Bhutan

Bhutan

Things to do - general

Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India. Embraced with rich sources of natural glamour and lively Buddhist culture, Bhutan today has become one of the most exotic tourist destinations for travelers from all over the world. Exploring this marvelous destination and discovering the detailed natural extravaganza is an incredible experience one would cherish for life.

Climate
Bhutan is an all-season destination with a climate that varies widely from region to region. The dry autumn and winter months (from September to mid-March) offer warm days with temperatures ranging from 12°-20°C (54-68°F). Cobalt blue skies can be enjoyed throughout the days in winter. Evenings and early mornings are cool with overnight temperatures often falling to freezing. The spring season (mid-March to June) offers warmer temperatures of 16°- 30°C (61°-86°F). During the summer (June to September), days are clear and warm with temperatures of 22°-26°C (72°-79°F). Afternoon showers dispel some of the heat and temperatures fall to around 15°C (59°F) at night.

Health tips
The best medical facilities are at the general hospital in Thimphu. Travellers are advised to avoid un-boiled water. Mostly hotel has fully treated and bottled water is also available. Altitude sickness can affect some travellers although accommodation is at a similar altitude to most ski resorts. General medicines are readily available but guests are advised to bring any prescription medicines. Guests should consult their doctors and arrange travel insurance prior to departure.

Travel tips
Electricity is 230 volts. Bhutan is plus six hours GMT, 30 minutes ahead of India, one hour behind Thailand and two hours behind Singapore. In spring and summer, light clothing is appropriate with a sweater or jacket in the evenings. From autumn through winter, down jackets, fleeces, hats and gloves are necessary. Sports shoes are suitable for light touring, while hiking boots are recommended for treks. Legs, shoulders and upper arms need to be covered when visiting dzongs, monasteries and lhakhangs. Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are recommended for higher elevations.

Post and Communications
The Bhutanese postal system is reliable, you can send mails from hotels and post offices and no special procedures are necessary. If you mail cards or letters from the Thimphu post office, you can buy exotic Bhutan postage stamps from the philatelic bureau and use them on your letters and postcards. Bhutan Post offers outgoing EMS [expedited mail service], which is a reliable and fast international mail delivery facility that is cheaper than courier services. It also has a LUM [local urgent mail] service for delivery within Bhutan. DHL is the only international courier to operate from Bhutan.

Most of the country’s major towns have both domestic and international direct dial facilities. Nearly all hotels and some PCO’s have facilities to send and receive faxes. Bhutan has its own Internet and email services.

Photography and Filming
The photography opportunities on a trip are immense. Photography is permitted nearly everywhere in Bhutan and the local population has no aversion to being photographed. If you wish to record the local population, their houses, shops etc, always ask by gestures if it is okay to do so. Photography inside the Dzongs and Monasteries are not permitted. Please follow your guide’s instruction carefully while visiting Dzongs, monasteries and religious institution.

Of late, the Royal Government encourages the filming groups. Any commercial Filming must pay a royalty to obtain the permit from the Royal Government of Bhutan. We will assist you to get the permit.

Filming royalty: All proposals for filming are subjected to payment of a royalty at the following rates:

Duration of the final edited version Amount in (US dollars)

1. First 30 minutes or part thereof 10,000.00
2. Next 30 minutes or part thereof 6,000.00
3. Every additional 30 minutes or part thereof 3,000.00

Food and Drinks
Bhutanese food is a tantalizing blend of hot Himalayan flavors. Northern Indian cuisine mixes with the chillies of the Tibetan plateau and traditional recipes from Bhutan’s villages to create sizzling and memorable tastes. Chanterelle mushrooms, apricots, asparagus, a wide variety of chillis and a host of spices grow in abundance in Bhutan’s valleys.

These spices, fruits and vegetables are prepared with beef, chicken, pork, and dried yak or with each other to make dishes that resemble elements of both Chinese and Indian cuisine. Bhutanese dishes are traditionally served with ample portions of indigenous red rice. The food prepared for tourists is tempered to western taste. The tourism authority imported the knowledge of selected European hotel experts to improve the quality of food and beverage.

Clothing
Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing. From May to September normal traveling cloths plus a light woolen sweater or a light jacket and a light walking boots are sufficient. From November to end of April on the other hand, you will need very warm cloths including underwear or woolen tights to wear under trousers, thick socks, and strong boots and down jacket.

You will be offending people if you walk around in skimpy or tight fitting clothes. Although there are normally opportunities to wear skirts or loose trousers, men should not wear singlet. During visit of monasteries, Dzongs and other religious sites, you should not wear shorts and hats.

The following is a fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for the trip:
Clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses, pair of casual shoes, washing kit, shaving kit, towel, hat umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian drugs so it is always better to bring own brand.

Customs and Regulations
The Bhutanese authorities strictly prohibit the export of any religious Antiquity or antiques of any type. All personal electronics, Cameras, Video Cameras, Computers and personal electronic equipment may be brought into the country but they must be listed on the customs form provided on arrival at Paro and will be checked on departure. Two liters of Alcohol and reasonable quantity of cigarettes may be brought in to the country without duty.

Visa
Tourist visas are required and must be obtained prior to arriving in the country. The processing of visa applications will be arranged by Shambhala Holidays and requires approximately 14 days for handling. A visa fee of US$40 will be charged at time of booking. The departure tax is included in the airfare. Indian nationals do not require a visa to visit Bhutan.

Language
The national language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, however English is widely spoken due to its use as the primary language of school instruction.

Currency
The national currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Nu) and cash is the preferred medium of exchange. Prices are usually quoted in Ngultrum although US dollars are widely accepted and changed. Guests are recommended to carry cash in either currency or traveller’s cheques, as there is limited ATM access. Existing ATMs are credit card only. However, most of the antique/textile shops around Thimphu and Paro accept VISA credit cards and a few accept American Express. Ngultrum can be reconverted if changed through an authorized money exchanger. Our Bhutan counterpart VISA, Master card and American Express are accepted and currency exchange to Bhutanese Ngultrum is available using the f – US Dollar, Pound Sterling and Euro.

Bhutan Land area
Bhutan an area 38,394 sq. kms. Populations of Bhutan are 742,737 Buddhist and Hindu are the major religion of Bhutan. 220 volts electricity is used in Bhutan. Bhutan is +0600 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and country code is ++975

Electricity
Electricity is 230 volts. Bhutan is plus six hours GMT, 30 minutes ahead of India, one hour behind Thailand and two hours behind Singapore. In spring and summer, light clothing is appropriate with a sweater or jacket in the evenings. From autumn through winter, down jackets, fleeces, hats and gloves are necessary. Sports shoes are suitable for light touring, while hiking boots are recommended for treks. Legs, shoulders and upper arms need to be covered when visiting dzongs, monasteries and Lhakhangs. Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are recommended for higher elevations.

Medical facilities
The best medical facilities are at the general hospital in Thimphu. Travellers are advised to avoid un-boiled water. Mostly hotel has fully treated and bottled water is also available. Altitude sickness can affect some travellers although accommodation is at a similar altitude to most ski resorts. General medicines are readily available but guests are advised to bring any prescription medicines. Guests should consult their doctors and arrange travel insurance prior to departure.

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