Things to know for Trekking in Bhutan | Bhutan Trekking Tour

Bhutan Trekking Tour: Trekking in Bhutan is almost an entirely different proposition when it comes to a high mountainous Himalayan country like Bhutan is. High elevations starting at an average of 2000 m does have a different platter on offer. Thin atmosphere when one goes up and up, the chill of cold snowy winds, acclimatization becomes a key factor that cannot be ignored at all times. So getting a hang of the high altitude for a day or two at Paro or Thimphu is advisable. One of the key basic factors in trekking, yet it gets missed by all and sundry which results in not completing a full trek or having to put your hands up and call it quits midway. So please remember not to forget the altitude factor, or simply think about how a magnificent soccer team like Brazil lost out 0-7 in the highlands of La Paz in Bolivia. That’s the fine line a spirited trekker needs to remember all the time.

Bhutan-Trekking-Tour

Expectations of the Trekking Tour in Bhutan, Bhutan Trekking tour:

The first timers and greenhorns may have myriad expectations about Trekking in Bhutan as to how it’s actually going to be, especially in a high country in the Himalayas. The treks in Bhutan are always uphill or conversely downhill, never straight. Plus there are the factors of cold atmosphere and temperatures and ever changing environs around you. But the picturesque and pristine surroundings you will encounter on the course of the trek are priceless and will make you experience the treks in a more sort of blended exuberance. And the thrill factor along with a sense of ultimate satisfaction is always there a-waiting.

Preparation for a Bhutan Trekking tour:

The preparation for Trekking in Bhutan, of course apart from the physical ambits and other aspects of management, more sort of has to be in the “mind”. That’s where the game is actually won or lost. You will be mentally and physically challenged relentlessly on a daily basis, that’s assured. And preparing to challenge it and win hands down becomes a situation which the spirited trekker has to negotiate.  So prepare well and the game certainly gets on.

Things-to-know-for-Trekking-in-Bhutan

So some of the basic things to remember prior to a Bhutan Trekking Tour / trekking in Bhutan are Acclimatization and High Altitude Sickness, which are related factors, followed by your Physical endurance factor and Mental Preparedness.

  1. BUMDRA TREK – 2 Days

View our 2 days trekking tour in Bhutan in Google Map

Trek Duration: 2 days

Total Duration: 7 nights / 8 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderate.

Best Months to do this Trek: January – May, September – December.

 

  1. BUMTHANG CULTURAL TREK – 3 Days

View our 3 days Bhutan hiking tour in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 3 days

Total Duration: 13 nights / 14 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

 

  1. CHELELA NATURE TREK – 3 Days

View our 3 days Bhutan trekking tour in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 3 days.

Total Duration: 6 nights / 7 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderately Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December

 

  1. GASA HOTSPRING TREK / TSALUNA TREK – 4 Days

View our 4 days Trekking in Bhutan program Google Map.

Trek Duration: 4 days.

Total Duration: 9 nights/ 10 days

Accommodation: Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking.

Difficulty Level: moderate.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd week of December.

 

  1. SAMTENGANG WINTER TREK – 4 Days

View our 4 days winter trek in Bhutan trekking tour  in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 4 days

Total Duration: 8 nights/ 9 days

Standard: Easy

Best Seasons: April and September to October.

 

  1. DRUK PATH TREK – 5 Days

View our 5 days Bhutan trekking tour in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 5 days.

Total Duration: 9 nights / 10 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderately Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – June, September – 2nd Week of December.

 

  1. GANGTEY RUBISA TREK – 5 Days

View our 5 days Bhutan hiking tour in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 4 night / 5 days.

Total Duration: 10 nights / 11 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderate Trek.

Best Months to do this Trek: January – May, September – December.

 

  1. DAGALA THOUSANG LAKES TREK – 5 1/2 Days 

View our 6 days Trekking in Bhutan program  in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 5 ½ days.

Total Duration: 11 nights / 12days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderately Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

 

  1. PUNAKHA WINTER TREK – 6 Days 

View our 6 days Trekking Tour in Bhutan program in Google Map.

Trek duration: 6 days.

Total Duration: 11 nights / 12 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Best Months to do this Trek: March-May and September-November.

 

  1. YAKTSHA TREK – 7 Days

View our 7 days adventure Bhutan trekking packages in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 7 days.

Total Duration: 14 nights/ 15 days.

Accommodation: Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd week of December.

 

  1. DUR HOTSRPING TREK – 8 Days 

View our 8 Days Hot Spring Trekking in Bhutan program in Google Map.

Trek Duration: 7 nights / 8 days

Total Duration: 15 nights / 16 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, Sep. – November.

 

  1. JUMOLHARI TREK (ROUND TREK ) – 13 Days 

View our 9 days Jomolhari Trekking in Bhutan program in Google Map.

Duration: 12 nights / 13 days.

Trekking Duration: 8 days

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – June, September – 2nd Week of December.

 

  1. BEAUTIFUL LAYA GASA TREK – 13 Days 

View our 13 Days Bhutan trekking tours in Google Map.

Trek duration: 13 days.

Duration: 18 nights / 19 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Best Months to do this Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

 

  1. SNOWMAN TREK – 24 Days 

View our 24 Days Snowman Trekking Tour in Bhutan in Google Map.

Trek duration: 24 days.

Total Duration: 29 nights / 30 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Very strenuous

Best Months to do this Trek: Mid-June to mid-October

TAKTSANG MONASTREY – THE TIGER’S NEST

TAKTSANG MONASTREY – THE TIGER’S NEST

General Information:

The Senge Samdup cave in the Tiger’s Nest premises, perched high up in a rocky cliff, 900m above the Paro valley, is where the legend, Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, meditated in the 8th century.

Guru Rinpoche flew to the cave on the back of a tigress, hence its popular name – the Taktsang, which literally means “Tiger’s Nest”. The flying tigress is believed to be Yeshe Tsogyal. It was inside the same cave that he meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours.

Later the caves became important holy shrines and numerous learned Buddhist monks have visited and meditated in the caves since the 8th century. The ultimate desire of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (early 17th century), the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state, to build a monastery near the famous holy caves was fulfilled only at the end of the 17th century. Paro Taktsang Monastery was built around the holy caves in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye – Bhutan’s 4th Druk Desi. He founded the monastery by putting its first stone during a visit to the holy caves in 1692.

In 1998, a big fire almost completely burned down the Paro Taktsang, and was restored to its original splendor by 2005.

Elevation : 3120m (900m above the Paro Valley)

Trek Distance and Time : About 5+ km uphill and downhill from the base camp at the foot of the mountain. It can take 1 1/2 – 2hrs hour going up, down a bit shorter.

Tips to Hiking to.the Tiger’s Nest:

  1. Get a hang of the altitude/ get acclimatized on the first day at Paro.
  2. Eat a light and easy breakfast, it helps immensely.
  3. Carry chocolates, energy bites and drinks
  4. Carry a light backpack.
  5. Start as early as possible.
  6. Wear a hat and sunglasses, a walking stick is an added advantage.
  7. Maintain your own pre-meditated pace but don’t be too slow.
  8. Stop to catch your breath whenever you are tired
  9. Don’t ever sit down anywhere along the way, you won’t want to get back up again!
  10. Try to hike in a group and encourage and help each other whenever needed.

You can also opt to for a horse ride and after 45 min there’s the cafeteria where you can  rest and stop to enjoy tea. The toilets here are surprisingly nice and clean.  After  another 45 minutes, you arrive at a second stop where you have to bid the horse goodbye. You have no option but to hike the rest of the trail as horses aren’t allowed beyond it. The horseback ride is only 600 Bhutanese Ngultrums (10-11USD) and it’s well worth it if you aren’t much of a hiker. But you may have to inform your guide beforehand so that he can organize it in time.

As you continue to climb up the trail, you’ll pass by random shrines along the way in the forests. As you get closer to the monastery, there are 850 steps (both up and down) that you have to climb before you get to the entrance.. As you start to take on the steps, you’ll also notice  prayer flags all over the sides of the walkway.  Since the Tiger’s Nest is a pilgrimage site, people have strung prayer flags in the final end of the trail leading up to the monastery. You’ll see a waterfall to the left and a short wooden bridge to cross.  After the bridge it’s about 2-5 minutes of uphill steps and then you’re at the entrance of the Tiger’s Nest!

Some Interesting Facts:

  1. The Taktsang Monastery is made up of four temples and a collection of residential shelters that are uniquely designed to rest on the cliff. Wooden bridges and stairs carved into the cliff connect the buildings. Each building has a balcony with a beautiful view of the Paro Valley 900m below.
  2. There are several paths leading to the monastery. The most popular path takes you through a pine forest and past the colorful prayer banners that protect the temple from evil spirits. Another path is from the north passing through a plateau called “A Hundred Thousand Fairies.” There are also paths for mule and pony treks; however they do not go all the way to the top.
  3. The big prayer wheel in the courtyard of the main shrine is rotated every morning by the monks that marks the beginning of a new day.
  4. The Tiger’s Nest earns visits from royalty. In 2015, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton made the trek to the monastery while visiting Bhutan.
  5. Many caves surround the monastery. Two of them worth visiting are Tholu Phuk and Pel Phuk. These were supposedly the first caves Guru Rinpoche visited and meditated in. Today monks meditate and live in those caves for years as part of their religious practice.
  6. Sometime during March end or early April, the 10th day of that Buddhist Lunar Calendar, the Paro Tsechu Festival is held at grounds of the magnificent Rinpung Dzong in the Paro Valley. This festival honors and remembers Guru Rinpoche as he had performed dances in the valley in the 7th century. The three-day festival consists of various Mask Dance performances to vanquish off evil spirits and praise spirits of life and health. Visiting the monastery during the festival is a big draw as you experience ancient preserved Buddhist traditions and cultural history blended together even today. However, the Paro valley is more likely to be busy and crowded around this time and flights and bookings have to be had months earlier as there’s always a dead rush with everyone wanting to travel to Bhutan at the same time to witness the Festival.

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Bhutan Travel: Pack your bags, it’s a new year, a new dawn, as the possibilities for travel to Bhutan have been increasingly expanding over a period of time with exciting events and festivals on this ever existing mystical and hidden kingdom that the entire world didn’t even care to think about. This small nation, perched in the Eastern Himalayas, about the size of Switzerland, with about just 750,000 people is a very sparsely populated Himalayan Buddhist nation with its own unique avatar and intriguing history, culture and tradition.

