Facts for the Visitors

Language
Dzongkha, the Language of Dzong belongs to the Tibetan Linguistic family originally spoken in western Bhutan. It is now the National Language. English is widely spoken in the main towns and it is the principle medium of instruction in schools throughout the kingdom.

Time Zone
Bhutan being tiny country has only one time zone. Bhutan Standard time is 6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), one hour behind Bangkok time, 30 minutes ahead of the Indian time and 11 hours ahead of the standard New York time. Bhutan’s time matches with Bangladesh time.

Currency
Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum. Ngultrum (Nu in short) is as par with the Indian currency, Rupees. Ngultrum is accepted only in some bordering Indian towns, whereas Rupee is accepted throughout Bhutan. One US $ is roughly equal to Nu. 60. More information on up-to-date currency exchange visit www.bnb.com.bt.

Most travelers’ cheques are accepted but shops generally charge a levy on credit cards. Payments sometimes can be made with American express, VISA and the JCB cards although the hotels and shops that accept are usually confined to Thimphu and Paro.

Cash is always more convenient, particularly in the districts outside Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing towns.

Postal & Communication Services
The Bhutanese postal system is reliable, you can send mails from hotels and post offices and no special procedures are necessary. If you mail cards or letters from the Thimphu post office, you can buy exotic Bhutan postage stamps from the philatelic bureau and use them on your letters and postcards. Bhutan Post offers outgoing EMS [expedited mail service], which is a reliable and fast international mail delivery facility that is cheaper than courier services. It also has a LUM [local urgent mail] service for delivery within Bhutan. DHL is the only international courier to operate from Bhutan. Most of the kingdom’s major towns have both domestic and international direct dial facilities. Nearly all hotels and some PCOs have facilities to send and receive faxes. Bhutan has has WiFi Internet services and mobile facilities almost everywhere.

Customs
Exports of antiques, plants or animal products are strictly prohibited. Visitors are required to fill up the Custom Form on their arrival. Cameras, video cameras, computers and other electronic equipment for personal use must be declared on the Custom forms. Some articles, which are exempted from duty are 2 liters of wine/any other alcohol.

The custom authorities will not allow you to take any old items if they have not been certified as non-antique. Therefore all tourists should be cautious in purchasing any old items.

Tobacco
On 17th December 2004, Bhutan became the world’s first nation to introduce a complete ban on tobacco sales, following a resolution taken by the National Assembly. Smoking is also now restricted to private areas. However, tourists are allowed to bring 1carton cigarettes subject to payment of 100% customs duty and 100% sales tax.

Season or When to Visit Bhutan?
Travel to Bhutan is in fact a year round activity. Yet, trekking to high altitude is advised to be done in Spring and Autumn seasons. Bhutan has four seasons. Every season has its own beauty and adventures one. The best season that we can recommend you are the spring season – March, April and May. Other suitable season is autumn in months of September, October and November where most of the festivals (Tshechus) take place. For sightseeing purpose of the great Himalayan mountains ranges, autumn season is recommended as during that time the skies are very clear and you can catch the rare glimpse of the great Himalayan mountain ranges.

During the summer season (months of June, July & August), the monsoons would be already in and it is likely that one may encounter rain. However, this will not impact on cultural tours and short treks for 2-3 night. Winter Season (December, January and February) are cold in most places except the southern foothills. Some of the upper trek routes may remain closed due to heavy snow fall.

Accommodation
There are comfortable hotel and lodges that are certified by Department of Tourism, at all tourist destinations. Western Bhutan has better hotels while in central and eastern parts of the country, accommodation establishments are simple and offer minimum facilities. Luxury accommodations are now available in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang. Generally we provide 3-4 Star Hotels accomodation for our guests.

Fooding
Bhutanese delicacies are rich with spicy chilies and cheese. All hotels and guest houses on Bhutan Travel Adventures’ selected list of accommodations offers delicious Chinese, Continental, Bhutanese and Indian cuisines. We provide suitable dishes to western taste in the above range and every effort will be made to accommodate the individual dietary preferences of your own to trekking groups.

Insurance
To protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps, we advise you to have Travel Insurance policy from your country. It should adequately cover helicopter evacuation and medical assistance. Bhutan Travel Adventures will not be liable for any kind of injury, illness or death during the tour/trek in Bhutan.

