Customs & Immigration
Visitors are required to complete the declaration form provided by your airlines and hand it over the to the customs officer once you arrive. The following items are exempted from duty:
- Personal belongings
- 1 litre of alcohol (wine or spirit) (Customs declaration required)
- Up to 200 pieces of cigarettes or 30 pieces of cigars with 100% customs tax (Customs declaration required)
- Video and photography equipments and other electronic goods for personal use (Customs declaration required)
- Instruments, apparatus and appliances for professional use (Customs declaration required)
Note* All cigarettes are subjected to 100 percent customs duty and 100 percent sales tax which usually comes up to Nu.1,600 per carton. Travelers are requested to declare taxable items and pay the required taxes.
Import and export of the following goods are prohibited:
- Arms, ammunitions and explosives
- Any form of drugs and narcotics unless prescribed
- Wildlife products and seeds
With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa.
Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. You cannot apply for it personally.
For other passport holders, visas cost $40. The visas must be applied and paid for in advance, from registered tour operators (not embassies), at the same time as booking the rest of your trip. You should try and make your travel arrangements at least 90 days prior to travel to allow time for all the formalities to be completed.
You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.
At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
The visas are processed through an online system by the tour operators, and are approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan once full payment of the cost of the trip has been received.
Tourists are issued with a visa clearance letter, to be presented at immigration upon arrival at the airport. The visa is then stamped in the passport.
The minimum daily package covers the following services.
- A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
- All meals
- A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
- All internal transport (excluding internal flights)
- Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
It also includes:
- All internal taxes and charges.
- A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.
It is highly recommended that you purchase travel insurance prior to travel.
Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.
These are as follows:
- Single individual - US$ 40 per night
- Group of 2 persons only - US$ 30 per person per night
- The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.
- The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.
There shall be no charge other than visa fee of USD 40 for children below the age of 5 years.
- Children between the ages of 5-12 years shall be given 50% discount on minimum daily package rate.
- Full time students below the age of 25 years, holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions, shall be given 25% discount on minimum daily package rate.
- A GROUP SIZE DISCOUNT of 50% on minimum daily package shall be given to one person in a group of 11 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
- A 50% DURATION DISCOUNT on ROYALTY shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on ROYALTY shall be provided after 14th night.
- 100% ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT shall be provided on ROYALTY on first and/or last night for groups with night halt in Phuntsholing, Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar on arrival and/or departure.
Note* Children below 5 years will not be eligible for GROUP SIZE DISCOUNTS, DURATION DISCOUNTS and ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT and All Children and Students will not be eligible for DURATION DISCOUNTS
There is no charge for delays in arrival and departure because of weather conditions disrupting flights or road blocks. The tourist must however bear the cost of food, accommodation, transportation, and other services required.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?
It is a government regulation that you must use a license Bhutanese Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.
2. Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan?
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.
3. How much does the visa cost?
International tourist visas a cost of USD $40 applies. This can be paid in advance to you tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives there is no cost incurred.
4. How do I get to Bhutan?
There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok,Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only - Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator.
5. What does the $200/$250 per day minimum daily package include?
The $200 per day (low season) and $250 per day (high season) package includes a minimum of 3 star accommodations, costs for food, an experienced guide and transportation (with driver) within the country. Also included in the price is a $65 per day royalty that goes towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. All of these services will be arranged by your tour operator.
6. What currency is used in Bhutan?
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian notes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable.
7. Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year?
There is no limit on the number of tourists admitted into the country each year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment the government has adopted a strict policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.
8. What’s the food like in Bhutan?
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy. Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.
Medical Requirements and Information
- There are no requirements unless you are arriving from an area designated as infected by cholera or yellow fever.
- Treatment at government hospitals in Bhutan is free of costs even for tourists. There are also private clinics in the capital that you can visit if required.
- Waterborne diseases are common during the monsoon season, so it is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water.
- The roads are windy and motion sickness is usually common, so bring along the necessary medication.
- Altitude sickness is also common so be cautious of the following symptoms - headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and shortness of breath.
A Few Things to Remember
- Dress modestly
- Use your right hand to give or receive
- While visiting monasteries always go clockwise
- Don't wear any accessories on your head while visiting religious places
- Always ask for permission before taking a photograph of a person
- Always seek permission from your guide before entering religious institutions, women are often not allowed to enter the inner altar
- Always cross your legs if you are sitting inside a religious building
- Never throw objects or swim in lakes as it is considered sacred
- Carry about 4-6 passport size photographs
- We use 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re using an appliance with this voltage then all you require is an adapter. It is recommended that you also bring a multi-purpose electrical plug
- If your appliances are of a different voltage then you would need a voltage converter which is not available in Bhutan.
