Planning Your Trip
Making arrangements for a trip to Bhutan is a little different from traveling to other countries. In order to get a visa your trip must be prepaid, including the Druk Air tickets, through a Bhutanese-licensed travel agency. The exact timing of your trip will depend on the availability of flights. Druk Air, the airline that flies into Bhutan, has only two Airbus A-319s that fly from Delhi and Kathmandu on Mondays and Thursdays and Bangkok and Calcutta on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Visitors may travel singly or in groups of any size. The approximate fee is $250/day. Exceptions to this tariff are listed later in this section. Because of limited air flights, the farther in advance you make your plans the better. During festivals, lodging can also be scarce .
All foreign nationals visiting Bhutan must travel through all-inclusive package tours for which a fixed price is set by the Royal Government.
We suggest the following steps for the most efficient arrangements.
1. Read through the trip suggestions on our web site. Email us with a preferred trip or an outline of what you would like to see and do, perhaps combining more than one idea. Also, let us know a time frame in which you would like to travel, your level of fitness, if trekking, and which city you will be flying from (Bangkok, Calcutta, Delhi or Kathmandu). It is also possible to enter Bhutan by land from India in the southwest. See Traveling by Land.
We will respond with a suggested itinerary, the dates flights are available, and the cost of the trip.
2. When you select a final trip itinerary and travel dates, email us the completed visa forms and send payment in full, including the cost of the Druk Air tickets. See Trip Payment. It may take up to four weeks to process the visa applications so be sure to allow plenty of time. Visa clearances will not be issued by the government until payment has been received. The visa clearance number issued by the government is then forwarded to Druk Air. Passengers are not allowed to board without this clearance. A valid passport is required in order to get a visa.
3. We obtain the visas and the Druk Air reservations. We then reconfirm the arrangements within the country for your guide, lodging, meals and transportation. Trip details and itinerary will be sent to you by email. Your Druk Air tickets will be at the airport check-in.
Be sure to allow for some time flexibility between your flight to Bangkok, Calcutta, Delhi, or Kathmandu. Flights in and out of Paro airport in Bhutan are daylight restricted, weather dependent, and are often delayed. If you are late arriving in Bhutan, we will accommodate your schedule accordingly. When leaving, it is useful to have an unrestricted ticket on your other airline to make rescheduling easier, if necessary. To be prepared for interrupted travel you may want to carry essential personal items in your carry-on luggage.
There is a luggage limit in Druk Air of 20 kg (44 lbs) for economy and 30 kg (60 lbs) for business class. It is possible to pay for excess baggage, but there is a chance that it may be left for another flight. The cabin luggage compartments are small, so it is a good idea to limit your carry-on baggage.
Traveling by Land
You are required by the Bhutanese government to use Druk Air for one leg of your trip either into or out of the country. There is only one entry/exit point for those arriving or departing by car or bus, Phuntsholing in the southwest corner of Bhutan on the Indian border. Phuntsholing is served by Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, India, about a three to four hour taxi ride from the border. Let us know if you plan a one-way trip by land and we will assist you. Druk Air
All of the costs of your trip, paid in advance, will be included in the $200/day fee plus the cost of the Druk Air tickets. The fee includes the services of your guide, all lodging, ground transportation within Bhutan, trekking supplies and three meals/day. It does not include alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, tips, the $20 visa fee upon landing, and the $12 departure tax.
The price of tour packages is set by the government. Thirty five percent goes to the government and the remainder to the travel agency making the arrangements. Some price variations you may encounter are:
- There is a government surcharge of $40/night for single travelers and $30/night for two persons.
- The per diem tariff is only $250 during the months of July and August.
- There are now a few five star hotels whose rates raise the normal per diem fee. If you are interested in these hotels we will provide you with more information.
- Visits of more than ten days are discounted by 10% the last ten days and 20% for the last ten days if your visit is more than twenty days.
- There is no charge for children five and younger.
- Children between the ages of six and twelve are given a 50% discount when accompanied by parents and guardians.
- Full-time college students under the age of twenty-five are given a 25% discount, if they have a valid ID from their educational institution.
