BHUTAN

CAPITAL CITY

Thimphu is the capital city of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

SIZE

38.394 km² inland.

GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION

Bhutan is a small landlocked country in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, between India and China.

POPULATION

The official number of inhabitants is around 700.000.

RELIGION

Almost 70% of the populations are Mahayana Buddhists, around 24 % are Hindus and the rest are Muslims and other religions.

POLITICS

Since 2008, Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy (although no official written text). It has obtained its independence from India in 1971.

LANGUAGE

Due to the geographical layout of the country, with mountainous landscapes, Bhutan has developed more than 20 dialects. The national language is Dzongkha, the native language of western Bhutan Ngalops. The Tshangla, closely related to Dzongkha is widely spoken in the eastern part and Nepali is spoken in the southwest.

CURRENCY

The official currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum, officially equivalent to Indian Rupee, which also circulates throughout Bhutan except Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. 

At the time of writing (December 2015), the exchange rate is $ 1 USD = 67 BTN and 1 EURO = 71 BTN (but please be aware that the daily exchange rate varies significantly).

Credit Cards have limited acceptability and payment by credit card is accepted mainly at deluxe hotels and a few selected handicrafts stores. There are ATMs in Bhutan but it usually operates only with their respective Bhutanese banks. Since these ATMs do not function with outside banks, ATM facilities cannot be used by visitors. Traveler's checks and cash are the best options if you need additional money.

CLIMATE

Geographically, Bhutan is a land of dramatic contrast - from the tropical southern border with India to the steep slopes snowy peaks of over 7,500m on the northern border with Tibet.  From mid-May to the end of September, the weather is warm and in winter, the sky is bright and sunny, but cold. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with light rains mainly in the afternoons and evenings. The best time to visit Bhutan is from March to May and from September to November.

Temp

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

max

12°

14°

16°

20°

22°

24°

19°

25°

23°

22°

18°

14°

min

-3°

13°

15°

13°

16°

15°

10°

-1°

Thimphu

Rain

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

mm

10

40

20

60

120

250

370

340

150

40

10

5

Temp

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

max

16°

20°

21°

24°

27°

31°

32°

31°

30°

28°

22°

15°

min

12°

15°

19°

22°

20°

20°

19°

13°

Punakha

LOCAL TIME

Bhutan is 6 hours behind the Greenwich Meridian Time.

ELECTRICITY

The electrical current is 220/240V with two-pin and three-pin round socket.  You should bring a travel adapter, since they are not easily available in the stores.

VISA AND PASSPORT

All travelers except Indian nationals require visa to travel to Bhutan.  Asia Holidays will apply in advance and obtain your visa approval before you travel to Bhutan and your visa will be issued only when you arrive in the country. Remember that the validity of the passport must be at least 6 months from the departure date from Bhutan.

WATER

Avoid drinking unboiled water or taking ice cubes at all times, most of the water sources in Bhutan are untreated though they are originating from the mountains. You can buy bottled water easily in any city and it is affordable.

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

All major towns and cities have basic communication facilities, including telephone, fax, and e-mail services. Local and international calls can be made from all hotels and public phone booths for a fee. Internet facilities are continuously increasing in numbers in major cities and towns. Although many of the Internet cafes can be very slow, high speed wireless and broadband internet access is available in certain areas.

HEALTH

No specific vaccination is required, but advisable against dengue, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, rabies and tetanus-diphtheria. Keep in mind also that the local medical services are limited. You can receive basic assistance in emergencies, but for major cases it is advisable to leave the country.

TRANSPORTATION

Druk Air, the National Airline of Bhutan, operates regular flights to / from Paro to Delhi (India), Kolkatta (India), Gaya (India), Mumbai (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Singapore. Paro Airport is the only airport in Bhutan, located 2.235m above sea level in a valley, 6 km away from the town of Paro and 50km from Thimphu.

By land you can enter Bhutan from any of the three entry points: Samdrup Jongkhar (southeast Bhutan), Gelephu (south Bhutan), and Phuntsholing (southwest Bhutan).

There is only one main road - the National Highway, a 3.5m-wide paved stretch that winds its way up and down through the mountains, across the bridges, along the cliffs sides and over high mountain passes.  Rivers, mudflows and rockslides are ongoing risks, especially when it rains. The road can be blocked due to snow or landslides and can take anywhere from an hour to several days to clear.

DRIVING

It is not recommended to drive by yourself in Bhutan, but if for some reason you are arranging your own transport, it is much better to rent a car with driver or a taxi. Driving in Bhutan is a stressful experience. Roads are narrow and trucks roar along hairpin turns, appearing suddenly and forcing oncoming vehicles to the side. Because most roads are only about 3.5m wide, passing any oncoming vehicle involves one, or both to move onto the verge.

FOOD

Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy.  Its base is chili, used as a vegetable rather than a spice. The "Ema Datshi" could be considered the national dish, and it is made with chilies and cheese, served with red rice from Bhutan. You also could try the "Momos", the Tibetan dumplings, curry pork, beef or lentils.

SHOPPING

Visitors can shop for items like hand-woven fabrics in raw silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets made of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, paper products or finely crafted silver objects. There are also the highly prized Thangkha paintings and the exquisite postage stamps.

Please remember that the buying and/or selling of antiques are strictly prohibited in Bhutan.

TIPS

Tipping is not mandatory and left entirely to the discretion of the person. However, it is normal to tip in restaurants or taxis.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Bhutan is a haven for photographers as it is an ideal place where they can capture amazing pictures of landscapes, panoramic mountain views, traditional rural life, flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture - the dzongs and Chortens in particular.

The Bhutanese are usually quite happy to be photographed. However, there are some restrictions in taking pictures in the dzongs, monasteries and temples.

BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE

Bhutan experiences a great variation in its climate; thus you need to bring some warm and waterproof clothing and comfortable shoes to suit the climate, the terrain and the program. We recommend to bring a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea and altitude pills, insect repellent, umbrella, etc.

Visitors are requested to dress modestly and respectfully, especially if they will visit the monasteries, dzongs and other religious institutions.

For safety reasons, we advise travelers not to leave valuables in vehicles during their journey.

 

ASIA HOLIDAYS WISHES YOU A PLEASANT TRIP