Some travel tips shared with my guests…

A good journey means often a good preparation ! here i supply general infos for a good start. The “LONELY PLANET BHUTAN” is readable here for preparing your journey with 4BTRAVEL.COM
Bhutan is a scared land with deeply spiritual people. Buddhism and Hinduism are both practised although the majority of people are Buddhists.

There are more than 10,000 stupas or chortens and more than 2,000 monasteries in the kingdom, many built centuries ago in honour of the teachings of Buddhism.
Spiritual seekers will find numerous spiritual sites throughout Bhutan. Some are within easy reach or a few hours” walk, and others require a bit of a trek or climb but it is always satisfying to reach the tops of the numerous monasteries.
The Tsechus, local community festivals and the sacred architecture represented by the various stupas, are a constant reminder that in Bhutan, spirituality is still a way of life despite a fast changing world.

Bhutan is the last bastion of Vajrayana Buddhism, a spiritual practice that is known to be one of the most profound schools of teaching in the Buddhist world. The sacred monasteries that sit precariously on sheer cliffs, the fluttering prayer flags that line the high ridges, the red-robed monks who chant through the day and night, give this kingdom an aura that comes from another time.

The people of Bhutan have drawn a rich culture from this heritage and made it the essence of their unique identity. They have decided that man can only survive, and truly live, by being in touch with the past. The onslaught of globalization is balanced with the values that have kept human society together through the ages.

It is no surprise that the main goal in life for the Bhutanese people is happiness. Even the mandate of the modern Bhutanese state is Gross National Happiness. In translation, this means that economic development, a goal for much of humanity, is only a means to the real goal of happiness.

The kingdom of Bhutan, today, may be man’s last adventure destination. That is how the Bhutanese people would like to keep it !




Bhutan in brief

Essential Informations

Entry to Bhutan is largely controlled by the relatively small number of airline seats on Drukair and Bhutan airlines who operates the only air services into and out off the Kingdom. To ensure you obtain space on Drukair flights it is strongly recommended you make your travel arrangements for Bhutan at least 2-4 months in advance in the regular season and for peak periods, such as September to November & March to May, at least 6 months advance booking is required to avoid disappointment by flight tickets and good hotel in some parts of the country.

All tourist visitors must travel on a pre-planned, pre-paid, guided package tour. However, you do not have to travel as part of a group, and you can travel independently on a pre-planned itinerary with your private guide and driver and enjoy the flexibility to wander through Bhutan’s towns and countryside with a reasonable degree of freedom.

You must always travel with your guide & driver between towns and villages and stay in your pre-booked hotel or home/farm stay accommodation. The Bhutanese are extremely hospitable and your guide will be a valuable asset and add to the enjoyment of your stay immensely.

The Royal Government of Bhutan has a unique fixed tariff system for tourist visitors. This is based on a minimum set daily fee per person. Additionally all tourists pay a Visa fee, flight charge, extra charge for more than 3 star hotels and surcharges apply if travelling as a party of less than 3 persons and for those requiring single rooms.

A visa to enter Bhutan will be pre-arranged on your behalf by your local agent in Bhutan. All we need is a quality scanned copy of your passport photo page (preferably in color please and 1MB or less). When entering Bhutan through the land borders of Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar two passport sized photos are also required.

Please do not attempt to have your baggage checked all the way through to Bhutan from your start journey. Baggage can only be checked to Bhutan by Drukair immediately prior to your flight to Paro. On your journey out of Bhutan you can have Drukair staff in Paro to check your baggage all the way to your next destination provided you are connecting same day onto any major full service airline (NOT low cost carriers).

Altitude sickness is rare in Bhutan as most valleys are less than 2,500 meters and even the passes are generally only just over 3000 meters. However it is advisable to avoid any trekking or climbing until at least day 3 unless you are at least moderately fit and do not suffer from any lung related condition such as asthma. As a precaution we suggest that you carry Diamox which we are taken in advance as a precaution as the Bhutan trekking crews rarely carry such medication.

A fixed price system prevails in most shops and many Bhutanese find bartering offensive so please only barter in a relaxed friendly manner. The best places to consider bartering is at the weekend markets in Thimphu and the many handicraft shops in Thimphu and Paro main streets where it is deemed more acceptable.

The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat and poultry, dairy, grain (particularly rice and white rice) and vegetables. Emadatse (chili pepper and cheese stew) is considered the national dish with many interpretations to this recipe throughout the country. Vegetarians are well catered for with meals being served buffet style and with plenty of choice.

Salted butter tea (suja) is served on all social occasions. It is not for all palates!! Chang, a local beer, black mountain whiskey and arra, a spirit distilled from various grains, are also common and widely favored. The standard tourist class hotels generally offer a western style breakfast and Bhutanese style lunches and dinners adjusted to western tastes

The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum and is the same value as the Indian Rupee. Both can be used in Bhutan. It is recommended that foreign visitors take in Indian Rupees and/or US$ which are widely accepted.

We are delighted to advise the dog numbers are reducing and their general health is much improved due to a successful and ongoing programme for canine rehab run by the government. They are generally well behaved, however, can be noisy at night….especially in Thimphu. You might consider carrying ear plugs if you are generally sensitive to noise at night.

Approximate drink prices in US$ at standard tourist class hotels. Prices may differ in luxury hotels and local restaurants.

The following allowances are per person:

1 litre bottle of spirits or wine (no exceptions!!)
250mls of perfume
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250grams tobacco
(a duty will apply to bring cigarettes, and tobacco products into Bhutan of 200% and you must have the receipt of purchase.)
Currency – no restriction
Gifts/Souvenirs – no restriction
Please note the exportation of genuine antiquities, religious objects, and manuscripts is strictly forbidden.

