1. Getting there
There are only two airlines that fly into Bhutan, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. Flights get full, especially in the spring and autumn and should be booked as soon as possible - however the schedule is only published a few months in advance and is subject to change without notice - so it is a balancing act with your international flights. You can fly into Bhutan from Nepal, India, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh. The airlines recommend at least 24 hours transit time for connecting flights on your outward and (especially) return journey to factor in time for changes to schedule or delays. The flight into Bhutan is spectacular, with fantastic views of the high Himalaya especially from Delhi or Kathmandu.
2. What Immunizations are required?
You should talk to your doctor about vaccinations at least 6 weeks before departure. No innoculations are compulsory for Bhutan but you should discuss Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis (A and B) Polio & Typhoid and also Malaria prevention if you are entering by road or visiting any southern districts - especially rural areas. Bhutan is a high altitude country with roads as high as 3800m but the majority of guests do not have too much trouble. The most common problem is a mild headache or insomnia on the first couple of days. Keeping hydrated and resting, but not sleeping too much can help with this.
3. How to apply for a Visa?
We will apply for your Bhutanese visa for you after you have paid for your holiday in full. You will receive a visa authorisation letter and then a stamp in your passport on arrival. All nationalities require a full passport, valid for six months beyond the length of stay. We will need to have a scan or a good colour photocopy of the photo page of your passport when you book, as we need to send this in advance.
4. When to Visit Bhutan
This Himalayan Kingdom's weather is driven by the Monsoon cycle that influences the seasons in this part of the World. With altitudes ranging from just 95m above sea level to 7,570m at its highest, Bhutan's climate is obviously influenced by its elevation. From the sub-tropical south to the high-altitude Himalayan regions this is a country of extremes. You should be prepared for diverse weather conditions in one day as you traverse high mountain passes and drop back down into the lush valleys. In general, days are warm and nights are cold and the sun at this altitude can be very strong! Unpredicatable conditions may lead your guide, for your comfort and safety, to suggest an alternative to the itinerary if the weather turns.
The weather in the more popular travel regions will follow this typical pattern:
WINTER (Dec - Feb)
Cold and crisp with snowfall likely, sunshine brings warmer days. Dry cold nights.
The weather starts to warm up mid-March and you will usually have warm days and cool nights. Days can be cloudy and there can be some rain (or snow higher up).
SUMMER (June- August)
Hot and humid with bursts of heavy rainfall, after which the air clears.
AUTUMN (Sept - Nov)
Clear warm days and cooler nights with some chance of snow.
Averages and generalisations don’t help much, as the weather is prone to sudden changes and temperature depends on which altitude you are at. It is not uncommon to wake up to frosty cool clear morning, followed by a cloudy calm day, a chilly evening and a rain-soaked night. Or any combination of these, in any order of timing. Which is why, as a rule, you should pack a small amount of everything to cover all eventualities!
5. Who will meet me on arrival at Paro Airport?
Clients will be welcomed at their entry-point by our representative and will be accompanied by him/her throughout their stay. Your tour itinerary has been planned by us to make sure you get the most out of your visit and your guide is there to assist you at all times. However, none of our tours are automated tour packages and so there is room for some flexibility in the programme, according to your interests and requirements. Please do not hesitate to discuss options with the guide.
6. What Insurance cover do I need?
It is important that you have an insurance policy with adequate cover for travel in this part of the world and according to the nature of your activities. Those who are trekking should confirm that your insurance policy covers you adequately if you were to fall sick in the mountains and need airlifting back to the capital or to a third country. While this is very rare, it is worth covering yourselves for peace of mind.
7. What about cash, credit cards and ATM machines?
It is important to bring some cash with you if you plan to purchase souvenirs or pay for drinks and snacks outside the luxury hotels. Facilities for credit card payments are extremely limited outside the luxury hotels. A few handicraft shops in the main towns accept cards as payment for large items. Cash can now be obtained with Visa and Master Card debit cards at the Bank of Bhutan ATM machines but international withdrawals are not available at other ATMs or with a credit card. US$ (and, usually, Euro) cash is easily exchanged or spent anywhere and most international currencies are accepted at the bank in Thimphu. Indian currency is accepted everywhere but only small denominations – 500 and 1000 Rupee notes are not accepted by the bank but some shopkeepers will be willing to accept them.
8. What should I pack?
A. Cultural Tour:
WHAT TO BRING
Weather/ Climate The central valleys of Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhunsthi enjoy a semi tropical climate with warm summers and mild winters, while Thimphu, Paro, Tongsa and Bumthang have pleasant summers and very cold winters. The east of Bhutan is generally a little warmer than the west of the country. The southern low-altitude belt is tropical, with hot summers and pleasant winters.
Travelling in the mountains means that you can experience a wide range of temperatures in any one day. During the day it can be quite warm whereas night-time temperatures can drop dramatically. Crossing over a pass requires an extra layer of clothing just for an hour or two. It is better to plan to layer your clothing rather than bringing too many bulky warm clothes. Long sleeves are advisable since the sun is very strong and, similarly, a hat is recommended. A small face mask is suggested on long drives since the roads can get quite dusty, depending on the season.
Bhutanese is conservative in their dress and local do get offended by the sight of tourists wearing skimpy or tight-fitting clothes. Shorts and vests are not advisable at any time but they must not be worn on visits to monasteries, dzongs and other religious institutions. Hats must be removed before entering the above-mentioned places.
What to Pack:
The following is fairly exhaustive list of what you should pack for a cultural tour:
B. Trekking Tour:
Sundries & Miscellaneous:
9. How do I book a Flight to Bhutan?
Only two airlines fly to Bhutan’s international airport at Paro (PBH). Bhutan Visit will book your flight for you as part of the package arrangement and we offer you the lowest prices available.
You only need to arrange the connecting flights to one of the main departure points – Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu or Dhaka. There are also connecting flights from Bagdogra (access to Darjeeling) and Guwahati (Assam).
10. How will my booking be processed?
To confirm your booking we require a non –refundable deposit of 150 US$, which can be made through bank transfer. Please contact BATE rep for more details.
11. Do the guides speak English & have first aid training?
All of the guides our specialists work and speak fluent English. BATE guide must have at least 5 years of work experience and knowledge of first Aid, emergency rescue procedure, using oxygen, PAC and Satelite phonte
12. How much should I tip the guide and porters?
Tipping is not required but is expected, and really depends on how happy you were with the service. Guides (both for trekking and cultural tours), porters, and drivers are typically provided with a tip at the end of your service with them. Please read airticle about tipping culture.
13. Are there any extra expenses not include in my trip price?
Personal expenses (tips, soft drinks, bar bills, laundry, telephone calls, donations, and extra snacks, etc) are not included in your trip price. If you're going trekking, the only things you'll need to pay for out of pocket are wifi and battery charging (when available), extra meals outside of what's included, alcohol, and soft drinks.