Where is Bhutan?
Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.
Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.
What is the best time to visit Bhutan?
Bhutan has so many things to see and do in any season you visit and they come as per their own interest. However we consider March, April and May as peak season with most beautiful scenery of spring and September, October and November are the season of festivals. So there is always something for all parts of the year.
Do I need a Visa for Bhutan? How can I obtain a Visa for Bhutan?
All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a Visa prior to your arrival to Bhutan, except for Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. After your confirmation to visit Bhutan with us, you can just send us the scanned copy of your passport copy with validity of six month prior to your visit. We will have to process your visa through Tourism Council of Bhutan and Immigration.
How much does the visa cost?
For International tourist visas, a cost of USD 40 is applicable. This can be paid in advance to your tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives, there is no cost incurred.
What Documents will I require at the Airport when I come to Bhutan?
You will need to carry your Passport which has 6 months validity for its expiry date, e-ticket, whether you booked it through us or the Druk air’s website and your Visa confirmation letter which we will send you prior to your arrival in the country. And please to carry a copy of your tour itinerary as well.
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. A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all the necessary arrangements.
How do I enter Bhutan? From where do I enter?
You can enter Bhutan by Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines, the national airline from the following entry points;
Bangkok, Kathmandu, New Delhi, India, Calcutta, Dhaka, Bagdogra, Singapore
You can also enter Bhutan by road through Phuntsholing, Gelephu and SamdrupJongkhar in southern Bhutan.
How can I purchase Drukair tickets?
You can directly purchase the Druk air tickets from their website (www.drukair.com.bt) or if you may wish, we can book the tickets for you. Please note that all tickets are e-tickets and will be send to you via email.
How much does it cost to visit Bhutan?
Daily tariff to Bhutan is prescribed by the Royal Government of Bhutan in order to maintain Bhutan’s exclusivity. A visitor has to pay an all-inclusive minimum amount of USD. 250 per day in spring and autumn (March, April, May, September, October, November) and USD.200per day in winter and summer (December, January, February, June, July and August).
Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons are required to pay a surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:
- Single individual US$ 40 per night Group of 2 persons
- US$ 30 per person per night
Visitors have to pay an additional USD 40 as one time Visa Fee.
Tour operators are required to maintain the minimum standards and are not allowed to sell tour packages below the prescribed daily rates.
Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year?
There is no limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit in a year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment, the government has adopted a unique policy of “High Value, Low Impact ”. 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.
What is included in the minimum dairy tariff/price?
The minimum price as prescribed by the government is inclusive of all your travel needs such as:
- USD 65 as government levy (which goes directly as Government revenue that is used for free education and free health and most importantly poverty alleviation)
- Accommodation in at least a 3 start hotels.
- All meals
- Airport transfers
- Licensed English-speaking guide service.
- Overland transport in a tourist standard car with licensed driver.
What kind of visitors does Bhutan Rila Expeditions cater to mostly?
We do not prioritize our holidays according to types. Going by numbers, most of our visitors are of the cultural type, followed by mountain biking tours and treks. Special interest groups such as marriage tours, textiles, homestays, bird watching and Treeking. We are focusing on Community-based tours to enable more interaction between visitors and community residents and engage the local people to make income through our tourism services.
- What happens if I have already made a booking with you and then I have to cancel the trip due to unavoidable circumstances?
Tour Programs booked with us and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as prescribed by the government as follows.
- Within 30 days of start of programme ~ no charges
- Within 21 days ~ 10% of rate
- Within 14 days ~ 15% of rate
- Within 7 days ~ 30% of rate
- Less than 7 days or without notice ~ 50% of rate
- After arrival in Bhutan ~ 100%
The remaining amount is remitted back to your bank account.
Are there any discount schemes provided by your company?
Yes, our discount schemes are given as follows;
- There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount on Royalty.
- Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
- A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11 to 15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
- 50%discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 14th night.
- Visitors availing discounts under Sections A, B & C shall not be eligible for discount under E.
What is the fare for Drukair?
