Bhutan Travel Tips

Best time to travel to Bhutan

Bhutan has a season for everyone. The Kingdom of Bhutan stretches across all climatic zones; from the sub-tropical jungles in the south, to the moderate heights of 2000 – 2500 meters in the centre and up to the alpine world of the towering Himalayas and glaciers of the north.

In Winter the South beckons. Dry and pleasant conditions make this the best time of year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitudes or a bicycle trip along quiet mountain roads. The trekking routes in the high mountains are covered in deep snow and are impassable at this time of year. The impressive and endangered Black Necked Crane spends the winter in the high valley of Bumdeling (in eastern Bhutan) and Phobjika (in central Bhutan).

 In Spring the trekking season commences in moderate altitudes and above 3000 meters spectacular rhododendron forests bloom. It is also the perfect time for a rafting tour. In Paro, one of the largest monastic festivals – Paro tshechu – takes place. The temperature is pleasantly mild even up to the Alp regions. Rain comes only in May as the harbinger of the approaching monsoon.

The Summer brings with it the monsoon, but this weather should not deter Bhutan travelers. In the settled areas of the medium ranges of Central and Western Bhutan, pleasant summer temperatures without heat or humidity can be found. Rain falls for short periods daily but is manageable with adequate planning and equipment provided by Bhutan tour Operators /Bhutan travel agents. Like Access Bhutan Tours & Treks. Treks in high mountain areas, e.g. the Snowman Trek, are characterized by mild temperatures, verdant green meadows, and pastures of Blue Poppies and Edelweiss. Nomads tending their yaks in the high Alps are a common sight.

Autumn is the traditional high season in Bhutan. September and October have the highest number of tshechus (monastic festivals). Trekkers particularly enjoy the clear view of the mountains in October and the low rainfall. Rice harvest means a picturesque landscape remarkable terraces and changing color. Temperatures and vegetation in the altitudes between 200 and 300 meters are comparable to the moderate climate of middle Europe. The tree line lies just less than 4000 meters. During winter there is little precipitation. Snow falls rarely below 2500m.


CHECK LIST

Before coming to Bhutan, make sure that you attend to the following:

TRAVEL/MEDICAL INSURANCE

The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for our visitors. Hence it is important that you get detailed information about the insurance scheme from your travel agents here in Bhutan. You may also visit the web site at www.ricb.com.bt

MONEY

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) that is at par with the Indian rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travelers’ cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.

BANKING

Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that caters to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail services and facilities while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Many of these banks provide you with number of places where you can withdraw your money especially in Thimphu and in the border town of Phuentsholing. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior, ATM and internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu.

ELECTRICITY

All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydro power.

LANGUAGE

Bhutanese speak a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language and one of the most widely spoken languages. English is also a medium of communication and most Bhutanese speak English. Communicating in English especially with the people in the urban areas and the towns will enhance your knowledge on Bhutan.

TIME

Our standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.

PRESUATIONS

Avoid drinking un-boiled water or taking ice cubes at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated though they have their source in the mountains. One can come across treated and bottled water readily in any town and are affordable.

TOBACCO/SMOKING

We have a duty to protect Bhutan from Drugs and Tobacco Products. To do this we need your help and cooperation. If we stop you and ask you about your baggage please co-operate. **Please do not carry tobacco goods that are over the limits. For more information please see following link. Tobacco Control Act

ACCOMODATION

Over the years, many quality hotels have come up in Bhutan. Most hotels in Bhutan meet the recent standardization policy, most tourists accommodate in a 5 star or a 3 star hotel. The hotels are well maintained and have all basic amenities such as geysers and shower rooms and are properly maintained. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels and the ambience and the hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible. The 5 star hotels are mostly located in Thimphu, and in Paro, towns like Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang also have a variety of hotels that are comfortable. Away from town, you may find it tempting to camp outside in the forest or make a night halt at the purpose-built in cabins sprinkled along some main trekking routes.

FOOD

Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chili. It is advisable that visitors stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. Visitors can also choose among the various vegetarian and non-veg. food. You can also try out momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring; you may try out the ema datshi dish served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes.

Internet
Internet is easily accessible in most parts of Bhutan with cafes everywhere, especially in urban town areas.  The rates are very reasonable. International telephone and fax services are excellent and available in all the towns. Moreover Wi-Fi in Bhutan is new and most of the hotels have Wi-Fi but sometimes it gives problem in connection.

Climate
The central part of Bhutan enjoys 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.

Clothing.
Traveling 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 drastically. 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.

As for a dress code, you should be aware that Bhutanese are conservative in their dress and do get offended by the sight of tourists wearing skimpy or tight-fitting clothes. Shorts and vests are not advisable during visits to monasteries, dzongs and other religious institutions. Hats and sunglasses must be removed before entering the above-mentioned places.

What to carry?
Appropriate layers of cloths depending on the season and type of trip.
First-aid kit with prescribed medicine if any.
Casual Shoes.
Good quality sunglasses, spare glasses/contact lenses.
Hat/ umbrella.
Toiletries/sun screen/lip guard/insect repellent.
Camera with necessary accessories.
Maps & guide books.
Torch lights.