Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently asked questions (FAQs). Below you will find answers to the questions we get asked the most about visiting Bhutan.
There are 19 languages spoken in Bhutan, but the national language is Dzongkha. English is used throughout Bhutan’s education system, so it is widely used and understood.
Bhutan is a year-round destination. There are four seasons: summer (June to August), autumn (September to November), winter (December to February) and spring (March to May). But because of the range of altitudes in the country, and the influence of the north Indian monsoons, the climate is incredibly varied.
In the south, the humid, subtropical climate is fairly consistent year-round, with temperatures between 15oC and 30oC. Central Bhutan, with its temperate forests, has a more seasonal climate, with warm summers and cool, dry winters. The northern regions are much colder during winter. Because of the high altitude, mountain peaks are snowy year-round and the lower reaches remain cool in summer.
In summer, the Indian monsoon season runs from late June or July to late September, mostly affecting the southern regions. Most farming activities take place in the summer, when crops thrive in verdant landscapes.
Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is characterised by bright, sunny days and some early snowfall at higher elevations. It’s the season of feasts and festivals as farmers reap the fruits of their work.
From late November until March, the crisp, clear and sunny winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3,000 metres. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at the highest altitudes through high mountain passes, giving Bhutan the name Drukyul, which means Land of the Thunder Dragon in Dzongkha (Bhutan’s national language).
Bhutan’s generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. It is a botanist’s delight, with nature in full bloom. Summer weather commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues to late June.
Bhutan’s currency is called ngultrum. It’s 1:1 with Indian rupees.
Three different electrical plugs are used throughout Bhutan: the British plug (three square pins, compatible with type G sockets), the European plug (two round pins, compatible with type C socket) and the Indian plug (three thick round pins, compatible with type D sockets). It’s a good idea to bring adaptors for all three.
Visitors of all nationalities, except those from India, require a visa before entering Bhutan. For all visitors, except those from Bangladesh and the Maldives, this visa must be applied for and approved in advance of travel. Visitors from Bangladesh and the Maldives also require a visa, but this can be applied for and approved either in advance of travel or upon arrival in Bhutan.
Visitors from India are able to apply for a permit but are required to hold an Indian passport or an Indian voter ID card. For Indian nationals under the age of 18, a passport or a birth certificate can be used to enter and they must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
Nationals from Switzerland and Thailand holding diplomatic or government-official passports are eligible for a visa at their port of entry.
I’m an Indian national, or from Bangladesh or the Maldives. How can I obtain a travel permit or visa?
Before travelling, visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives can apply for a permit (Indian nationals) or visa (Bangladeshi or Maldivian nationals) here. You may also apply at the point of entry, but please be aware that there may be a long wait depending on the number of applicants at the time. We recommend arranging your permit/visa beforehand.
A correctly input visa application can take up to five days to process.
There is a one-off fee of US$40 for the processing of your application. This is payable at the same time as your Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), as part of the process of submitting your visa application.
The visa allows you to remain in Bhutan for a maximum of 90 days from the date of entry.
Yes, provided the extension is applied for before the original visa or permit expires.
The SDF is the Sustainable Development Fee, a daily levy paid by visitors to support Bhutan’s development. Since the kingdom first opened its doors in 1974, guests have played a critical role in the country’s growth. As we reopen on September 23rd 2022, this partnership is once again evolving to enable us to protect and preserve our kingdom and its priceless assets. It also helps us to ensure that tourists visit in sustainable numbers and that we can continue to offer guests tranquillity and an intimate experience.
The SDF is collected by the national exchequer and funds are allocated to various projects that enhance facilities, services and infrastructure for Bhutanese nationals and visitors, as well as funding free healthcare and education.
For all visitors except those from India, the SDF is US$200 per person, per night. For guests from India the SDF is 1,200 ngultrum, or the equivalent amount in Indian rupees, per person, per night.
Children aged 6 to 12 at the time of travel receive a 50% concessionary discount on their SDF. Those aged 5 or younger are exempt.
Day visitors to the Bhutanese towns bordering India are also exempt from paying the SDF until they reach a point designated by the Bhutanese government.