The official word is dress should not be too formal. Plain, simple and inoffensive clothing but no singlet tops or short shirts, 3/4 pants are fine as long as not entering Dzongs or Lhakhangs (monasteries).

Depending on whom you talk to the exact dress code for Dzongs, Monasteries and Lhakhangs can differ. Use the details below to assist with your planning and we recommend you discuss each days visits with your guide to reconfirm appropriate attire.

Wear shirts with collars, long or short sleeved.
Full long pants or long skirts – ankles must be covered!
Shoes of any type with socks covering ankles – comfortable shoes easy to remove.
No hats, umbrellas, slippers, T-shirts, knee length / short skirts or 3/4 pants please
It is safer to dress up ‘Smart Casual’
Special Note: Photographs are only allowed to be taken in the courtyard of most monasteries. Please consult your guide for advice as the rules do change frequently.

Bhutan operates on 230 volts, 50 cycles AC system, which is generally reliable although short duration power outages are not uncommon. The standard socket is the Indian style round pin socket, however these come in a variety of sizes and there’s no assurance the plug you have on your appliance, or converter, will fit the socket in your hotel. Most European round -pin plugs work, albeit loosely in the socket.

The Bhutanese frown on frivolous gifts for local people and children as they are believed to encourage begging which the Bhutanese Government is determined to avoid at all cost. Of real use are oral hygiene kits, clothing and shoes. Colored pencils and pens are always welcomed, however best to give them to teachers or adults to distribute rather than to the children themselves. When departing Bhutan if you wish to donate some of your clothing, shoes, sleeping bag etc, please inform your guide and he will deliver such to the Tarayana Foundation and your gifts will be distributed to the most in need on their next charity ride.

On our standard tourist packages when travelling in western / central Bhutan your hotel will be a traditional Bhutanese style property generally of 3 star standards, featuring restaurants with western styled Bhutanese fare. The hotels are generally consistent in standard and facilities with modest rooms featuring private bathrooms. Farm stay accommodations offers shared western style bathroom/shower and toilet facilities.

Some of the Dzongs and Lhakangs are not open for visits by tourists. This is to ensure monastic life can continue unhindered and also for environmental reasons. The Bhutanese appreciate your understanding. Be very careful when purchasing antiquities as souvenirs. Many are not permitted to be removed from Bhutan and will be confiscated without a letter of certification.

Whilst improving rapidly Bhutan still has a limited tourism infra-structure, and there are occasionally challenges in providing accommodation to all visitors offered visas at one time. Suitable accommodation is very limited in some remote valleys and late reservations will often require flexibility and possible re-routing to provide the best possible accommodation options.

It is forbidden to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products in Bhutan. It is however not forbidden to smoke in appropriate areas and you may carry a small supply for personal use. Please note a 200% duty applies to all imported tobacco products and you must show a valid receipt of purchase to avoid confiscation. WARNING: There is a mandatory prison sentence for any person selling or providing tobacco products inside Bhutan.

Here are a few basic phrases to help you along the way. Your guide, along with younger Bhutanese will speak very good English.

Respected Greetings (use this when meeting new people) – Kuzuzangpo La
May all good things come to you (use this as a farewell) – Tashi Delek
Kardenche – La Thank you
Monastery – Goempa
Temple – Lhakhang
Toilet – Chapsa
Water – Chuu
Whiskey – Arra
Beer – Bang Chhang
Yes – Inn
No – Men

You can trek most of the year (except mid June to mid Sept when it is too wet) and trekking itineraries range from 2 day to 30 day treks with varying degrees of difficulty. Guides, horses, horsemen and a cook/s support trekking groups. Campsites are set up in advance and the trekkers enjoy the magnificent scenery and culture with only a daypack to carry.

Binoculars, camera, sunscreen, insect repellent (in summer), sunglasses, lip balm, a good pair of walking boots and warm clothing are essential when trekking.

PLEASE NOTE: Many treks take you to higher altitudes where the air is thin. The potential for altitude sickness should be taken into account when planning your itinerary and we recommend you consider carrying a supply of Diamox as a precaution. Please note oxygen cylinders are not available for trekkers in Bhutan. You must provide your own sleeping bag on all treks of more than 1-2 nights.

Many sections of Bhutan’s main road traversing the country are undergoing widening or repair. Road closures of up to 3-4 hours are not uncommon. As a result your Driver & Guide will suggest best times for road travel to suit the conditions on the day. In our experience this has little impact on your day to day schedule.

Despite Bhutan having an enormous percentage of its land area designated as national Parks and Wildlife Refuges there are virtually no facilities especially developed at allow for successful wildlife viewing. The National Parks and have few if any roads and until considerable investment in eco-tourism is made wildlife viewing will be a matter of good luck rather than good management.

Occasionally you will see monkeys, languor’s, yaks and birds whilst driving through the Kingdom. When hiking, and especially trekking, you may sight deer & mountain goats and it’s rare but not impossible that you may even sight a leopard, bear or Bengal tiger. However please do NOT factor a guarantee of any wildlife spotting into your Bhutan experience.

Bhutan’s national animal is the Takin, a crazy looking antelope that resembles a cross between a wildebeest and an ox. Takin, and a few other local deer species can be viewed at the Takin zoo in Thimphu.

© Copyright 2016 by 4 Brothers Travel
Designed by : Darpuntha & Cyril Lifart