Bhutan Travel Advice and Tips
Travel Tips Before coming to Bhutan.The information below is helpful to prepare you for your Bhutan travel.
As your Bhutan Tour Organizer, we at “Bhutan Jewel Travel ” will give you up to date information,travel advice and tips so that all travelers to Bhutan are aware of Bhutan’s rules and regulations.
Many travelers ask about the weather and climate conditions in Bhutan, Use of credit card facilities, accepted currencies, travel insurance, tobacco rules, Tipping Guides and Drivers and Indian Rupee note issues, etc etc. All of these and more questions are answered here , but if the information provided on our website is not enough then do contact us via email and we will reply at the earliest.
A) LOCAL SAFETY ADVICE
Bhutan is surely the worlds safest place to be in. However it is always good to be “safe” than “sorry”, so we advice all tourists to Bhutan to take precautions regarding important items like your money, passports, and valuable items(cameras,Jewelry, watch, etc) and keep it safe with you or you can hand over to Bhutan Jewel Travel office for safe keeping.
Also we advice you not to bring in anything illegal that could spoil your Tour to Bhutan.
B) BHUTAN CUSTOMS REGULATIONS
Bhutan has its Customs Policy where goods are Taxable or Exempt from Taxes, Which Goods are Illegal and not permitted for import as all.
a. Goods Which are Tax exempt From Tax and Duty:
One Liter of any alcohol, Daily Personal use goods, cameras and other photo equipments that will be used for normal photography and video, and other items that may have to be used professionally like some instruments that a tourist may need.
b. Goods That Have a ceiling on import and Taxable:
All Forms of Tobacco and CIGARETTES : Tourists can bring in 200 pieces of cigarettes on payment of 200% import duty ( NOTE : Cigarette smoking is forbidden and BANNED in all PUBLIC places ).
c. Goods That are Completely prohibited For Import:
All Arms and ammunition, Antiques, Animal Products especially endangered species, and Narcotics and Drugs
C) BHUTAN VISA : Entry of Tourists without Prior Approved Bhutan Travel Visa:
Traveling to Bhutan without prior Bhutan Travel Visa is Illegal and you can be deported immediately if caught at any of the entry points in Bhutan.
D) USE OF CURRENCIES AND CREDIT CARDS
Following are the list of countries whose currencies are accepted and can be exchanged at the Foreign Exchange Counters at the Air port, Banks in Bhutan and Authorized Foreign Exchange Outlets
Australia – AUD
Switzerland – CHF
European Union – EUR
United Kingdom – GBP
Hong Kong – HKD
Japan – JPY
India – INR
NOTE: Indian Rupee (INR) denominations of 1000 Notes are illegal for use in Bhutan.
CREDIT CARDS: Visa and Master Cards can be used in Bhutan and most handicrafts shops accept credit card payments, but it is advisable that while in Paro and Thimphu, you withdraw money from the many ATMS available here and use cash in other parts of the country as acceptability of credit card payments is very less or non existent.
E) TRAVEL AND MEDICAL INSURANCE
Travelers to Bhutan are advised to have a Travel and Medical Insurance when traveling to Bhutan especially if you are planning to trek in Bhutan. Although there are only isolated cases of accidents in Bhutan, yet it is advisable to have your Insurance done before coming to Bhutan, so that you are fully covered in case of any mishaps and accidents.
However, Bhutan is a safe and a Divine holy land thus we always pray that all tourists to Bhutan, enjoy their stay and return home safe and sound.
For us at Bhutan Jewel Travel, we have been blessed by our Gods and Local Deities as apart from minor cold, coughs or head aches and fever, or minor bruises , we have never had any major accidents and we shall continue to pray to our Gods and all local deities to protect our Guests from all of harms way for all times to come.
F) TIPPING GUIDES AND DRIVERS
Showing your gratitude and tipping the Guides and Drivers is a kind gesture and is highly appreciated by the Guides and Drivers as it adds to their Income apart from feeling a sense of happiness that they are being rewarded for their services to the tourist that they were taking care of.
Although it is not mandatory to tip the Guides and Drivers,Porters and horsemen,cooks during treks in Bhutan, practically every tourist tip them.
Tip amount is not fixed but with reference to past tips received by them, usually for a tour of 2 to 5 nights for 2 to 5 pax in a group, the Guides and drivers are tipped USD 100 to 200 per person depending on how happy the tourists were ,with their services. And accordingly as number of people increase in a group or the number of days in Bhutan , they are paid more. However there are rare incidents of No Tips and sometimes of even tipping of insane amounts.
Bhutan Jewel Travel Office recommends that you tip what you feel is right and satisfying to you.
Bhutan Jewel Travel however strongly condemns any misbehavior and uncaring attitude from its Guides and Drivers towards the Guests of this office and Bhutan, and so, in case of any misbehavior by the Guide or the Driver, there is NO Question of Tipping them. INSTEAD we request our Guests to inform us immediately regarding their behavior and we will Take Strict Action on them. Whereby we can even cancel their Guide License depending on the severity of their actions.