Yes, the SDF will be refunded by the Department of Immigration for any cancelled or shortened trips; any bank charges will be deducted from the total refunded. Requests for SDF refunds should be submitted online using the visa portal. The refund will be processed after visitors leave Bhutan.
Yes. All visitors must have full, valid travel insurance for the duration of their visit. For all visitors except those from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives, it is required to be in place when you make your visa application.
Visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives have the option to purchase domestic travel insurance at their port of entry.
The country has one international airport located in Paro. Flights operated by Drukair and Bhutan Airlines arrive and depart from destinations including Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati and Singapore. Private jets or charters can fly into Bhutan after obtaining the relevant approvals.
There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.
Although we recommend all visitors stay up to date with vaccinations against covid-19 to help stop the spread of the disease, there are now no covid-19 vaccination requirements for adults or children to enter Bhutan from September 23rd 2022. There is no quarantine period.
All individuals (12 years and above) entering Bhutan may be subjected to random RT-PCR testing at the points of entry or at the worksite to maintain covid-19 surveillance for new variants. No fee shall be charged for the RT-PCR testing for surveillance.
If a guest tests positive for covid-19 during their stay in Bhutan, they will be required to quarantine in their hotel until they test negative. The cost for the additional quarantine nights and PCR tests will be borne by the guest. The Sustainable Development Fee will be waived during the quarantine period.
There will be no covid-19 protocols to leave Bhutan, unless the country the guest is travelling to requires them.
Bhutan offers a wide range of accommodation, from luxurious five-star hotels to cosy homestays in traditional village settings.
Bhutan is a very safe place to visit, even if you’re travelling alone. There is very little crime experienced by locals or visitors, although we advise you to take care of yourself and your belongings. In some areas you may encounter stray dogs – please be cautious around them as they are not domesticated. They normally keep their distance, but please stay away from them as much as possible, especially if travelling with children. Please don’t feed or pat these or any other wild animals.
Bhutan’s physical environment presents occasional safety hazards, including flooding and landslides. From June to September the monsoons can affect transport and services. Check with your hotel or tour operator for possible disruptions.
You can change your local currency for ngultrum upon arrival at Paro International Airport or at banks, larger hotels and authorised currency exchange businesses in Thimphu.
You may bring cash equivalent to US$10,000 into the country.
ATM and banks accept Visa and Mastercard. International credit cards are widely used in urban areas of Bhutan. However this service may not be available in other parts of the country. Visitors can download the digital wallet app goBoB launched by the Bank of Bhutan, which can be used with a local SIM card and is widely accepted throughout the country.
Cash in US dollars and Indian rupees is also widely accepted. We advise bringing some cash in either of these currencies, or in ngultrum.
Most hotels have Wi-Fi in Bhutan, but we recommend obtaining a guest SIM card for more convenient access to data and a more reliable internet connection. Mobile data in Bhutan can also be expensive. You can find the B Mobile SIM in mobile stores in larger cities, which you can easily top up using the Bank of Bhutan app goBoB. This app also facilitates other payments within the country.
SIM cards can be purchased from the Paro International Airport’s visitor information centre on arrival, or from branch offices of Bhutan Telecom and TashiCell, or from authorised agents in towns.
There are no rules about what visitors should wear. However if you are planning to visit places of religious significance, respectful smart-casual clothing that covers your body from shoulders to knees is appropriate and appreciated.
There are plenty of places to shop for special objects, from high-end pieces to small mementos. Many visitors enjoy shopping at the Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) Market and the Centenary Farmers’ Market. The Textile Museum shop has a wonderful selection of artisan-made textiles and homewares, as do the nearby Tarayana and Craft galleries. Our OGOP shops are also excellent places to find food, drink and handcrafted products sourced directly from the country’s artisans and farmers.
Keeping important antiques and artefacts in Bhutan is a key part of how we preserve our heritage for future generations. We have a law that sets out which artistic, historic, cultural, religious, social, archaeological and technical objects you may not take with you when you leave. To ensure any items you acquire comply with the law, you will need an Export Permit for Non-Antique Artefacts. Find out more about the permit and how to apply for one here.
A permit, which must be applied for in advance, is required to fly a drone either recreationally or commercially in Bhutan. Please email [email protected] to obtain one.