Please note that the fare of Druk Air changes according to the fluctuation of the exchange rate, so rates can vary a little from day to day. However, we can confidently say that it has one of the most friendliest inflight services. The rates are given in their website www.drukair.com.bt.
What kinds of vehicles do you use?
We make sure of your comfort to or fullest and therefore we use comfortable, clean, well-maintained vehicles. Our fleet of vehicles include Toyota Land Cruiser Prados, Toyota Hiace vans, Toyota Coaster buses, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Tucson SUVs.
How far in advance do I have to sign up for the tours?
If you can book your tour as early as possible, it will give us more time to plan your travel. However, given our company’s purchasing power and experience, we can also hand last minute bookings without hassle. It is however advised to book your travel 6-8 weeks in advance if it is coinciding with popular festivals like Thimphu and ParoTsechu. Given that we only have one airline, tickets are notoriously overbooked during that period.
What will be the food like?
You will have a variety of cuisines to choose from- Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, and Thai to Continental. The main staple diet of Bhutanese is rice which is savored with the most favorite dish made out of chilies and cheese called “emadatshi”. Meat is widely eaten in Bhutan as are the vegetables. Our partner hotels and restaurants are always aware of your eating habits and serve according to your palate. Even if you want to try Bhutanese, we do not make it as spicy as we are used to.
What is the language of Bhutan?
The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, though there are many other dialects that each region in the country has maintained. Since English is an official language, it is easy to communicate with most Bhutanese people.
Are there any embassies in Bhutan?
We only have an Indian embassy in the country. There are consulate offices of the Netherlands, Kuwait, and Canada. The closest international embassies are in Delhi, India, Kathmandu, Nepal and Bangkok, Thailand.
What vaccinations do I need?
We do not have any screening to come to Bhutan, but for your own safety in the region, please check the following website for the latest international requirements (Centre for disease control website www.cdc.gov/).
What is the currency of Bhutan?
The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. The value of Ngulturm is equivalent to the currency of Indain Rupee. You cannot buy Ngultrum prior to your arrival to Bhutan but once you arrive, you can easily exchange your currency to Ngultrum at the banks or even in your hotel.
Can I use credit cards in Bhutan?
You can use your Mastercard and Visa cards to withdraw Ngultrums from local banks. Some handicrafts shops also accept these international credit cards. However, you cannot pay the Visa fee of USD 40 at the Immigration Counter while entering Bhutan. You have to carry at least USD 40 with you while you enter Bhutan!!
Are there ATM’s in Bhutan?
There are ATM machines in Thimphu and Paro where you can use your credit cards.
What is the time zone of Bhutan?
Bhutan has only one time zone. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 3o mins ahead of India, 15 mins ahead of Nepal and an hour behind Thailand. In USA during daylight saving time, Bhutan is 10 hours ahead of New York City and during standard time, Bhutan is 11 hours ahead of New Your City. Thecountry telephone code for Bhutan is +975.
Is it safe to travel to Bhutan?
Given the minimal crime records in the country, it is very safe to travel in Bhutan.
How do I pay for my tour?
Your payment can be made through credit cards, and wire transfer. If you choose to pay with credit card, the banks will charge a processing fee of 4%.
What is the baggage allowance of Drukair?
For the economy class, your check-in luggage cannot exceed more than 20 kg and for first class, and upto 30 kg for Business Class. You can carry some few extra kg in your luggage but you will have to pay for it.
Is there an official number of tourists allowed to travel in Bhutan each year?
No, there is no such official ceiling on the numbers of visitors to Bhutan. However, the premium which visitors have to pay as daily tariff and the requirement of taking a tour operator maintains exclusivity and limits arrivals. This is the high-value, low volume tourism policy that is aimed at averting mass tourism and backpackers.
How high is the elevation in Bhutan?
The elevations on our trips range between 7000 feet and 12,000 feet. Altitude is definitely an important consideration for anyone planning to visit Bhutan as most of the people are not used to it. The average elevation is about 7000 feet. Most of our itineraries entail travel as high as about 12,000 feet, including a highest sleeping elevation of about 10,000 feet. We make sure to minimize the risks of altitude sickness and this is something we’re happy to discuss with our travelers.