Visa and Passports: A visa is needed to enter Bhutan but it is not issued abroad. Visas will be stamped in your passport upon arrival in Paro, cost US$ 20 and are included in your tour payment. To apply for a visa, contact either your host agency or foreign or Bhutanese tour operator. You have to send the PP details 15 days in advance.
Customs: All visitors are required to complete a customs form upon arrival at Paro. The following items are exempt from customs duty:
a. Personal effects for day to day use
b. Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
c. Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods
Note: Import of tobacco and tobacco products for personal consumption - 100% sales tax and 100% customs duty. The maximum allowed for personal consumption are:
a. Cigarettes: 1 carton of 200 cigarettes.
b. Pipe tobacco: 3 tins of 50 grams each.
c. Other tobacco products: 50 grams.
Customs regulations strictly forbid the export of antiques or religious objects out of the country unless you have clearance from the Antiquities Department. If you are carrying religious items from another country, declare them on your customs form on arrival in Bhutan to avoid any problems on departure. It is forbidden to export samples of flora & fauna.
The temperature and weather can change quickly and you may experience different climates in one day. Depending on the altitude, you may be freezing on top of a pass and an hour later you may be in a semi-tropical jungle. It is difficult to generalize about the climate of Bhutan because of the variations in elevations and seasons.The southern belt is at an altitude of 300 meters and border to the Indian state of West Bengal & Assam. It is cool and sunny in winter and hot and rainy in summer.
The central valleys share the same pleasant climate but the eastern ones are lower and warmer. Bumthang is the highest and coldest. Winter from November to March is generally sunny except for the occasional snowfall; temperature can be relatively warm during the day but may fall below freezing at night. Spring, from mid - March to May, is cool and often stormy as it slowly warms up. Monsoon can start from mid - June and last until September. It is warm and cloudy with showers falling mostly in the evening and at night. October is a pleasant autumn month with clear skies, warm days and cool nights.
Practical and comfortable clothes are appropriate, with dressy outfits only necessary if you are on a business trip in Bhutan. Because of the variety of climates you may encounter in one day, choose garments which can be layered. From June to September cottons and a warm woollen sweater should be enough, while from October to May you must also bring a down jacket or warm coat. Especially in winter, west and central Bhutan are much colder than any other district apart from the north. A pair of slippers/sandals/sneakers and hiking shoes is the only footwear required unless you are trekking.
Officially 220 volts is supplied by the Department of Power. But the power supply can fluctuate. Some hotels and lodges don't have American plug points or converters.
In most places around Bhutan you will find the Indian made batteries available. But quality is very poor. It is advisable to bring your own supply of batteries. The only other possibility is purchase in Thimphu.
Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of G.M.T. and half an hour ahead of India.
There is no credit card facility available to cash money from banks. But it is accepted at all leading Gift shops, Handicraft stores and by hotels.
A departure tax of Nu.500 Ngultrum (US$ 12) is levied at Paro airport.
Every individual travelling to Bhutan through travel agents will be provided with a Toyota car for FITs and coaster bus for groups. In the case of clients preferring luxury vehicles an additional amount will be charged.
Hotels in Bhutan are not as high standard, compared to other developing countries. But all tourist lodges & hotels are recognized and regulated by the Department of Tourism.
Higher standard Options:
Two years ago Bhutan approved a foreign investment policy and we now have a few �FIVE STAR� hotels mostly base at Paro.
Aman Resort: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang.
Uma Resort: Paro
Druk Bouquet: Thimphu under construction.
Price: US$ 300 - 1000 per night inclusive of tax.
NOTE: As we move further towards central and eastern Bhutan hotels amenities are reduced.
Taxis are available and a bit expensive compared to buses, but it is not costly by western standards.
Every part of Bhutan is connected with local buses from the Bus terminal. The daily schedules differ according to destination and area.
Hiring a car is no problem in the capital Thimphu but keep in mind that once you are out of Thimphu this is not so easy. The rates are Government controlled and charges are on a per- kilometre basis after the daily lump sum that covers 100km. A driver and petrol are included in the price. If you are travelling towards the East a 4-wheel drive is recommended, although it would be more expensive than a car.
Every district in Bhutan is equipped with a General hospital, but only at Thimphu will you find modern facilities and Pharmacies. Come well prepared with all necessary medicines like sleeping pills (high altitude can hinder your sleeping), anti-nausea pills, anti-diarrhoea pills, water purifying tablets (if you are trekking), oral dehydration packets, eye drops, antibiotic ointment and anti-histamine ointment.
Every District has hospitals staffed with competent doctors and offer basic services but there is no Intensive Care Unit and most patients are referred to Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital at Thimphu. The exception is Mongar (in the east) which has a well equipped hospital if you are lucky enough to be near by.