- The peak months are March, April, May, September, October and November and off season months are June, July, August, December, January and Febuary, where by prices are lower
- Sale of alcohol is prohibited on Tuesdays as it is considered a dry day
- Major currencies can be exchanged at commercial banks and at some hotels in Thimphu, Paro, and Phuentsholing.
- You may cash your travelers’ cheque at any bank for a 1% bank charge
- Most shops don’t offer the use of credit cards and instead work with cash.
- Many hotels now offer Internet facilities; if not you can visit one of the internet cafes.
- You can also buy a local sim from B-mobile or Tashi cell and top it up with prepaid cards
- Smoking is prohibited in the country so please be mindful
- Unlike other countries you don't have to tip in hotels or restaurants, but you can always choose to. However, you do have to tip your guide.
- The international dialing code for Bhutan is 00975
Terms and Conditions
Tour Refund and Cancellation Policy
- 100% refund will be available if your tour is canceled within 90 days from the start of the tour.
- 50% refund will be available if your tour is canceled within 60 days from the start of the tour.
- No refund will be available if your tour is canceled within 30 days from the start of the tour.
- If your trip has to be shortened due to unexpected circumstances after your arrival in Bhutan, there will be no refund as we would have already made the payments for your hotel and other logistics.
Airline Refund and Cancellation Policy
- 100% refund if air ticket canceled within 90 Days from the start of the tour.
- 50% refund airfare canceled within 60 Days from the start of the tour.
- No refund for tickets canceled less than 30 Days from the start of the tour, for “no shows” and missed connections at the airport.
- An additional fee of $10 will apply for changes in tickets once the ticket has been issued.
- An administrative fee of $25 will be applied for every cancelled ticket.
While we make every effort to provide on-time services, we do not guarantee tour start and finish times, which may be delayed by a number of factors such as weather, traffic, road conditions, mechanical problems or any circumstances beyond our control. We are not liable for any inconveniences or expenses caused as a result of such a delay. We assume no liability or responsibility for injury, loss or damage to our guests. We are also not responsible for lost or stolen belongings of our guests. We reserve the right to cancel or change any tour, advertised schedule or route with notice and assume no liability or responsibility for any conditions that may interrupt or cancel any tour.
Bhutan Festival Dates
|Name||Town||Start Date||End Date|
|Punakha Drubchen||Punakha||Mar 02, 2017||Mar 06, 2017|
|Punakha Tshechu||Punakha||Mar 07, 2017||Mar 09, 2017|
|GOMPHUKORA||Trashi Yangtse||Apr 04, 2017||Apr 06, 2017|
|Paro Tshechu||Paro||Apr 07, 2017||Apr 11, 2017|
|Chhorten Kora||Trashi Yangtse||Apr 11, 2017||Apr 26, 2017|
|Rhododendron Festival||Thimphu||Apr 18, 2017||Apr 20, 2017|
|Ura Yakchoe||Bumthang||May 07, 2017||May 10, 2017|
|Nimalung Tshechu||Bumthang||Jul 01, 2017||Jul 03, 2017|
|Kurjey Tshechu||Bumthang||Jul 03, 2017|
|Thimphu Drubchen||Thimphu||Sep 25, 2017||Sep 29, 2017|
|Wangdue Tshechu||Wangdue Phodrang||Sep 28, 2017||Sep 30, 2017|
|Tamshing Phala Chhoepa||Bumthang||Sep 30, 2017||Oct 02, 2017|
|Thimphu Tshechu||Thimphu||Sep 30, 2017||Oct 02, 2017|
|Thangbi Mani||Bumthang||Oct 04, 2017||Oct 06, 2017|
|Pemagatshel Tshechu||Pemagatshel||Nov 01, 2017||Nov 03, 2017|
|Jambay Lhakhang Drup||Bumthang||Nov 03, 2017||Nov 06, 2017|
|Prakhar Duchhoed||Bumthang||Nov 04, 2017||Nov 06, 2017|
|Black Necked Crane Festival||Wangdue Phodrang||Nov 11, 2017|
|Mongar Tshechu||Mongar||Nov 25, 2017||Nov 28, 2017|
|Trashigang Tshechu||Trashigang||Nov 26, 2017||Nov 29, 2017|
|Jambay Lakhang Singye Cham||Bumthang||Dec 03, 2017|
|Nalakhar Tshechu||Bumthang||Dec 03, 2017||Dec 05, 2017|
|Druk Wangyel Tshechu||Thimphu||Dec 13, 2017|
|Trongsa Tshechu||Trongsa||Dec 25, 2017||Dec 28, 2017|
|Lhuentse Tshechu||Lhuentse||Dec 25, 2017||Dec 28, 2017|