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About Bhutan

Bhutan, the serene mountain kingdom, untouched by modernity, still retains its old world charm. Opened to tourists in 1974, Bhutan is an ancient land, rich in Buddhist culture, where Buddhism overpowers every aspect of routine life, art and traditions. Dotted with ancient monasteries, temples and stupas, Bhutan lies in the ranges of eastern Himalayas bordered by Tibet on the north and India on the south.

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  • Travel Tips of Bhutan

  • Clothing

    Lightweight cottons in the foothills, also linens and waterproof gear, light sweaters and jackets for the evenings. Upland areas: thick, warm clothing for evenings, particularly during the winter months.

  • Social Conventions

    The lifestyle, manners and customs of the Bhutanese are in many respects unique to the area. The strongest influence on social conventions is the country’s state religion, and everywhere one can see the reminders of Buddhism and the original religion of Tibet, Bonism. There are no rigid clan systems and equal rights exist between men and women. The majority of the Bhutanese live an agrarian lifestyle.

  • Shopping

    Markets are held regularly, generally on Saturday and Sunday, and are a rich source of local clothing and jewelry, as well as food. The Handicraft Emporium on the main street in the capital is open daily and offers a magnificent assortment of hand-woven and handcrafted goods. Some hotels have a souvenir shop. Silversmiths and goldsmiths in the Thimphu Valley are able to make handcrafted articles to order. Bhutanese stamps are collectors’ items. Shopping is otherwise limited and bargaining is not customary. Phuentsholing has a small department store, the only one of its kind in Bhutan.

  • Currency

    1 Ngultrum (BTN; symbol Nu) = 100 chetrum (Ch). The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee (which is also acccepted as legal tender). Notes are in denominations of Nu500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of Nu1, and 50, 25 and 20 chetrum. Smaller denomination notes and coins have been discontinued but are still in circulation and are legal tender. US Dollars are also widely accepted.

  • Currency Exchange

    Leading foreign currencies are accepted but traveller's cheques are preferred and receive a better exchange rate. Major hotels in Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing will also exchange foreign currency.

  • Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

    Most cards have limited acceptability. ATMs only accept Bhutanese bank cards.

  • Traveller's Cheques

    These can be exchanged in any branch of the Bank of Bhutan or at all BTCL hotels. Travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.

  • Health Care

    Full medical insurance is strongly advised. Medical facilities are good but not always close at hand

  • Mobile Telephone

    Coverage is extensive but since the mobile network is now superseding the landline service, oversubscription can lead to problems.

  • Internet

    Access is growing. There are Internet cafes in large towns and access in major hotels across the country.

  • Bhutan Visa

  • Passport Note

    (a) There are two ways of entering Bhutan: by air to Paro Airport or by road to the Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing. Samdrup Jongkhar is used for exits from Bhutan by land. All travelers entering the country by road must ensure that they have the necessary documentation for transiting through that part of India to Phuentsholing. Consult the General Infosection for India. Visitors are also advised to contact the Government of India Tourist Office (see Indiasection) to check exactly what special permits or other documents may be necessary as these regulations are subject to change at short notice. (b) Visitors are required to book with a registered tour operator in Bhutan, which can be done directly through an affiliated travel agent abroad. Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan and visitors are required by immigration to bring two passport photos with them for use on arrival.

  • Visa Note

    (a) Air tickets cannot be purchased without visa clearance. (b) Visas are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, or through a foreign travel agent. All applications are submitted through the tour operator. (c) Visas are issued (stamped in passport) on arrival at Paro Airport or at Phuentsholing check post.

  • Validity

    Visas are initially granted for stays of up to 15 days. The Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) can apply for an extension of tourist visas for an additional fee per person.

  • Working Days Required

    Visa clearance takes at least 10 days to process and should be applied for at least 60 days prior to arrival in Bhutan.

  • Festivals Of Bhutan

    Festivals is religious events. The ground where they are held is purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival you are, in essence, on the perimeter of an outdoor religious ground. The conduct of the onlooker should be governed with this in mind. The dancers whether monks or layman, are in a state of meditation. They transform themselves into the deities, which they represent on the dance ground. They generate a spiritual power, which cleanses, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators.

  • Paro Festival

    This festival usually takes place in March or April each year, depending upon the Bhutanese lunar calendar. It is considered one of the most colorful and wonderful of Bhutanese many festivals and is very popular with visitors.

    Festival participants don ornamental dress and elaborate costumes that are worn just once a year. Other highlights of the Paro Festival include the Thongdrel on the last day.

    Thongdrel is a huge religious scroll, usually with the image of Bhutanese protector deity, Guru Rimpoche, appliqu�d in bright silk. The scroll is lowered on the last day of the Festival in the early hours of the morning, and is rolled back up before direct sunlight touches it.