When you travel to Bhutan, there will be those unexpected magical moments that you will discover to unwind and be at ease with yourself. Peace and tranquility will seem omnipresent, abundant and just about everywhere. You can actually smell it.! As Europeans on travel to Bhutan from the first world, it sure can be a different and contrasting experience, but the experience that is waiting for you on this last Shangri-la on earth will the best takeaway back home ever. We at Yak Holidays Int’l can assure you that.

Booking the Bhutan Tour / Trekking:

All Foreign Tourists on travel to Bhutan must travel through an all-inclusive package Tour, for which there is a fixed tariff set by the Government of Bhutan. This Tariff includes the services of a 3 star accommodation, all Meals and Transportation within the country, Guide, Driver, sightseeing and entrance fees for the museums and monuments.
All Tours must be booked through a Local Tour Operator/ Travel Agent such as Yak Holidays Int’l and the entire Land arrangements will be made by the same Agent.

For Clients traveling at peak seasons and Festivals, it is necessary to book the Tour at least 2 ½ months in advance. Festivals held in autumn and spring are peak times for tourists and without early reservation it can be difficult with hassles to confirm flights and hotels.

Visa formalities:

Visa formalities

With the exception for visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors need a visa to enter Bhutan.

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain visas at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters’ Identity Card (VIC).

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to their travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.

You are required to send the photo-page of your passport copies to your tour operator, who will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within the next 72 working hours.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter duly sent by your Tour Operator, the visa will then be stamped into your passport. Courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan.

  1. Please don’t forget to bring the same passport that you sent, otherwise you may have unnecessary hassles at immigration.

Minimum Daily Package

  • The minimum daily package covers the following services:
  • A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
  • All meals.
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the entire extent of your stay.
  • All internal transport (excluding internal flights).
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours.

It also includes:

  • All internal taxes and charges.
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:

  • USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August & December.
  • USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October & November.

These rates are applicable as per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.

  • On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.
  • The list of hotels and lodges approved to provide accommodations all listed on this website. If you accommodation is not listed on this website then it is not licensed cater for international tourists.
  • The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US dollars prior to your arrival in Bhutan.

FIT Surcharges:

Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons shall be subject to surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:

  • Single Person: US$ 40 per night
  • Group of 2 persons: US$ 30 per person per night
  • The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.
  • The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.
  • There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount on Royalty.
  • Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
  • A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11 to 15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
  • 50% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on Royalty shall be provided after the 14th
  • Visitors availing discounts under Sections A, B & C shall not be eligible for discount under E.

Detailed information on flights, tour and trekking programmers, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc can be obtained from us.

Tour Cancellation Policy:

Tour Programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:

  • Within 16 – 30 days of start of programme – 50% of rate
  • Within 15 days – 100% of rate
  • After arrival in Bhutan- 100% of rate

Delayed Arrival & Departure:

There is no charge for delays in arrival and departure because of weather conditions disrupting flights or road blocks. The tourist must however bear the cost of food, accommodation, transportation, and other services required.

Note: INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 2,000 are not accepted in Bhutan.

(Information courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan)

Getting into Bhutan from Europe

Please remember that Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that fly into Bhutan. Druk Air flies to Kathmandu (Nepal), Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bodhgaya, Guwahati, (India), Dacca (Bangladesh), Bangkok  and Singapore.

You can try this link to get a hang of Druk Air : https://www.drukair.com.bt/: https://www.drukair.com.sg/drukair-flights

4 flights per week, 2h 20m duration

New Delhi (DEL) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

Search flight prices on Google

5:20 am 8:10 am Druk Air 205 S DEL-PBH
6:35 am 9:25 am Druk Air 205 M T F DEL-PBH

7  flights per week, 1h 0m duration

Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

Search flight prices on Google

9:15 am 10:30 am Druk Air 205 T S KTM-PBH
9:15 am 10:30 am Druk Air 401 W F KTM-PBH
10:00 am 11:15 am Bhutan Airlines 774 S M W F KTM-PBH

11 flights per week, 1h 10m duration

Kolkata (CCU) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

Search flight prices on Google

8:15 am 9:55 am Bhutan Airlines 701 S M T W T F S CCU-PBH
8:30 am 10:10 am Druk Air 121 M W CCU-PBH
9:10 am 10:50 am Druk Air 501 S T CCU-PBH
 

 

Bhutan – Food and Travel guide (Mark Wiens)

 

Or also try Bhutan Airlines at this link : Quick Flight Schedule

For Europeans, the simplest idea would be to fly east from Europe, over the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, across the Middle East and either land in Kathmandu or Delhi and then take the connecting Druk Air flights to Paro International Airport in Bhutan. Paro is 54 km away from Thimphu city; it is the only existing international airport.

Three domestic airports are currently in operation, Bumthang (central), Gelephu (south) and Yonphula (east).

Entry into Bhutan by land can be done at Phuentsholing (Bengal Border), Gelephu (Assam Border) and Samdrup Jongkhar (Assam Border).

Please also remember that Druk Air planes are not massive – Airbus 319.that have a 114 seats configuration with 20 business class seats and 94 economy class seats. So there can be a dead rush in the high tourist season for seats, so please try to make bookings in advance.

Tourist Circuit of Bhutan

Tourist Circuit of Bhutan

The Bhutanese tourist circuit is broadly divided into :

Western Bhutan : the districts of Haa, Paro Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang which is where most the tourists get to experience Bhutan in their limited time.

Central Bhutan : the districts of Trongsa and Bumthang (along with its four magnificent 4 valleys)

Eastern Bhutan : The districts of Mongar, Lhuentshe, Trashi Yangshi, Trashigang, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar.

For a greenhorn and a spirited traveler on travel to Bhutan, as you travel eastwards from western Bhutan to Central Bhutan you begin to understand the real psyche and jist of the real Bhutan. Central Bhutan is considered the spiritual heartland of the nation. Our guide will of course explain all the magnificent history of Bhutan’s yester years.

Travel further eastwards, and the six eastern districts are in a world of its own.

Weather and Climate

Bhutan experiences four distinct seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring but the climate varies with elevation from a subtropical one in the south to temperate in the highlands and an alpine climate with round the year snowfall in the north. 

December – February are the coldest months, especially in the mountains, but the skies can really be clear and reward those who can brave the low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny during the day with clearer views of the incredible Himalayas. There are fewer tourists around, so sometimes you can have all the place for just yourself and this can a sheer advantage for you.

March – April

March and April are popular times to travel to Bhutan as the climate is pleasant and the valleys are abundant in flowers of various species. The blooming of flowers will have started by then. Paro Tshechu (festival) usually is on early April, so book your trip ahead to get the best accommodation and flights.

May

Temperatures start to shoot northwards in May, bringing humidity as well as clouds all over. However, fewer visitors and lower prices can be a bonus and make it a perfectly viable time to visit. The rhododendrons would also still be in bloom which can be ideal for photographers and nature lovers.

June – August

June to August , and sometimes till September is monsoon time in Bhutan. Although showers can occur at night without killing your daytime experiences, conditions aren’t ideal for trekking. Sightseeing can still be done, but have a raincoat handy! You can go to a spa or take a hot stone water bath. But morning views are at their very best after night-time downpours, the smell of the air and the earth, you will have it all.

September

September, October and November are excellent times for hiking, watching festivals, particularly the popular Thimphu Tshechu (festival) and enjoying the stunning views of mountains, valleys and the flora and fauna. Expect temperatures to be around 20-25°C in the sun during the day, but it will be a lot cooler in the evenings/mornings and at higher altitudes. So don’t forget your woolens.

October

About 80% of all international visitors want to visit Bhutan in October, theres a dead rush, a rat race, so plan well in advance to ensure you get your preferred accommodation and Druk Air flights. Pl also note that Druk Air planes have a capacity of 180 pax.

November

Black-necked cranes migrate from the cold Tibetan Highlands to the protected Phobjikha Valley each year and also to Bumdeling in eastern Bhutan. They remain in the region from late October to early February. In Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha, a special Black Necked Festival is held every November to celebrate the arrival of the birds. Pl note and plan in advance if you want to be part of it.

So travel to Bhutan checking your month wise priorities.

Gross National Happiness

The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was first coined by The fourth King Jigme Singay Wangchuck, wherein he emphasized that GNH was a  more important factor to gauge to consider balance of life of a nation than GDP. Happiness and self satisfaction are more important than the millions of bank balance.

The four main pillars of Gross National Happiness are:

1,   Equitable and equal socio-economic development

  1. Preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage
  2. Conservation of environment and
  3. Good governance which are interwoven, complementary, and consistent.

These pillars personify national and local values, aesthetics, and spiritual tradition.

Food and Cuisine in Bhutan

Bhutanese food includes the indigenous red rice as the main dish with several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and lamb. The typical Bhutanese will eat rice (the indigenous red variety or Indian white rice), which is the main dish, chillies and vegetables three times a day. Along with that, they often serve different side dishes of beef, pork, chicken and yak meat, of course with Bhutanese chillies and veggies.

When you travel to Bhutan you sure might miss out on your staple local food from back home, but you can try Bhutanese red rice for a change. You can also try pork sikaam, which is a Bhutanese version of bacon or spicy beef and yak jerky dishes and an assortment of various dishes unique to Bhutan. Or momo dumplings and various versions of noodles with meat , veggies or eggs. But if you happen to be a jalapeno lover, then you are in the right place at the right time.

5 reasons why Chef Vikas Khanna loves Thimphu

(Award-winning chef, Vikas Khanna is the owner of New York’s Michelin star restaurant, Junoon).

Ema Datshi, which is chillies and cottage cheese, is the national dish and prepared differently wherever you go. It’s spicy and is typically eaten every single day. Veterans say you haven’t really visited Bhutan unless you’ve tried Ema Datshi. Have your guide ask for it at your hotel or restaurant as it may not be served with your meals because it may be  too spicy for many visitors. An yet another hot fiery rough chilli paste is  Ezzay which the Bhutanese people just love to have.

Check Recipe for Ema Datsi 

The typical tourist class hotel serves a western style breakfast and quasi-Bhutanese style lunches and dinners which are adjusted for the western palette. Some hotels and restaurants, however, entirely forego Bhutanese cuisine for a more international fare which is quite a shame as Bhutanese food is quite good!

Bhutanese Food: 25 Best Dishes To Eat When You’re In Bhutan!

