Some frequently asked questions and answers related to traveling in Bhutan. We have tried to put together the most common questions. If you have remaining doubts you can write to us and we will get back to you at the earliest.
Some frequently asked questions on traveling to and in Bhutan:
Q. What’s the difference between booking a trip directly through Breathe Bhutan and travel agents abroad?
Breathe Bhutan is a local tour operator in Bhutan. You will save a good deal of money by booking your trip directly through us. The agents abroad are commission agents and you will have to pay commission on top of the rate charged by a local tour operator. When you book your trip through travel agents abroad, they ultimately need to deal with local operators in Bhutan because tourist visas can be only be arranged by a local operator.
Q. Can I travel single or must I join a group in Bhutan?
You can travel single in Bhutan. You will get an independent guide and driver throughout your tour. Unless it comes as a request to join a group, to cut down on travel cost, we don’t combine groups as we respect the privacy of each individual.
Q. When is the best time to travel in Bhutan?
Two seasons, March to May and September to November, are the best times to travel in Bhutan. The climate is good then and there are many festivals in these seasons. You can travel during the rest of the year too but June, July and August are slightly humid because of the onset of the monsoon while December, January and February are the cold winter months.
You can visit western Bhutan (Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang) anytime of the year. Avoid central and eastern Bhutan during the monsoon months of July and August when the weather is sometimes a little too wet and clouded for sightseeing.
Q. What does it cost to visit Bhutan?
On 20th June 2022, the Royal Government of Bhutan revised the Tourism Bill. The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF or Royalty) is now increased from US$ 65 to US$ 200 per night per person. This means a travelers will pay US$200 per night as SDF/royalty and pay additional for the actual travel cost; such as government approved hotels, vehicle, guide fee and meals.
The old Minimum Daily Tariff of USD 250 (season) and USD200 (lean season) per person per night is no longer valid.
Q. Would we need travel insurance?
All visitors are advised to get their insurance coverage from their own country.
Q. What currency should I carry?
Most currencies are exchanged by the banks in Bhutan. The most commonly accepted currencies are US dollars, Australian dollars, Singapore dollars, Euro, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, Canadian Dollars and Indian Rupees. Most handicraft shops accept US dollar, Australian Dollar, Euro and Pounds. You can even exchange these currencies in some local shops. They give you a better exchange rate than the banks.
Q. Can I use credit cards in Bhutan?
The major banks now have ATMs and you can withdraw local currency via Visa & MasterCard credit & debit cards & Cirrus/Maestro endorsed bank debit cards. Remember to inform you bank that you are traveling to Bhutan and you may use your credit cards in Bhutan. Some banks don’t let their cards be used in Bhutan, if not informed before hand.
Q. What kind of travel guides can I expect?
Licensed Bhutanese travel guides will introduce you to the many facets of Bhutan and its culture. The English-speaking guides undergo regular training and, where required, specialized guides will lead you on bird watching, meditation or other special tours.
Q. What is Bhutan’s electricity supply like? Can I use electrical appliances in the hotels?
Bhutan uses a 240 v system. Electrical supply is generally good but can be less stable in the smaller towns outside the capital, Thimphu. If you are using laptops and other sensitive equipment, be prepared for fluctuations and power surges. Many rural areas are still without electricity although some farms have solar electrification.
Q. What type of electrical plug is used in Bhutan?
Bhutan uses the round pin sockets as shown in the picture (Type C and Type D). You can also buy other types of power socket converters in many of the hardware shops in the capital, Thimphu.
Q. Can I access the internet in Bhutan?
Internet access is provided for free in almost all hotels; in the room and their lobby. Some hotels may charges for internet usage.
Q. How is Breathe Bhutan different from other travel agencies?
Breathe Bhutan not only features the popular attractions and programs but we go out of our way to make sure that you get a wholesome experience of Bhutan. Breathe Bhutan is constantly exploring new and out-of-the-box activities and experiences. We have already started exploring several unique activities which other travel agencies do not provide.
