Bhutan, The Kingdom of Dragon Thunder, is a mountainous landlocked country situated on the edge of the Tibetan plateau surrounded by Tibet in the North and India in the South. It has a diverse geographical structure with the elevation ranging from 180 meters up to 7500 meters above from the sea level. This country heavily focuses on preserving its nature for the future generations and the government has made its priority regarding this matter and more than 70% of the nation is covered with forests. The Kingdom of Bhutan remained cut off from the rest of the world up until the early 1960s and it is one of the few nations in the world that still has a monarchy system. Although being late in its development, the country now is much more accessible.
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Travel ways to Bhutan
There are two means of traveling to Bhutan; by air and by land. Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar and the only borders open for tourists to travel to Bhutan. However, the most people traveling to Bhutan prefer to travel by air. There is one international airport in Bhutan called Paro International Airport and a few other domestic airports. There are only 10 air routes you can use to travel to Bhutan. They are Kathmandu in Nepal, Bangkok, Singapore, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Guwahati, and Mumbai. International flights to Bhutan are handled by only two Bhutanese-owned airlines; Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. Flights from Nepal are the most preferred also because the flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most beautiful and exciting one as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains of the world.
Visa and entry requirements for Bhutan
Reaching to Bhutan however is not so easy. You’ll need to book a pre-arranged tour with a travel agency registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan in order to enter Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by licensed tour operator from Bhutan or through foreign travel agencies, especially from Nepal, once the full payment of your holiday has been transferred, including a $40 visa fee. You should try and make your travel arrangements at least 90 days prior to travel to allow time for all the formalities to be completed.
Cost and Expenses in Bhutan
The cost for traveling to Bhutan is not cheap! You’ll have to pay a minimum of $200-$250 per person, per day. Also, these prices can increase up to $1500 as according to more luxurious services. WHAT!? That might be your reaction right now but there’s a reason behind that. In the case that you’re traveling as a group you’ll receive discounts, and students and children are also given discounts based on their age group. All the cost for basic expenses such as accommodation (at least a 3 star hotel), daily meals, internal transport, taxes, tour equipment, tour sites like museum and monastery, private guide, private vehicle and driver are included in this price. However, prices of luxury hotels, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, visa fee and airfare, laundry, souvenirs, and tips are to be paid from your own pocket. Bhutan has a specific tourism policy, “High Value, Low Impact”, and they use the tax money for the defense of nature and their culture. You’ll get to experience the results of this policy once you see the country of Bhutan for yourselves.
Means of payments in Bhutan
The Kingdom of Bhutan is developing rapidly in terms of infrastructure and facilities especially in the city area, however the online money transactions and payment system are still in developing phase in this Himalayan nation. There are a few ATMs and few hotels and shops does have online payment services, however it is recommended to carry a handful of cash along with you when you’re traveling to Bhutan. The currency of Bhutan is called Ngultrum (Nu.) which is at par with the Indian currency (INR). The INR is also widely used in Bhutan and carrying USD isn’t a bad idea either.
Things to do in Bhutan
The major tourist attraction in this country are trekking through the thick forests and to the Himalayas, hiking, seemingly endless rice paddies, palaces and monasteries, cultural tours, sightseeing and religious expedition/pilgrimage. Except for activities such as sightseeing, visit to palaces and monasteries and cultural tours, you’ll have to pay for other services which are not included on the compulsory fee you’ll have to pay per day. Oh! And beware of the d*cks! Yes, d*cks. Also known as the Phallus paintings, these are the painting of erected penises you won’t have trouble of finding. Believed to keep away evil people, spirits and gossips, these kinds of paintings can be seen all over the country. We’re just giving you a heads up just so that you it won’t get awkward for you once you encounter it. The best time to travel to Bhutan is during the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). Although it falls under the expensive travel destinations throughout Asia, the mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan is a unique form of travel experience which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The country takes pride in its philosophy of Gross National Happiness and the culture built around this mountainous country is something to ponder upon. We definitely recommend you to experience for yourselves what this tiny nation has to offer if you have enough budget for a unique taste of travel. Core Treks provides different travel package tours to Bhutan where you can customize your travel arrangement according to your preference. Visit to www.coretreks.com for more information.