The following Bhutan travel tips should be considered a guide when traveling to Bhutan. While not an exhaustive compilation, this practical counsel offers valuable insights to assist you in your travel preparations.
Travel/Medical Insurance: We strongly advise travelers to get comprehensive travel & medical insurance before traveling to Bhutan. If you are coming on a trek, your medical/travel insurance must include provision for evacuation by helicopter and repatriation – in case of a medical emergency.
Money: Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) and is at par with the Indian rupee which is widely accepted in the country. Expect to use cash at most locations. It is difficult to find an ATM machine that works consistently. We suggest you bring cash which can be exchanged at the Paro International Airport when you arrive. In addition, credit cards are accepted at most hotels and handicraft stores.
Banking: Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have several banks that cater to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail of while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB, and the Tashi Bank. Traveler’s cheques can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency. Many of these banks provide Internet banking facilities. Cash can also be easily exchanged at local banks if ATMs are not working.
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. We recommend that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics. However, most hotels now offer multi-plug sockets. Bhutan is a carbon-neutral destination. Our energy is clean and green and generated by hydropower.
Photography: Bhutan offers many opportunities for photographers, especially during outdoor and cultural sightseeing trips. However, always check with your guide before taking pictures or filming inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries, and other religious institutions as photographing/filming is not permitted in most of these sacred places. You are free to capture images of the landscape, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture, and the exterior of Dzongs and Chortens.
Shopping: Some popular handicraft items available for purchase are hand-woven textiles of raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products, or finely crafted gods of silver. Other items you may be interested in are the exquisite Buddhist thangka paintings or Bhutan’s wide array of colorful and creative postage stamps. You can come across these items in the many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns. Please remember that buying and selling antiques are strictly forbidden in Bhutan.
Gratitudes: Tipping is a purely personal matter. We leave it up to you as to whether you want to give a gratuity to your guides and drivers. However, if doing so, we recommend that you place the gratuity in an envelope.
Communications: The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Most hotels and cafes offer Wi-Fi internet access. Bhutan has a comprehensive mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming also assessable.
Cloths & Other Paraphernalia: Layer, layer, layer. With great altitudinal variations, the weather is quite mixed in Bhutan. So be prepared to face unforeseen weather conditions. You will use that T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt and heavy coat (sometimes on the same day). Please remember to dress modestly and respectfully when visiting monasteries, Dzongs, and other religious institutions. As a show of respect, please wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when visiting such places. As a mark of respect, please remove hats, caps, etc. when you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions, and any other place where the national flag is raised.
Measures, Weight & Times: Bhutan ascribes to the metric system and most weights are measured in grams (g) and kilogram (kg). The standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT.
Health Inoculations: Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and the appropriate medication you should have prior to your travels. As a minimum, you should have tetanus, typhoid, and hepatitis A inoculations.
Precautions: Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world however you should still exercise caution when visiting. Please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, cameras, wallets, and purses are properly secured. Please refrain from leaving such items within sight or in locked vehicles while sightseeing.
Avoid drinking tap water that has not been boiled or ice cubes in drinks at all times as most water sources in Bhutan are untreated. One can easily acquire affordable treated and bottled water.
Also, Bhutan has a duty to protect its citizens from drugs and tobacco products. To do this we need your help and cooperation. Please co-operate if stopped and asked about your baggage. Please do not carry tobacco goods in excess of the set limit.
Public holidays: Public holidays are observed throughout the nation. However, each Dzongkhag has its own list of regional holidays that are observed especially during the annual Tshechus (Religious festivals). For such a list, please contact your travel specialist.