Here are some things that you should know before you fly into Bhutan:
1. Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are the only two commercial airlines that fly to and out of Bhutan. Seats on Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are not assigned while purchasing the air ticket. If you want get a good view of the Himalayas while flying to Bhutan, request for a window seat on the left side of the air craft while checking in your baggage; that is the time when they issue the boarding pass. Recently, both the airlines made it possible for you to assign yourself a seat you want through their airlines website www.drukair.com.bt and http://www.bhutanairlines.bt/. Refer your e-ticket for the booking reference. The booking reference is your e-ticket number. Note that online check can only be done within 24 hours from your time of flight.
2. Always carry a hard copy of the visa and e-ticket while entering the airport and report for baggage check in 2-3 hours ahead of flight time.
3. Be mindful when you visit Thangka (art) shops and studios. We have come across art shops that display an artist painting a half finished Thangka and sell works that has been mass produced in Nepal. A little touch up is done on the screen printed canvas to make it look like a real painting. Also, there are some shops that sell Tibetan crafts which are mass produced in Delhi. We recommend that you discuss with us if there is anything in particular you want to buy from Bhutan, especially the items that are expensive. We may be able to get you a better price.
4. Most of our guests were not able to take out money from the local ATM machines in Bhutan. We recommend that you inquire with your bank and see if your card will work in Bhutan. Many a times, foreign banks do not allow people to use ATM machines in Bhutan. If you let them know that you will be visiting Bhutan and request them to open access to your card in Bhutan, it works. But do bring some cash (US Dollar or Euro), just in case. You can easily get US Dollars and Euros exchanged at banks and some shops in Bhutan. Your guide will be more than happy to help you out with it.
5. Tourist have easy access to local SIM cards. You can get one right after you are done with the immigration counter at the Paro International Airport. You can also ask your guide to get you one while you in Paro or Thimphu. You will need to produce your passport to get access to a local SIM card.
6. All visitors are not allowed to fly drones in Bhutan. If you happen to be carrying one, you can deposit it at the customs office and pick it up while returning. In case you are a caught flying a drone in Bhutan, the government will seize the drone and all video footages and also penalize the guide and the tour operator.
7. Bhutan is the only country in the world that completely bans the sale and production of tobacco—and smoking is banned in public places. Tourists and the Bhutanese can bring in 200 cigarette sticks, but be mindful of where you smoke. Hotels will accommodate smokers, some local bars and restaurants have indoor smoking rooms, and many nightclubs informally allow it after dark.
8. Lately the stray population in towns has swelled. Packs of dogs bark all night, especially anywhere near Paro and Thimphu town centers. Bring earplugs. Also, don’t try to pet them.