The small, Himalayan country of Bhutan is one of the most stunning yet least explored countries in the world. however, only a fraction of tourists makes it to Bhutan every year due to its location, cost, and travel logistics. The Only Vajrayana nation in the world, Bhutan prides itself in strong cultural heritage, a peaceful society, and matchless natural beauty of the Himalayans. This all may sound ideal, but Bhutan is not your typical holiday country. Here we have listed six things you need to know before travelling to “The Last Shangri-La”.
Processing Visa and documents
If you’re planning to visit Bhutan, you must first apply for a visa and book your trip through one of the hundred government-approved tour operations. Tourists often make the mistake of booking trips through unofficial operators and land in hot waters after landing in the country. You’ll have to pay the daily tariff ranging from $200-$250 to your tour company who will then finance services like food, accommodation, transportation, and a guide.
Ideal time to visit
Bhutan is suitable for travel year-round, with peak tourist season being spring and fall. You’ll see beautiful fields and gardens bloom if you arrive in spring (March-June) and you’ll get bright, clear days if you plan a visit during fall (September to November). Bhutan’s biggest festival Teschus also takes place around this time. Summer (June-August) is also a lovely time to visit as the tariffs are lower and valleys are lusher.
Getting there and away
Most tourists will arrive at Paro, Bhutan by one of its two airlines: Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air. There are flights operating from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Guwahati, Mumbai and Singapore. if you’re travelling from India or Nepal, make sure to request for a window seat so that you do not miss the incredible views of the Himalayans including giant peaks like Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga.
Bring your own cash
While major cities like Thimpu and Paro are dotted with ATM machines, it is always wise to carry a reliable amount of cash with you. Although most of your travel will be financed by the tour operator after you prepay for it, you will need cash for other extra recreational activities and buying souvenirs. The local currency is Ngultrum (Nu), but you can also spend in US dollars and Indian rupees.
Bring suitable clothing
While national and traditional dresses are subjects of fascination and rarity to most nations, Bhutanese people normally dress in national dresses – Gho, a knee-length robe for men; and Kira, an ankle-length robe for women. So, make sure that you always dress modestly and refrain from baring skin, especially if you are visiting monasteries or religious centres. Also, no-brainer, but make sure you do some homework on the weather and temperature before you pack your bags.
While Bhutanese are some of the kindest people you will meet during your travels, it’s always nice to be acquainted with the culture and lifestyle you’ll be experiencing. Make sure that you don’t smoke cigarettes in restricted areas, the country takes this rule quite strictly. Also, steer clear of making any negative comments on the Bhutanese royal family, or expressing any opinion at all regarding controversial subjects like its ethnic cleansing events.