Information About Bhutan

Electronics

Communications Facilities
Reliable telephone and fax services are available in all towns in Bhutan. International connections are excellent. Internet cafes are also available in main towns of the kingdom.

Time
Bhutan Standard Time (BST) is six hours ahead of GMT and there is only one zone throughout the country.

Electricity
Electricity in Bhutan is reasonably reliable and runs 220 Volts. An international converter kit with a set of adapter plugs may be required if travelers being along electrical appliances.

Power outlets in Bhutan can vary from hotel to hotel.  The primary standard is the same as the outlets in India (Type D) but some hotels may have European and North American sockets.  Unfortunately many universal adapter kits sold in the airports do not have the Type D plugs.  You may need to order something from an online source before leaving home.

Festival Dates

Festival Place Start End
Takin Festival Damji, Gasa 21-Feb-14 23-Mar-14
Nomad Festival Nagsephel, Bumthang 22-Feb-14 24-Mar-14
Bhutan International Marathon 22-Feb-14 22-Feb-14
Punakha Drubchen Punakha Dzong, Punakha 08-Mar-14 10-Mar-14
Punakha Tshechu Punakha Dzong, Punakha 11-Mar-14 13-Mar-14
Tharpaling Thongdrol Tharpaling Lhakhang, Chummi, Bumthang 16-Mar-14 16-Mar-14
Chhorten Kora Chorten Kora, Trashiyangtshe 16-Mar-14 16-Mar-14
Chhorten Kora Chorten Kora, Trashiyangtshe 30-Mar-14 30-Mar-14
Gomphukora Gom Kora Lhakhang, Trashigang 07-Apr-14 09-Apr-14
Talo Tshechu Talo Gonpa, Punakha 07-Apr-14 09-Apr-14
Gasa Tshechu Gasa Dzong, Gasa 07-Apr-14 10-Apr-14
Zhemgang Tshechu Zhemgang Dzong, Zhemgang 07-Apr-14 10-Apr-14
Paro Tshechu Rinpung Dzong, Paro 11-Apr-14 15-Apr-14
Rhododendron Festival Lamperi Botanical Garden, Dochula, Thimphu 18-Apr-14 20-Apr-14
Domkhar Tshechu Domkhar, Chummi, Bumthang 09-May-14 11-May-14
Ura Yakchoe Ura Lhakhang, Bumthang 10-May-14 14-May-14
Nimalung Tshechu Nimalung Dratshang, Chummi, Bumthang 05-Jun-14 07-Jun-14
Kurjey Tshechu Kurjey Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang 07-Jun-14 07-Jun-14
Haa Summer Festival Town Festival Ground, Haa 05-Jul-14 07-Jul-14
Musutaki Mushroom Festival Ura, Bumthang 23-Aug-14 24-Aug-14
Tour of the Dragon (Bicycle Race) Bumthang to Thimphu 06-Sep-14 06-Sep-14
Thimphu Drubchen Tashi Chhodzong, Thimphu 28-Sep-14 02-Oct-14
Wangdue Tshechu Tencholing Army Ground, Wangduephodrang 01-Oct-14 03-Oct-14
Gangtey Tshechu Gangtey Gonpa, Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang 01-Oct-14 03-Oct-14
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Tamshing Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang 02-Oct-14 04-Oct-14
Thimphu Tshechu Tashi Chhodzong, Thimphu 03-Oct-14 05-Oct-14
Thangbi Mani Tangbi Lhakhang, Choekor, Bumthang 07-Oct-14 09-Oct-14
Chhukha Tshechu Chhukha Dzong, Chhukha 31-Oct-14 02-Nov-14
Jakar Tshechu Jaka Dzong, Choekhor, Bumthang 31-Oct-14 02-Nov-14
Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel Dzong, Pemagatshel 04-Nov-14 06-Nov-14
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Jambay Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang 06-Nov-14 10-Nov-14
Prakhar Duchhoed Praka Lhakhang, Chummi, Bumthang 07-Nov-14 09-Nov-14
Black Necked Crane Festival Gangtey Gonpa, Phobjikha, Wangduephrodrang 11-Nov-14 11-Nov-14
Mongar Tshechu Monga Dzong, Mongar 28-Nov-14 01-Dec-14
Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang Dzong, Trashigang 30-Nov-14 02-Dec-14
Jambay Lahkhang Singye Cham Jambay Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang 06-Dec-14 06-Dec-14
Nalakhar Tshechu Ngaa Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang 06-Dec-14 08-Dec-14
Druk Wangyel Tshechu Dochula, Thimphu 13-Dec-14 13-Dec-14
Tronsgsa Tshechu Trongsa Dzong, Trangsa 30-Dec-14 01-Jan-15
Lhuentse Tshechu Lhuentse Dzong, Lhuentse 30-Dec-14 01-Jan-15
Nabji Lahkhang Drup Nabji Lhakhang, Nabji, Trongsa 16-Jan-15 19-Jan-15

Health and Safety

Health Information

You should discuss your visit to Bhutan with a travel clinic in your area.  Generally, most visitors to Bhutan remain in the high altitude parts of the country and do not experience health related problems.  The exceptions are the low lying areas along the Indian border where there is a threat of Malaria.

