire country. Bhutan Standard Time is 6 hours ahead of GMT. The time in Bhutan is 30 minutes ahead of India, 15 minutes earlier than in Nepal, and 1 hour later than Thailand.
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.
You have to complete the passenger declaration form on your arrival before checking out. 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:
- Arms, ammunitions and explosives
- All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
- Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. 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.
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 230 – 240 volts.
Plugs and Sockets
Bhutan uses the standard Indian round-pin sockets which come in variety of sizes. It is recommended that you bring along an international converter kit with a set of adapter plugs.
Bhutan is well connected with good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on and send messages home to your loved ones. Most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.
Bhutan has three climatic zones – the southern belt that is tropical in nature, the cool and temperature zone of the central part and the alpine region in the north.
Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate. Summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20 to 25 Celsius, while winters are cold. In winters temperatures are usually below 15 Celsius. So bring with you a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the weather, the terrain and the program. You might want to consider ‘what to wear’ for hikes, trekking and sightseeing, as well as for dinners, appointments and functions that we have for you. 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.
Bhutan is an ideal place and a photographer’s paradise offering immense opportunities for photography especially during our outdoor sightseeing trips. However you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions are restricted unless you have a special permission from the Department of Culture. One can however, capture images of the landscapes, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, the rural folk life, the flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture and the Dzongs and Chortens in particular.
Many of our clients are senior citizens, and we are familiar with their needs. However, it is advisable to have an ample supply of any special medicines, as they probably may not be available in Bhutan.
For people who love shopping and taking home gifts, Bhutan offers a variety of goods that revolve mainly around textiles. You may shop for items like hand-woven textiles either in raw silk or silk, exquisite postage stamps, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products, thangkha paintings or finely crafted crafted metal objects. One can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and also in major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Tipping is a purely personal matter. We do not have any tradition of giving tips and we clearly leave it up to you as to whether you want to give tips to your guides and drivers.
Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, it is advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.
Smoking in public places which includes parks, discotheques, entertainment centres, sports facilities like football groups and archery ranges, commercial centres including shops, bars and restaurants, institutions like Dzongs, hospitals, schools, and government offices, public transport carries, public gatherings such as monastic festivals, official receptions, national celebrations, and vegetables market is banned.
**Please do not carry tobacco goods that are over the limits.
Over the years, many quality hotels have come up in Bhutan. Most hotels in Bhutan meet the recent standardization policy, most tourists accommodate in a 5 star or a 3 star hotel. The hotels are well maintained and have all basic amenities such as geysers and shower rooms and are properly maintained. Our guests can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels and the ambience and the hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible. The 5 star hotels are mostly located in Thimphu, and in Paro, towns like Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang also have a variety of hotels that are comfortable. Away from town, you may find it tempting to camp outside in the forest or make a night halt at the purpose-built in cabins sprinkled along some main trekking routes.
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chilli. It is advisable that visitors stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. Visitors can also choose among the various vegetarian and non-veg food. All Bhutanese dishes use an abundance of chilli, so do order according to your palette strength! You can also try out momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring; you may try out the ema datshi dish served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes. Besides the locally produced beer and whisky the local brew, ara that is distilled from rice, barley or wheat is also very popular with visitors.
All visitors are advised to get their own medical/travel or any other relevant insurance before visiting Bhutan.