Information & Facts
Bhutan's climate is as varied as its landscape: in the southern
plains the climate is tropical, while the central valleys are cool.
The Himalayas have severe winters and mild summers. The monsoon
season is from June to August. In general the best time to visit is
spring (March to May), and autumn (late September to late November)
when there are many Buddhist festivals.
The international dialling code for Bhutan is +975. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the
United Kingdom). There is extensive mobile phone coverage, which is
more reliable and widespread than the landline network. Internet
access is available in all main towns and hotels.
Bhutan is a traditional Buddhist society. Dress conservatively
when visiting religious sites, avoid public displays of affection,
and never climb or sit on a statue. Do not take photographs within
temples unless permission has been granted to do so. Avoid pointing
at people or religious icons with your finger; this is considered
very rude. Smoking is banned in all public places including
restaurants and bars. Betel nut is chewed throughout the day by
young and old alike and has become an integral part of Bhutanese
society. The royal family is revered and deeply respected; avoid
any disparaging remarks or gestures. Mountains are considered to
the abode of the gods and hence any recreational activities therein
Travellers to Bhutan may bring with them up to 400
cigarettes/150g pipe tobacco/50 cigars, two litres of liquor, and
goods for personal use. Guns and ammunition, narcotics, antiques
and wildlife products are prohibited.
Electrical current is 230 volts (50Hz). European round
pin attachment plugs and three-pin rectangular plugs are in
Ensure you have adequate health insurance that includes the
facility for emergency repatriation. The most significant health
risks for travellers are water-borne parasites from unclean
drinking water and altitude sickness resulting from exposure to
high altitudes. Health care standards are relatively high. For
locals all health services are free, and both western and
traditional medicine is practiced side by side. In 2004 Bhutan
became the first country in the world to entirely ban the sale of
cigarettes. Hospitals and clinics are located throughout the
country, with excellent facilities available in the capital
Dzongkha is the official language, and various Tibetan
dialects are spoken. English has recently become the language of
instruction in schools but is only spoken fluently by guides and
tourist industry professionals.
The local currency is the Ngultrumbut subdivided into 100
Chetrums. The currency is pegged to the Indian rupee on scale of
1:1. The Ngultrumbut was only introduced in 1974 before which the
country had no currency, relying on a system of bartering to
acquire goods. US Dollars and Travellers Cheques can be exchanged
at banks and large hotels. Visa and Mastercard are not widely
Bhutan has an unusual but fairly simple process for admitting
visitors: Bhutanese embassies abroad cannot issues visas, instead
you must apply for your visa in advance through a registered tour
operator. The visa takes a minimum of two weeks to be approved at
which time your tour operator will confirm with you directly with a
faxed or emailed copy of the successful application. The actual
visa is then stamped into your passport on arrival. You will need
to pay a USD 20 fee and present two passport photographs.
Note that the Government of Bhutan refuses entry to people
wishing to visit the country for mountaineering, publicity and
other research activities. All visitors are required to book with a
registered tour operator in Bhutan, which can be done directly
through a travel agent abroad. All visitors must hold confirmed
return or onward tickets, all documents required for next
destination, and USD 250 per day of stay.
Bhutan is one of the safest destinations on the planet. There is
virtually no crime or violence.
Local time is GMT +6 hours.
Tipping is not expected in restaurants as your meal would have
been prepaid by your tour agency. On treks it is usual to tip the
cook, his assistant and any porters. Ask your guide for advice. If
you hire a driver tip him at the end of your trip. Bhutanese
tradition is that one typically refuses a tip the first time it is
offered but accepts it the second time.