(Mark Wiens, based in Bangkok is a world known Travel and Food Blogger)

Traveling Tips

Tobacco/Smoking : It is against the law to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while traveling in Bhutan.  It is, however, not forbidden to smoke in appropriate areas. 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.

The following are the allowances per person when entering Bhutan:

1 liter bottle of spirits or wine (rigidly enforced)

250 mls of perfume

200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250grams tobacco  ** A 200% duty fee will apply to bring cigarettes and tobacco products into Bhutan. If you do not have your receipt, you will not be able to bring it into Bhutan.

Currency – no restriction

Gifts/Souvenirs – no restriction

Clothes, Travelling Kits and other Paraphernalia : As an European on travel to Bhutan for the first time, you may want to bring a couple of warm clothes and comfortable shoes to go with the variable cold weather and the mountainous terrain. With big altitudinal variations weather can be quite erratic in Bhutan, So pl be prepared to brace the erratic weather as you step outdoors. You might even consider what to wear when hiking, trekking and sightseeing, as well as for dinners, appointments and functions. A pair of sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and a hat; antiseptic cream, anti diarrhoea pills, altitude & car sickness medicines (induced by the winding roads); insect repellants, flash light, umbrella, camera and accessories etc. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully especially when visiting monasteries, Dzongs and religious institutions. As a mark of respect, pl remove hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises and institutions or in any other place where the national flag is raised.

Another important factor to consider is acclimatization. You might want to stay a day in Thimphu to get the hang of the climate and acclimatize yourself. If you get altitude sickness, always descend to lower ground, asap.

Communications : The country has a good network of communications facilities. Almost every town has an internet café and IDD calling booths from where you can log and connected with the world. You can also purchase a local SIM card that would give you connectivity outside the hotels or when you are travelling, if you want to. Bhutanese SIM cards are available at a SIM counter located in the post office (to the right of the terminal exit door) at Paro Int’l Airport. Here you can purchase and get assistance for activating your new SIM cards in your devices. The cost for the SIM is approximately US$2.00 plus call credits.

Health Inoculations : Before embarking on a tour to Bhutan it’s advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

Things to do in Bhutan

There are several things you can do in Bhutan..

  • Take a Cultural Tour, Festival Tour, Special Interest Tour
  • Hike as you like, Flexibility and Customization are guaranteed
  • Go for Magnificent Himalayan Treks
  • Participate the world famous ” Snow Man Trek”
  • Rejoice Buddhist Mask Dances and Tshechu Festivals
  • See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs.
  • Stay in Typical Bhutanese Homestays
  • Enjoy local Bhutanese Food
  • Get an extra Experience of Rarified Bhutanese Atmosphere at over 2000m asl
  • Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese culture.
  • Get to see the last Shangri-la on Earth

Places of Interest

  • Taktshang Monastery, 900m above Paro valley.
  • Chele La Pass, the highest motorable road at 3988m.
  • Haa Valley (2670m)
  • Dochula Pass, on a clear day you can see almost all the mountain peaks of Northern Bhutan
  • Punakha Dzong (1518m), Chhmi Lhakhang, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal
  • Tashichhoe Dzong, Thimphu, Motithang Takin Preserve, View Point, Handicrafts Museum, Centenary Farmers’ Market, Changgangkha Monastery, Buddha Point, Chery and Tango Monasteries
  • Thimphu Valley (2350m)
  • Paro Valley (2250m), Drugyal Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong
  • Phobjikha Glacial Valley (2900m)
  • Trongsa Dzong (2316m), Kuenga Rapten Palace
  • Bumthang Valley (2800m, the famous 4 valleys of Tang (2880m), Chumey (2700m), Chokor (2800m) and Ura (3100m). plus “Membar Tsho” or the burning lake and Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery.

YES, DO COME, VISIT AND TRAVEL TO BHUTAN. WE, AT YAK HOLIDAYS WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO ENTERTAIN YOU AND MAKE YOU EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BHUTAN, THE LAST SHANGRI-LA ON EARTH WITH US.

ONCE A YEAR GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO..

YES, TRAVEL TO BHUTAN WITH YAK HOLIDAYS.. Travel to Bhutan

Laya Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in far north Bhutan

Laya Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in far north Bhutan

LAYA BHUTAN 3850 m

Laya Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in far north Bhutan

Coordinates : 28.06362 North: 89.6828 East

4 h 11 min (97.5 km)  Punakha to Gasa, and a two day hard trek from Gasa to Laya.

Laya, Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in  far north Bhutan, very close to the Tibetan border. It is inhabited by the indigenous Layap people,  and is the highest inhabited settlement in the Bhutan. The hike from Gasa may be arduous, but its worth the effort.

Inhabited by the Layap tribe, who are akin to Tibetans.. They actually settled from Tibet several centuries ago. Population about 3000, approx 140 households. They call their village the “BEYUL”, or the hidden land. The distinct attire of Layap women wearing conical pointed bamboo hats is so unique, though the men have stopped wearing their original traditional dress. Yaks are herded, which is the main way of sustenance.

Some facts about Laya.

  1. Theres a Lakhang in the village, one another above.. In 2002, a school was started with 110 students. Above the school is an old temple,..where the Zhabdrung stayed when he first came to Bhutan . Some of his belongings are still there, a precious stone and a big brass jar full of water.
  2. In 1944, there was a major flood in Laya, glacial of course.
  3. In 1959-60, Tibetan refugees arrived with the livestock and Layaps bought yaks from them for only Nu 3 or 4 per head!
  4. Around 700 sheep were given by the government but they all died within 2 months, probably from eating poisonous grass.
  5. The first tourists arrived in 1987.
  6. In 1996, solar lighting was installed.
  7. In 1998, mountains bears attacked yak calves, killing 20-30. In 1999 wild dogs killed several yaks. There are several stories of cats of all sizes attacking their cattle.
  8. Above Laya are the HOLY Lakes, @ 4450m, Kharkhil Tsho, Paro Tsho, Onemo Tsho.
  9. Prosperous Layaps own more than 300 yaks.
  10. The conical hats of women are associated with fertility, and the fact that the women are actual yak herders. The same clothes are worn by the powerful local deity, Aum Chomo Nosey Gayem. The belief is to ensure that the yaks always remain healthy.
  11. In a traditional gesture of respect for visitors, Layap women, at the end of an evening entertainment, will remove their conical hats and throw them in a heap.

Advent of Buddhism in Bhutan

Advent of Buddhism in Bhutan

The advent of Buddhism in Bhutan began after the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan in the 8th century, the Bon religion and the protector deities played a very vital role for different places, communities and clans across the entire spread of Bhutan. The thoughts and beliefs differed from place to place, from one valley to another, they were never the same at all. The differences were omnipresent, everywhere. But the guiding force, the pivot, the consolidator, the leader, the Guru wasn’t around.

Advent of Buddhism in Bhutan

And the Padmashambhava, the great lotus born saint was the Guru-in-waiting. The Guru knew exactly about the fate of Buddhism in India that it would be more than erased by the Mughal emperors. Even after the great flourishment of the Buddha Dharma in Tibet, it would actually, finally fall on a decline because of the Chinese. Nepal didn’t offer much scope, it was a predominantly Hindu nation and that didn’t actually connect to his likeliness. So Bhutan was his natural choice. Mountainous and remote, hidden in the inner Himalayas, the Mughals or the Chinese Hans had no chance to come to Bhutan and plunder the Buddha Dharma. So Bhutan was where the Buddha Dharma would prosper and flourish forever. That was his belief, his vision. And it came out true in so many ways as we see and analyze it now, wonder saint and philosopher, a gem and like they say diamonds are forever. It was also in Bhutan where he later hid several Buddhist holy scripts, religious documents, texts and relics, to be discovered and found by his chosen entity, Pema Lingpa of Bumthang, several centuries later in the 17th century.

bumthang-membar-tsho

Membar Tsho in Bumthang

Guru Rinpoche is actually credited with the founding of the Nyingma lineage, also known as the Red Hat sect of Mahayana Buddhism which became the dominant religion of Bhutan at that time.

He himself was found lying on top of a lotus flower floating on a pond. There are no records to prove where he was born or who his actual parents were. He just materialized on top of the flower one fine day! This was in the Swat valley, the historians say, in present day Pakistan. Quite big, handsome and impressive in size for a small child, the king took him as his own, adopted him as his son, made him the crown prince. So he grew up as a prince in his initial years, quite like prince Siddhartha, the eventual Buddha. So there is actually quite a similarity here if we can relate the two in the same context. As he grew up, he found it more arduous with his meaning of life in the garb of a prince. He could see, foresee several things that were to come and happen in the world. More like a Nostradamus with a very interesting religious twist. One fine day he decided to undergo such an act that could lead to his banishment from the kingdom. His father, the king had no choice but to banish him forever. Having set himself free, he traveled to several places, to Tibet and to Nepal which had so many similarities and parallels. Some historians say he must have been in Nepal when he got this invitation from the ailing Sindhu Raja of Bumthang.

Jakar-dzong-at-bumthang

Jakar Dzong – Bumthang

Sindhu Raja was a powerful Indian king of Bumthang, who ruled from an iron fortress. Although a powerful monarch, Sindhu Raja lost his son and sixteen chieftains when feuding with another strong rival Indian king of the south named Nachhoe or “the big nose”. This incident so deeply disturbed Sindhu Raja that he ordered the desecration of all the temples dedicated to the chief deity and protector of Bumthang, Shelging Karpo. Shelging Karpo quickly retaliated to take revenge and performed a ritual that severed the life force of Sindhu, bringing him very close to death. Unable to find an antidote to his sickness, one of his close counsels sent an urgent appeal to Guru Rinpoche requesting for his supernatural powers to save the Raja. The great yogi agreed to the request, which he probably already knew, and after his arrival in Bumthang, meditated leaving a “jey” (imprint) of his “kur” (body) on a rock, now surrounded by the Kurjey Lhakhang. Hence the name Kurjey.

Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang

Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang

Guru Rinpoche was offered Sindhu Raja’s daughter, Tashi Kheudon. But he instead sent her to fetch water in a golden ewer. While she was away, the Guru transformed into eight manifestations and together, they started to dance in the field by the temple. The dances were so spectacular that  every deity of the entire area appeared to watch them, all except the stony faced Shelging Karpo, who stayed away in his rocky hideout. But this was not to dishearten the Guru. When the princess returned, the Guru transformed her into five beautiful princesses each with a golden ewer. The golden sunlight emanating out of those ewers finally attracted Shelging Karpo, who appeared as a snow lion, which in turn was immediately recognized by the Guru. He himself transformed into a giant eagle, a Garuda, flew high up and subjugated the lion. The defeated Shelging Karpo thus gave back the life force to Sindhu Raja and was made to pledge to be a protector deity of Buddhism. Both the rival kings converted to Buddhism and Guru Rinpoche was allowed to preach Buddhism in their respective kingdoms. To seal the agreement, the Guru planted his staff in the ground at the temple in Bumthang. Its cypress tree descendants, the national tree of Bhutan, continue to grow and tower over the area at Kurjey Lhakhang till this date.

This event marked the beginning of the Dharma taking root in Bhutan, and a body imprint of Guru Rinpoche meditating in a nearby cave serves as a tribute to this occasion. So this was how Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan by Guru Rinpoche, which later went on to become the state religion of the nation. But this divine connection between Guru Rinpoche and Sindhu Raja is something that we sometimes forget to remember and recognize.

The eight sacred dances also marked the beginning of the introduction of Tshechu(s) in Bhutan featuring the famous mask dances which have then been repeated year after year for centuries till today. So the first ever Tshechu in Bhutan was conducted by Guru Rinpoche in Bumthang! Tshechu, which literally means “Day 10” of any particular Buddhist lunar month, featuring the mask dances and religious festivals are now conducted in all the districts of Bhutan. On the final day of a Tshechu, a massive thangka painting, called the Thongdrel is displayed for public early in the morning and rolled up again before sunrise, which features Guru Rinpoche and his two principal cohorts and his eight manifestations, to be displayed again the following year on the same exact date.

Travel to Bhutan from Malaysia, Taiwan, Hongkong, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia.

Travel to Bhutan from Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia.

 Understanding Bhutan..!

Kuzuzangpo – Greetings from Bhutan !!

Trip to Bhutan: If you wish to Travel to Bhutan from Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia, the underlining basic things you need to know about Bhutan is: Bhutan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom perched up in the Eastern Himalayas , a bit bigger in size than Taiwan (Taiwan – 36,193 km²; Bhutan – 38,394 km² ), landlocked and sandwiched between the two Asian giants – China on the north and India in the west, east and south. Very thinly populated, it has a population all of 750,000 with a population density of just 19.3/km². Taiwan has a population of 23.55 million, so you can imagine and sort out the difference for yourself! Thimphu, the capital city with about 100,000 plus denizens is the nerve centre of the country from every prospective. Other major cities are Paro, which houses the international airport, Phuentsholing, Punakha, Haa, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang. The national language is Dzongkha, though English is very widely spoken throughout the country. English is actually the medium of instruction in all schools.

Bhutan is one of the last ten remaining ecological hotspots in the entire world, where more than 70 percent of the land is under green vegetation with about 600 species of various plants and animals. So the abundance of unique Himalayan flora and fauna is undeterred, compact and preserved along with its history, tradition and Buddhist culture. Bhutan is also the first country which initiated the belief of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which was  coined by the fourth king of Bhutan, whereby the concept of GNH precedes GDP. This mystical country hidden right up in the Himalayas where Buddhism, Buddhist culture and tradition has been preserved in its true essence and finery is also known as the “Last Shangri – La on Earth”. There is actually a lot to experience and discover in this unique quaint small little nation. So travel to Bhutan from Southeast Asia, East Asia and Australasia and see and experience it for yourself!!

We at Yak Holidays International, Travel to Bhutan , are more than happy to help you.

TRAVEL TO BHUTAN WITH BHUTAN-AUSTRALIA FRIENDSHIP DISCOUNT TRAVEL OFFER. 

What is the Bhutan – Australia Friendship Offer?

It is a one-time Special Bhutan Travel package that is being offered to all “Australian citizens” traveling to Bhutan in June, July and August, 2018. The offer includes :

  • The all-inclusive mandatory minimum daily package rate of US$ 200 per person per night is waived. Instead, only the government Sustainable Development Fee of US$ 65 per person per night needs to be paid.
  • Discounted fare on Bhutanese Airlines.
  • Up to 50 % discounts in partnering Hotels
  • Flexibility / choice of services.
  • No surcharge of US$ 40 per person per night and US$ 30 each for two persons.
  • Special airport reception on arrival of the 1st Group

Yak Holidays International recently hosted Spanish Actress Pilar de la Macarena Cano traveled to Bhutan with us from  28 Oct – 10 Nov 2017.

Travel to Bhutan from Malaysia, Taiwan, Hongkong, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia.

Spanish actress, Pilar de la Macarena Cano, at the foot of Mount Jhomolhari, near the Tibetan border.

Hi Mr. Sitar,

I did have a wonderful time in your beautiful country with Yak Holidays International. The Yak team was fantastic! I did feel really comfortable with them. They were very professional and really cared for my needs. Keep doing what you do, the way you do.

See you in the future

 

Xoxo,

Pilar. 

How to Organize a Bhutan Tour

  1. Visa Formalities and Procedures

Visa Formalities and Procedures for bhutan tourBhutanese Government laws mandate that all foreign visitors on Travel to Bhutan must always use a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator (Yak Holidays Int’l) or one of their international partners to book their  Travel to Bhutan.

All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, and a visa clearance for Bhutan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator here in Bhutan and takes at least a week to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Your Bhutan Visa will be arranged by Yak Holidays Int’l (www.traveltobhutan.travel), your tour operator, and all we usually need is a quality scan or photo of your passport photo page. Please be sure you carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan visa or you will be denied entry. Bhutan visas generally cost US $40. A visa authority letter is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and the actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro International Airport. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the two airlines that fly into Bhutan, please make sure you check with the Druk Air office at Singapore or Bhutan office for availability of flights to Bhutan. Or more importantly call and consult with Yak Holidays International, your Bhutanese Tour Operator and we will do the needful. When you check in at the airport starting in Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata or Kathmandu, you must show your approved visa authority letter for Bhutan (that has been sent to you via email by the tour operator). All visitors are now required to provide fingerprints and a facial image – biometrics, which is a smooth process and you’ll get through quickly.

Druk Air provides its standard baggage allowance of 20 kg for economy class travelers and 30 kg in business class. The allowance for carry-on bags is 5 kg. Just prior to landing at Paro International Airport at 2280 m, as the Druk Air plane makes the descend from amongst the clouds, you will get wonderful views of the beautiful, serene Himalayan mountain ranges. This special occasion to view these mountains from above them would more than justify your Druk Air fares. For the best views and pictures/videos of the landscape, please check-in early for your Druk Air flight and reserve your seats on the left side of the plane if you are flying in from Bangkok. Likewise on your return flight, pl request for a seat on the right side of the plane to get the best views. Seats on Druk Air are allocated on a “first come first served” basis. Yes, we promise, fulfillment of sublime satisfaction will be at hand when you travel o Bhutan. Simple as that.

  1. What is the Daily Tariff for your Travel to Bhutan?

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs US $ 180 per person per night.

On the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov).It costs $225 USD per person per night for groups of three or more.

For groups of two, it costs US $255  per person per night.

For a solo traveler, its US $ 265 per person per night.

So on the surface, Bhutan may seem like an expensive destination than nearby Nepal, India or elsewhere, but from a broader perspective it’s actually not such a bad deal, considering all that is included and packaged within that fee. This fee actually includes a 3 star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese tour guide and a driver for transportation, entrance fees to sites, camping equipment & haulage for trekking tours during the entire course of your stay within the country. Also included within the fee is US $65  royalty per person per night that goes to the government towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. Healthcare is free even for tourists. The philosophy behind the mandatory minimum fee being that it creates a high-value/low-impact tourist environment, as envisioned by the government of Bhutan. The government executes and regulates this minimum fee  in order to manage tourism in a more sustainable way, to grow and blend sensibly with the world, without taxing the local environment and more importantly, highlight and conserve the unique “culture and tradition” of the country.

  1. Getting into Bhutan

Getting into BhutanThe easiest option is to travel either to Bangkok or Singapore, whichever city is closer to wherever you are in either in Southeast Asia, East Asia or Australasia. Prioritize yourself to getting to Bangkok or to Singapore and then get the connecting Druk Air flight to Paro, Bhutan. Once you land in Paro International Airport in Bhutan, Yak Holidays Int’l will be with you 24×7.

5 flights per week from Bangkok, 3h 0m duration

Bangkok,Thailand (BKK) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

12:00 pm 2:00 pm Druk Air 151 S BKK-PBH
12:55 pm 2:55 pm Druk Air 151 T BKK-PBH
1:25 pm 3:25 pm Druk Air 151 T F BKK-PBH
2:20 pm 4:20 pm Druk Air 151 S BKK-PBH

3 flights per week from Singapore, 6h 35m duration

Singapore (SIN) to Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

07:20 am 15:30 pm Druk Air 500 M SIN-PBH
07:20 am 15:35 pm Druk Air 500 W SIN-PBH
07:20 am 15:35 pm Druk Air 500 S SIN-PBH

(includes a 35min layover at Kolkata, passengers don’t need to disembark)

  1. Climate and Weather in Bhutan

Climate and Weather in Bhutan

December – February

These are Bhutan’s coldest months, especially in the mountains, but the clear skies can really reward those who are really up for low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny during the day with clear views of the incredible Himalayas. There are fewer tourists around, so sometimes you can have all the place for just yourself!

March – April

Paro TshechuMarch and April are popular times to travel to Bhutan as the climate is pleasant and the valleys are abundant in flowers of different varieties. The blooming will have started by then. Paro Tshechu usually is on early April, so book your trip ahead to get the best accommodation and flights.

May

Thermometers start to shoot up in May, bringing humidity as well as clouds all. However, fewer visitors and lower prices can make it a perfectly viable time to visit. The rhododendrons would also still be in bloom which can be ideal for photographers and nature lovers.

June – August

June to August  and sometimes till September is monsoon time in Bhutan. Although showers can occur at night without killing your daytime experiences, conditions aren’t ideal for trekking. Sightseeing can still be done but have a raincoat handy! You can go to a spa or take a hot stone water bath. But morning views are at their very best after night-time downpours, the smell of the air and the earth, you will have it all.

Girls from remote Laya village

September

September, October and November are excellent times for hiking, watching festivals, particularly the popular Thimphu Tshechu or festival and enjoying the stunning views of mountains, valleys and the flora and fauna. Expect it to be around 20-25°C in the sun during the day, but its going to be a lot cooler in the evenings/mornings and at higher altitudes. So don’t forget your woolens.