Also, Bhutan has over a thousand licensed Bhutanese tour operators; some handle more than 10,000 tourists a year and many don’t even get a single tourist. If it is not your cup of tea to be one of those 10,000 tourists who are treated like a retail commodities and are forgotten immediately after they depart, get in touch with Breathe Bhutan. We will treat your holiday with passion. You will be remembered, and we will make sure that you too remember us and your travel experience in Bhutan.
Q. What if there is a change of schedule for Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines flights? Or what if the flight is delayed?
For passengers heading to Bhutan, both the airlines will ensure that you get on the next available flight to Paro. For passengers who miss their flight due to late check-in, passengers can pay Druk Air an admin charge of US$50 to get on the next available flight.
For travellers returning from Bhutan, airline staff at Paro will assist you with all arrangements in case of a flight delay. They will also attempt to contact your connecting flight airline to inform them of a delay. Should you not be able to take your connecting flight on the same day, they will arrange for your accommodation in your transit port.
Any other fees and charges incurred will typically have to be borne by the travellers. You are advised to acquire your own travel insurance.
Q. Is tipping expected in Bhutan?
Tipping is not an ingrained culture. Hotel & waiting staff do not linger around expecting a tip. However, guides and drivers will expect a tip at the end of the tour.
Q. What’s the cancellation policy for travel to Bhutan?
For a trip booked and subsequently cancelled, the following apply.
More than 60 days before start of travel program, USD 150 flat rate/per person.
Between 60 – 10 days: 45% of the package cost retained as cancellation charges
Within 10 days – 100% of the package cost retained as cancellation charges
Q. For air tickets issued and subsequently cancelled, the following apply.
75% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 30 – last 10 days from the date of travel.
25% refund permitted for tickets cancelled prior to 04 (four) days from the date of travel.
For Drukair tickets issued and subsequently rescheduled, the following applies.
USD 40 rescheduling fee or equivalent local currency for every flight reschedule less than 72 hours prior to date of travel. No charges for business class passengers.
Q. Are cigarettes available in Bhutan?
Selling of cigarettes and tobacco is now legal in Bhutan. The ban on the sale of cigarettes in Bhutan has been lifted during the Covid19 Pandemic. The ban on cigarettes was encouraging smugglers and this activity was posing a threat in keeping Bhutan safe from Covid19 infections. Smoking is prohibited in public places.
Q. Can I buy antiques in Bhutan?
The export of antiques is prohibited by law. Tourists should buy only artefacts that have been certified for sale and for export. The government provides an official seal to certify that artefacts can be taken out of Bhutan.
Q. When should I pay for my tour?
It is best to pay for your tour at least four weeks before the date of arrival. This will give enough time for the Royal Government of Bhutan to clear your visa formalities (which is done only after the payment is received). For visits during the peak season in March, April, May, September, October, & November, it is advisable to make your payment 12 weeks in advance. This is to enable us to make a confirmed booking for you on the airline since seats are in high demand during these months.
Q. What is Bhutan’s currency and can I buy it before arriving in Bhutan?
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (NU) and is equivalent to the Indian rupee which is widely accepted in Bhutan. You will not be able to purchase ngultrums outside Bhutan, but you can easily buy ngultrums at the Paro airport, at Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan, and at major hotels in Thimphu and Paro, all of which accept traveler’s checks and/or dollars and various other currencies. It is advisable to carry ngultrums when visiting smaller towns as it may not be possible to exchange your currency there.
Q. How secure is my advance payment for my trip?
Your payment is secured as it goes directly to the visa issuing agency (Tourism Council of Bhutan), which is a government organization.
Q. What documents are required to apply for a visa?
All we need is a copy of your passport and we will apply for a visa using the online visa applying system created by the Government of Bhutan.
Q. How will I receive my air tickets?
Airlines do not issue paper tickets any more. Breathe Bhutan will purchase your ticket and email the e- ticket to you.