Take a trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan and you can expect wild, unspoiled beauty, a fascinating blend of old meets new and an approach to tourism like no other – here, sustainability and a ‘high value, low volume’ tourist industry means you won’t get lost in the crowd. Instead, you’ll be part of an exclusive club lucky enough to experience the absolute immersion into a truly peaceful culture. Here are some things to note before your stay.
As part of Bhutan’s commitment to low-impact tourism and the protection of their land, visitors to the Kingdom are charged a $250 USD daily fee, which includes accommodation, food, transport in Bhutan, a guide and entry fees – not a bad deal for the chance to visit such a magical, enigmatic country. All visitors are required to join guided tours, so independent travel is not on the cards here, but you can still arrange your itinerary to include everything your heart desires.
Weather in Bhutan
Bhutan’s terrain is mountainous and its climate is changeable, whatever time of year you visit, so prepare for all weathers when packing. Flights are often cancelled or delayed due to high winds, so it’s advisable to keep a 24 hour buffer zone on either side for connecting flights.
Accommodation in Bhutan ranges from charming, no-frills home stays where you can experience an authentic side to Bhutanese life, to beautiful super luxury spa hotels with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from an upmarket resort. All hotels have been approved by the Bhutan Tourism Council and many are included as part of the $250 USD Minimum Daily Package you pay to travel in the country.
The Bhutanese are famous for their ancient traditions and cultural aesthetics and their national dress is a fine example – men wear a gho, a knee-length robe that’s wrapped and secured with a belt. Women are adorned with a kira, a long draped dress worn with a light outer jacket.
Bhutan's currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) and Indian rupees are also widely accepted and used. US dollars can also be used for purchases. Cards are accepted at large shops and hotels but you’ll often have to pay a 5% surcharge. Most costs are covered by the Minimum Daily Package fee, so you need very little cash while on the ground in Bhutan – a small amount will suffice for drinks and souvenirs. Tipping has entered the Kingdom of Bhutan and while it’s by no means mandatory, it’s considered polite to reward good service with a small tip. Drivers, restaurant servers and porters will gratefully accept a small amount of Ngultrum or one or two US dollars for a job well done.
Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and a source of great passion for its people. Many competitions are held throughout the country, often on Sundays and during religious festivals and they are extraordinary performances. Ask your tour guide to take you to an archery field if you fancy giving it a go as the Bhutanese love to get visitors involved.
A harmonious, paradise-like destination, Bhutan is steeped in magic and wonder – it’s a place where happiness is prized well above wealth and where the people are generous, open-hearted and always smiling. Visit Bhutan and you’ll be smitten for life.