October

About 80% of all international visitors want to visit Bhutan in October, there is a dead rush, a rat race, so plan well in advance to ensure you get your preferred accommodation and Druk Air flights. Please also note that Druk Air planes have a capacity of 114 pax.

November

Black-necked cranesBlack-necked cranes migrate from the cold Tibetan Highlands to the protected Phobjikha Valley each year and also to Bumdeling in eastern Bhutan. They remain in the region from late October to early February. In Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha, a special Black Necked Festival is held every November to celebrate the arrival of the birds. Please note and plan in advance if you want to be part of it.

So Travel to Bhutan checking your month wise priorities.

  1. Food and Cuisine in Bhutan

BhutanFood and Cuisine in Bhutanese food includes rice as the main dish with several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and lamb. The typical Bhutanese will eat rice (the indigenous red variety or Indian white rice), which is the main dish, chillies and vegetables three times a day. Along with that, they often serve different side dishes of beef, pork, chicken and yak meat, of course with Bhutanese chillies and veggies.

When you travel to Bhutan you sure might miss out on your staple local food from back home but you can try Bhutanese red rice for a change. You can also try pork sikaam, which is a Bhutanese version of bacon or spicy beef jerky dishes and an assortment of various dishes unique to Bhutan. Or momo dumplings and various versions of noodles with meat , veggies or eggs. But if you happen to be a jalapeno lover, then you are in the right place on the right time.

5 reasons why Chef Vikas Khanna loves Thimphu

(Award-winning chef, Vikas Khanna is the owner of New York’s Michelin star restaurant, Junoon).

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of almost every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy enough! Chillies are used as a vegetable, not as a condiment.

Ema Datshi, which is chillies and cottage cheese, is the national dish and prepared differently wherever you go. It’s spicy and is typically eaten every single day. Veterans say you haven’t really visited Bhutan unless you’ve tried Ema Datshi. Have your guide ask for it at your hotel or restaurant as it may not be served with your meals because it may be  too spicy for many visitors. An yet another hot fiery rough chilli paste is  Ezzay which the Bhutanese people just love to have.

Check Recipe for Ema Datsi 

Salted Butter tea or Suja served on all social occasions, as is prevalent among all Buddhist communities of the Himalayas (from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh). In traditional homes in the Bhutanese hinterland, the serving host will sit beside you with a jar full of hot butter tea and will almost instantly fill your cup up to the brim  after you have had a sip! That’s part of the Bhutanese tradition, of course.

Chang is a local beer and Aara is a clear alcohol distilled from various grains cultivated in the mountains.

The diet in the mountains also includes chicken, fish, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, fiddle-head ferns, mushroom, lentils, and dried vegetables, spiced with chilli peppers and cheese are a favorite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows are also popular and indeed almost all milk is turned into butter and cheese. Popular spices include curry, cardamom, ginger, thin-gay or Sichuan pepper, garlic, turmeric and caraway.

The typical tourist class hotel serves a western style breakfast and quasi-Bhutanese style lunches and dinners which are adjusted for the western palette. Some hotels and restaurants, however, forego Bhutanese cuisine entirely for a more international fare which is quite a shame as Bhutanese food is quite good!

Bhutanese Food: 25 Best Dishes To Eat When You’re In Bhutan!

(Mark Wiens, based in Bangkok is a world known Travel and Food Blogger)

While you are eating it will be rare that your guide or driver will eat with you. If you ask them to join you (sometimes you have to press them), then they reluctantly join. Otherwise they’ll eat in a back room with the other drivers and guides at the hotel or restaurant.

  1. Things to do in Bhutan

You can do several things in Bhutan..

  • Take a Cultural Tour, Festival Tour, Special Interest Tour
  • Hike as you like, Flexibility and Customization are guaranteed
  • Go for Magnificent Himalayan Treks
  • Participate the world famous ” Snow Man Trek”
  • Rejoice Buddhist Mask Dances and Tshechu Festivals
  • See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs.
  • Stay in Typical Bhutanese Homestays
  • Enjoy local Bhutanese Food
  • Get an extra Experience of Rarified Bhutanese Atmosphere at over 2000m asl
  • Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese culture.
  • Get to see the last Shangri-la on Earth

Brokpa's waterproof cap

  1. Places of Interest
  • Taktshang Monastery, 900 m above Paro valley.

Taktshang-Monastery

  • Chele La Pass, the highest motorable road at 3988m.

Chele La Pass

  • Dochula Pass, on a clear day almost all mountain peaks of Northern Bhutan
  • Punakha Dzong, Chhmi Lhakhang, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal
  • Tashichhoe Dzong, Thimphu, Motithang Takin Preserve, Handicrafts Museum
  • Thimphu Valley
  • Paro Valley, Drugyal Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong
  • Phobjikha Glacial Valley
  • Trongsa Dzong
  • Bumthang Valley, the famous 4 valleys of Tang, Chumey, Chokor and Ura. plus “Membar Tsho” or the burning lake and Kurjey Lhakhang.

SO COME, VISIT AND TRAVEL TO BHUTAN. WE, AT YAK HOLIDAYS WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO ENTERTAIN YOU AND MAKE YOU EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BHUTAN WITH US.

TRAVEL TO BHUTAN WITH YAK HOLIDAYS.. Travel to Bhutan

7 Things to remember when you travel to Bhutan/ Buthan From Spain

If you are Spanish and intend to travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain, the simple basic things you may need to know about Bhutan/Buthan is: Bhutan/Buthan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom in the eastern Himalayas, a bit bigger in size than the Spanish province of Catalonia (Catalonia – 32,108 sq km; Bhutan/Buthan – 38,394 sq km), landlocked and sandwiched between the two Asian giants – China on the north and India in the west, east and south. Very thinly populated, it has a population all of 750,000 with population density of just 19.3/sq km. Catalonia alone has a population of 7.5 million, so you can imagine and sort out the difference for yourself. Thimphu is the capital city with about 100,000 plus citizens and the nerve centre of the country. Other major cities are Paro, which houses the international airport, Phuentsholing, Punakha, Haa, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang. The national language is Dzongkha, though English is very widely spoken throughout the country. English is actually the medium of instruction in all schools. Bhutan/Buthan is one of the last remaining ecological hotspots in the entire world, where more than 70 percent of the land is under green vegetation with about 600 species of various plants and animals. So the abundance of unique Himalayan flora and fauna is undeterred, compact and preserved along with its history, tradition and Buddhist culture. Bhutan/Buthan is also the only country which believes in the concept of Gross National Happiness, which was coined by the fourth king of Bhutan/Buthan. This mystical country hidden up in the Himalayas has also earned itself the epitaph as the “Last Shangri – La on Earth”. There is actually a lot to experience and discover in this unique small little nation. So travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain and see and experience it for yourself!!

We, at Yak Holidays International, travel to Bhutan/Buthan, are more than happy to help you.

Yak Holidays International recently hosted Spanish Actress Pilar Macarena Cano in Bhutan/Buthan for 2 weeks (28 Oct – 10 Nov 2017).

  Spanish Actress, Pilar Macarena Cano, at the foot of Mount Jhomolhari in Bhutan/Buthan near the Tibetan border.

 Hi Mr. Sitar,

I did have a wonderful time in your beautiful country with Yak Holidays International. The Yak team was fantastic! I did feel really comfortable with them. They were very professional and really cared for my needs. Keep doing what you do, the way you do.

See you in the future!

Xoxo

Pilar

 Spanish Actress, Pilar Macarena Cano on Travel to Bhutan/Buthan @ Thimphu

How to Organize a Bhutan/Buthan Tour from Spain

 1. Visa Formalities and Procedures

It’s a government regulation that all foreign visitors on travel to Bhutan/Buthan must use a licensed Bhutanese/Buthanese Tour Operator (Yak Holidays Int’l) or one of their international partners to book your travel to Bhutan/Buthan.

All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, and a visa clearance for Bhutan/Buthan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan/Buthan. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator here in Bhutan/Buthan and take at least a week to process. Air tickets to Bhutan/Buthan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Your Bhutan/Buthan visa will be arranged by Yak Holidays Int’l (www.traveltoBhutan/Buthan.travel), your tour operator, and all we usually need is a quality scan or photo of your passport photo page. Please be sure you carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan/Buthan visa or you will be denied entry. Bhutan/Buthan visas generally cost $40 USD but are sometimes built into your travel package. A visa authority letter is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and the actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro International Airport. Druk Air and Bhutan/Buthan Airlines are the two airlines that fly into Bhutan/Buthan, please make sure you check with the Druk Air office at Madrid for availability of flights to Bhutan/Buthan. Or more importantly call and consult with Yak Holidays International, your Bhutanese/Buthanese Tour Operator, and we will do the needful. When you check in at the airport starting in Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata or Kathmandu, you must show your approved visa authority letter for Bhutan/Buthan (that has been sent to you via email by the tour operator). All visitors are now required to provide fingerprints and a facial image – biometrics, which is a smooth process and you’ll get through quickly.

Druk Air provides it is standard baggage allowance of 20 kg for economy class travelers and 30 kg in business class. The allowance for carry-on bags is 5 kg. Just prior to landing at Paro International Airport @2280m, as the Druk Air plane makes the descend from amongst the clouds, you will get wonderful views of the beautiful, serene Himalayan mountain ranges. This special occasion to view these mountains from above them would more than justify your Druk Air fares. This particular experience is “priceless” and won’t just happen every other day. For the best views and pictures/videos of the landscape, please check-in early for your Druk Air flight and reserve your seats on the left side of the plane if you are flying in from Bangkok. Likewise on your return flight, please request for a seat on the right side of the plane to get the best views. The seats on Druk Air are allocated on a “first come first served” basis. Yes, we promise, fulfillment of sublime satisfaction will be at hand when you travel to Bhutan/Buthan. It is as simple as that.

2. What is the Daily Tourist Tariff when you Travel to Bhutan/Buthan from Spain?

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs USD $200 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.

On the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs USD $225 per person per night for groups of three or more.

For group of two people, it costs USD $255 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.

For a single traveler, its USD $265 per person per night stay in Bhutan/Buthan.