Guides
All guides are licensed by the Tourism Authority of Bhutan. All guides speak good English. French, Japanese or German speaking guides can also be arranged. We always provide selective and knowledgeable guides to ccompany our tour groups.

Communications
The estate has recently installed a full range of telecommunications and computing facilities for use by its guests. Internet Service in Bhutan was introduced recently in 1999 and making international phone calls from most towns are available while touring Bhutan. And Bhutan is also connected with the GSM mobile services. Now it is available in every tourist lodge/hotel as well as in town cyber cafes at cheaper rates.

Driving Distance

From

To

Distance (km)

Driving Time (approx)

Thimphu

Paro

55

1.30 Hrs

Thimphu

Phuntsholing

168

5 Hrs

Phuntsholing

Bagdogra (India)

170

4 Hrs

Thimphu

Wangdue Phodrag

70

2.5 Hrs

Thimphu

Punakha

72

3 Hrs

Punakha

Wangdue Phodrag

15

30 Minutes

Wandgdue Phodrang

Trongsa

129

4.30 Hrs

Trongsa

Bumthang

68

2.30 Hrs

Bumthang

Mongar

198

7 Hrs

Mongar

Lhuentse

75

3 Hrs

Mongar

Tashigang

90

4 Hrs

Tashigang

Chorten Kora

52

2 Hrs

Tashigang

Samdrup Jongkhar

180

7 Hrs

Samdrup Jongkhar

Guwahati (India)

110

3 Hrs

Samdrup Jongkhar

Phuntsholing

380

9.30 Hrs

Mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle only. There are no domestic airlines or trains.The main highway runs from west to east connecting all major towns. The distance between the places are given above.

Climate
The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general, the east of Bhutan is warmer than the west of the country. The central valley of Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhuntse enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Trongsa and Bumthang have a much harsher climate, with heavy monsoon rains in the summer and heavy snow fall in winter. Winter in Bhutan starts from mid-November till mid-March, and at this time of the year the climate is dry with day time temperature of 16-18° C and night time temperature falling below zero. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with the rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. Autumn starts from the end of September, after the last of the big rains, and it is a magnificent season for trekking-lasting till mid-November.

Annual Average Temperatures of different places are as follows:

Place

Jan/Feb

Mar/Apr

May/June

July/Aug

Sep/Oct

Nov/Dec

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Max

Min

Paro

+13

+3

+15

+3

+23

+13

+25

+15

+22

+10

+12

+3

Thimphu

+14

0

+16

+6

+22

+14

+27

+17

+20

+13

+16

+1

Punakha

+18

+7

+24

+9

+22

+10

+26

+13

+25

+11

+22

+9

Wangdi

+17

+7

+24

+11

+28

+18

+29

+20

+26

+17

+22

+7

Trongsa

+12

+1

+16

+2

+20

+14

+18

+14

+17

+13

+16

+9

Bumthang

+10

+1

+16

+5

+18

+10

+21

+13

+19

+11

+15

+2

Mongar

+23

+10

+27

+11

+30

+20

+35

+22

+30

+18

+25

+8

Trashigang

+16

+4

+19

+7

+20

+13

+22

+14

+20

+11

+16

+9

The temperature listed above are all in degree centigrade

Medical & Health Cares
Anyone who enjoys out door life and is physically fit can participate on our treks and tours. How ever some treks maybe rigorous and difficult because of high altitude and therefore a good training of fitness for at least a month at home is required for treks going to an altitude in excess of 4000 mtrs, there are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Bhutan or within the continent. However, its recommended that you will be protected against Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A, Malaria, especially if you are traveling out of Bhutan. If you have heart condition, please check with the doctor to ensure that you are fit to undertake high altitude treks.

Clothing
The wide range of temperature does not make dressing easy. From May to Sep. cotton clothes are sufficient, plus a woolen sweater or light jacket. From November to the end of April, on the other hand, you will need very warm clothes including long underwear or woolen tights to wear under trousers, and down jacket or coat etc. It”s best to dress up in layers particularly during the spring and fall seasons. The necessary things you should pack for the trip are sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses. A pair of casual shoes, washing kit, shaving kit, towel, hat umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian drugs so it is always better to bring own brand.