An excellent resource for travel related health is the Center for Disease Control.

Visitors coming from an area infected with Yellow Fever are required to get a Yellow Fever vaccination and must be administered at least ten (10) days before arrival in the country. Likewise, visitors arriving from Cholera infected area should get vaccinated, and anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended for travelers visiting rural areas bordering India.

Health Services in Bhutan

Basic health services at the countries government hospitals are provided to all people in Bhutan (residents and visitors) free of cost. Any advanced procedures and diagnostics will require travel to hospitals in India or Thailand.

Tobacco

The Royal Government of Bhutan has implemented very strict laws regarding tobacco in order to reduce consumption.  The sale of tobacco is completely illegal and any imported tobacco for self-consumption must be declared with duties and taxes paid (currently the duty rate is 200%).

Personal Safety

Generally visitors to Bhutan experience no problems in terms of personal safety.  In fact Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world with very few crimes.  Of course we do not recommend that you leave valuables lying around or waving large sums of money.

You are advised to review any travel warnings from your own country’s foreign affairs office before arriving to ensure that there is no particular situation (especially in the transit cities):

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Money Matters

Cash

Bhutan unit of Currency is Ngultrum (BTN) which is fixed at parity with the Indian Rupee (INR). You will need at least some Ngultrum currency for purchasing drinks along with any other personal expenses such as souvenirs that you will want.

Convertible currencies such as US Dollars, Euros and GB Pounds can be exchanged at the airport, many hotels and at the banks.  Generally the best way to bring in currency is in large US notes ($100 notes give the best exchange rate).

If you are travelling from India, you may carry Indian Rupees which will be accepted at par in Bhutan but do not carry 500 INR or 1000 INR notes as they are not legal in Bhutan.

ATM

The ATM network within Bhutan is very new and ATM Cards bearing the MasterCard or Visa logos will sometimes work at BOB (Bank of Bhutan) ATM machines.  The daily limits are quite restrictive and you may discover that you cannot withdraw more than 10,000 BTN ($180USD) at a time.

Credit Cards

Visa and American Express Credit Cards are accepted  in a few craft shops.  Be aware that the shop owner may impose a surcharge to recover their transaction processing fees.

Traveler’s Cheque

We do not recommend carrying traveler’s cheques. You will be much better to carry USD as the fees associated with traveler’s cheques can be high and only the banks will be able to cash them.

Tipping

As your tour payment includes all meals, there is no expectation that you will be tipping the restaurant staff.

The guides and drivers are paid directly by Bhutan Peak Adventure and tipping your guide is entirely up to your preference.  A good guideline for a small group would be $8-$10 per day for the guide, however feel free to adjust the amount up or down depending on the quality of the service and the number of people in your group.

Travel In Bhutan

Bhutan Domestic Flights
Drukair offers a small number of domestic flights within Bhutan. In addition to the international airport in Paro, Bhutan also has airports located in Bumthang and Yonphula in the east part of Bhutan. Travellers wishing to travel to the eastern region of Bhutan can make use of these domestic flights to reduce the driving time. Currently these flights are offered with very low frequency (typically one or two times per week). Please consult
Drukair’s website for scheduling information.

Driving within Bhutan
If you have never experienced driving in the Himalayan Mountains, driving through Bhutan will certainly be a thrilling experience. However because of the sharp twists and turns and the narrow roads, you will find that covering even short distances will take you much longer than you would ever expect. If you look at the table below it seems like the average speed in most of the country is about 30 km/h (18 mph), and it is correct.

Unfortunately road works will also cause havoc with driving as often the road needs to be blocked from both directions for several hours for the crew to work.

From/To

Distance (km)

Approx Travel Time

Thimphu – Paro

55

1 hr
Thimphu – Phuentsholing

176

6 hrs
Phuentsholing – Bagdogra (India)

170

4 hrs
Thimphu – Haa

115

3 hrs 30 min
Haa – Paro

60

2 hrs 30 min
Thimphu – Wangdue Phordang

70

2 hrs
Thimphu – Punakha

77

2 hrs 15 min
Punakha– Wangdue Phordang

21

30 min
Wabgdue Phordang – Trongsa

129

4 hrs
Trongsa – Bumthang

68

2 hrs 30 min
Bumthang – Mongar

190

7 hrs
Mongar – Trashigang

90

3 hrs.
Trashigang – Trashi Yangtse

65

2 hrs 30 min
Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar

185

6 hrs
Gelephu – Zhemgang

133

4 hrs
Zhemgang – Trongsa

111

3 hrs 30 min
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