So on the face of it, Bhutan/Buthan may seem like an expensive destination than nearby Nepal, India or elsewhere, but on a broader perspective it’s actually not such a bad deal, considering all that is included and packaged within that fee. This fee actually includes a 3 star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese/Buthanese tour guide and a driver for transportation, entrance fees to sites, camping equipment & haulage for trekking tours during the entire course of your stay within the country. Also included within the fee is a $65 per day royalty that goes to the government towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. Healthcare is free even for tourists. The philosophy behind the mandatory minimum fee being that it creates a high-value/low-impact tourist environment, as envisioned by the government of Bhutan/Buthan. The government executes and regulates this minimum fee  in order to manage tourism in a more sustainable way, to grow and blend sensibly with the world, without taxing the local environment and more importantly, highlight and conserve the unique “culture and tradition” of the country.

3. Getting into Bhutan/Buthan from Spain.

The easiest option is to travel eastwards from wherever you are in Spain. You have to travel east, prioritize to getting to New Delhi, India, or to Kathmandu, Nepal and then get the connecting Druk Air flight to Paro, Bhutan/Buthan. Once you land in Paro International Airport in Bhutan/Buthan, Yak Holidays Int’l will be your guiding star.

4. Climate and Weather

The climate in Bhutan/Buthan varies with elevation, from a subtropical one in the south to temperate in the highlands and an alpine climate with round the year snowfall in the north. Bhutan/Buthan experiences four distinct seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Western Bhutan/Buthan has the heavier monsoon rains. Southern Bhutan/Buthan close to the Indian border has hot humid summers and cool winters, while the alpine north is cold throughout the year. Central and Eastern Bhutan/Buthan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cold winters. Depending on the climatic conditions in the Indian subcontinent, monsoon rains usually start from June until the end of August and winter usually setting from November to February can be cold with frequent bouts of snowfall in the north.

  Weather

December – February: Are the coldest months, especially in the mountains, but the clear skies can really reward those who can brave low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny during the day with clear views of the incredible Himalayas. There are fewer tourists around, so sometimes you can have the entire place for just yourself!

March – April: March and April are popular times to travel to Bhutan/Buthan as the climate is pleasant and the valleys are abundant in flowers of different varieties. The blooming will have started by then. Paro Tshechu usually is on early April, so book your trip ahead to get the best accommodation and flights.

May: Thermometers start to shoot up in May, bringing humidity as well as cloud all. However, fewer visitors and lower prices can make it a perfectly viable time to visit. The rhododendrons would also still be in bloom which can be ideal for photographers and nature lovers.

June – August: June to August and sometimes till September is monsoon time in Bhutan/Buthan. Although showers can occur at night without killing your daytime experiences, conditions are ideal for day hikes. Sightseeing can still be done, but have a raincoat handy! You can go to a spa or take a hot stone water bath. But morning views are at their very best after night-time downpours, the smell of the air and the earth, you will have it all.

September: September, October and November are excellent times for hiking, watching festivals, particularly the popular Thimphu Tshechu and enjoying the stunning views of mountains, valleys and the flora and fauna. Expect it to be around 20-25°C in the sun during the day, but it is going be a lot cooler in the evenings/mornings and at higher altitudes. So don’t forget your woolens.

October: About 80% of all international visitors want to visit Bhutan/Buthan in October, theres a dead rush, a rat race, so plan well in advance to ensure you get your preferred accommodation and Druk Air flights. Pl also note that Druk Air planes have a capacity of 114 pax.

November:

Black-necked cranes migrate from the cold Tibetan Highlands to the protected Phobjikha Valley each year and also to Bumdeling in eastern Bhutan/Buthan. They remain in the region from late October to early February. In Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha, a special Black Necked Festival is held every November to celebrate the arrival of the birds. Pl note and plan in advance if you want to be part of it.

So travel to Bhutan/Buthan checking your month wise priorities.

 

5. Food and Cuisine in Bhutan/Buthan

Bhutanese/Buthanese food includes rice as the main dish with several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and lamb. The typical Bhutanese/Buthanese will eat rice (the indigenous red variety or Indian white rice), which is the main dish, chillies and vegetables three times a day. Along with that, they often serve different side dishes of beef, pork, chicken and yak meat, of course with Bhutanese/Buthanese chillies and veggies.

When you travel to Bhutan/Buthan you sure might miss out the seafood, paella and the extra virgin olive oil of your native Spain, but you can try Bhutanese/Buthanese red rice for a change rather than the “arros negre”, the black rice from the Catalonian region. You can also try pork sikaam, which is a Bhutanese/Buthanese version of bacon or spicy beef jerk dishes. The“Momo”dumplings and various versions of noodles with meat or with veggies. If you happen to be a jalapeno lover, then you are in the right place on the right time.

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese/Buthanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of almost every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese/Buthanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy enough!

Ema Datshi, which is chillies and cottage cheese, is the national dish and prepared differently wherever you go. It’s spicy and is typically eaten every single day. Veterans say you haven’t really visited Bhutan/Buthan unless you’ve tried Ema Datshi. Have your guide ask for it at your hotel or restaurant as it may not be served with your meals because it may be too spicy for many visitors. And yet another hot fiery rough chili paste is “Ezzay” which the Bhutanese/Buthanese people just love to have.

Salted Butter tea or Suja served on all social occasions, as is prevalent among all Buddhist communities of the Himalayas (from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh). In traditional homes in the Bhutanese/Buthanese hinterland, the serving host will sit beside you with a jar full of the butter tea and will almost instantly fill your cup up to the brim after you have had a sip! That’s part of the Bhutanese/Buthanese tradition, of course.

Chang is a local beer and “Aara” is a clear alcohol distilled from various grains.

The diet in the mountains also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat, and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, mushroom, lentils, and dried vegetables, spiced with chilli peppers and cheese, are a favourite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows are also popular and indeed almost all milk is turned into butter and cheese. Popular spices include curry, cardamom, ginger, thingay or Sichuan pepper, garlic, turmeric and caraway.

The typical tourist class hotel serves a western style breakfast and quasi-Bhutan/Buthanese style lunches and dinners which are adjusted for the western palette. Some hotels and restaurants, however, forego Bhutanese/Buthanese cuisine entirely for a more international fare which is quite a shame as Bhutanese/Buthanese food is quite good!

While you are eating it will be rare that your guide or driver will eat with you. If you ask them to join you (sometimes you have to press them), then they reluctantly join. Otherwise they’ll eat in a back room with the other drivers and guides at the hotel or restaurant.

6. Things to do in Bhutan/Buthan

You can do several things in Bhutan/Buthan:

    • Take a Cultural Tour
    • Hike as you like
    • Go for Magnificent Himalayan Treks
    • Participate the world famous ” Snow Man Trek”
    • Rejoice Buddhist Mask Dances
    • See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs.
    • Stay in Typical Bhutanese/Buthanese Homestays
    • Enjoy local Bhutanese/Buthanese Food
    • Get an extra Experience of Rarified Bhutanese/Buthanese Atmosphere at over 2000m asl
    • Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese/Buthanese culture.
    • Get to see the last Shangri-la on Earth

7. Places of Interest

  • Taktshang Monastery, 900 m above Paro valley.
  • Chele La Pass, highest motorable road at 3980m.
  • Dochula Pass
  • Punakha Dzong, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal chorten, Chimi Lhakhang
  • Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu
  • Thimphu Valley
  • Paro Valley, Drugyal Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong
  • Phobjikha Glacial Valley
  • Trongsa Dzong
  • Bumthang Valley, the famous 4 valleys of Tang, Chumey, Chokor and Ura. plus “membar tsho” or the burning lake.

ADIOS AMIGOS, YOU ALL ARE WELCOME TO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN. PLEASE COME TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN AND WE AT YAK HOLIDAYS ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO ENTERTAIN YOU.

SO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN/BUTHAN… ONCE A YEAR GO SOMEPLACE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN TO..

THE CHOICE IS FOR YOU TO MAKE…

Helpful Tips to have before Planning a Trip to Bhutan

1. Debunking the myth that surrounds your visit to Bhutan

Debunking the myth that surrounds your visit to Bhutan

Its highly likely that the first time “would be visitor” somehow has this notion that its very expensive to visit Bhutan. “Bhutan?? way too expensive!!” or ” What’s so special about it anyway?” without necessarily understanding the intricacies surrounding the hearsay myth of this last Shangri-la on earth.
Yes, on the face of it, Bhutan may seem like an expensive destination than nearby Nepal, India or elsewhere, but it’s actually not a bad deal, if you consider all that is included and packaged within that fee. This fee actually includes a 3 star accommodation, a private guide and a driver for transportation, entrance fees to sites and all meals and Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours, during the entire course of your stay within the country. Also included in the fee is a $65 per day royalty that goes to the government towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation.
So when you are actually touring Bhutan, you will pleasantly realize that you really don’t need to dig your purse often as most of the things involving the visit has already been organized and paid through by your Tour Operator! And that you are actually a hassle free tourist on tour with your guide and driver as guardian deities 24×7.

2. Erasing the understanding that only limited tourists are allowed into Bhutan.

Erasing the understanding that only limited tourists are allowed into Bhutan

There are no limitations on the number of tourists visiting Bhutan. Till 1999, the limit was 5000 visitors but that has long ceased to exist. According to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor Annual Report (2016), a total of 209,570 foreign individuals visited Bhutan in 2016 which is an increase of 35% over 2015.

3. Ask yourself about “The Best Times to Visit and Travel to Bhutan”

Ask yourself about The Best Times to Visit and Travel to Bhutan

The Tourism Council of Bhutan categorizes the tourist season into the “high season”” and the “low season” depending upon several factors like climate etc. and there are different daily tariffs for both the seasons. The high season months are March – May and Sept – Nov. March, April, Oct and Nov are the busiest months and most visitors try to come during these months. These are also the best months for trekking and festivals.
If you plan to visit Bhutan during these months, please book your tour packages at least three months prior to your visit. The two airlines that fly to Bhutan are Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines, so at most times the flights are packed in advance. Please check the flight schedules well in advance from their websites or your Tour Operator.
But if you want to travel in peace and avoid over crowdedness, you can try the low season months as well.

4. Getting into Bhutan

Getting into Bhutan

If you are from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia or thereabouts, take the thrice a week Druk Air flights from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Paro. Singapore – Kolkata – Paro with a brief stopover at Kolkata. Bangkok has direct Druk Air flights to Paro.
Likewise, if you are coming from USA or Europe, travel east through Europe, then West Asia and then to Delhi or Kathmandu and get the connecting Druk Air flights to Paro.
Note : Paro, about an hour drive from Thimphu, is the only international airport.