G) DAILY TRAVEL ITEMS
Bhutan’s climatic conditions differ from North to South, with the Northern,Central and Eastern parts of Bhutan being colder than the Southern parts.
Mornings and evenings are cold and chilly so we recommend that you bring along clothes that can be worn in layers.
Trekkers should bring good trekking shoes,ankle length and altitude sickness medicines if trekking above 3000 meters of altitude.
Apart from the above, bring in good high SPF Sun screen/lotion as with the clear skies sun burns are quick.
Apart from items for personal use, bring in Sun glasses, spare camera batteries, vehicle sickness medicines, and what ever you may need like your favorite snacks, hat etc
H) CHARITY AND DONATIONS
In Bhutan, we do not have beggars and the few that a traveler may see in Bhutan, may either be mentally unstable or left on their own as they prefer the vagabond life.
One can see the elderly citizens around the temple and monastery parks. Most are taken care of by their families and some who do not have the family support, live within the temple complex, or in the Old Age Home which was built under the Royal Command of His Majesty the King of Bhutan.
Yes we do have poor people and some are indeed very poor and alone. The Royal Government of Bhutan and the King of Bhutan has offices that look after the poor people, but still a little help from our Guests, will be a goodness on top of the help these poor receive from the Government.
However, if our Guests want to make some donations or do some charity work while in Bhutan,we advice you to consult our Bhutan Jewel Travel office, as we are the locals here and we can give your the Best advice and support you to do good where it is genuinely needed.
While touring Bhutan, if tourists suddenly feel that they want to extend their financial support to some one or some institute, once again consult with “Bhutan Jewel Travel” office as we Bhutanese appreciate your support but at the same time, we as your trusted Tour Organizer in Bhutan, want to protect our Guests and would never want any one’s hard earned money to be wasted or usurped by someone undeserving.
We strongly believe that if Tourists and Travelers to Bhutan want to do a good deed, its a positive Karmic Action and you will gain abundant merit and feel truly happy BUT let the beneficiaries of your good deed go to the ones who genuinely need it.
Bhutan is known as the Land of Happiness but even in this happy land there are living beings suffering, and this is where we would like your help to be channelized.
Charity and Donations do not have to be Big and Significant ones, small actions of just feeding some monks, or donating a little for some poor villagers home, or even buying some school uniforms for the poor under privileged students, or even buying some soaps and towels etc, or even sweets and distributing them when on your journey from one place to another brings so much happiness for you and for the ones receiving them. Its just a simple fulfilling service of “Giving”
I) BHUTAN POWER VOLTAGE
Most travelers to Bhutan have problem when they are not aware of the power voltage in Bhutan, this is is most important that we inform all travelers that Bhutan is a carbon neutral destination where power and electricity is generated from Hydro Power stations so its clean and green power.
The power and electricity voltage used in Bhutan is 220 – 240 volts so bring chargers for your gadgets and equipments that can work at these voltages. Bring along flat pin to round pin converters as most places in Bhutan have the round pin plug sockets.
J) OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION :
- Clothing: Bring along clothes that you can wear in layers so that the clothes can be removed if you feel a bit hot or can be worn if you feel a little chilly. Usually in the evenings after sun set it does get a bit chilly.
- Water: Bhutan Jewel will provide you Mineral water as a compliment from the Company’s side. Although water in Bhutan is pure and clean and fit to drink, still we do not want our guests to fall sick or get unwell during travel to Bhutan, so Mineral water would be the safest for our guests.
- Tour Etiquette: We advice our Guests that Bhutanese are usually shy but friendly people. So please bear this in mind and even if you want to mix with the local people ask their permission first,especially before photographing them.
- Cultural Etiquette : Please respect our temples and Monasteries and all religious sites by showing respect to the religious places you visit. It is respectful to remove your shoes and hats/caps when entering a shrine/temple. Your Tour Guide will guide you on this.
- Begging : In Bhutan we do not have beggars and we do not encourage begging at all. Thus we request you to Please do not give any food or money to anyone,as it will in the future encourage begging,and you would be one of the guilty ones who encouraged begging in Bhutan.
RESPECT the Monarchs of Bhutan : Bhutanese people respect their Kings very much and look up to the Kings as a Guardian and father figure. Thus be very cautious with what you say about the Kings as most Bhutanese will not tolerate any jokes or insults on them.
RESPECT the Sacred Sites : Bhutanese are very sensitive towards their religion of Buddhism. Thus when visiting Temples, Monasteries or any sacred sites do REMOVE Your shoes, and always circle around the monument in CLOCKWISE . DO NOT Climb on any monuments. DO NOT Talk loudly or shout near the monuments
K ) NO FLYING DRONES
UNAUTHORIZED FLYING of DRONES : Flying of unauthorized Drones is strictly prohibited in Bhutan.
Any person operating Unmanned Aircraft without the prior approval of BCAA ( Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority ) shall be liable for a fine of Nu. 20,000 to Nu. 50,000 as determined by BCAA and seizure of UAS ( Unmanned Aircraft System). In addition, the Local Tour operator shall be liable for a fine of Nu 20,000 to Nu. 50,000 for failure to inform the Tourist of restrictions.
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