  • Thimphu Festival

    This is another one of the great festivals of Bhutan. Like the Paro festival, its timing depends upon the Bhutanese lunar calendar, but usually occurs in September or October.

    Because it is held in the populated capital of Bhutan, the Thimphu festival can be congested. This can make picture-taking challenging. One has to come early to secure a place to sit and watch the Festival.

    The Thimphu festival takes place inside the capital-building courtyard. The capital building also houses the offices for the King, Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as summer residences for the monks when they move to the capital from their Punakha winter residence.

  • Jampa Lhakhang Drup

    Although the origin and purpose of the festival cannot be exactly determined, the Jampa Lhakhang Drup is regarded as one of the most ancient and sacred of all festivals in the region. The tradition of people from this area is to congregate in a spirit of piety and festivity on the 15th day of the ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar.

    The well-known historian on Bhutan, the late Dr. Michael Aris, pointed out that this ancient festival retained some remnants of the old Agricultural New Year, which falls at the winter solstice and which has almost disappeared from this part of the country.

  • Trongsa Festival

    All the festivals in Bhutan share the same theme, but each festival has its own special flavor. Different locals and venues provide a kaleidoscope of sight and sound. The Trongsa festival usually takes place in December or January, depending on the Bhutanese calendar.

    This festival is less congested than the more popular ones, providing visitors with a better opportunity to experience and photograph the events on a more intimate level.

  • Bhutanese Cuisines

    Cuisine of Bhutan is delectable and satiates you. The travelers will be amazed to find such a wide variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian Cuisine of Bhutan.

  • Ema datshi, a dish made from cheese and chili will surely win your favor.This dish is distinctly Bhutanese and is very hot.Ema-datsi: Ema means "chil"i and datsi is a kind of "cottage cheese", so ema-datsi is a kind of spiced-up Welsh rarebit. Each region in Bhutan has its own specialty and you will get plenty of opportunity to taste its each delicacy that is truly Bhutanese.

    The Cuisine of Bhutan is not at all spicy. Capsicum onum is the most popularly used chili used in the Bhutan Cuisine. Chili is used in great quantity in all the preparations. People of Bhutan have a strange fascination for chili. Rice is another important ingredient used as a staple diet. Curry with rice is the most prevalent breakfast or meal. Two varieties of rice , white rice in the urban areas and red rice in the rural areas are used for consumption. Rice based dishes include Desi, which is prepared by mixing rice, sugar, butter, golden raisins, and saffron is very popular. Another dish called Zow which is made out of fried rice sugar and oilseeds.

  • Yak Meat The non vegetarians can try out the yak meat which very tasty. The yak herders sell meat, cheese and butter in the autumn. The dried variety of yak meat is more delicious.
  • Pa is the most common and mouth watering meat curry found in Bhutan. This is a white curry which is prepared by boiling vegetables, chilies and big chunks of meat. Zhasonpa is another favorite Cuisine of Bhutan. The only difference is that chicken is used instead of yak meat in this curry.
  • Kewa-dats: Kewa (potato) datsi (cheese) a yummy potatoey cheesy dish.
  • Shamu-datsi : Shamu (mushroom) datsi (cheese) a truly rich and delicious dish.
  • Khuli: Buckwheat pancakes, a specialty of Bumthang. They are often served with ema-datsi as an alternative to rice.
  • Puta : A dish of buckwheat noodles usually served with curd, a specialty of Bumthang.
  • Tourist Info - Bhutan

    Location : South Asia (between Assam in northeast India and China).
  • Area : 47,000 per sq km (18,146 sq miles).
  • Capital : Thimphu
  • Government : Constitutional Monarchy.
  • Language : Dzongkha is the official language. A large number of dialects are spoken, owing to the physical isolation of many villages. Sharchop Kha is spoken in eastern Bhutan. Nepali is common in the south of the country. English has been the language of education since 1964 but there is growing emphasis on learning Dzongkha to strengthen national identity.
  • Religion : The Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism (Drukpa Kagyu) is the state religion; the majority of Bhutanese people follow the Drukpa school of the Kagyupa sect. Those living in the south are mainly Hindu.
  • Time : GMT + 6
  • Electricity : 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs used are of the round pins.
  • Telephone : Country code: 975
  • Mobile Telephone : Coverage is extensive but since the mobile network is now superseding the landline service, oversubscription can lead to problems.
  • Internet : Access is growing. There are Internet cafes in large towns and access in major hotels across the country.
  • Post : Mail from Bhutan is liable to disruption because of the high value of Bhutanese stamps; they may be steamed off the envelopes en route.
  • Post office hours : Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat 0900-1200 (summer); Mon-Fri 0900-1600, Sat 0900-1200 (winter).
  • Contact Information
    Department of Tourism
    PO Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan
    Tel: (2) 323 251/2.
  • Contact Information
    Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL)
    PO Box 159, Thimphu, Bhutan
    Tel: (2) 324 045 or 322 647.