5. Daily Tariff

Daily Tariff

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs $200 USD per person, per day and on the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs $250 USD per person per day, for groups of three or more. For groups of two, it costs $280 USD per day, per person and for a solo traveler, its $290 USD per day, per person.
Note that it costs $30 more if you are in a group of two and $40 more if you are solo. So you can indeed save costs if you are in a group of three or more. So why not go for this option?

6. Factor in the difference in the Daily Tariff in the low season.

Factor in the difference in the Daily Tariff in the low season

Bhutan can be visited all the year round! Even in the busy seasons it is not terribly crowded, so there are even fewer tourists in the off-peak seasons. The reason we recommend travel to Bhutan during the summer/monsoon season is for cost reasons, Since it’s the low season, you can save as much as 20% of your daily tariff!
Furthermore, most of the time, you will have the whole place to yourself e.g. restaurants, hotels, sight seeings, so no waitings at long queues. For example, during your visits to most places, you may be the only guests in the entire hotel and can land yourself the best rooms with the best views they have on offer. So you can definitely give it a thought.

7. Tour Operator

Tour Operator

It is mandatory by law that you can only book your tour package to Bhutan through a registered Bhutanese Tour Operator. All visa processes will be managed by Tour Operator.

8. Rainy Season (Monsoon)

Rainy Season

Rainfall or Monsoon generally starts from June till August but it’s not like the continuous daily rains in India. Yes once in a while they are heavy but not always.

9. Places/Things of Interest

Places Things of Interest

It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan. Following is a list of options that you may consider.
Magnificent Dzongs (Fortresses);
Buddhist Monasteries and Monuments;
Stunning, pristine Valleys, Mountains & Passes;
Ancient Bhutanese Art and Artifacts;
Unique Bhutanese Architecture;
Colorful Mask Dances; the Festivals of different valleys, Paro and Thimphu Tshechus;
Various Mountain Treks on offer (Druk Path Trek was the most popular in 2016);
The Bhutanese culture and tradition that is still intact and cocooned even today.
Preservation efforts by the government have ensured that Bhutan is still a living museum. Bhutan’s landscape and culture is so diverse across different regions that it offers distinctive charms and environs for exploration and experience to the enthusiastic traveler.

10. Other Miscellaneous Tips

Food & Cuisine

National Language : Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken. Your guide will speak fluent English.

Currency & Money : Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (Nu). Its value is pegged to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian Rupee notes in 500 and 2000 denominations are not acceptable. US Dollars are widely accepted.

It is best to obtain some Bhutanese Nu from the Paro airport ATM (right of exit door).
ATMs are available for use by visitors in western & central Bhutan.

Food & Cuisine : Rice (white Indian rice or the indigenous red variety), is the main dish, accompanied by several side dishes of pork, beef, chicken and veggies and “Emma Datshi”, the national dish with lots of chilies n cheese. You can also try “Momos”, the Tibetan dumplings. But most hotels, restaurants and eateries do modify the cuisine to make it more palatable for visitors and also do a variety of Chinese, Continental and Indian dishes.

Climate & Weather : Bhutan has four distinct seasons : Spring, Monsoon/Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit and travel to Bhutan (end of Feb till May) and (Sep till Nov). Summers are usually warm (avg. temperature ranging from 20-25 degrees Celsius), while winters are cold (usually below 15 degrees).

Tobacco & Smoking : It is against the law to sell or purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while travelling in Bhutan. It is, however, not forbidden to smoke in appropriate areas. 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.

Communications & Internet : The country has a good network of communications facilities. Almost every town has an internet café and IDD calling booths from where you can log and connected with the world. Bhutanese SIM cards are available at a SIM counter located in the post office (to the right of the terminal exit door) at Paro Airport.

Electricity : 230 volts, 50 cycles AC system. The standard socket is the Indian-style round pin socket. We always suggest bringing a universal plug adaptor.

Photography : Bhutan is an ideal place and frequent haunt of photographers and offers immense opportunities for photography, especially during outdoor sightseeing trips. However on the other hand you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as it’s not allowed inside Dzongs, temples and monasteries or religious institutions.

Health Innoculations : Before embarking on a tour to Bhutan it’s advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

Safety Precautions : Bhutan still remains an extremely safe destination with an exceptionally low risk of theft or harassment. Foreign tourists are usually held in high esteem. However we recommend you to keep all cash & valuables either on your person or in your vehicle where they will be safely managed by your driver whom you can trust implicitly. Please do not leave cash or valuables on display in hotel rooms. Your guide and driver can be your best safety advisors.

Some useful words in Dzongkha, the national language
Kuzuzangpo La – Respected Greetings.
Tashi Delek – May all good things come to you. (use this as a farewell)
Kardenche La – Thank you.
Goempa – Meditation Centre.
Lhakhang – Temple.
Chhapsa – Toilet.
Chhu – Water.
Bang Chhang – Rice Wine.
Toh – Rice.

Travel to Bhutan from Australia

A brief introduction of Bhutan

A brief introduction of Bhutan

If you are Australian and intend to travel to Bhutan from Australia, Bhutan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom, about the size of Taiwan, landlocked and sandwiched between China on the north and India in the west, south and east in the Himalayas. The standard time is 6hrs ahead of GMT. Bhutan is called “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” and also known as the last Shangri-la on earth! The landscape ranges from sub tropical foothills (150m) the south to alpine forests and snowcapped mountains (7000m) in the north. It’s about 300km from west to east and 150km from north to south. With a population of just about 700000, about 70% of the land is still under forest cover, so it naturally has a well maintained and rich biodiversity with more than 700 species of birds, 50 species of rhododendron and an estimated 300 species of medicinal plants and orchids. The national language is Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken throughout the country. Your guide will speak fluent English as most young Bhutanese do.

Bhutan – Lonely Planet

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan

Bhutan – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan

Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | History | Culture | Government …

www.kingdomofbhutan.com/

Visa Formalities / Bhutan Visa

Visa Formalities Bhutan Visa

All visitors require a passport, and an visa authority letter/visa clearance for Bhutan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. All visas are issued at Thimphu (a Bhutan visa costs $40 USD) and are only issued to tourists booked with a local tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator and takes at least 7 days to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Please remember, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that fly into Bhutan. A visa authority letter is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and the actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro Int’l Airport. Please carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan Visa or you will be denied entry. When you arrive at Paro Int’l airport, all visitors are required to provide fingerprints and a facial image along with 2 passport photos.

Visa policy of Bhutan – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Bhutan

Visa | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trip Planner

Visas and customs in Bhutan – Lonely Planet

www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/visas

Drukair

https://drukair.com.bt/images/Include/OurOffices.htm

Sydney Australia Bhutan Flights | Bhutan Travel | Druk Asia

https://www.drukasia.com › Bhutan Tour

Flighs to Bhutan and Roads in – Bhutan and Beyond

https://www.bhutan.com.au/getting-to-bhutan/

Daily Tariff

Daily Tariff

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs $200 USD per person, per day and on the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs $250 USD per person per day, for groups of three or more. For groups of two, it costs $280 USD per day, per person and for a solo traveler, its $290 USD per day, per person.

The minimum price includes :

All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty of $65 USD)
3 star Accommodation
All meals
All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
All internal Transport
Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours
There shall be no charge for children up to the age of 5 years. However, for those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/guardians 50% discount on daily rates and 100% on royalty.
Full time students below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11-15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
50% discount on royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on royalty after the 14th night.
Visitors availing discounts under sections 1,2and 3 shall not be eligible under section 4.
Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements! – Bhutan …

https://www.tripadvisor.com › Asia › Bhutan › Bhutan Travel Forum

Bhutan Visa & Visiting Fees – Is It Worth it? – Jessie on a Journey

jessieonajourney.com/bhutan-visa-travel-fees/

Addresses and website URLs of Embassy of Bhutan in Australia for Possible and Helpful tips to get Bhutan visa from Australia

Embassy of Bhutan in Australia – Bhutan visa – VisaHQ.com.au

https://bhutan.visahq.in/embassy/australia/

Embassy Of Bhutan In Canberra | EmbassyCanberra.com

www.embassycanberra.com/bhutanese/

Travelling Tips to Bhutan from Australia

Travelling Tips to Bhutan from Australia

The most convenient way to travel to Bhutan from Australia is to first fly to Singapore, then to Bangkok, Kolkata and finally to Paro Int’l Airport in Bhutan. Paro is about an hour’s drive from Thimphu, the capital.

Detailed info on flights, tour and trekking programmes, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc. can be obtained from the tour operator.

Travel Requirements | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trip Planner

Bhutan travel guide :: Lonely Planet India

www.lonelyplanet.in/travel-guides/201/bhutan-travel-guide

Money and costs in Bhutan – Lonely Planet

www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/money-costs

Places of tourists’ interest in Bhutan

Places of tourists' interest in Bhutan

It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan from Australia. The magnificent Dzongs (Fortresses), Buddhist Monasteries and monuments; the stunning, pristine valleys and mountains; the ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts; the unique architecture; colorful Mask Dances; the Tshechu festivals of different valleys ; the various mountain treks on offer; and the Bhutanese culture and tradition that is still intact and cocooned even today. Preservation efforts by the government have ensured that Bhutan is a living museum even today. Bhutan’s landscape and culture is so diverse across different regions that it offers distinctive charms and environs for exploration and experience to the spirited traveler.

Dzong architecture – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzong_architecture

Tshechu – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tshechu

Festivals | Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website)

www.tourism.gov.bt › Discover › Activities

Bhutan’s magical mask dances – BBC News

www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24642016

Western Bhutan

Western Bhutan

Considered the gateway to Bhutan and the circuit comprises Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Haa districts. Paro is home to the spectacular Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) at 900m above the Paro valley and the famous Drugyel Dzong or the “Fortress of Victorious Drukpa People”. Paro valley is also the rice bowl of Bhutan. Thimphu, the capital city, is a vibrant cultural centre of all aspects that emanates Bhutan as a nation. Punakha, the ancient capital till 1950, enchants tourists with the magnificent Punakha Dzong at the confluence of the Pho-Chu and Mo-Chu (Male and Female rivers). And the Gangte Monastery overlooking the bowl shaped alpine wetland valley of Phobjika (3000m), where the black necked cranes migrate every winter from the Tibetan highlands at Wangdue district. The west, especially, Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, is also the starting point for many of Bhutan’s famous treks which traverse to the north of the country. Laya, Gasa, Lingtshi and the northern reaches of Bumthang and Trongsa complete this circuit.

