Bhutan is a country located in Asia with name that begins with letter B. Bhutan is a kingdom in the Himalayas that covers an area of 38,000 km² between China and India and is therefore roughly the size of Switzerland. Most of the country is over 2,000 m above sea level, two thirds of the national territory are forested and a habitat for a rich animal world: In Bhutan’s flatlands – the Duar plain – elephants and monitor lizards live among others; deer, wild sheep and wolves are found in the mountainous region of the Front Himalayas, where most of the country’s 740,000 residents have settled; the high mountain region on the border with China is home to leopards and even tigers. The highest mountain in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum (7,570 m). Check Countryaah to find more countries that begin with letter B.
You can enter Bhutan by land via Phuentsholing in the south, Samdrup Jongkhar in the east or by plane to Paro. A valid passport is required. The pass must be valid for 6 months beyond the date of travel.
Our partner agency in Bhutan will obtain visa approval for you. The actual visa is only stamped in the passport at the airport in Paro or in Phuentsholing.
In the flat south of the country there is a subtropical monsoon climate with heavy rainfall from the end of June to the end of September. Central Bhutan has a cool, temperate climate: the winters are cool and it can snow above 3,000 m, the summers are warm: the average temperature in the capital Thimphu in July, the warmest month, is between 16 and 26 °C, in January it is, however, between -3 and 12 °C. In the northern high mountain region there are long, severe winters and cool summers.
Food and drink
Whatever comes on the plate, it has to be spicy in order for the Bhutanese to like it. The national dish is Ema Datshi, made from chili and yak cheese; Red rice is served as a side dish – and that is a second main ingredient in Bhutanese cuisine. In addition to tea, especially butter tea, the rice schnapps Arrak is also popular.
Festivals are celebrated as they come – and this is very exuberant with traditional dance. In some Buddhist temples and monasteries, photography is undesirable – one should stick to it. Religious buildings, like stupas or mani stones, are always circled clockwise; it is frowned upon to sit on the steps of stupas or on mani stones. Small donations are common and welcome in monasteries.
Medical care mostly does not meet European standards. A personal pharmacy with your own medicines is strongly recommended; it makes it easier to act in the event of illness. Depending on the region you are visiting, it is advisable to consult a tropical medicine doctor. When traveling in high mountain regions, an adjustment to the altitude must be made. We ask you to read our recommendations for a successful adaptation to great heights in the travel documents carefully before starting your journey.
Bhutan is a very safe country. At most, the danger comes from traffic or unsuitable means of transport: Individual travelers are advised to exercise critical common sense when choosing the means of transport.
The export of antiques is subject to strict regulations. An attempted export of antiques without permission is prohibited and will be punished.
There is a general smoking ban in Bhutan; Tourists should adhere to it in public and especially in temples and monasteries.
Possession of even a small amount of drugs is punishable by heavy prison sentences.
Climate and travel time
In Bhutan – like here – there are four seasons. And here too, the climate changes are noticeable. The best travel times are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November).
Spring begins in March with the rhododendrons blooming and temperatures climb to around 20 °C during the day. From June onwards, rainfall increases, but often only begins in the late afternoon. The summer months are more rainy, but the vegetation is all the more lush during this time. The monsoon rains (from around mid-June to around mid-September) can lead to delays in road and air traffic. With this mix of sun and rain, the temperatures barely climb above 30 ° C, so it is not overly hot.
From the middle of September, the rains decrease and the clouds release the mountain peaks. The rice in the fields turns golden and the rice harvest begins in mid-October. The daytime temperatures are pleasantly warm, but for the evenings you need something warm to wear.
In winter it is cold at night, warmer during the day, often with clear blue skies. Snow is expected in late December and early January.
All about money
The local currency is the Bhutanese ngultrum (BTN). Import and export is prohibited. You can import and export freely convertible currencies such as euros and US dollars etc. in any amount.
It is not necessary to bring dollars, euros are just as welcome. You can exchange money at the airport or at a bank. Your guide will be happy to help you. The ngultrum is linked 1: 1 to the Indian rupee. Therefore, Indian rupees can also be used to pay in Bhutan.
Credit cards / ATMs
Credit cards are accepted in luxury hotels and in most handicraft shops, mostly only Visacard, partly also Mastercard. However, you cannot withdraw money from the bank with your credit card. There are also no international ATMs!
Tipping is welcome and common in Bhutan. In restaurants and bars, around 10% of the invoice amount is expected. Porters in hotels and airports should also receive a small tip. It is customary to tip the guide and driver at the end of a tour for good service. Appropriate payment for our local guides and partner agencies is part of our sustainability guidelines. So please be aware that tips do not replace wages. It is therefore not an absolute must, but an (expected) recognition for good service.
Other essential information
in Bhutan is generally spicy. Chili peppers are part of the daily routine for Bhutanese. The meals in the hotels and for visitors are prepared more mildly. In general, however, the food always tastes good. You can also eat meat dishes without hesitation, as all products are prepared as freshly as possible. Breakfast is usually served the European way: coffee, tea, toast, jam and, if you wish, eggs or other items.
A larger selection of non-alcoholic beverages such as Coca Cola, Sprite, fruit juices and mineral water is available. There are also several types of beer to choose from, and in Bhutan itself there are also various types of whiskey, rum and other alcoholic drinks that are of good quality. All shops also have a selection of biscuits and sweets.
The festivals in Bhutan have a reputation for being downright wild, boisterous times. Tourists like to visit the festivals in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. Most visitors come to these occasions, so there may be occasional shortages of flight tickets and hotel rooms. When the residents of cities and valleys in their most beautiful clothes go to the dzong to cast out evil spirits or to celebrate the harvest, the valleys awaken to new life with dance and music. Mask and sword dances, which are seldom seen, are performed on such occasions in the courtyards of the dzongs.
In the interiors of monasteries and dzongs, there is a general ban on photography. Please adhere to this, otherwise the travel agency there will encounter difficulties or your pictures may otherwise be deleted. The outdoor facilities can be photographed at any time.
If you are taking pictures of people, please make sure that they have given their consent. Older people in particular sometimes have an aversion to being photographed, while children like to “pose” as a photo motif.
Bhutan is a very safe country to travel to. Crime is small. Nevertheless, you should keep your important documents and your money safe, for example in a neck pouch or belt pouch. Always lock your suitcase when you leave the room. And it’s best to leave valuable things at home. Women are held in high regard in Bhutan and are usually never molested.
Time difference: Bhutan is 4 hours ahead of our summer time and 5 hours ahead of our winter time.
The voltage in Bhutan is 220 volts. Sometimes there are power outages, but these usually do not last long. Cameras, hairdryers and razors usually fit into the existing sockets. Otherwise there is an adapter at the hotel reception.