Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Is there another country on the planet with a cooler catch phrase? Bhutan sounds exotic, mystical, almost otherworldly. Well, it feels that way too. Bhutan is such a joy to travel to, this tiny country straddling the Himalayas. It was only recently that tourists were allowed to enter this country. Bhutan is less affected by modern civilization than other countries but that is beginning to change. If you want to see Bhutan before it gets to be modernized, go now. It is a feast for the eyes and and eye opening cultural experience. Explore the dzongs, marvel at the Himalayas, eat chilies and cheese, learn about Buddhism, and have one of the most unique travel experiences of your life.
Things To Know
The official language is Dzongkha. Nepali is spoken throughout southern Bhutan. Many people will speak and understand English and Hindi.
220V 50Hz. Adaptors D, F, & G.
Bhutanese ngultrum (BTN). $1 USD is roughly 70 BTN.
All visitors to Bhutan (except those from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives) are required to have a visa. All visitors must also book their travel through a local tour operator. This tour operator will obtain the visa once your trip expenses are paid in full.
Also called the Minimum Daily Package, this is the daily fee, per person, to visit Bhutan. This tariff covers your stay in a 3 star accommodation (4 and 5 star accommodations require an additional fee), all meals, a licensed Bhutanese tour guide, all internal transportation, and camping equipment if you are going trekking. This fee also includes taxes and the Royalty fee of $65.
The fee is $200 per person, per day for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December. The fee is $250 per person, per day for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November. Children under the age of five are free. Children between 5 and 12 years old receive a 50% discount.
Your payment needs to be wired to the Bhutan National Bank before your visa will be issued. This fee is mandatory. There is no negotiating down the price of the tourist tariff.
Is Bhutan Worth It?
Bhutan is an expensive destination. For travelers on a budget, this destination is hard to swallow. “Is Bhutan worth it?” was a question we asked ourselves (and travel forums) multiple times before booking our trip. I am so glad we did. Bhutan is one of the most unique places to visit on the planet. So yes, Bhutan is worth it. Read our posts to learn more.
Best Time To Go
September through November are the best months to visit Bhutan, with clear skies, pleasant temperatures, and the greatest number of festivals. Springtime, from March through May, are also good, with comfortable temperatures but a small chance of rain. The summer months, June through August, can be hot and this period gets the most rainfall. The winter months, December through February, have clear skies but cold temperatures and has the fewest tourists.
Tiger’s Nest (Paro Takstang). Gaze at this Buddhist monastery precariously perched on the side of a mountain hundreds of meters off of the ground. It’s worth the uphill hike to get here and this is your chance to see one of Bhutan’s most popular icons.
Paro. Most people spend at least a little time in this city since it is home to Paro International Airport. This is also your home base for the hike up to the Tiger’s Nest.
Thimpu. Thimpu is the capital of Bhutan. There is a lot to do here. Visit the Cheri Monastery, see the Takin Preserve, spin prayer wheels at the Memorial Chorten, or gaze up at Buddha Dordenma, the largest sitting Buddha in the world.
Dochula Pass. The Dochula Pass is a high mountain pass (3,150 meters, 10,330 ft) on the road between Thimpu and Punakha. Get a glimpse of snow-covered Himalayas and walk among the 108 chortens that serve as a memorial to Bhutanese soldiers killed in a uprising in 2003.
Punakha. This city was once the capital of Bhutan. Visitors come here to see the amazing Punakha Dzong sitting on the banks of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers.
Chimi Lhakhang. This is a Buddhist monastery located near Punakha. Lama Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman, is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, famous for his sexual exploits. His temple is now visited by childless couples searching to increase their fertility. Be blessed by a wooden phallus to ward off evil spirits…a travel experience you won’t soon forget.
See a festival. Bhutan is a country that loves a festival. These are among the most colorful events in the world.
Snowman Trek. This is one of the hardest high-altitude treks in the world. Spend 25 days trekking through the Himalayas of Bhutan, crossing nine passes with altitudes over 4500 meters.