Paro Tourism (2017): Best of Paro, Bhutan – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Tourism-g321541-Paro_Paro_District-Vacations.html

5 Best Places to Visit in Punakha (2017) – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in › Asia › Bhutan › Punakha District › Punakha

Thimphu 2017: Best of Thimphu, Bhutan Tourism – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.com › Asia › Bhutan › Thimphu District

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan is the spiritual heartland of the nation and comprises the four valleys of Bumthang and the district of Trongsa. The temples and festivals of Bumthang and the historical grandeur and significance of Trongsa, showcase a rich and lively cultural heritage. With the initial experience of having travelled Western Bhutan under the belt, a sense of real insight begins to set in on the traveler’s imagination and analysis of Bhutan – as a mystical, historical place and a very interesting country for you to discover.

Bumthang Tourism (2017): Best of Bumthang, Bhutan – TripAdvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.in › Asia › Bhutan › Bumthang District

Trongsa – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trongsa

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan, a congregation of six eastern districts, is a world away from the world, be it the distinct and characteristic way of life of Merak Sakteng or the fabric, art & craft and woodwork in Trashigang and TrashiYangtse. This region of Bhutan has ethnically the most diverse people resulting therefore, in a large mix of local customs and traditions. The Drametse Monastery at Mongar where the famous “Drametse Ngacham” Mask Dance is performed is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Drametse Ngacham – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drametse_Ngacham

Merak Sakteng Trek | Tour Operator Directory

www.tourism.gov.bt › Trek

Our destination specialists at Yak Holidays Int’l will offer the best recommendations as per your travel preferences, and you can in fact choose the exact Bhutan Tour Packages for Australia from our website www.traveltobhutan.travel/. Many travelers incorporate Paro (2280m), Thimphu (2320m), Punakha (1310m), Wangduephodrang (1320m), Gangte (2800m), Trongsa and Bumthang (2800m), though some travel solely for the pleasure of trekking in the High Himalayas.

The choice is for you to make..

Welcome to Bhutan!!

Travel to Bhutan from USA

Bhutan Travel and Travel to Bhutan from USA (US) and Canada

A brief description of Bhutan

A brief description of Bhutan

If you are American (US Citizens) or Canadian citizens and intend to travel to Bhutan from USA (US) or Canada, the standard time is 6 hrs ahead of GMT. For those traveling from East coast, you have to fly to New Delhi, India or Kathmandu and those of you who live in west cost and wish to travel to Bhutan, you have to fly to Bangkok or Singapore to catch the onward fight to Paro Bhutan.

Bhutan is a small, mountainous Buddhist kingdom, about the size of Switzerland, landlocked and sandwiched between the two Asian giants – China on the north and India in the west, east and south in the eastern Himalayas. The standard time is 6hrs ahead of GMT. Bhutan is also called “Druk-Yul” or “The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan’s landscape ranges from sub tropical foothills (150m)in the south to alpine forests and snowy mountains (7000m) in the north. It’s about 300km from west to east and 150km from north to south. With a population of just about 700000, about 70% of the land is still under forest cover, so it naturally has a well maintained and rich biodiversity with more than 700 species of birds, 50 species of rhododendron and an estimated 300 species of medicinal plants and orchids. The national language is Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken throughout the country. Your guide will speak fluent English as most young Bhutanese do.

Places of tourists’ interest and things to do in Bhutan

Places of tourists' interest and things to do in Bhutan

It really depends on what you hope to see and experience during your tour to Bhutan from USA. The magnificent Dzongs, Buddhist Monasteries and monuments; the stunning, pristine valleys and mountains; the ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts; the unique architecture; colorful Mask Dances; the Tshechu festivals of different valleys; the various mountain treks on offer; and the Bhutanese culture and tradition that is still intact and cocooned even today. Thanks to preservation efforts by the government, Bhutan is a living museum. Bhutan’s landscape and culture is so diverse across different regions that it offers distinctive charms and environs for exploration and experience to the spirited traveler.

Western Bhutan

Western Bhutan

Western Bhutan, considered the gateway to Bhutan and the circuit comprises Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Haa districts. Paro is home to the spectacular Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) at 900m above the Paro valley and the famous Drugyel Dzong or the “Fortress of Victorious Drukpa People”. Paro valley is also the rice bowl of Bhutan. Thimphu, the capital city, is a vibrant cultural centre of all aspects that emanates Bhutan as a nation. Punakha, the ancient capital till 1950, enchants tourists with the magnificent Punakha Dzong at the confluence of the Pho-Chu and Mo-Chu (Male and Female rivers). And the Gangte Monastery overlooking the bowl shaped alpine wetland valley of Phobjika (3000m), where the black necked cranes migrate in winter down from the Tibetan highlands at Wangdue district. The west, especially, Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, is also the starting point for many of Bhutan’s famous treks which traverse to the north of the country. Laya, Gasa, Lingtshi and the northern reaches of Bumthang and Trongsa complete this circuit.

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan is the spiritual heartland of the nation and comprises the four valleys of Bumthang and the district of Trongsa. The temples and festivals of Bumthang and the historical grandeur and significance of Trongsa, showcase a rich and lively cultural heritage. With the initial experience of having travelled Western Bhutan under the belt, a sense of real insight begins to set in onto the traveler’s imagination and analysis of Bhutan, as a mystical, historical place and a very interesting country for you to discover.

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan

Eastern Bhutan, a congregation of six eastern districts, is a world away from the world, be it the distinct way of life of Merak Sakteng or the fabric, art & craft and woodwork in Trashigang and TrashiYangtse. The Drametse Monastery at Mongar where the famous “Drametse Ngacham” Mask Dance is performed is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Our destination specialists will make the best recommendations as per your travel preferences, and you can in fact choose the exact Bhutan tour packages for USA from our website (www.traveltobhutan.travel). Many travelers incorporate Paro (2280m), Thimphu (2320m), Punakha (1310m), Wangduephodrang (1320m), Gangte (2800m), Trongsa and Bumthang (2800m), though some travel solely for the pleasure of trekking in the Himalayas.

Detailed Visa Policy of Bhutan

Visa Formalities

Visa Formalities

All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, and an visa authority letter/visa clearance for Bhutan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. All visas are issued at Thimphu (a Bhutan visa costs $40 USD) and are only issued to tourists booked with a local tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by your tour operator and takes at least 7 days to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. Please remember, Druk Air is the only airline that flies into Bhutan. A visa authority letter is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and the actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro Int’l Airport. Please be sure you carry the same passport that you submitted for your Bhutan visa or you will be denied entry. When you arrive at Paro Int’l airport, all visitors are now required to provide fingerprints and a facial image along with 2 passport photos.

Cancellations

Tour programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:

  • within 30 days of start of programme : no charges
  • within 21 days : 10% of rate
  • within 14 days : 15% of rate
  • within 7 days : 30% of rate
  • less than 7 days or without notice : 50% of rate
  • after arrival to Bhutan : 100%

Delayed Arrivals

There is no charge for delays in arrival and departure because of weather conditions disrupting flights or road blocks. The tourist must however bear the cost of food, accommodation, transportation and other services required.

Daily Tariff

daily Tariff

During the low season months (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec), it costs $200 USD per person, per day and on the high season months (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov), it costs $250 USD per person per day, for groups of three or more. For groups of two, it costs $280 USD per day, per person and for a single traveler, its $290 USD per day, per person.

The minimum price includes :

  • All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty of $65 USD)
  • 3 star Accommodation
  • All meals
  • All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
  • All internal Transport
  • Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours
  1. There shall be no charge for children up to the age of 5 years. However, for those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/guardians 50% discount on daily rates and 100% on royalty.
  2. Full time students below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
  3. A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11-15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
  4. 50% discount on royalty shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on royalty after the 14th night.
  5. Visitors availing discounts under sections 1, 2 and 3 shall not be eligible under section 4.

Detailed info on flights, tour and trekking programmes, festivals, places of interest, hotels, etc. can be obtained from the tour operator.

Addresses and website URLs of Embassy of Bhutan in USA for Possible and Helpful tips to get Bhutan visa from USA

Embassy of Bhutan in United States of America – Bhutan Visa – VisaHQ

https://bhutan.visahq.in/embassy/united-states/

Bhutan Washington DC Embassy Official Visa – Passport Visas Express

www.passportvisasexpress.com/…/bhutan/bhutan_washington_dc_embassy/official_vi…

Bhutan Embassy in Washington D.C. | EmbassyWashingtonDC.com

embassywashingtondc.com/bhutanese/

Bhutan – US Department of State

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/bhutan.html

Consulate of Bhutan in Washington, D.C., United States

https://www.embassypages.com/missions/embassy22221/

Consulate General of Bhutan in New York, United States

https://www.embassypages.com/missions/embassy719/

Consulate General | Bhutan – Permanent Missions to the United Nations

https://www.un.int/bhutan/bhutan/consulate-general

Visa policy of Bhutan – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Bhutan

Do US citizens need a visa for Bhutan?

visa formalities for US Citizens

You will need a passport valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Bhutan and a visa to enter and exit Bhutan. All visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visa clearance from Thimphu before travelling to Bhutan.

Travelling Tips

bhutan travel tips

If you happen to be on the west coast, it would be easier and more feasible to travel to Bhutan thru Japan, Singapore, Bangkok and to Paro in Bhutan. Likewise, it you are on the east coast, the better option would be to travel thru Europe, Delhi/Kathmandu and then to Paro.

The opportunity to travel to Bhutan, considered a “special destination” by even the most privileged travelers, can be the experience of a lifetime. Bhutan is often described as the last Shangri-la on earth, and this holds true in many ways than one.  It’s a secluded location, so secure and pristine in her own domain and is still a magical kingdom of the past in many ways. Preservation efforts have shielded many from visiting this jewel of the Himalayas. Bhutan opened its doors to tourism in 1974, with the number for tourists kept to an alarmingly low and at an environmentally sustainable level through government structured tourist regulations. We @ Yak Holidays Int’l (www.traveltobhutan.travel), have always made our best efforts to raise the bar every single time to see that  your tour to Bhutan from USA translates and manifests itself into a very successful and memorable one!

The choice is for you to make..

Welcome to Bhutan!!