DO’S AND DON’TS IN BHUTAN
Bhutan is a country which is often revered as one of the peace-loving nations that has endured its cultural roots even in this 21st century. A visit to this tranquil and scenic piece of land will get you acquainted with the peace, harmony, brotherhood, and warmth that prevails here.
While planning a visit to this gorgeous and happy country, visitors should always keep certain things in mind. During the tour, visitors should not indulge in things or activities that could disturb the local settings or their cultural values at any cost. Here is a list of certain dos and don’ts that visitors should strictly follow while visiting the Land of Thunder Dragons:
Planning a Bhutan Tour
1. If you are an Indian, or from Bangladesh and Maldives, you don’t have to arrange for a pre-booked tour.
2. Acquiring a valid Bhutanese Visa is mandatory for all foreign nationals except Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizens.
3. Carry all the required documents to acquire a valid Bhutanese Visa.
4. Do not forget to fill the ‘Identification Form’ while entering Bhutan.
5. If flying to Paro International Airport, do ensure that you fill the declaration form.
6. Foreign nationals who require a valid Bhutanese Visa, must pre-book a Bhutan tour only through approved Bhutanese tour organiser or any of their local tour operators who has a tie-up with Bhutanese tour operators.
7. All the fees should be paid and formalities fulfilled in order to apply for a Bhutanese Visa through tour operators.
8. Daily tour charges vary according to peak and non-peak seasons; please check the tourism season before booking.
9. Try to reach out to the Bhutanese Immigration Centres early morning to avoid long queues.
10. Bhutanese officials are extremely dedicated and humble; do not try to be rude, impolite, or use any unethical ways to get things done; this may invite legal issues and hassles.
11. Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizens can visit Phuentsholing without acquiring any permit; however, if entering Bhutan through Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar, nationals of these countries would require an ‘Entry Permit’ to reach Phuentsholing.
12. In case, an Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldivian citizen wishes to visit Paro and Thimphu, they must acquire an ‘Inner Line Permit (ILP)’.
13. For nationals of other countries, they must acquire a ‘Letter of Invitation (LOI)’ either through their tour operator or directly at Paro International Airport.
Packing for Bhutan Trip
1. Climate in Bhutan varies according to the elevation; make sure you pack accordingly.
2. Pack warm clothes mostly to keep you warm during the nights and lighter clothing to wear during daytime.
3. While in the outdoors, you should always wear sturdy and reliable pair of shoes; carrying slippers would also help you while in your hotel room.
4. Carrying an umbrella, ponchos, or raincoats could be beneficial if travelling to Bhutan during rainy season.
5. Carry water bottles to keep yourself hydrated.
6. Carry basic medications for altitude sickness, headache, fever, and other common ailments.
7. If travelling with young members, please ensure to accompany them round the clock.
8. Please keep your tour guides well-informed about your physical ailments if any.
While Travelling Across Bhutan
1. Bhutanese locals are very gentle, polite, tourist-friendly; please be respectful towards them and refrain from using any derogatory remarks on them.
2. Even if you want to take photographs of the locals, you should always consider asking their permission.
3. If you require to book Bhutan tour through tour operators, make sure you are always accompanied by your Bhutanese tour guide while travelling across the country.
4. Consult with your tour guide before entering into specific regions, taking photographs, shooting videos, or any other tourist activities.
5. Bhutan and its locals are extremely conscious about cleanliness; avoid littering around and carry back your left-overs to dump them only in the specified locations.
6. Refrain from using plastic bags, bottles, metal cans, use-and-throw cookeries, or any other material that encourages pollution in any form.
7. Selling and consumption of tobacco is strictly prohibited in Bhutan; however, tourists are allowed to carry tobacco products, but should consume them only in designated places. Please ensure not to consume tobacco in public places, assembly points, around religious sites, official buildings, and other restricted spots or locations.
8. Tuesdays are declared as ‘Dry Day’ in Bhutan; avoid buying or consuming alcohol on Tuesdays.
Please dress properly; avoid wearing short dresses or any inappropriate dressing, while visiting religious sites like monasteries, temples, etc.
10. Do not forget to remove your footwears before entering the religious sites if required.
11. Abide by all the local rules, guidelines, and instructions to avoid any unwanted problems in Bhutan.
12. Avoid honking around public places as Bhutan has strict no-honking policies at certain places.
13. Do not disturb the natural surroundings; avoid feeding the animals while visiting the national parks.
14. Seek permission from the local authorities to take photographs or before shooting a video film.
Avoid using earphone while driving, strolling around, or refrain from playing loud music in public places, wildlife sanctuaries, or around religious sites.
Good to Know Points
1. One can also use Indian currency in Bhutan.
2. Indian denominations of 500 and 2,000 are not considered legal tenders in Bhutan.
3. Do not forget to zero down the Bhutanese currency at the end of your Bhutan tour.
4. ATMs can easily be found in the cities; however, it could be tough to find the same across small towns and villages.
Do not forget to activate International Transactions on your debit and credit card before entering Bhutan.
6. Visitors can buy local SIM cards by producing required ID proofs or supporting documents offered by Tashi Cell and B-Mobile.
7. SIM card providers in Bhutan does not offer ‘micro’ or ‘nano’ SIM cards; please check your handset before entering the Land of Thunder Dragons.