- Diplomats from foreign embassies/missions accredited in Bhutan are given a 25% discount.
- In groups of ten to fifteen persons, one person may get a discount of 50% and in groups of sixteen or more one person may get a discount of 100%.
- There is no daily tariff charge if the plane is delayed leaving Bhutan. You will be billed for the actual expenses of accommodations, meals, transport and other services that might be required.
- Up to thirty days before the trip starts there will be no cancellation charge.
- Between twenty-nine and twenty-one days, 90% of the cost of the trip will be refunded.
- Between twenty and seven days, 50% of the cost of the trip will be refunded.
- Between seven days and the date of arrival, 25% of the cost of the trip will be refunded.
- Without notification there can be no refund
All payments should be made in full thirty days before the start of your trip in order to clear the visas. All visitors to Bhutan must follow the same payment procedure. You will wire transfer your payment to Bhutan National Bank (BNB). When your arrangements are made, we will email you the wire transfer information.
After the transfer is made you will need to email or fax us a copy of the receipt. Email – email@example.com or Fax -975-08-272192. The country code numbers for dialing out of your own country can be found on the Contact Us page.
If you book and subsequently cancel a trip, the charges are as follows:
We encourage people to purchase travel insurance that covers baggage and travel delays as well as helicopter evacuation for medical emergencies. Try World Nomads or one of many other web sites.
Bhutan Dragon Adventures is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage sustained by tourists. Additional expenses caused by weather related delays and political actions must be borne by the traveler. No refunds will be available in the event of itinerary changes.
What to Bring
What you pack depends on the time of year and the nature of your trip. Remember, even in the summer it can be cool at night. It is best to dress modestly; no tank tops or short shorts or skirts. Local people dress-up for festivals and visitors should look there best too.
If you have anything that runs on electricity, you will find that the Bhutanese current is 220/240. You will need an international converter kit and plug adapters.
|Most Everyone Will Need
||Trekkers Will Also Need
|Two or three pairs of pants
||Hiking boots & socks
|A long skirt for women
||Flashlight & batteries
|Sweater &/or fleece
||Duffel bag for gear
|Down jacket, hat, gloves (winter)
||Altitude sickness medication
|Light weight jacket (summer)
|Raincoat or poncho
||Small first aid kit
||Reading, writing materials
||Camera, film, batteries
Bhutan is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, thirty minutes ahead of India, fifteen minutes ahead of Nepal and one hour behind Thailand. In the winter Bhutan is eleven hours ahead of New York City and in the summer, during Daylight Savings Time, ten hours ahead.
Bring plenty of film and camera batteries as what you need may not be available in Bhutan. It is polite to ask people if you may take their picture. Ask your guide when it is permissible to take pictures in religious and public buildings.
Tipping and Gifts
Bhutanese people are proud that there are no beggars in Bhutan. Please do not hand out candy or trinkets to children. Small gifts to people you stay with and tips for your guide and other support people are appropriate.
Health and Safety
Anyone who enjoys outdoor life and is reasonably fit can enjoy our tours, however, many of the treks require good to excellent physical fitness. We will do our best to match your abilities with the rigor of the trip.
The government of Bhutan has no requirements for vaccinations prior to entering the country. We advise you to check with your doctor or a specialty travel health clinic. If you will be trekking a high altitudes, it is useful to bring a drug for altitude sickness. For all trips, it doesn’t hurt to have an antibiotic.
Your guide will be trained in emergency medicine and Bhutan does have hospitals and many clinics scattered throughout the country.
Bhutan has very little crime and is quite safe for single women travelers.
The Bhutanese government prohibits the export of any antiques, plants or animal products. Personal electronics such as camera, computers and telephones may be brought into the country, but must be declared upon arrival and will be checked upon departure. If you leave any of these items behind, you will pay duty on them. Two liters of alcohol and 400 cigarettes may be brought into the country without paying duty.
Two countries have embassies in Bhutan – India and Bangladesh. The United States has an embassy in new Delhi, India that maintains contacts with Bhutan as does the U. S. embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their web addresses are http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/ and http://kathmandu.usembassy.gov/.